We come into this world without being able to choose the time, place, family, church or community. Realizing our existence, we sail among games and colors, rocked by the mirage of childhood. . . .
Finally, one day, inevitably the moment of personal choice appears. From that moment on, consciously or unconsciously, we make choices day after day. Every choice is a brick laid in building your own construction. How will it be? That depends on you!
Throughout life, some choices seem difficult and others insignificant. Interestingly, they all generate some change in the course of life. But out of the great number of choices, is there one that will influence our eternity?
“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” ().
Not everyone sees sin as bondage. Many times, sin is hidden and merged under the saying of “Live your life!”
But our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, explains the reality: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever” (, ).
“Every soul that refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power. He is not his own. He may talk of freedom, but he is in the most abject slavery. He is not allowed to see the beauty of truth, for his mind is under the control of Satan. While he flatters himself that he is following the dictates of his own judgment, he obeys the will of the prince of darkness. Christ came to break the shackles of sin-slavery from the soul. ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ ”—.
The golden things of Satan seem beautiful, but in reality they are eaten by rust. In their quest for freedom, humanity ends up passing deeper and deeper into nothingness, without even knowing it. Every day, influenced by friends, family, acquaintances, young or old, they let themselves be captivated by the bondage of sin, living the illusion of freedom.
In today’s society, the tendency to disrespect any kind of law is becoming more blatant. The spirit of rebellion fills the world with evildoing. But this is not something new. The fight against authority and law has gone on since ancient times. It began with Lucifer in heaven and enveloped all of humanity here on earth. We are part of it. It is important to become aware that this conflict has marked our philosophy of life. Through the Holy Spirit, Paul comes to our aid by pointing out the importance of the moral law of God, the Ten Commandments:
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” ().
“Without the law, men have no just conception of the purity and holiness of God or of their own guilt and uncleanness. They have no true conviction of sin and feel no need of repentance. Not seeing their lost condition as violators of God’s law, they do not realize their need of the atoning blood of Christ.”—.
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” ().
“God’s law is the mirror presenting a complete reflection of the man as he is, and holding up before him the correct likeness. Some will turn away and forget this picture, while others will employ abusive epithets against the law, as though this would cure their defects of character. Still others who are condemned by the law will repent of their transgressions and, through faith in Christ’s merits, will perfect Christian character.”—. “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” ( ). But “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” ( ).
Jesus declared, “If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (). When the true Lamb of God was lifted high above the earth on the cross of Calvary, it made an impression on the world that cannot be effaced.
“It is true that men sometimes become ashamed of their sinful ways, and give up some of their evil habits, before they are conscious that they are being drawn to Christ. But whenever they make an effort to reform, from a sincere desire to do right, it is the power of Christ that is drawing them. An influence of which they are unconscious works upon the soul, and the conscience is quickened, and the outward life is amended. And as Christ draws them to look upon His cross, to behold Him whom their sins have pierced, the commandment comes home to the conscience. The wickedness of their life, the deep-seated sin of the soul, is revealed to them. They begin to comprehend something of the righteousness of Christ, and exclaim, ‘What is sin, that it should require such a sacrifice for the redemption of its victim? Was all this love, all this suffering, all this humiliation, demanded, that we might not perish, but have everlasting life?’”—.
The eyes begin to open and sin uncovers its true face in all its hideous horror. This ugly monstrosity can no longer be covered in the light of the cross of Calvary, upon which the Saviour of the world was crucified for our evildoing.
“Through the cross we learn that the heavenly Father loves us with a love that is infinite. Can we wonder that Paul exclaimed, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’?.”— .
With the eyes of the mind, people can see the Son of God dying for their sins. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the love manifested on the cross makes them value faith and penitence.
Faith is the key to all this. Through faith, we have repentance, confession, and the forsaking of sin. This faith turns our steps to Jesus Christ, since the heart feels that help is coming from Him.
From everything around us, we learn the love of God.
“ ‘God is love’ is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green—all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy.”—.
