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God changes his mind. He never changes, mind you (he’s the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever), but he does change his mind. There are numerous instances in the Bible when he was about to render his judgement and then, through a last minute appeal, stayed his hand.
Our goal is to make it to Heaven, and our way to get there is to become as much like Jesus as possible. Jesus was fully human but also fully filled with God’s spirit. Jesus was not God, but God worked powerfully through him. This was possible because Jesus freely and willingly gave his free will over to God in everything he did. Everything. Not just some things – everything. That’s what we need to do to be like Jesus, and that’s what we must do to make it to Heaven.
In contrast, the “man of perdition” that Paul mentioned, who is the same one that Daniel described and that John wrote about in Revelation, will do the opposite of what Jesus did. That’s because instead of being filled with God’s spirit, he’ll be filled with Satan’s. In other words, a human will provide the body for the disembodied “Father of Lies” himself.
I was an atheist for the first 36 years of my life. During that time, various demon spirits moved in and out of me, most of them evil. I didn’t consciously invite them in; they just showed up as a consequence of my misguided thoughts and actions. I drew them to me, but unconsciously. Now, as a born-again follower of Jesus, evil spirits are still around me, but there’s no longer any room for them in me because God’s spirit has taken up residence. No human can have both God’s spirit and evil spirits at the same time. It’s either one or the other.
As Paul pointed out, everyone who doesn’t acknowledge that Jesus is Lord is antichrist (literally, “opposed to Jesus the Christ”), which means that most of the world’s population is antichrist. The man of perdition is also antichrist, but he’s not just your regular run-of-the-mill antichrist. He’s so antichrist that he’s considered The Antichrist. This is a man who has consciously chosen to host Satan’s spirit and to consciously work in opposition to Jesus (and therefore to God), so we’re talking one messed-up dude here. You don’t become The Antichrist by mistake: you become The Antichrist on purpose.
I mention this because the spiritual landscape is swiftly changing. The people of the world are being repositioned and softened up to accept a “global” leader who will be the man of perdition. God warned us about him through Jesus, Paul, Daniel, John and others, so he’s definitely coming. As born-agains, we’ll know him when we see him, and our job at that time will be to warn others about him, and to keep showing people the only way home to God.
Here’s what we should expect of The Antichrist. He’ll be very rich and well-positioned politically and religiously. He’ll perform “miracles” and will know everything about everyone. He’ll also be extremely handsome and charismatic; most of the world will be spell-bound by him and will without hesitation die or kill for him. His hold over people will be supernatural and powerful, and no-one will be able to escape his lure unless they’re born-again. Yet, sadly, even some born-agains will fall for him.
I’ve been under the thrall of demons, so I know how powerful their hold can be. I would still be under their control were it not for God rescuing me, but only after I cried out to him. God has given us all free will and he’ll never ask for it back. He respects our right to choose and won’t force his will on us, even if it means we choose our way to Hell. But the instant we break and cry out for help, God is there.
In contrast to what the world considers to be freedom (i.e., doing whatever you want to, whenever you want to do it), true freedom is putting your free will 100% into God’s hands and asking for his help and guidance in everything you do. As born-agains, we know this is true, because we live that reality every day. We know what it is to live without God’s help, and we know what it is to live with it, and there’s no comparison between the two. I’d rather live just one more day with my will completely in God’s hands than to live forever without his help.
The Antichrist has chosen the latter path, and that’s a horrible place to be. Even the pleasures of near-absolute power will in no way make up for what happens after that cold heart stops beating, and stop beating it will. Scripture tells us that The Antichrist’s days are numbered, and that Hell is his final reward.
Hell is the final reward of all antichrists.
We need to be reminded of that every so often.
Heaven is our goal. Following Jesus as a born-again is the only way to get there. The Antichrist will try to persuade us otherwise, either through temptation or brute force. He knows all of our weaknesses, and he’ll try to exploit them. He’ll try to convince us that God’s Way is not only narrow but narrow-minded. He’ll brand us bigots. He’ll outlaw God’s Word. He’ll torture and kill those who won’t comply with his dictates. He’ll even torture and kill our family and friends. He’ll promote alternative belief systems that have elements of God’s Way but ultimately are antichrist.
Don’t fall for his lies. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be afraid.
Stay your course and endure to the end, no matter what that entails.
Jesus is Lord and God is our Father. We don’t bow down to anyone else.
Remember that when your time comes.
As born-agains, the spiritual tools we value the most, use the most, and need the most have no place in Heaven.
The Ten Commandments are obsolete.
The directives God gave us through Jesus don’t apply.
We don’t have to pray.
And there aren’t even any Bibles (King James or otherwise).
