The choices we make have consequences. At the beginning of the human race when God created Adam and Eve he created them with free will. They were given the capability to decide and choose whether to follow God or disobey him. When he placed them in the garden he told them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, Adam and Eve used this free will to disobey God, the one who created them, the one who walked and talked with them in the garden, the one who gave them all things to enjoy. Their decision to disobey God caused a separation between them and God and it also put the entire world in sin, including us their descendants who are now born into sin.
Each of us makes choices every day, we choose to go to work, what to do with our spare time, what we will eat and wear, what type of house and car we will purchase. We choose whether we will pray and study the Bible and we choose how much time we will devote to God on a daily basis. These choices that we make on a daily basis have a direct impact on our lives. Just as Adam and Eve were given the choice to obey or disobey God we are given that same freedom today.
We find in the Bible many examples of people who were given choices. Abraham is one such person. God spoke to Abram before he became Abraham and told him to leave his family and home and go to a land that he would show him. God did not tell him at the beginning where to go, however, he told Abraham to go and then he would show him. Abram made the decision to obey God. Noah is also a man who made the decision to obey God. God spoke to Noah and told him that the wickedness of man was great and that he was going to destroy mankind. However, God told Noah that if he followed his instructions he and his family would be saved. God gave Noah specific instructions on how to build the ark. Noah could have exercised self-will but he made a choice to obey the instructions of God and because of this, his entire household was saved.
David also made a choice, however, he made the wrong choice. He chose to take Bathsheba another man’s wife and he also chose to kill her husband. He committed adultery and murder. However, when Nathan the prophet came to him and told him how greatly he had sinned he was grieved in his heart and made the choice to repent. We are personally responsible for our lives. We have the freedom to choose correctly and we have the freedom to refuse.
The Prodigal Son
Let us look at the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-24. There was a man who had two sons. This younger son who is called the Prodigal Son decided one day that he wanted his inheritance, he went to his father and said father give me the portion that belongs to me. God gives us all things; talents, gifts, and abilities. These are given to us to be used for God’s purpose and for his glory, but sometimes we take these abilities and use them for our own desires. This is what the Prodigal son did; he squandered his inheritance with riotous living. He took everything his father (God) had given him and used it for his own pleasure. He said give me my inheritance.
Prodigal means “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.
After the son received his inheritance, he left. He left his father’s house, where protection and safety was and took his inheritance with him. He took everything his father had given him and wasted it all, and he used it for his own pleasure. He thought he could handle things himself without the help of his father. He left the protection of his father's house. Safety was in his father's house, provision was in his father's house and he left it all because he wanted to go out on his own and experience the world. He took his inheritance and went into a far country and there he wasted his inheritance with riotous living. Going into a far country represents the distance he traveled from his father which is God; he went as far away from God as he possibly could. Therefore in his mind he thought he could handle everything on his own, he thought he didn't need his father, he thought he had everything under control. “I can do what I want to do, be my own boss, be my own person and I can go out into the world and live it up; enjoy life and have fun because it is too restrictive in my parents’ home.”
He was saying “I am rich and increased with goods and I have need of nothing” Revelation 3:17. In Revelation chapter three Jesus gave a report to the seven churches and in verse 17 he talked to the Laodicea Church, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing…” The Prodigal Son thought he had it made because he had money and people had attached themselves to him. He had friends or so he thought, he was having a good time. But God said, “…and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
When we leave God we leave his protection and put ourselves in the path of Satan, we open the door for him to come in. We give him legal access and we give him permission to snare us again II Timothy “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
We go into a far country because our sins separate us from God. This is not something the Father wants but he allows us to leave because he will not force us to stay against our will. This son wasted his substance on riotous living. He did not want what his father had to give, which was protection, safety, and provision. He engaged in riotous or unrestrained living such as drugs, alcoholism, prostitutes, wild partying. He went from one relationship to another.
Satan wants us to be in a position where we are no longer worshiping and serving God. He buffets us on a daily basis to try and make us turn our backs on God. This is what happened with the prodigal son. Because he left his father and all that the father had to give him and indulged himself and gave himself over to his own pleasures he allowed Satan to come in, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” St John 10:10. Satan wants to take everything God has for us and destroy us.
