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Simplicity that is in Christ

by Robert Berendt

Humans seem inclined to make complicated something that is intended to be simple. God is far more complicated than our minds can imagine – but He knows the heart, intent and limitations of humans (Hebrews 4:12, 13). Furthermore, He has a message for all of mankind. Some education is required because we cannot choose between good and evil unless we know what they are – and God insists that we make choices. Sadly enough, when knowledge is abundant, the will to do what is right by God’s definition is often missing. Often, people know what is right, yet still make the wrong choices. Even pagans like Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar knew about the God Daniel worshipped (Daniel 5:22; 2:47) but pride, vanity, stubbornness, carelessness, deceptions and peer pressure played a part in their denial of what is right – choosing to obey God. The same holds true for us.

God is looking for those who will obey Him (I John 2:3). He is hoping people will see the love, goodness, hope and future He offers and just do what He says (Proverbs 15:3). God has done everything He can to help us understand His love. He taught the Law of life directly to humans and to the entire world through Israel at Mount Sinai. He presented the Ten Commandments and preserved them in the Torah for thousands of years. He worked miracle after miracle (Hebrews 3:9). He provided a Redeemer and Saviour when mankind had no way back from sin. He became flesh to show us we can live and not sin and He took upon Himself the payment for our sins (Romans 6:23).

Only when God opens our minds to understand can we know His truths (Luke 24:45). He will not force people to make the right choices. It is the heart (attitude towards God) that counts. The hard heart of humans is softened through pain and suffering, but that is not what God prefers. He wants us to obey Him because He is our Creator and Father and holds eternity in His hands. He wants to bless and give good gifts to His children.

What is God looking for? He seeks people who grasp the beauty of His offer of eternal life and forgiveness through the blood of Christ and who repent of their sins. He wants those who resist sin and choose good (His laws) for the rest of their lives. Conversion requires consistently choosing His way as we live among wicked people and are confronted by Satan. It sometimes takes suffering to loosen the chains that have bound us for years. Bad habits and the influence of the mind of Satan in our decisions and choices do need to be broken. Jesus, who never sinned, always obeyed God and fought the temptations that so easily assail us (Hebrews 2:18).

God shows us the path and makes a bridge for our return to His good graces and freedom from sin. The reward is eternal life with a body that never ages or is sick and a position as a king or priest. More than this, God planned for us to be His children and like Him in every way (1 John 3:2).

God is looking for individuals willing to obey Him. What God asks is not impossible, or He would not ask it. We humans can understand because God did not make His commandments impossible for us to obey or understand (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). The problem is us! God is disappointed when people turn away from Him.

When God put the choices to Israel and told them of the blessings and cursings, He encouraged them to work for the blessings (Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 16). They could have kept His laws, but instead they “would not” obey Him (Deuteronomy 28:62) and that is a long way from “could not” obey Him.

When God created a wonderful world, even the angels shouted for joy. He created humans and spent time with them. He planted a beautiful garden and told them to take care of it. He told them about the only tree that they must not touch or eat of its fruit. If Adam and Eve would have obeyed, they could have eaten of the Tree of Life, which was also in the garden and available to them. When they chose to disobey and follow what their eyes and thinking assured them was a “better way”, they sinned and lost the opportunity for all the gifts God offered and sin entered into all of mankind from Adam onward (Romans 5:12). Why are we humans like that?

God is now watching to see what we choose to do. The formula is simple. See what is sin offensive to God, repent of it with all your heart and soul, accept the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Then keep His laws and do not let the temptation of sin influence the rest of your life. We are to obey Him and live – recognize the pain we have caused our loving Father and accept His offer of the cleansing blood of Christ. Will we resolve to resist sin – or will we turn away, spurn His offer, and stay in darkness?

Once humans have had enough of self-inflicted pain, misery and sorrow, and they turn to God and His promise, He will hear and listen (Jeremiah 23:23, 24). Even those carrying loads of sin can be forgiven (Isaiah 1:18). God looks to see if any are wise, if any look for Him and if any are willing to obey. It is simple. God tells us not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He tells us how painful that could be and then, as a loving parent, He lets us choose. We will learn that He is always right. As a loving God, He offers to rescue us through Christ.

© 1995- United Church of God-Canada

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