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Destiny or desire?

Dear friends I’m glad to be back with all of you🙂. We hear a lot of people that are at crossroads in life bitterly complaining and saying something like “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t”. In essence they aren’t sure about what choice to make and how to proceed. In such times it’s very easy to get mad at God and blame Him for putting us in such a situation as if the Lord had predestined us for such a fate. The converse is equally true. When we end up with a windfall it’s natural to pat ourselves on the back and attribute that success to our own ingenuity and skill. In reality our times are in God’s hands (Acts 17:26) and although God’s predestined will shall be accomplished it’ll be done in such a way that we’ll desire or choose His will if we’re attuned to His Holy Spirit (Proverbs 19:21).

Please turn with me to Romans 8:29-30. This verse is the foundation for the doctrines of predestination, election and God’s sovereign choice in the church and unfortunately least understood and most distorted scriptures as well. I don’t presume to have the insight that the Apostle Paul had when he penned this verse but maybe we can decode it together. Notice that the verse doesn’t begin the word predestination, but foreknowledge (those He foreknew…). In other words it’s not as if God has predestined us to a certain fate or destiny but that He knows the choices we’ll make before we do (Jeremiah 17:10, Acts 15:8, Romans 8:27). In this context it’s important for us to understand that God hasn’t damned anybody and that it is God’s will for all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Universalists would expound on this verse and declare that because it’s God’s will for all to be saved there shall be none that are damned. However, we know this presumption is incorrect as hell is full of the damned (Revelation 20:15 Revelation 22:15).

What’s even more startling is that there are many (some of them are biblical characters) who think that God has already destined them to hell and there’s nothing that they can say or do about it as it’s God sovereign will. This probably is one of the instances when one can blaspheme the Holy Spirit and commit the unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:32) of maligning God’s character and rejecting His grace. Let’s turn to the well known story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. All of us know that God favored Abel’s sacrifice as it was offered in faith (Hebrews 11:4), whereas He rejected the toilsome offering of Cain. However we shouldn’t rush to the conclusion that Cain’s future offerings would’ve been rejected too. Similarly had Abel turned to the fruit of his efforts as opposed to fruit of his faith his future offerings would’ve been rejected as well. In fact God gave Cain an opportunity to repent and change his ways and warned him what would happen if he chose not to accept His grace (Gen 4:6). Instead of repenting Cain chose to walk away from the Lord and damned himself. The subsequent narrative describes how a jealous Cain murders his brother Abel (instead of repenting and correcting his ways) and brings judgment and condemnation upon himself (Genesis 4:10-16).

Let’s take one final example from the New Testament which should put to rest this debate between destiny and free will (or desire). Both Peter and Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus. However, after the betrayal they both responded in very different ways. The Lord Jesus predicted the betrayal of both well in advance (Judas Iscariot’s betrayal – Matthew 26:25 and Peter’s betrayal – Matthew 26:34). Is it then wise or correct to assume that God predestined both of them to betray His Son? If that were true why then was only Peter saved? I’d like to think that God foreknew the choices that Judas and Peter would make. Judas Iscariot succumbed to guilt and worldly sorrow while Peter returned to the brethren and allowed room for the Holy Spirit to administer repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). The question that needs to be asked is did the Lord Jesus give Judas Iscariot a chance to repent and turn from his wicked ways. In Luke 22:48 the Lord Jesus directly questioned Judas if he was intending to betray his former Lord. That was Judas’s chance to repent and turn away as the Holy Spirit was knocking on his heart. Instead Judas's for the love of money (Matthew 26:15) chose worldly sorrow and hung himself (Matthew 27:5). There are those (as per the uncorroborated gospel of Judas) who claim that Judas did repent (Matthew 27:4). However, this wasn’t repentance but remorse. Judas Iscariot did acknowledge his guilt but it was to the Pharisees not to the brethren. Those that are quick to malign God’s character forget that God gave even Judas a chance to repent (Luke 22:48). Consequently, Judas Iscariot wasn’t predestined to hell but chose to go to hell because he refused to repent when the Holy Spirit convicted Him (Luke 22:48).

So you see friends, God doesn’t predestine us to anything other than heaven. The choices we make in this life determine our course in life now and eternity. If we’re sensitive to the Holy Spirit then He’ll prevent us from choosing that which violates God’s will. Even the Apostle Paul was prevented by the Holy Spirit from entering Asia (Acts 16:6). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve betrayed the Lord Jesus in word or deed and had to face the painful consequences of my stubbornness. But God has always been merciful and granted me repentance. Many Christians read Psalm 37:4 and interpret it to mean that God will give us what we want. Although very true (Luke 11:13) that verse is saying a little more than that. If we delight in the Lord,  God will give us His desires (in other words God will us the desires that we’re supposed to have). To attain that kind of sublime intimacy with God reflects true Christian faith and maturity (Psalm 25:14). Then we’ll naturally choose the predestined will of God, that good, pleasing and perfect will of God that God foreknew we’d choose (Romans 12:2). Amen.

Dear friends, I’m quite certain that all of you are sanctified, Holy Ghost baptized saints. Should there be any among you that don’t know the Lord yet, I pray that the Lord of the Universe will set you free from sin and disobedience into His glorious light and freedom. Amen.

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