He wants to steal our time, our gifts and talents; he wants us to lose faith in God, but most of all he wants our soul. Satan will try to steal our joy and our peace; we are to live by faith, not by sight or circumstances. He wants us to lose the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. When a natural thief comes into your house he comes silently, usually when you are not at home, or in our case when we are unaware. This is why the scripture says we are to watch and pray. We cannot sleep; we must always be on our guard, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” I Peter 5:8.
This is how the son lost his inheritance and if we are not careful and watchful we will lose our inheritance. If he can steal our faith that is a bad condition to be in because the scripture says without faith it is impossible to please God. And we will not receive anything from him if we do not have faith. Satan wants to steal our faith because he wants us to lose our inheritance which is abundant life here on earth and eternal life when we die.
When a thief comes it is usually quietly when you are not at home, this is what happened with the prodigal son. He was unaware that he had been listening to the lies of the enemy. He was unaware that Satan was whispering in his ears, he said “you need to leave your father's house, you will do better out there on your own. Get your inheritance from your father, go out into the world and have fun.” He was listening to the lies of the enemy not realizing that the enemy was speaking to him and in doing so he made a mess of his life. This is what happens; sometimes we are unaware that we are listening to the voice of the enemy. We are unaware of the lies he is speaking to us and when those lies gain an entrance to our hearts and minds they become strongholds.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith, we will not be able to stand against the devil and go through our tests and trials. This is why it is imperative to have faith in God and knowledge of what his word says because when the Devil comes then we will know how to respond to his attacks. When Satan comes to us and whispers in our ears we will have the tools to defeat him. He might say “your situation won't change. God said he will heal your body or will he? Do you really believe you will come out of your situation? Do you really believe it will change? The Bible says God will protect you, but will he?” He is always whispering thoughts into our minds, trying to get us to lose faith and hope in what the word of God says. II Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The Prodigal Son was unaware he was being lied to. He thought he was controlling his own life, but in reality, he was being led by the flesh. We are either led by the flesh or Spirit Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
What was the result of the sons’ sinful living? He lost everything, even the people who said they were his friends. He had to find work which was feeding the pigs. One day he became so hungry that if it had been possible he would have eaten the husks that the swine ate, and for a Jewish person to feed swine was the most degrading, the most humiliating and worst thing imaginable. “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him” St. Luke 15: 14-16.
For him to go into the fields to feed swine shows the depth of misery to which he had sunk. It shows the depth of the lows that he had come to and if it were possible he would have eaten what he fed the pigs. What is unthinkable one day becomes tolerable the next day, these strongholds that develop in our lives hold us in bondage to fear and insecurities. However it does not happen overnight, it is a process. This shows the depths to which sinners and even we ourselves can sink if we leave the Father, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first, Matthew 12:43-45.
Then one day something happened, the Prodigal Son became aware of his situation. He realized that if he stayed in his condition he would die. “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” Luke 15:17-19.
He recognized that he had left the safety, protection, and provision of his father's house. He recognized that if he stayed in his condition he would die, he recognized that he did not have any friends because everyone had left him. He recognized that he had turned his back on his Father and he recognized that he had squandered everything his Father had given him. This was the second step. This is what we must do to receive help. We must first recognize that we need help. We must recognize the condition we are in.
Luke the 18th verse “And when he came to himself… This happened because he remembered who he was. He remembered the provision at his Father’s house; he remembered the protection and love at his Father’s house. Just as the Prodigal Son came to himself we must also come to ourselves and recognize who we are and the only way this will happen is through faith in the word of God. When we recognize who we are then we will be less likely to make bad choices. When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and fail to recognize the power and authority that has been given to us we can be easily led astray or mislead. God has given us power and authority through the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We must understand the relationship we have with God, the Father. He then said; I will arise, go to my Father and repent. He was willing to become a servant in his Father’s house because he believed he was unworthy to be called “son.”
He said, I will arise and go... and say... Father, I have sinned... He came to himself, he recognized his condition and he made a decision. The decision was why am I sitting here, why am I still in this condition? I can go back home where my Father has land, he has provision, he has everything I could ever want but because of what I have done I am no longer worthy to be called his son. I am no longer worthy to come back as a son. I will instead tell him to let me be as a servant in his house. He thought he was unworthy. How many times has Satan brought condemnation to you when you failed God? How many times has he made you feel unworthy and unloved?
This is the condition many Christians find themselves in. They mess up and make a mistake or sin willfully and afterward they feel that it is impossible to go back to God. He will not receive me back is what they think. This is how Satan operates, he tries to make the person feel guilty, and he beats them down. “God will not accept you back, you have done too much wrong, and you cannot go back. God will not receive you back as his child.” This is what he does to get us to make the choice of not returning home to the Father.
