Choices, choices. We make hundreds of choices every single day: what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to say, how to spend our free-time. Many choices, all ours to make as we see fit. Those choices have an effect, the choices we make result in certain things happening, and certain outcomes. Some with negligible differences, and some with larger and longer influences – such as a marriage.
All of these though, utterly pale in comparison to one choice… one eternal choice. One choice that will affect your eternal destination. One choice that will determine your future for all-time and beyond. What I want to share with you today, is exactly what this choice entails – it may surprise you to learn that many people aren’t as sure as they might have thought – and to also show you that this same choice has been available from the beginning of creation. This choice has not changed over the years, as some think that it has. It is an eternal choice, in every sense of the word; both in its existence and in its effect.
Now just as with any of the other choices that we make in life, it is impossible to make an informed and educated decision, if we do not understand the nature of the things that we are deciding between. For example, if we do not understand the different tastes of certain foods presented to us, then we cannot make an informed decision about what to eat. If you don’t know the true inner-character of a person, you can’t make an educated decision about whether they would be a good marriage partner.
And the same is true for our eternal choice as well. If we don’t understand the nature of the choice, we can’t make a good decision! So let’s begin today by showing the foundation and the nature of the choice, first by reading Genesis 2:8-9:
“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
We see here that there were two trees, one was the tree of life, and one was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Just based on their name alone, they both seem desirable. They both seem like something that we would want, and something that would be good for us to have. However, move down to verses 16 and 17:
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”
God here says to Adam that he may eat of every tree (including the tree of life)… only one tree was forbidden – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The reason given, that the same day that Adam eats of that tree, he will surely die (which in Hebrew is a double-death, Adam would die spiritually, and then physically one day as well).
Now it may surprise some people to learn this fact, that the forbidden tree, was something that on the surface seems quite good and right to have. After all, what’s wrong with the knowledge of good and evil? Isn’t that what God wants us to have? Well no, we can see right here that God absolutely told Adam to not eat from the tree of knowledge of God and evil. God clearly told Adam that the day he ate of that tree he would die!
Shocking, I know. Now why? It’s not as much of a mystery as we might think at first… God wanted that tree to remain uneaten; He wanted the knowledge of good and evil to remain untouched by human-kind, so that they would rest fully on Him! Remember that as soon as Adam and Eve ate from that tree, in Genesis 3, that their eyes were opened – but their eyes weren’t opened to the grace and mercy of God. Their eyes were opened to their own nakedness, and they suddenly became afraid of God and ashamed, and they ran and hid from Him! The knowledge of good and evil did not grow and increase their intimacy with God – instead the knowledge of good and evil actually severed their intimacy with God! Because instead of looking towards the mercy and Grace of God and resting on that, their eyes were now opened to themselves, and looking towards themselves, and they tried desperately to clothe their own nakedness and appear right before God and they ended-up running and hiding.
This was the eternal choice at the beginning of creation in the Garden of Eden. To eat from the very Tree of Life, representing Jesus Christ, or to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, representing the Law… and there are many people today, still choosing that same tree of knowledge of good and evil today, trusting in their own selves to save them. They say tell me what’s good, tell me what’s evil, so that I may perform, and through my performance, be more like God.
Does that sound familiar? That is the very same attitude presented all throughout the Bible, by the prideful Israelities in the Exodus, by the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, and by the promoters of works-righteousness today, and gets everyone the exact same result as it got Adam and Eve… death.
If we skip forwards in time to Exodus 19:8, the people are again faced with a choice. God had just brought them out of Egypt, they had seen all of His miracles and His power, and God says in verse 5 that He wants them to continue to obey His voice and keep His covenant. They understood the relationship of faith which was introduced long ago (Abel understood it way back in Genesis 4), that it wasn’t our own performance or merit that earned anything, but the blood of the sacrifice. God wanted that faith which pointed to Jesus to continue, but the Israelites, make again an Eternal choice, and we have what we see here in verse 8 of Exodus 19:
“And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD has spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people to the LORD.”
The English text doesn’t really convey the weight of what the people said. Because in Hebrew it doesn’t say “all that the LORD has spoken we will do.” What they actually said was “All that God has said, we will produce.” – which is to say, they were pridefully proclaiming that they will produce within themselves, all the obedience of whatever God commanded.
Then following in verse 12, God says, anyone who touches the mountain of Sinai will be stoned, or shot with arrows and die. Again, to touch the place of the Law produces not life, not intimacy with God, but death.
Now, you might be thinking, that was just back then, surely that kind of stuff doesn’t happen today. Let’s find out!
You see, just like those whom we have read about, we too have the very same choice. The choice between the sacrifice of Jesus for us, Grace, Truth and Life, or the produce of ourselves, our own strength, our own knowledge of good and evil which is death.
There are many today, just like there were back then, who try to cling to the old ways, the old traditions, and try to do a lot of theological gymnastics to try and bring the Law, and the knowledge of good and evil back into the picture, when (as we read) God never wanted us to eat from that tree to begin with.
