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We Can’t Have It Both Ways

Many people are critical of God — some even using it as their primary reason for rejecting His very existence. For one reason or the other, they are critical of Him because He does not: (1) directly intervene to protect innocent from serious birth defects, fatal injuries, or crippling diseases; (2) directly intervene to stop evil political rulers from oppressing and preying upon the weak and vulnerable; (3) directly intervene to spare “good” people the suffering brought on by disease and accidents; (4) directly intervene to keep evil people from harming innocent people; and, (5) directly intervene to keep earthquakes, storms, floods, and volcanic eruptions from taking human lives.

At the same time they do not want God: (1) to take away their freedom to choose; (2) to take away their powers to reason; (3) to remove personal responsibility for one’s actions; or, (4) to change the immutable laws of nature. Well, we can’t have it both ways. It would have to be one or the other, with all of the consequences that ensue.

The physical universe is regulated by immutable physical laws (which we call “the laws of nature”). We can’t change them, and God certainly won’t. We must learn them, accept them, and respect them. We can rely on them and be blessed and benefited by them. Or we can remain ignorant of them, ignore them, defy them, and challenge them — and suffer the consequences. We must not expect God to protect us from “the laws of nature”, while we ignore, or fail to respect, or even challenge, and defy these laws.

Man is a free moral agent, able to learn, understand, and apply God’s immutable, spiritual laws. Man is able to (and expected to) choose between right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error, and wisdom and folly. If he couldn’t choose to do wrong, he couldn’t choose to do right either — he would be another animal and not a free moral agent. Each person is responsible for the choices he makes and will be held accountable by God — to whom he must one day give answer. God will “balance the books” and mete out justice.

Each one is a part of a world of people. And anyone can carelessly risk or deliberately destroy his own life, or carelessly endanger or ruin his own health, or abuse and misuse his own body, or pollute and corrupt his own mind, or defile and lose his own soul. Each one can also mislead, or deceive, or pain, or grieve, or harm those around him — physically, mentally, emotionally, morally, or spiritually. Or each one can do the opposite.

Acts 17:24-28 says, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’” Jesus told Satan that man is not to tempt God (Matthew 4:7). But this is what we do when we want the world both ways. Let’s learn to respect, to cooperate with, to observe, and to be blessed and benefited by the wonderful laws of God, both the physical and the spiritual — and not always yearning to have our cake and eat it too. It can’t be done!

Adapted from Bill Crews

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