There are three steps a person must take to change their situation:
- Recognition of the condition
- Making a decision
- Acting on that decision
In Mark 7:24-27 there was a Syrophoenician woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit. The woman wanted Jesus to heal her daughter however Jesus said to the woman, “Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs,” the Syrophoenician woman realized she would not get the inheritance but she humbled herself and asked for the crumbs that fell from the masters table. She recognized that her daughter had a condition and she needed to be delivered. She made a decision to seek Jesus for the deliverance because she had heard about the many mighty miracles he had done. After making the decision she approached Jesus and told him about the condition of her daughter. Because of her faith, her daughter was healed and this completely changed her situation. The prodigal son like the Syrophoenician woman was going to ask for the crumbs.
The prodigal son chose to not stay in his condition; he was willing to go and ask for crumbs like the Syrophoenician woman. He was willing to be a hired servant in his Father's house. In Luke 15: 20 the son arose, he said, “I will arise and go to my father.” He had fallen into sin and degradation but he did not stay where he was. He did something; he made a choice, a decision and he acted, just like we must act. We cannot stay in our condition, we have to act. When we find ourselves in certain situations, when we find that we have sinned against God we cannot allow the devil to keep us in our condition. We cannot allow him to bombard us and bring so much guilt and condemnation upon us that we do not get up and act. He does this to bind us and keep us from going back to the Father. We must tell the devil he is a liar and say, “my Father will receive me back. I repent of what I have done.”
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Labor means to work hard: Many of us are working hard trying to do things our way, trying to fix our situations instead of casting all of our cares upon him.
And in the midst of us trying to fix the situations we become:
Heavy-ladened: To carry a load or a burden. When we become heavy-ladened we are carrying loads such as: worry, stress, anxiety, unforgiveness, hate, fear, loneliness, and unhappiness, fear of the unknown and fear of our circumstances. We become burdened down with all of these weights.
A yoke is: Something that controls us. God’s yoke is the Spirit and word. He tells us to take his yoke upon us because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. He does not want us to carry the load, he tells us to give it to him. Cast all of our cares upon him because he cares for us. We must cast our burdens upon the Lord and leave them there and when we take this upon us we allow it to control and lead and guide us.
And learn of me: We have to learn of him, which means we must study and eat the word of God which will give us wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, might and the fear of the Lord. If we do not know the promises of God then Satan will be able to ensnare and entrap us when he comes.
Jesus has done his part, when he died on the cross he completed his work, now we have to do our part we have to lay it aside. Jesus said to cast all our cares upon him and learn of him and he would give us rest. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7. He careth, the (th) on the end means a continual thing. So the scripture is saying “he cares” for us, this is not past tense, but present. When God gives us rest, he frees us from anxiety or disturbance. God said “I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusted in me” Isaiah 26:3. Hebrews 12:1&2 says: “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
Beset means to: thwart (a racer) in every direction, ensnare and entangle.
As we read the story of the prodigal son we can see that he became ensnared and entangled in a sinful lifestyle, he was heavy-ladened because he opened the door for Satan to come in when he yielded to the flesh. He gave in to temptation, the desire to get away from the instruction of his Father and this temptation led him into sin. In Luke 15:21 the son repents, “and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” He confesses his sins and is genuinely sorry. He turns from his way of doing things. His way was not working. Are you in a situation today where you are trying to do it your way? Are you trying to work it out yourself? If you are, is it working for you or are you finding that you cannot fix or change the situation? If you are then now is the time to repent. Jesus is standing at the door knocking.
To repent is to: turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life, to feel regret or contrition, to change one’s life.
Godly sorrow leads to repentance. II Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” Repentance is demanded by God as a condition of forgiveness. David repented in II Samuel 24:10 after he sent Joab to number the people. David realized he had done wrong. “And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
The children of Israel repented when God sent serpents into the camp after they complained and spoke against Aaron and Moses, Numbers 21:7, “Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.” Joseph’s brothers repented when they thought he would turn against them after the death of Israel their father, because they had sold him into slavery, “So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him” Genesis 50:17.
In the parable of the prodigal son as he is returning home his Father sees him a long way off. This means his father had been looking for him. His father loved him and wanted him to come back home. This is what our Father (God) does, he is constantly looking and waiting for us to come back home. He is saying, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” Revelation 3:18-20.
