Truth or Consequences
Exploring God's Sovereignty and Free Will: Lesson 2
We saw in the previous lesson on The Spiritual Roots of Disease that there is hope for becoming free of many illnesses, even addictions and mental disorders, since they are rooted in negative emotions and false beliefs that we can learn to overcome. However, this knowledge could become a heavy burden to bear for it means recognizing things we thought were “just emotions” as sins.
Since we fall into these sinful emotional states so easily and so often, it begs the question: What is God the Father thinking and feeling about us? Is He angry? Is He losing patience? Is He withdrawing from us?
Unless we can discover something about our Father God that will put our hearts to rest, this accurate view of sin could well become cause for even more stress! Thankfully, in God we have the perfect safety our hearts have been searching for all along!
The Problem of Pain
Our homeward journey into His Heart of love begins by taking a necessary “detour” into the thorny question of suffering.Issues of disease raise questions about suffering, such as: Why does a good, loving God allow evil and suffering to exist? This series takes the following positions:
1) God is a thoroughly good God—unconditionally loving, abounding in mercy and yet completely just.
2) All suffering exists because evil exists—God is NOT the source or cause of evil.
3) All evil exists because of Satan’s sin—his prideful free will decision to go a separate way from God. He led other created beings into rebellion with him, forming an empire of evil.
4) All suffering is due to three things: our free will abused (our sinful choices of thought, word or deed), a real world setting (which involves natural consequences for all choices) and the sins of an invisible enemy against us.
There has to be balance and an allowance for mystery when attempting to understand the relationship between God’s sovereignty and free will (our choices), as well as the painful issues of why a particular disease and suffering came about. Nevertheless the boundaries are clear: God is not the author of evil, Satan is.
In heaven there is a complete absence of sin and suffering, because in heaven everyone is perfectly surrendered to God. We give the enemy countless open doors to bring sin and its consequences into our world through our lack of surrender, our sinful choices. God allows us to say “No!” to Him and to His ways. He does this for the sake of preserving our free wills.
God even works through the evils our free will allows to restore us to love and to our lost humanity. Fortunately for us, He has many ways of turning our “No’s” back into “Yes’s,” but in the interval much suffering can happen.
We don’t seem to be as committed to our freedom of will as God is. We want our will to be free but not the will of others—especially if they are about to hurt us with it. Or we may want our wills to be free but don’t want the real world consequences that go along with it. God, on the other hand, has placed all of us in a real world in which even the demons have freedom of choice. To live with a free will in a real world under assault by an invisible enemy, we will have to learn to love God’s ways or face the consequences.
The Inescapable Reality
We have been given freedom of will and are therefore sovereigns over our own hearts. What we choose to believe in our mind and in our heart determines how we will react or respond to people and events. Every emotion we have is springing up from the core of what we deeply believe.
There is no neutral zone in this. We are either coming into agreement with God’s truth in our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions, or we are moving into agreement with the enemy’s lies. Remember the peace report card from the previous lesson? Tragically, we have to make our decisions on faulty or incomplete understandings of truth and its consequences, all the while a cunning adversary is taking full advantage of our lack of knowledge to enslave us or destroy us.
Truth or consequences is the unalterable rule of life. Since our will does not operate in a vacuum, every thought we have—conscious or unconscious—has natural consequences in our bodies in terms of neurological or hormonal responses that affect our organs and even individual cells. That is the universe within our bodies. Our inner life also affects the universe beyond our bodies through our words, actions and prayers. We live in a very real world. Our choices truly matter. Even when we seem to have no power to make things better, we still hold great power to make them worse. This power is immense: We have actually been given the power to choose life or death.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live. Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV
The Grace That Covers Us
Have you been dressed in stress? From the Bible’s perspective, every negative emotion is a sin issue. When negative emotions turn our hearts away from trusting God and loving others, we are not clothed in Christ—which may be very often for some of us. How does the Father see us? Mercifully! Our Father covers us all with great grace. Grace is God’s perpetual outpouring of love and mercy that we cannot earn and do not deserve.
In revealing His glory to Moses, God could have shown him the starry heavens which declare His glory or He could have sent down the glory cloud that would one day fill the tabernacle and the temple. But He didn’t. Instead, He chose to reveal all that is magnificent about who He is. It is as if He said to Moses, “I’m glad you asked Me. So many of My children have such terribly wrong ideas about Me. Thank you for letting Me set the record straight and clear My own great Name.”
Moses said, "Please show me your glory." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you… The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." Exodus 33:18-19, 34:6-7 ESV
We are also shown the Father’s glorious grace in the New Testament. The Father is fully reconciled to us. He has foreseen all that will be needed of suffering and sacrifice, of patience, mercy and grace on His part and He is “OK” with whatever is required to save us. In fact the Father was in Jesus reconciling the world to Himself. He did this by not holding our sins against us. Instead He held them against Jesus, so that we could receive newness of life.