And, as if all this were not enough, the cross rises majestically to convince us that He wants to save us. And from the cry: “It is finished!” uttered from that cross, the divine offer appears: His purity in exchange for our sins. From that moment on, sin, like Satan, is a defeated enemy, but it is still a dangerous one.
Satan promises you a life without rules, without commands, a life in which you can supposedly have fun and do whatever you like. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? But its entire speech is a delusion, as no one can guarantee you a number of years. The fiendish archenemy of your soul makes the path of abandoning the commandments of God appear as happy, and even desirable. But the reality is that for all these deviations, there is a tremendously bitter price that will have to be paid.
The wealthy and wise king Solomon revealed the true picture, “he that keepth the law, happy is he” (). This promise is fulfilled here on this earth. Just as you find happiness and protection in the path of God’s commands, insecurity and sadness are found in the path of wrongdoing.
But thanks be to God that He provides us a path that generates happiness not just now, but for all eternity!
So, at a certain time, everyone will face a crossroads. There’s a fork in the road. Which way shall I go?
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (). Ignorance is no excuse for error or sin, when there is every opportunity to know the will of God. A man is traveling and comes to a place where there are several roads and a guideboard indicating where each one leads. If he disregards the guideboard, and takes whichever road seems to him to be right, he may be ever so sincere, but will in all probability find himself on the wrong road.”— .
As a matter of fact, there are really only two paths standing before anyone. A bright one, whose brilliance intensifies gradually, and a dark one, where the darkness just gets denser. These paths are life and death. And at the cross of these roads, you, as a person, are free to choose. God advises you: Choose Life! He is urging this to you through love, not as a command, and the decision is yours.
“Yet do not therefore conclude that the upward path is the hard and the downward road the easy way. All along the road that leads to death there are pains and penalties, there are sorrows and disappointments, there are warnings not to go on. God’s love has made it hard for the heedless and headstrong to destroy themselves. It is true that Satan’s path is made to appear attractive, but it is all a deception; in the way of evil there are bitter remorse and cankering care.”—.
A correct decision on this point makes all the others easier.
In the physical world, light and life go together; they are closely related. We could explain this connection simply, through a small experiment: Put a piece of cardboard over the lawn and leave it for a few weeks. What will happen? It’s easy to see that the grass will dry out.
The relationship between light and darkness is even more apparent in the spiritual world. The light that makes eternal life possible is a blessing that must not only be realized but also accepted.
Thence, the most important decision in life is, undoubtedly, the decision for Christ.
Jesus explained the powerful attraction of His sacrifice on the cross in our behalf with His words: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” ().
This works through the strong influence of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts—a tender wooing which we should not resist. “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” ().
“The first step in reconciliation to God is the conviction of sin. ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’; . In order to see his guilt, the sinner must test his character by God’s great standard of righteousness. It is a mirror which shows the perfection of a righteous character and enables him to discern the defects in his own.
“The law reveals to man his sins, but it provides no remedy. While it promises life to the obedient, it declares that death is the portion of the transgressor. The gospel of Christ alone can free him from the condemnation or the defilement of sin. He must exercise repentance toward God, whose law has been transgressed; and faith in Christ, his atoning sacrifice. Thus he obtains ‘remission of sins that are past’ and becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is a child of God, having received the spirit of adoption, whereby he cries: ‘Abba, Father!’ ”—.
Everyone has his/her own experience. No conversion is identical—and just as every human being is one of a kind, so is this transformation. Some experience a dramatic conversion, such as Paul on the road to Damascus; others have been trained in a Christian home, as in the case of Timothy. But whatever the type of conversion, it is certain that the sinner, from that moment on, will hate sin and love righteousness. Many people seek for the wonders of former times, forgetting that the greatest miracle achieved by divine power is actually the conversion of the human soul. It is the work of conversion and sanctification to reconcile people to God by bringing them into accord with the principles of His law.
There are several steps here:
Finding. By studying the Bible personally, you begin to understand the requirements of Christ.
Accepting. All other personal, material interests fade in view of the unmatched love of the Saviour.