Faith, hope and charity have value only in this life.
We don’t need faith in Heaven because, as Paul told us, we’ll see and know God fully as he is.
We won’t need hope, either, because we’ll have everything we want and there won’t be any adversities to overcome.
And we won’t need charity, the self-less love that’s expressed by obedience to God’s will. There won’t be any need for charity in Heaven because we’ll all have the mind of God, so we’ll all be doing God’s will automatically.
As for praying, we won’t need to do that any more because we won’t have to talk to God and Jesus in faith, trusting they hear us; we’ll be able to talk to them face-to-face.
So you see, there’s no ‘faith, hope and charity’ or praying in Heaven because there’s no need for them.
And there’s no free will, either (to which I say: THANK GOD FOR THAT!).
I’m glad God gave me free will, but I’ll be even gladder to kiss that double-edged mother good-bye.
It’s caused me a lot of problems.
Bye-bye, free will!
Bye-bye, faith hope and charity!
Bye-bye, loving your enemies!
Bye-bye to everything but God’s will and God’s goodness, because that’s all we’ll need when we arrive in Heaven. God will provide us with everything else, just like he provides for us on Earth.
And the last thing we’ll say good-bye to is good-bye itself, because there are never any partings in Heaven. Everything and everyone are there to stay.
We know that God’s justice is perfect, so we know that our situation in life is what we’ve earned from our choices. The same principle that governs the spiritual realm also governs the physical realm.
You only get back what you put out.
You only get what you’ve earned.
A man with some degree of wisdom once said: We live in the best of all possible worlds.
That’s another way of saying God’s justice is perfect.
If we live in the best of all possible worlds because God’s justice is perfect, then the world as we experience it is what we’ve earned.
Collectively, we’ve earned the wars, the famines, the pestilences, the rapes, the murders, the wealth, the poverty, and everything else that happens on Earth.
Individually, we’ve earned the debts, the jobs, the relationship hassles, the gifts, the tears, the losses, and even the illnesses.
If you believe that God’s justice is perfect, then you have to accept what is written above.
Many people have difficulty accepting that things are the way they are because of God’s perfect justice. They would rather blame others (including God) for their problems than to point a finger at themselves. This deflection of blame is the number one reason keeping people from turning back to God.
Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and yet both Adam and Eve were guilty by reason of their own free will choice.
God didn’t banish them from Paradise; they banished themselves.
What choices have you made that brought you to where you are now? What personal outcomes have you blamed on other people or on political systems or corporations?
Who or what are you blaming now?
God’s justice is perfect. We can only get back what we put out.
You can stop the pain, if you want to, by stopping the blame. You can stand before God and say: I’m only getting what I deserve, both good and bad.
And while you’re standing there, you can also thank God for always making the best of every situation. God loves us all the same, so he always mitigates our punishments, just as he always boosts our rewards.
That’s the God we serve. That’s our Dad. That’s his perfect justice.
We live in the best of all possible worlds.
We only get back what we put out.
If you want a good life, make good choices.
Free will is a misnomer. God let us misname it so we’d have the notion that we’re ‘free’. Certainly, we are free, but only in the sense that we can either choose God’s way or not choose God’s way. That’s the extent of our ‘freedom’.
Frankly, I wish I didn’t have even that much freedom. I wish I didn’t have the option to choose against God’s way. Cold, hard, miserable firsthand experience has taught me that every time I choose against God’s way and every time I question him, I’m wrong, and I suffer for it.
This is where faith comes in. Faith doesn’t question. It no longer needs to question. Faith has progressed beyond questioning, in the same way as a child progresses from training wheels to no training wheels when learning to ride a bike. Faith declares: “I’m through with free will! I’m through with questioning!” Faith automatically chooses God’s way because those who choose faith have come to realize that God’s way is always – ALWAYS – best.
When we choose to live by faith, we suspend our free will. We still have free will, but we choose not to use it. It’s like the little kid who keeps the trainer wheels on her bike, even though she doesn’t need them anymore. She can use them if she wants to, but if she falls back to relying on her training wheels, she loses her balance and rides crooked again. She leans heavily to one side or the other, and her progress is slow and ungainly. She’s no longer cycling; she’s in a suspended state of falling.
We can fall back to choosing not to live by faith. We can resort to our squeaky rickety training wheels. We can doubt God. We can question his wisdom and find fault with his methods. But if we do so, we’re always wrong. If nothing else, that’s one thing we can count on – always being wrong if we choose against God.
