No two Christian pathways are alike. I am ever struck by the fact that our Sovereign Creator God and King, left us entirely with our free will.
God never makes me be good, do the right thing, or choose Him. He waits for me to choice what I really want. That’s not to say the Spirit doesn’t stir desire in us, or try to draw us one way or another; but clearly, doesn’t make us do anything. I mean, if he did, wouldn’t the world be a much better place? Wouldn’t you be a much better person? And wouldn’t all those other people in your life be always be a joy to know?
I think I’ve proven my point.
Why do some experience more of God, but others not so much?
This is a question I am often asked. The Scripture provides an answer in a verse that reveals how our choices affect our opportunity to know God more: Romans 1:28.
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”
The immediate context of Paul’s words is those who choose to engage in what God calls sexual perversion and shameful lust. However, like many Scriptures it offers a general principle as well, which in this case is insight about how God responds to our choices overall.
What I see in this verse that may not be obvious is the choice which God is presented with in responding to our choices. That is, the Spirit will either allow them or help us overcome them.
Our natural human desires, the will to do right or wrong, to crave what is good or what is evil, always present us with a choice. Every choice we make reveals a value: to know the world (and what it can do for us) or to know God. I believe it is fair to say we all entertain desires that take us close to the Lord or take us away from Him in the service of our own pleasure.
Recently I read Romans 1:28 in the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible), a translation makes that makes this point in a startling way, and concerning my favorite subject — knowing God:
“…since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to worthless ways of thinking; so that they do improper things.”
I have seen ample evidence in Scripture that God often gives us what we really want. People tend to think God is up there just waiting to punish them when they do wrong. The way I see it, God doesn’t need to come up with a punishment for our sin; He just lets us have what we really want and that choice is likely to eventually punish us by its natural consequences.
So that concept is well established in my mind. But I had not seen before such a clear connection between our bent towards good or evil, and our value or lack of value for knowing God.
It is tempting to think we are pretty much on our own when it comes to the inward struggle of choosing right or wrong, but this is not true. Philippians 2:13 negates this idea when it says,
“…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (NASB).
This I know of God also: he is not quick to give us over to our bad choices. He is long suffering. He is seen repeatedly in Scripture giving his people an incredible number of chances to choose what is right before “giving them over.” Yet, if we stubbornly adhere to a lifestyle of “not considering God worth knowing,” the day will come when God will cease his efforts to turn you towards his heart and totally let you have a life without Him.
And there is a terrifying list of possibilities in the verses immediately following Romans 1:28…. All shades of evil character. You don’t want to become that person!
The wonderfully positive side of this truth is that when God sees any movement in your heart and mind towards the desire to know him, his Spirit steps right up and says, “Here, let me help you!”