We Americans pride ourselves in our freedom. Freedom of choice is a hallmark of our national identity and our heritage. We have the freedom to choose how we will live our lives. Sadly many individuals do not realize that freedom of choice carries the potential for great good in our lives as well as the potential for great harm.
What do I mean by this? Simply that out of every choice we make in life, there are consequences that we must live with. Our lives are ruled by cause and effect. The Supreme God and Creator of the universe has set in motion certain laws, both physical and spiritual, that regulate the world of cause and effect.
The physical laws we call “laws of physics.” These laws regulate how physical objects interact. For example, we all know about, and daily experience, the effect of the law of gravity. Every time we drop something, gravity takes effect and the object hits the ground. In fact, gravity is always in effect, and it doesn’t matter whether you believe in it or not.
If you dropped a bowling ball on your foot, you would suffer the consequences. If you ignored the law of gravity and fell or jumped off a 30-story building, the law of gravity does not really care if your action was accidental or purposeful. The effect will be the same: a broken body and likely death.
Just because there are harmful consequences of violating the law of gravity, it does not follow that the law of gravity is inherently harmful. There may be natural consequences or penalties for breaking the law of gravity, but there are also blessings in the law of gravity.
For example, when you go out to your driveway in the morning, you normally find your car still in the driveway. It hasn’t drifted off into space because of the blowing wind. Gravity has kept your car in place. Wouldn’t you call gravity a helpful blessing? Gravity is also the physical law that enables toilets to flush. This we can all be thankful for!
God has also created a set of what we call “spiritual laws.” These laws are like gravity; they are concrete and stable and they are always in effect. The laws of physics and the spiritual laws are both invisible, but they are equally real. You cannot see the law of gravity but you can certainly see its effect when a lamp is knocked off the table and smashes onto the floor into a hundred pieces.
The spiritual laws of God operate in the same way. They cannot be seen, but you can certainly see the effects when they are violated. These spiritual laws regulate how human beings interact with each other and how humans interact with their creator. They primarily involve what we might call “relationships.” They are the relationships between husband and wife, parent and child, friend and neighbor, employee and employer, and also you and your Creator.
These spiritual principles of God are just as real as gravity, but the effects sometimes take longer to show up. The effects show up in ruined lives, broken marriages, and often failed jobs. The Creator has summarized these spiritual laws in ten principles that are referred to as the Ten Commandments.
You could violate the first four commandments—have the “almighty dollar” as your god, line your walls with idols, use God’s name in vain constantly, and work like there is “no tomorrow” even on God’s Sabbath day of rest—and you may not die immediately as you might by violating the law of gravity, but the penalties will occur, nonetheless. God will not be actively engaged in your life to actually intervene and bless you.
The same is true for the next six commandments that regulate human relationships. You could disrespect your parents, murder all those that get in your way, commit adultery while married, steal your neighbor’s car, lie to your boss, and lust after every attractive human being and material possession that exists, but sooner or later you will pay the penalty, and you will have a very miserable life.
If you steal from or lie to a boss, eventually you will lose your job. Commit adultery or be caught up in lust, and sooner or later your marriage will suffer and you will have hurt not only yourself, but also your mate and family.
The spiritual principles of God are the blueprint of human happiness. They are in effect whether you choose to follow them or not, just like gravity.
God spoke of the cause and effect of His spiritual laws in Deuteronomy 30:19–20: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days….”
Yes, we have the “freedom to choose” whether we will follow God’s spiritual principles or not. But true freedom only occurs when we choose to follow those spiritual laws and are free from the consequences or penalties of breaking them.