By Alan Dean, retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor
From the beginning of time God has given mankind the ability and power to choose. Freedom of choice is an integral part of love. We respond to God’s love by our choice. God never uses force or deception to get us to follow Him. He wants it to be our free-will decision.
When Eve chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, God didn’t take the fruit from Eve’s hand and chastise her. She had chosen to believe Satan and God accepted that choice. And it was the same with Adam. He, knowing it was wrong, chose to take the fruit that Eve offered him because he didn’t want to be separated from Eve.
God knew these wrong choices would lead this world into severe immorality, much heartache, and death. But love demands a free-will choice. For God to win people back to Him would require 1) that He demonstrate His immense love for mankind and 2) to clearly show the evil that results from following Satan. People then could intelligently choose to whom they would be loyal. Jesus’ life and sacrificial death demonstrated both God’s love and Satan’s evil opposition. People for the most part did not choose Jesus because they were mistakenly led to believe that the Messiah would rebuild their nation to worldly power. Jesus didn’t fulfill their selfish desires.
Both Moses and Joshua at the end of their life tried to convince the nation of Israel that choosing to follow the Lord was for their best interest, rather following the pagan practices of the surrounding nations. In Deuteronomy 30 and Joshua 24 both men presented all the reasons and advantages for choosing to follow God.
However, Satan, who also wants our allegiance, has deceptive and enticing allurements that cause people to choose him. But these only bring temporary happiness and satisfaction. So, then Satan will make more offers that have the same result.
But the choice was theirs to make. In Joshua 24:15 Joshua tells the Israelites “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Moses made a similar plea years before when he said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life.” Deuteronomy 30:19
We must make the same choice. We need to look at what God offers us: joy, peace, and eternal life through Jesus, against what this world offers us in temporary pleasures and eventual mortality.
We also need to remember another of Satan’s tactics, and that is to take from us the freedom of choice. He will use force, peer pressure, lies, and deception to keep us from choosing Jesus and following Him. This becomes more prevalent as Jesus’ coming nears, and Satan knows his time is short. So, we need to be aware of this and stand up against these pressures of Satan, as well as being certain of what we believe so as to avoid deceptions.