Choose for Yourself – Life or Death

article by site founder, Connie Rice

When I was growing up, it was common to hear the phrase, “safety of the womb” – we don’t hear that today, do we? We know that God knew us before we were born because of what He told Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5

Are we listening to those who deceive, destroy, and promote death instead of to the author of life and source of all that is good? Have we even considered this? It’s clear to those who fully trust in Jesus for salvation and guidance that we are in the midst of an intense spiritual battle. Perhaps we might learn from what God instructed Moses to say to the Israelites as they were about to enter the promised land (see quote below). Of course, we cannot apply this passage to ourselves directly because it was meant for them in the time they were in, but it does show us how important it is for us to know and follow God’s ways. He is immutable (never changes) and even though many don’t want to acknowledge it, He is sovereign over the affairs of men and nations and nothing we do, say, or even think is hidden from Him. It sure seems that we have been witnessing the withdrawal of God’s blessings over America as our culture has increasingly tried to push Him out of the public sphere, rejected His teachings, celebrated what He calls sin, and promoted death through abortion, euthanasia, refusing to punish evil so that innocent people are put in danger, etc.

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.  For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.”

Deuteronomy 30:15-16

That was a different time in history, but we know that God brought judgment down on the nations that practiced child sacrifice. Since the Roe vs. Wade ruling in 1973 that made abortion the law of the land (albeit a result of judicial activism and not according to the Constitution or even a vote of the people), tens of millions of babies have been deprived of their right to life which then deprives them of any of the other rights that are supposed to be guaranteed in America. There is nobody more defenseless than a child in the womb and recent technology has opened the womb for all to see that a fetus is indeed a developing human with its own DNA, distinct from their mother. Is God, by allowing Roe vs. Wade to be overturned, showing us mercy to see if we will turn back to him – our nation, our churches, and as individuals? He seems to have been withdrawing His hand of protection and restraint in recent years, allowing evil forces to increase. He allowed such things in the Old Testament to get the attention of His people, hoping they would repent of their sinful ways so He could bless them again. Isaiah prophesied about the coming Day of the Lord. Pride and arrogance will be crushed:

“For see, the day of the Lord is coming – the terrible day of His fury and fierce anger. The land will be made desolate, and all the sinners destroyed with it. The heavens will be black above them; the stars will give no light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will provide no light. ‘I, the Lord, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the pride of the mighty’.”

Isaiah 13:9-11

Later in the New Testament, we see that children are precious to Jesus and He has strong words for anyone who would harm them or cause them to sin:

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming Me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of My heavenly Father.”

Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:5-10

We should not be surprised by the expansion of evil and death and the unceasing attacks on family and those who stand for life – it is a natural progression when more and more people do not think they will be accountable for their actions. When the Bible and prayer was removed from schools, students are taught only Darwinian Evolution as their origin. The taking of innocent life is promoted as a right and even as a societal good. Is it any wonder that more of them do not consider human life valuable and struggle with more depression and anxiety than any previous generation? They do not know who they are in the Lord and have not experienced the love, acceptance, identity, peace, value, and sense of purpose that is available to those who choose to fully trust and follow their Savior and Creator, Jesus Christ. This makes them vulnerable to lies and deceptions that sound positive, but actually lead to death.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

John 3:16-21

It’s so easy for us to rationalize our sin and make excuses for ourselves, but true freedom is not found in having no boundaries – it is found in Jesus. Through Him, sin loses its power over us and we can thrive within healthy boundaries. It breaks my heart that Satan has deceived so many (even believers) because biblical illiteracy abounds, but we cannot say that we have been not been warned. The letters of the New Testament focus on the need for us to be discerning and not to be deceived. Satan is referred to as the “prince of this world” and Jesus tells us that Satan is the “father of all lies”. Jesus spoke boldly to the religious leaders when He was on earth and church leaders now should take note:

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I have come here from God.  I have not come on My own; God sent Me. Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me! Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe Me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says.  The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God’.”

John 8:42-47

”The article, “Why Are There Different Names for Satan?” by Clarence L. Haynes Jr. says it this way: “The Hebrew word for Satan means to oppose, obstruct, or accuse. In Greek, the word for Satan means adversary. This is a perfect definition of him because this is what he does to believers and to unbelievers. In all honesty, he is not a friend of anyone but an adversary to everyone because his ultimate desire is destruction.”