But all things are from God, who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself]…It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor). 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 AMP
Apply this passage to negative emotions. God the Father is not “holding it against” us that we have so many negative emotions stressing us or depressing us. He is perfectly able to love us even when we are in the negative emotion “pig pen” feeding the swine! And He is continuously calling to us to come home to His loving embrace. This is the truly Good News about His amazing grace.
God’s Justice System
Then how does God correct the world? Will not the Judge of all the earth bring justice? Yet He refuses to accuse or condemn us, He refuses to terrify or threaten us and He isn’t counting our sins against us. What is left? Love, truth and consequences. By His love, He draws all who are willing, and by His Word, He leads all who are willing (speaking through conscience, nature, scripture and others).
If we are not turned into His ways by these “polite” methods, then He allows some of the consequences of our wrong choices to help us realize that we are heading in a wrong direction. Heart-peace, trust and mercy-giving love are the only way of life offered to us by God.
As the bird by wandering… so the curse causeless shall not come. Proverbs 26:2 KJV
Even great grace such as we have been offered does not remove the necessity of our repentance. In the same passage in which He revealed His glorious grace to Moses, God also stated that He “by no means clears the guilty.” Since even grace cannot be forced upon anyone, there is only one way of removing sin and its consequences: repentance. Until we choose to repent and return to Him, He “keeps” mercy for us, but mercy cannot be released to do its full work of restoration until we repent and return to receive it.
When the children of Israel were about to enter into their Promised Land, the Lord told them to create a visual picture by having some men stand on Mt. Ebal calling down the curses that would come to those who would not listen and obey Him and others to stand on Mt. Gerizim calling down the blessings on those who would obey. The choice is ours!
The Curse of the Law
Things that represent the “curse of the Law” (the consequence of sin) don’t come to us accidentally. The curse of the Law may enter our lives through three ways:
1) The sins of others
2) Un-repented sins of our forefathers (generational sins in the family or on the land)
3) Our own sins of thought, word or deed whether known or unknown, including things done or left undone.
It is a wonder any of us are sane and healthy! Actually, this too is due to His generosity for He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. Even so, sin’s very real consequences always lead to death. No one gets away with any sin. The law of sowing and reaping applies until repentance comes and even repentance doesn’t remove all consequences, but it does allow God opportunity to bring restoration and redemption.
Consider the “little” sin of simple unforgiveness:
1) The first consequence of unforgiveness is that it immediately begins to rob you of joy.
2) Then you discover your peace slipping away whenever you think of what happened.
3) You discover the relationship being affected negatively.
4) The longer you hold on to it, the more the remembered pain of the event may intensify.
5) You become more critical not only of the person, but of other people in general.
6) As your walls go up you begin to feel cut off from God’s Presence, His peace and joy.
7) As more walls go up, other relationships are affected.
8) More of your time is fruitlessly robbed from you by dwelling on the past.
9) Unforgiveness increases the stress load upon the body and can lead to illnesses.
10) And on and on…
Keys to Health and Freedom
Jesus gives us keys that provide access to His Kingdom’s health and freedom. As we saw in Chapter 1, His summary of the Law clearly shows us that our primary assignment is to work at building (or rebuilding if need be) relationships of trust and love with God, self and others. When these relationships are healthy, God can send many blessings our way—this is His desire. However, we “invite” the curse even in the form of disease when there is a breakdown in one or more of these relationships. This means that there is tremendous hope for all of us that if we are willing to put our primary assignment first and do what is needed to get things right in our hearts, our bodies may very likely return to full health. Our hearts hold the key!
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23 WEB
Thank God, however, there is one dreaded consequence we never have to fear coming upon us: losing His love. He loves us unconditionally. And that’s the truth!
Fortunately, the one consequence we never have to fear is losing His love!
Father, there is so much I still don’t understand, help me to walk in what I do know and come with further teachings so that I can grow. I cast this care on you. I suspect that there are so many things about me that need changing that I am overwhelmed. I cast the burden of my whole life on You. Thank You for taking on these cares and for having a plan already in place for helping me. I am ready to trust and obey You with whatever You show me is my part.
Take It to Heart!Don't just give these truths a "head bob"! For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see Truth or Consequences part 2 (Head to Heart Guide 2) and "work out" with exercises, discussion questions, review of main points, digging deeper, more scriptures, model prayers, renunciations/affirmations and practical steps of life application.
Scriptures and Foot Notes
 Proverbs 23:7; Matthew 12:34
 John 8:44
 Hosea 4:6; Isaiah 5:13
 Psalm 19:1; Exodus 40:35; 2 Chronicles 5:14
 Romans 6:4
 Luke 15:11-32; Hebrews 4:16
 Genesis 18:25
 Romans 8:34; 1 John 4:18; 2 Corinthians 5:19
 Exodus 34:7
 Exodus 33:7
 Deuteronomy 27:1-10
 See Deuteronomy 27-28 and Proverbs 26:2 KJV
 Psalm 103:10
 Exodus 34:7
 Galatians 6:7-8; Romans 8:28
 Matthew 22:36-40
 Deuteronomy 28
 Isaiah 54:9-10; Romans 8:37-39