65 on Ice
Robert Wurtz II
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV)
Our passage is a sobering reminder that God has set before man choices. This implies that he/she has the power to choose. The power to choose is an awesome power and it comes with an awesome responsibility. It is because God has chosen to give man this power that His will is not always done. It is God’s will that we “live”, but we have to make the choice. It is simple; if we choose life we will live and if we choose not life we will not live. For this reason we must not assume that God’s will is always done. We are to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This implies that God’s will is not “automatic”. If we will understand that God in His sovereignty has set Himself to operate in cooperation with man we will understand why His will is not always done. God is not willing that any perish but that all come to repentance; but men and women have to choose life individually. We have revelation and are given a choice as to what we will do with it; beyond that God has been said to strive with man from Genesis 6 to Acts 7 and beyond. Men and women choose to resist God and in so doing open a frightful pandoras box to their future. Much of what happens to us in life is the direct consequence of our choices. Even when other peoples choices effect us, we have to choose how we will respond. Our choice is always our responsibility.
Must have been the Lord’s will?
I was riding with a dear friend one morning on the interstate after a night of freezing rain. The lanes were so slick that one could have probably ice skated in them. As we picked up speed I recall bracing myself for impact and saying to the effect, “were going to put this in a ditch.” We had approached near 65 MPH and were heading into some fairly sharp turns. My friend simply replied, “If we do (wreck), it must have been the Lord’s will!” That moment burned into my memory to the point that even after nearly 20 years I still refer to the concept as “65 on ice.” It encapsulates the notion that whatever we do in life God’s sovereignty overrides our choices, so that we can do what we will and it is “God’s will”. Think about the implications of such an idea. if I drive 65 under dangerous conditions and I have an accident, it is “God’s will” and by implication “God’s fault.”
An ancient cop-out
It’s all too convenient isn’t it? We make our own choices and then blame God for the outcome. Some things are out of our control, but many things are not. Many people suffer today, not because of strange forces or mysterious turns of events; but from the natural law of their own choices. Sinful choices have consequences. I often say that “men do not just break God’s commandments; God’s commandments break men.” Transgress God’s word and you will suffer the consequences. This is why we have to carefully and prayerfully read His word in order to know what He expects of us. Rebellion balks at God’s word or combs through it looking for another self-centered promise. When God don’t come through many are prepared to call Him a liar. Let’s keep one thing clear, “let God be true and every man a liar.” It is folly to do what is right in our own eyes and pretend it is God’s will. We have to do what is right in the eyes of God.
Some day we will all give an account of our lives to God: accountability implies expectations. We are accountable for the choices we make in light of the knowledge we have. We are accountable for what we know or what we could have and should have known. Many Christians do not understand this. This is why they rarely read their Bible. Not even Paul the apostle had access to the word of God in a way that we do. He once told Timothy to bring the books and the parchments. Today we just look up the passage on our smart phone. This is why God has high expectations for us; because we have been afforded unprecedented privilege. Sadly, in our times man has tried to turn the tables on God. They now have expectations of Him. It’s all too convenient to call it “faith”, but we need to know that we are the servant and He is the Master; not the other way around. Faith without revelation is superstition. (R. Bailey) We have to make a conscious choice as to how we respond to God and this begins with a thorough knowledge of His word.
The sin of presumption
How many believers live their lives each day without consulting God’s word? Many will pray and some peradventure will praise; but who will search out His word and really get to know Him? The ancient Jewish sages used to say that study is the highest form of worship. When we don’t spend time in God’s word we must assume that we are so utterly walking in God’s will that no matter what we do He will keep things on track. Like driving blindfolded. And if He don’t keep us on track then at least we have someone to blame. I have seen it often. David asked God, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Psalms 19:13) The Hebrew word for “presumptuous” is linked to pride. The proud refuse to inquire at God’s word for direction.
I tremble to type this, but I recall many years ago a dear woman saying “I knew God would give us our miracle, because He is not a liar.” The statement made me cringe. I have heard it many times since and it still makes me cringe. God, a liar? That is blasphemy. What happens to often is that folks only look to God’s word to achieve their selfish aims. This is different than going to God’s word for direction and counsel on what choices we should make. When people pull out their promise book, rather than seeking for His will, they often end up disillusioned and disappointed. Let me say lovingly that God is not Santa Claus. It is not “ok” to get angry with God when things do not go our way. We must continually remind ourselves that God is never the problem; we may be the problem, but God is never the problem. Either we do not understand His will for our lives and are putting words in His mouth or there is some other reason as to why things are the way the are. Some talk as if God is somehow falling down on the job. Would it not be better to say we don’t know why things happen as they do rather than to charge God foolishly?
