When is the last time you said these words? How many of you need some astonishment or inspiration in your life?
I don’t know about you but my life could use some change.
Continue reading and allow these words to relieve the pressure of spiritual perfection.
Our journey begins in the Word of God. Reading its pages is like God’s voice whispering in your ear. His breath and personality plunge into your spirit leaving you breathless and sensitively aware of possibility and promise. Each translation of His Word is a deeper insight into the voice of the Father, the son or Holy Spirit-all speaking at once and even separately to ensure it divides soul and spirit finding the mind. The final result is a renewal of mind and spirit; a life changed.
This dialogue about “life and death” will be told by the Word of God by connecting Old and New Testament truth to the ultimate truth of the gospel. I will embellish this tale with spirit-led insights that will bathe you in warmth and rest, a real rest spoken in Matthew 11:28 by The Message:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Let’s begin in Deuteronomy. (When is the last time you visited there?) Deuteronomy 30:15 to be exact. I will warn you, I am going to bounce around translations with no greater reason but because I like it. I like different words saying the same thing. Isn’t that why we have a deity of three who speak as one?
Deuteronomy says this:
Look at what I’ve done for you today: I’ve placed in front of you
Life and Good
Death and Evil. (MSG)
I know you know this. It’s a common conversation in religious circles. In spiritual terms, if we choose life we gain heaven, if death is chosen our fate is hell. In literal terms, we can choose to do good or do evil on this Earth. Simple, right? Maybe there is a different definition of “life”, a deeper meaning to the term “death” that requires more investigation or a shift in thinking.
We all know that God gave Adam and Eve a choice. We modernists call it “free will”. Every living being has been given a choice to make their eternal home in heaven or hell. We are given the choice to do good or bad. Our lives can be comprised of positive or negative choices. Many pastors, teachers, journalists, actors, etc. would agree that the positive or negative choices you make define you. How many times have you been told, “Your choices define you”? How many times have you heard this warning sent from your parent, youth pastor or high school motivational speaker? This phrase crosses my path at least once a month, if not more. There is a lot of pressure on young and old to make the right decision in terms of marriage, collegiate paths, jobs, finances, churches, etc. You desire God’s blessings and do not want to wander or fail due to your wrong decision. Let’s add the adverb “not” to the sentence and see how it feels. I encourage you to say the following phrase aloud and let it penetrate your spirit.
“My choices do NOT define me”.
It’s worth repeating…”My choices do NOT define me.”
How many mistakes have you made in your life? Divorce? Bankruptcy? Maybe you committed an unforgivable crime or are struggling with homosexuality. Your choices do NOT define you. Are you stuck in a job you despise? Is addiction your daily demon? Your choices do NOT define you. Is your son or daughter grown and you can’t take back the words you said or the time you missed? Has your whole life been a lie because you refused to be who you really are? Your choices do NOT define you.
Do you want all of your poor choices to define you? Unquestionably, most of your failure has made you stronger, but do you want it to define your character? Do you want to be considered a failure or wanderer because you switched your major eight times, or uncommitted because you have had two failed marriages?
Your choices do NOT define you. You are defined by Jesus. He is the author and finisher of your faith. His story is your story…victory.
THE CHOICE defines you.
We are given “free-choice:…undoubtedly. However, it is not our multiple choices that define us but the ONE choice that we make. You and I, as Christians, are confronted with this “life and death”choice every second of every day. Do I want to do this in my ability or His? John Sheasby, founder of Liberated Living Ministries with his wife, Beverly, articulate eloquently that sin is simply not trusting in God to be your everything. Your poor choice to sin is really you choosing death. You simply told Jesus you didn’t need him and he couldn’t help so you did it yourself.
THE CHOICE defines you.
We can choose death by trying to obey God in our own ability or we can choose life by ceasing from our own works and receiving Jesus to do it through us. Jesus is our life. We receive Jesus to do what our flesh CANNOT do. We do not get saved and then prove to God how holy we are with our good choices. In Romans 5:18, Paul admits he needs help like we all do. We need Jesus to be our savior and interrupt our circumstances with his “strength show[ing] itself most effective in our weakness” (2 Cor. 12 AMP).
THE CHOICE defines you.
Christians make “life and death” choices daily. The God-given choice of “free will” does not draw the line between sinners and saints. I am drawing a line between those who wish to be sons of God and those who wish to be servants. I am defining a demarcation in the sand that divides those who choose to receive God’s ability to do good and those slaves who try to do the right thing on their own apart from God’s help in order to flaunt their spirituality (aka: Pharisee). This line in the sand is similar to the line Jesus drew whilst Pharisaical leaders paraded the adulteress ruler in the streets desiring her death. On one side of the line are those who choose to cast stones and those who choose to love unconditionally.
THE CHOICE defines you.
If indeed your many choices define you, what hope is there? Paul says it outright in Romans 7:19:
I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway (MSG).