Because he was his son the Father wanted him to come back home. He did not want his son buffeted about; tormented and going through all the turmoil he was experiencing. This is how God views us; he does not want us to be buffeted about, to be tormented, worrying and stressing. He wants us to lay these things aside and come see him.
Subsequently, while the Father is looking for the return of his son he sees him while he is still far away. He said “my son is coming, my son is coming, I see him,” and he ran to him, fell on his neck and kissed him. We are to go and get the sheep that are lost. The Father had compassion on his son, he was glad to see him. God is always waiting for us to come back home. He is always looking for us to come back to him when we stray.
In Luke 15:20-24 how did the father respond to his son coming home?
- He said, bring him here
- He said, put on him the best robe
- Put shoes on his feet
- Put a ring on his finger
- Give him food to eat
- Bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and we are going to have a party
When the son repented, the father responded and called him son. He treated him as though he had never left. He clothed and fed him and gave him the best. This shows the goodness and mercy of the Father. He threw a party. Luke 15:10 says; the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents. God promises to do this for us. He said “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33.
When the father said you are still my son, the son did not say, “no, no, no don't call me son, I have messed up too bad, I have done too much wickedness. Just make me a servant in your house.” The son did not say this. However, this is the mind that the devil wants us to have; he wants us to have a defeated mindset. The son received what the father had to give him and to be set free we must receive what the father has to give us. God has given us the gift of salvation but the gift will not benefit us if we do not reach out our hands and take it. A gift does us no good if we put it on a shelf and leave it unopened. We must open it and take out what is inside, this is how we come into a relationship with God and have fellowship with him.
Each of us has a choice. If you want to bring down your giants and close the doors you must choose. When I thought about choice I thought about the movie The Matrix because this is a good analogy about choice. In this movie, the people are in bondage and they don’t know it. In the movie, the people are connected to machines and they think they are living in the real world but they are actually in these pods and the world is computer generated. There is this character named Neo, he is searching for something because he senses that something is not quite right, however, he does not know what it is. One day this man named Morpheus comes to him and offers him the truth. He tells him that the world in which he lives is not real. However for him to see the real world it is necessary that he become unplugged, he will have to be set free from the world he thinks is real.
Morpheus gives Neo a choice; there are two pills which are placed in front of him, one is red and the other is blue. The red pill is truth and knowledge and will wake him from his sleep. The blue pill will allow him to stay in his condition. Will he choose to come out of the world that he thinks is real or will he choose to stay in the condition he finds himself in? This is what you must do; you have to make a choice. Are you going to come out of your situation, are you going to come out of being in bondage to Satan? Do you want your giants to come down or are you going to stay in your condition?
However, in the movie, there is a catch. If he chooses the truth he will not be able to go back to his old existence. We, on the other hand, can choose truth and then go back, but if we do there will be consequences for our actions. A person who goes back after knowing the truth is like a dog turning to his vomit. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” II Peter 2:20-22.
Neo made a choice and took the red pill. When he came out of the computer-generated world he saw that the real world was not pretty. When we come out of sin, when God shows us ourselves it is not pretty. We see how wretched we are, how sinful we are in the sight of God. The world around us is not pretty. We must then make the decision of what we will do, we make a choice. Am I going to stand and fight or will I go back? We must choose to fight not only for ourselves but for others also. Do you want to be set free; do you want to be delivered? This is the choice you have to make as you wake up out of your sleep, when you see the truth of your condition.
In the movie, Neo is being held captive in his mind. This is where Satan attacks us, this is the battlefield. Someone comes to you with truth, you can choose the truth or you can reject it and stay where you are. Will you choose the blue pill and stay in your condition or will you choose the red pill which is the truth and allow God to deliver you and set you free? The scripture says “choose you this day whom you will serve” Deuteronomy 30:19.
The scripture also says in Hebrews 3:15 “The day you hear his voice harden not your heart.”
Satan has deceived many Christians into not knowing who they are. Spiritual warfare happens every day of our lives. The more knowledge we gained the more we grow, the more we eat his word the more we grow and God will continue to reveal things to us. The problem we face within Christendom is that people are not learning of him and they don't know who they are and as a result of this people are being misled.
We are now the sons of God, we are in the same position Jesus was in when he walked this Earth. He was the son of God and now we are Sons and Daughters of the most high God. We are called to do the same works that Jesus did and greater and we have been given the same power so that the world will know that God is with us.