If I am reckless enough to knowingly drive 65 MPH on ice, I am not moving in faith I am moving in presumption. It is no different than Satan asking Jesus to jump off the Temple. It is tempting the Lord. But we would not know that unless we have been reading His word. We may think the Devil’s advice makes perfect sense. No time is it more important to rightly divide God’s word than when we are looking for important answers in our lives. To ignore His word and then take the “blame God” or “it must have been God’s will” type of thinking is not only unwise, it is diabolical. We have a responsibility to discover and walk in God’s will in such a way that He can accomplish what He wants to do in our lives.
Let me say lovingly, again, that if we get our theology from the latest hit on KLUV or some other weak chorus, we are doomed to destruction. Many songs today are completely carnal and self-centered; they have no Biblical basis whatsoever. Many soundbites being mouthed by famous preachers are equally unbiblical. We need to test everything by God’s word; not say were going to test it, but really dig down and test it. People can be so deceived that they cannot tell right from left. How can we make right choices if we are not moving in scripture? We need to guard our minds from everything we hear. We need to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. AND if you are inclined to make excuses for false teachers, leave off of it even now, before you become a partaker of their evil deeds.
Lies from the pit
The story was told many years ago of a preacher that left his wife for a younger woman. He tried to place the blame on God and conjured up a false interpretation of scriptures to justify his actions. When challenged he simply replied to the effect, “my first wife was (as it were) my old covenant, but God has now moved me into my new covenant (new young wife).” Rightfully, he was defrocked and was put out of the ministry. But I have to ask, where does this mentality come from? Can you imagine what would happen if this lie of the devil was allowed to go unchecked? People would be lining up to get their “new covenant” spouse. What does the scriptures say? If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. (1 Cor. 7:12 ESV) Not, “she’s holding me back” or “she is a hindrance to my ministry” or any other foolish thing. And God will know if you have sabotaged the relationship. What sense would it be to say afterward that it was an accident or it must have been “the Lord’s will.” Life is slippery and if we are doing “65 on Ice” we will be held to account for that choice.
God is setting before us life and death, even in our times. He has given us clear instructions as to how we are to behave in this life towards one another. If we disobey His word or are ignorant of His word and a relationship is destroyed because of it, we are accountable. How foolish would it be to act unbiblically towards a saint of God (spouse, child, friend, fellow saint, etc.) and then pretend that it was “destiny” when division or divorce came? Bus this is what happens in an evil and adulterous generation (that seeks a sign).
Like every generation before us, we have to choose. Those that have gone before us have made their choice; now it is our turn. What will we do? Will we seek to please God and make choices so as not to offend Him or will we make choices that would not offend the sinful or even ourselves? The new life should be very different. Paul said to Titus, For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. (Titus 3:3) Notice that this is the way we used to behave. It ought not so to be now. We are called to love one another. But what was the cause of relational issues and divisions before genuine regeneration? They were these:
2. disobedience to God
4. various lusts
5. hedonism (living for pleasure)
6. malice (to devise evil and ill-will)
7. envy (jealousy and spitefulness)
8. Hatefully hating each other (filled with hate)
Can you imagine how a person would live if their choices were based on the above influences? Would there be any wondering as to why problems would arise? How can man blame God for anything in an environment like this? If we are acting out Titus 3:3 and cause a relationship to end we cannot say it was “the Lord’s will”. Why? Because God’s will was for us to love one another in unity and if we do that we will usually have success. Unfortunately God’s will is not always done.
Cold as ice
It is a dangerous thing to recklessly assume God’s will is always being done. Why? Because people are making a great many choices that God had nothing to do with. God’s will and God’s word always agree. He will not lead us in a way that contradicts the written word or the Spirit of the word. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV) Chose life; that is to say, chose to obey God’s word. Learn what God has already said about the subjects that we deal with in life so that we will know what God would say or not say to us. He will not contradict His word. He will never tell you to do something that contradicts His own word. Keep that very clear. Choosing life begins when we choose to rightly divide and apply God’s word to every circumstance and question of life.