There are those who try to marry and intermingle the Old Covenant of the Law with the New Covenant of Grace in Christ, as if it was no big deal, when Jesus Himself said that you cannot mix the New wine with the Old wineskins, or they will burst. You cannot put a new patch of cloth into an old garment, or it will tear and you lose both. (Matthew 9:16-17)
Likewise, you cannot intermingle two completely different covenants; to do so is to commit spiritual adultery. To look at how very serious this is, let’s look at some areas of Galatians, because the assembly at Galatia were dealing with the very same issue. There were people who came into the assembly of believers and were advocating the Law. They were advocating works-based righteousness. Take a look at Galatians 4:21-31:
“Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a female slave, the other by a free woman.
But he who was of the female slave was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise.
Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which engenders to bondage, which is Agar.
For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
For it is written, Rejoice, you barren that bore not; break forth and cry, you that travail not: for the desolate has many more children than she which has an husband.
Now we, brothers, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
Nevertheless what said the scripture? Cast out the female slave and her son: for the son of the female slave shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.
So then, brothers, we are not children of the female slave, but of the free.”
This is a very plain and simple point here. The Spirit of God, through Paul is drawing a clear analogy here between Abraham’s two sons by two different women, and the two covenants of the Law of Moses, and the Grace of Christ, and the eternal choice that each of us has to decide.
As verses 24 and 25 make clear, Hagar the slave-woman represents Mount Sinai and the Law, and she gives birth to bondage. All that are of her are slaves.
And as verses 26 through 28 say, the other, the free-woman, represents the covenant of Grace in Christ Jesus, and all who are of her just as Isaac, are not slaves, but free.
So, the choice is between the Law, the knowledge of good and evil, and our own performance, which makes us slaves and ends in death. Or Jesus Christ, knowing Him, His sacrifice for us which gives eternal life.
That is our eternal choice. And just in-case you weren’t sure which to chose, we are told in verses 30 and 31:
Cast out the slave-woman and her son. For the son of the female-slave will not be heir with the son of the free-woman.
Now understanding that these are allegories, God says very clearly, Get rid of the Law, and everything that is of the Law! Stop trying to use the Law to become an heir! It will never work! There are many people today who are still trying to hang onto the Law and they grip it tightly with both hands and refuse to let it go, when God Himself says to get rid of it! Cast it out! Why would He say that?
Look at verse 31: We are not children of the slave-woman, but of the free-woman. We are not under the bondage of the Old Covenant, we have been placed into the New Covenant of Christ! It would actually be quite insulting to desire to go back into slavery after Christ has placed us into His own covenant. It would be very similar to when the Israelites wanted to go back into the bondage of Egypt after God brought them out.
There are people who think that God will be pleased and happy with them for trying to keep the Law of Moses, not even realizing that it is not their covenant! We are in the covenant of Christ, which is not according to the Old Covenant (Hebrews 8:9). and again, you cannot intermingle them both. We do not serve according to the old letter of the Law, but in the newness of the Spirit of Christ (Romans 7:6). Do you see? It is completely different.
If we go back one chapter to Galatians 3, and read verses 10 through 12, we see that:
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them.”
You see that phrase? As many are of the works of the Law are under the curse. If you are trying to work under the Law of Moses, you are under the curse, because no-one can keep the entire Law perfectly, and that is exactly what the perfect Law requires.
We see very clearly in verses 11 and 12, that no man is justified by the Law in the sight of God. The just shall live by faith, and the Law is not of faith. Plain. Clear. Simple.
Go back one more chapter, to Galatians 2:19-21:
“For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live to God.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
I do not set aside the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Now keep in-mind who is writing these words, this is Paul, the former chief Pharisee, the one who promoted and upheld the Law of Moses, now being moved by the Holy Spirit of God to write the words I am dead to the Law. I am crucified with Christ, and now I live by faith in the Son of God!
Paul has made his eternal choice. The one who knew the Law so well, now recognizes and declares, that this Law is not what saves Him. He does not live by the Law, instead he has found the source of life, and it is Jesus Christ! The one who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Paul is not working for his righteousness; Paul is not earning his blessings, instead he is declaring that Jesus has done the work, it is finished, the atonement has been made. And as verse 21 says, Paul will not set it aside, in favor of self-works, self-righteousness, laws, traditions or any other thing. Why? Because if rrighteousness came by the Law, then Christ died in vain.
My friend, there is no other way, no other method, no other sacrifice. There are simply two items, two covenants, and one eternal choice. Some people try to marry and intermingle the two covenants because in their heart they are still fence-riders… but as we have already read, Jesus says you can’t do that. You must make an eternal choice.
This is your eternal choice. I close today with Galatians 5:1-4:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.”
Whether you want to call them two trees, two mountains, two paths or two people…. The fact remains that they are directly opposite to one-another, they are mutually exclusive. You cannot mix both, just as you cannot move in two opposite directions without being torn-apart.
Your eternal choice, is between the Law of Moses, which brings slavery and death, or Jesus Christ which brings freedom and live. And I encourage you today, with the very words of God from Deuteronomy 30:19: I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.
God tells you which to choose, so today, make your eternal choice.