Paul seemed to get it. He knew that if left up to ourselves, we will always make the wrong decision, the impulse that feels good will always be our instinctive response. Our flesh will fail us EVERY time so if we are defined by our choices, we are all sunk.
Why in the world are we given a choice? Why did God surrender us to this miserable fate? I venture to profess that God’s choice is not that you must get it right or else you get death. I think God gave us a choice to trust him (life) or to do it ourselves (death). Life is found when we allow God to do it in us instead of us trying to make the RIGHT choice that IMPRESSES God.
Maybe you are rejecting this notion completely. You possibly have already left this dialogue because this thought is too radical. You are hesitant because it confronts all you have been taught. I urge you to stay with me and listen to God’s love for you. God’s Word weaves this truth together in a masterful way.
Satan knows the power of choosing life, allowing God to do it through you. He knows the power you would have if you knew the power that lives in you. Satan, as the serpent, enticed Eve into believing that she could have the power if she tasted of the fruit. Satan’s entreats promised God-like power that would give her all knowledge (Genesis 3:4-5 CEV). What Eve failed to consider is that she already had that power within her. Genesis 1:30 reveals God’s promise to Adam and Eve that he gave them everything, “everything in which there is the breath of life” (MSG). According to God, Adam and Eve were given everything: communion with God in the cool of the day, dominion over the Earth and sweat-less productivity in all their labors. Satan lured them into thinking that if they tasted of the fruit, if they did it their way, they would be omnipotent and omniscient. God’s original design was for us to commune with Him personally and receive the abundance of grace just because we chose life. The garden experience is just that-an experience-in fruitful surroundings where all your needs are met and you are sustained with no need to labor.
Satan is still stealthily telling us that we can obtain spiritual promotion if we prove our obedience in our own ability. We begin to boast and flaunt our spiritual superiority forgetting that we “are created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph. 2:8-10 KJV). The blood of Jesus’ main intent was to free us from the law and position us into a place of receiving by faith all that is ours as sons and daughters of the Most High God. Galatians 2:21 emphatically testifies that if we could obtain righteousness by obeying the law then Christ’s death was useless (CEV). The Amplified version says that we “nullify” the blood of Jesus when we choose to obey God without Jesus’ help.
How can Jesus help? Who is Jesus? Who is this man that changed everything? How did he fix the damage that turned our garden experience into a desert wasteland? Let’s take a look at Romans 5:12-21 where Paul mentions the relationship between Adam and Jesus. Verse 18 declares that acceptance replaced condemnation through one man’s death. Jesus acquitted us of our unrighteousness and declared us redeemed. Each day we make the choice to accept this new identity or reject it and attain righteousness in our efforts. King David, as a young shepherd, refused Saul’s armor. He refused a bulky, unfit facade that did nothing but interfere with the truth of who he was, the rightful heir and King of Israel. Young David did not know his future as a mighty ruler when he chose three precious stones. He did not know the anthem that would later announce his praise, “Saul his thousands, but David his ten thousands” when he stood before King Saul. He did not know the ultimate sins he would commit against Uriah and Solomon, yet with stones in his left and sling in his right, he faced the enemy Goliath with the armor of God. His strength did not lie in his muscle, height or intelligence. David knew his weakness was made perfect in God’s strength as Goliath fell to the ground. Saul’s armor was an incumbrance that only reduced David’s authority before his enemy. Your armor against sin is not your obedience but your birthright. Walk before your enemy knowing you are already declared triumphant. Stand boldly before the decision that threatens you and know who causes your foot never to stumble. You are a more than a conqueror because you chose life and that life more abundantly. Shed the armor of legalism and shackles of pride. Run and not faint, walk and not be weary in the new identity you have as a child of God. If you stumble tomorrow in the very thing you promised yesterday you would never do, proclaim “I am NOT defined by my choices” and find strength in your weakness. Jesus is your everything. He is your promise and your guide. Release and receive the new identity you have in Christ that declares you righteous beyond any past or future mistake; an identity that loves despite your repeated offenses. Jesus declares you worthy, beautiful and priceless. You are never outside of His watch and His help. I invite you to say the following aloud:
“I am not defined by my choices. I am not defined by yesterday. I am not defined by the mistakes I will make tomorrow. I am accepted because I am His. I am loved. I am capable of overcoming because He overcame. I love because He first loves me. I love myself. I love me. I love everything about me. I forgive myself. I release my past. I am not defined by my choices. I am defined by love.”
Love created you. It weaved you together. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by a creator who gave His son to die that you might live. Choose life. Choose to live in Jesus and what He has already finished.
I hope loving Jesus has become a little less pressured. I hope perfect love has cast the fear of making a wrong decision far from your thinking. I pray you are rooted and grounded in a love that chose to acquit you while you were deserving of death. The wages of sin has been replaced by the gift of grace. Receive God’s unmerited favor and live in freedom.