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.”

Revelation 20:1-3a

Even when Peter as a faithful follower of Jesus thinks he is defending Jesus against harm, Jesus points out that Peter was actually following Satan in his response:

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to You!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’ Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done’.”

Matthew 16:21-27

That should give us pause – are we allowing ourselves to be patsies for the enemy? Have we allowed ourselves to be deceived – either by the world or even by our own heart? How can we keep from being deceived or from deceiving ourselves? God gave us His Word, the Bible, so we could determine what is really true. Jesus explains this in His prayer to God the Father in part of what is called “The Lord’s Prayer”:

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As you sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one – I in them and You in Me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”

Jesus’ prayer for His disciples & future believers in John 15:17-23

God revealed Himself to everyone in His Creation so that people have no excuse for rejecting His existence. So-called experts who have rejected or ignored God may consider themselves to be wise, but in reality are only wise in their own eyes and are considered as foolish by the Judge of all. Unlike some of the lies that are being promoted by our current culture, perception is not the same as reality. We need to be rooted in truth and reality – they are intertwined.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Proverbs 9:10

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

Romans 1:18-22

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.”

Psalm 14:1-2

We don’t have to follow deception, destruction, and death – even when it is masked in terms that sound good. Jesus as our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us in spite of our faults and failings – to the extent that He came to earth knowing He would be tortured and murdered so that we could have access to His righteousness while here and when we stand before a holy God. This is all found in the Bible. We have been warned, but some are rebellious, some stay willfully ignorant, and some just don’t make it a priority. My prayer is that people would seek after the Lord with their whole heart, mind, strength, and soul so they can develop a relationship with the One who created them and subsequently recognize truth. If you have had an abortion or have pushed someone else into having one, or if you have fallen for any of the other lies put out by Satan through our culture – God is a merciful, forgiving God and wants to restore you. I know this from personal experience – cry out to Him for forgiveness and turn from sin.

“’The time has come,’ He said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”

Jesus’ words when He began His ministry in Mark 1:15

Do as many other intelligent people have done before you – research for yourselves whether or not Jesus is really God and if the Bible can be trusted as absolute truth. A number of people have done so and came face-to-face with their Savior – C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, Marvin Olasky, Ray Comfort, Bernard Nathanson (leader of modern abortion movement who was transformed by Jesus and became a pro-life advocate), Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade), and many more. Some of them not only became Christians, but also evangelists. Check out the article, “List Of Converts From Atheism To Christianity” by “Believers Portal”.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of this Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Romans 8:1-13

If you are already a believer, but have not made it a habit to read the Bible all the way through again and again, I will pass on a challenge that was given to me. Pray for God to give you a love and a passion for His Word and to carve out a time for you to seek Him through His word and through prayer. Over time, you will find yourself looking forward to your time with the Lord (He always has time for you). There is no wrong way to read, but this is the order I would personally recommend:

  • John – who Jesus is from closest disciple
  • other gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) – who Jesus is from different perspectives
  • Psalms – reveals the majesty & heart of God
  • Proverbs – wisdom of Solomon
  • Rest of the New Testament (wait on Revelation – really helps to be familiar with the Old Testament)
  • Old Testament (a chronological reading provided the most understanding for me)
  • Reread the entire New Testament (preferably a chronological reading)
  • Revelation

Let’s not tempt God any longer. We can learn from Jeremiah’s words in Lamentations 3:34-45 as the people faced God’s judgment and were taken captive by their enemies after continually turning their backs on Him and ignoring His commands.

Following the author of life and source of all that is good and staying in His Word provides us with the discernment we need to keep from being deceived. Otherwise, we are vulnerable to Satan’s lies and deceptions that lead to destruction and death. Some people will choose to accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation on their deathbed, but will miss out on the relationship, blessings, and purpose He had for them while on earth. Others may not get that opportunity and none of us knows when our time is up.

Please take a moment to ponder this – what more could God have done to reveal Himself to you and to prove His love for you? We don’t know the future, but He does. And as your Creator, He also knows everything about you and as such knows more of what you need than you possibly could. The choice is yours – will you seek the Lord and ask for His mercy and forgiveness or will you live out of your own wisdom? Will you choose life or death?

© Constance Rice 2022

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