Introduction: Too many choices! Have you ever heard someone say
that? Wegman’s is a new grocery store in my area. I’ve never seen
anything like it. The different kinds and amounts of food to choose
from seem almost sinful. Some people in the world do not have enough
to eat, and this store seems to have not only every kind of food,
but an astonishing variety of each food. Milton Freedman is an
economist who wrote a book entitled “Free to Choose.” He argued that
a free people in a free economy will prosper. Thus, Wegman’s, with
its overwhelming number of choices, is the direct result of a free
economy. Wegman’s felt sinful. Is this idea of a free people making
free choices sinful? Or, is free choice at the heart of God’s
Kingdom? Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. First Freedom

    1. Read Genesis 2:15-17. Would God get sued by a products
      liability lawyer?

      1. We have a deadly product which looks like many other
        beneficial products. The product is not labeled,
        God only gave an oral warning. It has a deceptive,
        even attractive title (“knowledge of good and
        evil”), and not “killer tree”. The dangerous fruit
        looks good ( Genesis 3:6). It is not hidden away or
        fenced off, it is ( Genesis 3:3) in the “middle of
        the garden.” Does God have any defense to putting
        this deadly poisonous fruit tree where it can easily
        harm someone?

    2. Read Genesis 3:9-12. Does Adam have a complete and
      absolute defense against any charges God might bring?
      Not only can he claim the things I just mentioned, but
      now God’s agent (the woman) gave him some fruit and
      encouraged him to eat it.

      1. Should we also sue God for punitive damages (damages
        intended to punish a knowingly reckless defendant)?

    3. If God were the manufacturer of chain saws, the purpose
      of the chain saw is to cut wood, not your leg. The
      manufacturer does everything, within reason, to make sure
      the chain saw is used only for its intended purpose.
      What is the intended purpose of this fruit tree in the
      middle of the garden? (It can only have one intended
      purpose, to pose a test of human free choice.)

      1. With all of the obvious steps that God could have
        taken to make it more difficult to eat the fruit,
        why did He not do more? (God is the intelligence of
        the universe. He obviously decided not to do more.
        The only reason I can think that He would do this is
        to give humans absolute free choice.)

    4. What did God value more than free choice?(Whatever else
      is included in free choice, nothing seems more important
      than it. God and humans suffered terribly as a result of
      being given free choice. Can you hear Adam and Eve
      saying, “If You loved us, you would not have allowed this
      to happen?”)

      1. Some people say that religion should have nothing to
        do with politics. Some suggest that communism or
        some sort of socialism is most consistent with
        Christianity. What does Genesis teach us? (God’s
        system of government maximizes individual freedom.
        Although God created a rescue plan for our freedom
        to choose, there was no obvious safety net in Eden
        to keep us from choosing sin.)

  2. Choices and Consequences

    1. Read Genesis 4:1-2. Cain was the first human who was
      birthed. How did Eve view Cain’s birth? (A cooperative
      venture with God.)

    2. Read Genesis 4:3-7. What choices were given to Cain?

      1. Did Cain possess the power to master sin? (God says
        “you must master [sin].”)

    3. Read Genesis 4:8. Is this premeditated murder? (It seems
      so, because Cain asked Able to go out to the field.)

    4. Read Genesis 4:9-14. What are the results of Cain’s
      choice? (His brother is dead, and Cain’s life is ruined.)

      1. Why did God not protect Abel? Recall that Genesis
        4:4 tells us that God looked on Abel with favor.

      2. When Eve and Adam heard of this, how do you think
        they felt?

        1. What went through Eve’s mind when she thought
          back about how God blessed her with Cain
          ( Genesis 4:1)?

        2. Would Adam and Eve blame themselves for this
          tragedy? Did they bear part of the blame?
          (Yes. They introduced sin into the world.)

        3. Would Adam and Eve have preferred, at this
          point, not to have had free choice?

          1. What had free choice cost them?

    5. Read Deuteronomy 30:10-14. Is it possible to keep God’s
      law? (This text says obedience is “not too difficult” or
      “beyond [our] reach.”)

      1. Read Romans 3:10-12 and Romans 3:19-20. How do you
        reconcile Deuteronomy 30 and Romans 3? They seem to
        contradict each other!

    6. Read Deuteronomy 30:15-19. Does this help us to
      understand the apparent conflict between Deuteronomy and
      Romans? (Romans makes clear that no one can, through
      human effort, meet the perfect standard of righteousness
      required by God. On the other hand, Deuteronomy teaches
      us that we all have free choice. We can choose life or we
      can choose death. We can choose to “walk” in God’s ways
      or we can choose to live a disobedient life.)

      1. Do these choices have consequences? (Deuteronomy
        30:16 tells us that obedience helps us to “live and
        increase.” Deuteronomy 30:18 tells us that if we
        disobey we will be destroyed.)

      2. Notice again Deuteronomy 30:19-20. Who else benefits
        from our choices? (Our children! We previously
        observed how the choices of Adam and Eve impacted
        the lives of their children – who themselves made

  3. The Rule of Choice

    1. The media and some Christians scoffed when a prominent
      American television evangelist pointed out that the
      recent devastation in Haiti might have something to do
      with the long-standing practice of voodoo by some
      Haitians. Is that a reasonable statement, given the texts
      we have just studied? (Yes.)

      1. What about all of the Haitians who are devout
        Christians? Can they suffer because of the choices
        of others? Or, do earthquakes have nothing to do
        with the choice of anyone?

    2. Read Luke 13:1-5. What does Jesus say about suffering and
      sin? (Sin will kill the wicked in the end. However, bad
      things that happen to us during life might not be the
      result of our sin.)

      1. How can Jesus disagree with what Moses was inspired
        to write in Deuteronomy 30? (I think this is like
        English grammar – there are exceptions to the rule.
        The general rule, noted by the evangelist, is that
        our choices have consequences for good or for evil.
        But, sometimes bad things happen which have nothing
        to do with the choices that we made. Jesus warns us
        against thinking that we are more righteous because
        we have not suffered.)

    3. Read Hebrews 11:32-34. Are these heroes of faith? (Yes.
      This is the “faith chapter” of the Bible and these are
      some of the heroes.)

      1. How did life turn out for these heroes? (It turned
        out great. They won!)

    4. Read Hebrews 11:35-38. Are these also heroes of faith?
      (Yes. But, their names are not even mentioned.)

      1. How did life turn out for these heroes? (It was
        lousy – the worst (“sawed in two”)!)

    5. Read Hebrews 11:40. How do you explain these outcomes in
      the face of our study about choice and the results? (The
      normal rule is that choosing God makes our life better
      here on earth. Sometimes this rule does not apply, and we
      cannot conclude someone is a sinner just because they
      suffer. But, there are no exceptions to the rule when it
      comes to eternal life. Choosing God brings eternal life.
      Choosing evil brings eternal death.)

    6. Friend, will you choose eternal life today? Why not,
      right now, ask Jesus to be your Master and ask that the
      Holy Spirit guide your life into right choices?

  4. Next week: Celebrating Spiritual and Physical Fitness.