In the last segment of this series (Part 2), I discussed the reasons why God created us with a free will. Please go back and read that episode: What would you do if you were God (Part 2), to get the background for this teaching. In today’s blog, we will dig deeper into God’s purpose for giving us free will. YHVH works all things together for good no matter how far we stray from His perfect plan for our lives.
We are born into the earthly realm where hasatan rules and reigns (ever since Adam and Eve gave back their dominion to him in the fall. So you might ask: why would God have allowed our great adversary to take dominion of the Earth from us? Well, being our all-knowing Creator, and having given us free will, He knew that we would eventually disobey Him and fall into sin. So He created us with a conscience that steers us towards what is right and away from what is wrong.
Even young children can be influenced by other forces and willfully choose to disobey their consciences. Parents may have taught their child right from wrong, but that child can be wrongly influenced by seeing another child doing something they know is wrong (taking something that doesn’t belong to them, or telling a fib, for instance). If the child is caught in the act and reprimanded, but desires to please their parents, then they will resist the temptation to disobey the next time. It is the same with our heavenly parent, Abba. Even at a young age, children start developing a sense of what is right and wrong. They learn that their lives will be happier and less stressful if they take the “right” path in their choices.
When we come into the age of moral accountability, we generally know that we are to keep God’s commandments, but there are many forces tempting us to go astray of those commandments. We are tempted by the snares of the world, such as the lust of the eyes and flesh around us that appear so desirable on the surface. We are also tempted by others to stray. At times, we can be lured by the seductive wiles of HaSatan or his evil forces to commit sinful acts.
How is God working for good through these sinful lapses on our part? Yehovah has blessed us with intelligent minds that are able to reason through the physical consequences of sin – and a spirit ideally in tune with His Holy Spirit to help us recognize the spiritual consequences of sin, which leads to separation from God. YHVH desires that all of His children be born again and filled with His Holy Spirit. This means that when we fall into sin, He uses His rod and staff to correct us and pull us back into His fold. Sometimes, we fall so far and for so long that we suffer severe consequences. These can take the form of physical or mental ailments.
As many born-again believers’ testimonies confirm, these times of falling away were the low-points in their sinful lives. Yet God was working to bring them back and restore them to fellowship with Him. He can work in many ways – through other believers or His angels who rescue us in dire times of great distress or danger, through Yeshua Himself who appears to people in the depths of despair, and even directly by shining His glory light into a fallen person’s heart and thoughts, giving them hope for a joyful future with Him.
There are many examples in Scripture of YHVH pulling people out of the depths of their despair. In David’s case, he often experienced times of discouragement, desperation and even hopelessness. Some of these times were brought about because of unjust hostility from others, such as King Sha’ul, Abimelech, etc. (1 Sam 23, Ps 22:1-8, Ps 69:1-4, Ps 56, Ps 34). But in other cases it was his own sin that brought God’s judgment down on him (Ps 51). In both cases, he cried out to YHVH, because he knew that God would rescue him out of his dire circumstances even when his sin had temporarily separated him from God’s presence. At all these times, though, David was learning to trust in God’s protection and deliverance instead of trusting in people and nations to deliver him.
Similarly with Paul (Sha’ul) in the New Testament, he realized that God was his only stronghold and that was sufficient for him no matter how dire the circumstances were. Sha’ul had sinned greatly by persecuting believers in Yeshua (Acts 7:58), before Yeshua appeared to him and saved him by grace on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-18). He then came under great persecution himself and had to depend on YHVH to save him from his enemies, learning that YHVH was his strength when he was weak (2 Cor 12:8-10).
Think about the darkest times in your life, when someone has abused or hurt you deeply, or when you have fallen into the darkness of sin and depression. If you are a believer, you know that those times were when God was working the most fervently in your life – to raise you back up to joy and glory in His kingdom, or to convict you of the destructive effects of your sin and the critical need to turn from your sinful ways and follow Him. When I think about the freedom He has given us and the power of His love and grace to save us when we fall, I cannot imagine Him doing it any other way!