Surrendering. You want to do God›s will, and new fruits begin to appear in your life—and “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ” (, ).
Daily consecration. Day by day you will experience the joy of the connection with the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The resemblance. When two people stay together for a long time, the personality of the strongest begins to prevail. Like the beloved disciple John, the one who falls in love with the character of the Lord Jesus, will imitate Him.
But conversion is not a miracle simply occurring only at a certain time. It is a process that lasts the entire life and is perfected with each approach to God’s word. Jesus explains, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” ().
This change is the new birth, without which, Jesus said, no one can see the kingdom of God. To be born again involves the mind—new desires, new pleasures, new reasons, new goals. For this transformation to take place, we must submit to the work of the Holy Spirit. Any delay is dangerous since, over time, the heart might harden.
Throughout life, I have met many people with the “postponement philosophy,” especially in this spiritual area. “Repentance” is a term often associated with the last decade of life. Personally, I was often told just to put off connecting my life to God until after I would be old. The idea was to busy myself with school, career, family, etc., as if these were bigger priorities. How foolish! Sadly, people advising such a course of action could not realize the enormous losses caused by postponing a commitment to Christ. But God, by various means, works by drawing us to Him with cords of love.
I can still remember the crucial moment of my conversion. Often I used to listen to my sister talk about God. She had discovered something new, something I had never heard of before, and she wanted to share with me the “Bread of Life.” It took me some time to decide which side of the barricade to be on.
The high school I attended was away from home and for a while I was alone, without family. Due to circumstances, my sister moved to the city where I lived. Every evening, together we sought the answers to many questions that arose after reading the Holy Word. In a mysterious way, God was working. The time had come for a personal decision, and I want to say that no human power influenced me. I understood the eternal validity of God’s law, and therefore I decided to keep the Sabbath.
But there was a problem that worried me: A problem for me, but not for God. I was in my last year of high school and I had to take the 5 final exams. I began to fear that one of the exams might end up being on a Saturday. I tried to fight this fear, but it was always on my mind, making a dent in the peace that had rested over my soul—until one day when I realized that God had everything under control. During that time, we began to look for a church that would meet our new views. I felt the need for fellowship, for membership. I asked the neighbors but didn’t get a satisfactory answer, so I postponed the search.
One day, someone knocked on our door. It was a kind gentleman and lady, who, smiling, asked us if we were interested in going with them to church the next Sabbath (they had heard about our search through the neighbors). They seemed trustworthy, so I invited them inside. We had a very interesting discussion, which I will never forget. Word for word, I found out they were husband and wife, and that he was an official on the School Board. Without my mentioning anything about my fear, this kind gentleman assured me that if an exam would be scheduled for Saturday, he could reschedule it for me!
Suddenly I felt then that all of heaven cared for my well-being. A confidence which I had never experienced before arose in my soul. I was under the eye of the Heavenly Father! I decided to make a covenant with Him.
“Christ has made baptism the sign of entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He has made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Before man can find a home in the church, before passing the threshold of God’s spiritual kingdom, he is to receive the impress of the divine name, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’.”— .
This is not just to say, “I believe,” but actually to demonstrate in real life that you belong to God through your everyday words, behavior, and actions. The believer must always remember that he made a solemn covenant and that, through this covenant, he died to the world and lives wholly for the Saviour. All the abilities with which he has been gifted will be poured into the interest of the heavenly kingdom to which he is dutiful. Only from this time forward will life truly make sense and the purpose for which we live on this earth be clarified: Restoring the divine image in fallen humanity.
The rehabilitation program consists in giving love to those around you and telling others about the goodness of God, so that they, too, may be saved.
“The Scriptures plainly show that the work of sanctification is progressive. When in conversion the sinner finds peace with God through the blood of the atonement, the Christian life has but just begun. Now he is to ‘go on unto perfection;’ to grow up ‘unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’ Says the apostle Paul: ‘This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’, . And Peter sets before us the steps by which Bible sanctification is to be attained: ‘Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. . . . If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.’ .”— .