God is Pro-Choice
March 01, 2020*
By Pastor John Partridge
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 Matthew 4:1-11 Romans 5:12-19
If you have ever been around children, you have probably witnessed a moment when they begged you to give them something, often some kind of food, that you knew they wouldn’t like. But being told that they wouldn’t like it, or that they couldn’t have it, made them want it even more.
We laugh a little when kids do it, but we see the same behavior in adults all the time. The easiest example is to watch Let’s Make a Deal, originally hosted by Monty Hall and now by Wayne Brady. How often have we seen contestants on that show give up a pretty decent prize for the chance to see what’s behind door number three? Likewise, we often “window shop” for cars that we can’t afford, but which would also be impractical, uncomfortable, and totally unsuited to the way that we want to use them. But we want them just because we know we can’t have them anyway. Human beings have a terrible inclination to want the things that we can’t have. And that’s exactly what’s behind the story of humanity’s original sin in the story of Adam and Eve where we read this: (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7)
2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so, they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Adam and Eve were given everything in the garden and God met all their needs. But Satan knew humanity’s weakness and played on it. He knew that Adam and Eve would want the one thing that they weren’t allowed to have and all that he had to do was to make them think about not being allowed to have it. God gave them freedom and allowed them to make their own choices… and they chose poorly. And in doing so, they established a pattern that humanity has struggled with ever since. Even when we know what is right and just, we choose poorly. And far too often, we simply choose poorly just because we want the things that we can’t have for no other reason than we know that we’re not supposed to have them.
And that was the pattern, it was normal, and it seemed as if that humans would always be trapped in that same rut. Until we heard about the story of Jesus’ encounter with the same deceiver that tripped up Adam and Eve in Matthew 4:1-11.
4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
In this story, Satan makes three offers, or three temptations, to Jesus and, from these, Jesus must make three choices. The first two, are the same choice that were given to Adam and Eve. Satan is tempting Jesus by saying something a lot like, “God didn’t really promise to take care of you, did he?” or, “You don’t really have the kind of power you say that you have, do you?” Jesus knows that he can do those things, but he knows that he should not, and he must choose to do what is right. Instead, Jesus makes the right choices for the right reasons. In the third case, Satan tempts Jesus with two more of humanity’s greatest weaknesses: Greed and Power. “If you do this one thing for me, I will make your life easy. I will give you all the money you want, all the women you want, and the power to rule the entire world.” But again, Jesus chooses what is right, and what God wants, instead of satisfying his human desires.
God gives Jesus the freedom to choose. Jesus was just as human as Adam was, and just as human as we are, and he could have chosen the easy path and satisfied his desires. But Jesus demonstrates for all humanity, that it is possible for human beings to consistently make good choices.
But why is that important?
It’s important because the choices that Jesus made for himself, are the choices that made it possible for us to be reconciled to God. To be fair, we aren’t the first people to ask why our choices are important. The church has been asking this question from the very beginning and that’s why the Apostle Paul explained the importance of Jesus’ choices in his letter to the church in Rome in Romans 5:12-19
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Paul reminds us that it was the disobedience of Adam and Eve that birthed sin into our world, and from that time until the time of Moses, although no one sinned in the way that Adam did, sin still existed. No one disobeyed a direct command of God, but people chose poorly, they acted in ways that violated their conscience, they violated other people, or acted selfishly and in doing so made themselves, their needs, and their desires an object of worship. After the time of Moses, the people had a written law that told them what it was that God wanted, and still humanity failed. Even knowing what God wanted, humans still made poor choices, still rebelled against God, wanted things that they couldn’t have, sinned against God, and were condemned.
But then came Jesus.
Jesus made good choices. Not just in the desert when he was tempted by Satan, but all the time. Jesus consistently made good choices every moment of every day so that his entire life was sinless and offered up to God and became the perfect sacrifice. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, sin flowed out into the entire world, but because of the grace of Jesus Christ, God’s grace overflows into all of humanity.
God has always been, and will always be, pro-choice. That has nothing to do with that other debate, it means that, from the beginning of time, God has never manipulated or controlled human beings in order to force them into one particular way of thinking or specific pattern of behavior. God has always given human beings the freedom to choose for themselves regardless of the goodness or injustice of their decisions. At the same time, we remember that one trespass of Adam, one act, one choice, resulted in the condemnation of all people, and one righteous act, one choice, of Jesus brought justification and life for all people.
God continues to be pro-choice. Each of us have the freedom to choose whatever we want.
But remember that we often want things that we can’t have or want things that aren’t good for us.
We are free to choose, but we must remember that we are accountable for our choices. One day we will all stand in judgement for the choices that we have made.
You are free to choose.
You can choose to follow Jesus, or you can choose to go your own way.
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