I’m glad God gave me free will if only just to show me how inferior it is to faith. I’m glad he wants me to freely choose his way rather than to be forced or feel obligated to choose him. I’m glad he lets me make mistakes, and I’m glad he lets me suffer for it. I’m glad he lets me feel the consequences of my actions rather than glossing over my mistakes and pretending everything’s OK. It would be a lot easier for God just to gloss over our mistakes and let us get away with things. Then he wouldn’t have to deal with our tantrums and our sulking. But God is a perfect parent, so he does things the right way, even if they are the hard way for us and for him.
We suffer not because God is sadistic and not because we’re suffering for the good of other people – we suffer because we’ve made mistakes and chosen against God’s way, consciously or unconsciously. We suffer to the precise degree that we’ve earned that suffering — not one ‘ouchie’ more or less.
God’s justice is perfect.
If we’re smart (and God made us to be smart) – if we’re smart, we’ll learn from our mistakes. God is patient. He’s teaching us and he wants us to learn at our own pace. Heaven has very high behavioral standards. Paul gave us a partial list of the types of behaviors that don’t belong in Heaven, and warned us that those who practice those behaviors won’t make it there, no matter how big their congregation is or how much money they’ve donated to charity or how ‘good’ a person they consider themselves to be.
Heaven isn’t a “free gift”: it’s earned by our free will choices. We are rewarded with Heaven not because Jesus sacrificed himself as a repayment for Original Sin but because we’ve shown God, to his satisfaction, that we prefer his way to all others. We show him that we prefer his way by choosing his way, over and over and over and over and over again, to our dying breath.
We choose our way to Heaven. Jesus opened the door, but we have to make the choices that will bring us through that door. Just wanting to go through it is not enough. We have to show, by our free will choices, that we want to go through that door more than through any other door.
There is more of a curse in free will than there is a blessing. It’s best, if and when you can, to move beyond free will to the level of faith where you are no longer tempted to choose against God. Living by faith is how Jesus lived and how Paul lived and how Abraham lived and how Moses lived and how Noah lived. Be like them. Ditch your training wheels, get in the God groove, and roll your way on up to those pearly gates.
Jesus is the greatest of all freedom fighters. He told us that knowing the truth will make us free, and so it does. God is truth, so knowing God as our Dad brings us into God’s kingdom on Earth and makes us free from the attacks of our spiritual enemies. This is the true freedom that God promised Israel through the Old Testament prophets. This is true safety and security, not the fake one promoted by the Homeland Security organizations of the world. As long as we keep wanting and choosing what God wants for us (knowing that God wants only the best), then we are secure in our safety and freedom.
But at the same time God loves and encourages free thought. In fact, he loves the notion of free thought so much that he embedded it in the concept of free will. We are free to think our way into choosing what God knows is best for us, and we are equally free to think our way into rejecting it.
We are as free to be illogical and wrong in our thought processes as we are free to be logical and correct.
Why would God do that? Why wouldn’t he just make us receptive only to correctness rather than allow us to doubt and make wrong choices based on those doubts?
God loves it when we use the gifts he’s given us, and the gifts he loves us most to use are free thought and free will. God doesn’t want automatons serving him; he doesn’t want forced obedience: he wants us to come to him because we want to come to him. He wants us to weigh the pros and cons (do a cost/benefit analysis, if you will) and then decide what we think is best. Of course, he’s always putting in his two cents’ worth; he never leaves us guessing as to which option is the right one. He wrote his laws on our hearts, and if we’re still not sure, he gave us scripture, his spirit, and Jesus.
I love Jesus! He’s such a cool guy. Nothing ever fazes him. That’s because, when he was in his Earthly body, he lived fully in God’s promise of freedom, protection and security. That doesn’t mean, however, that he automatically did God’s will in everything – no, not at all. He took advantage of his free thought and free will to try to negotiate better terms with God.
One of these famous “negotiations” played out in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus was crucified. God had earlier told Jesus what was going to happen to him, and certainly Jesus knew from scripture what was going to happen to him, but he didn’t like it. Not one bit. And why would he? He was a virile young man in the peak of health. He didn’t want to die, and certainly not the way that was laid out for him. If he had willingly embraced his humiliation and crucifixion and gone marching to his death with a smile on his face, he would have been insane, and Jesus most certainly was not insane. So, trying to wheedle maybe a few more days or weeks or even hours out of God, Jesus asks him if there’s some other way he can do what needs to be done. He asks him once, and God says “No.” He asks him again, and again God says “No.” He asks him a third time, and when God’s answer is still “No”, Jesus throws in the towel and says he’ll do it.
Does he do it with a smile on his face? Not at all. We know from scripture that he barely spoke a word from that moment onwards. With his God-given free thought, Jesus weighed the pros and cons of what was required of him to be the Messiah. He also used it to try to find some way around the worst of the requirements, but God wasn’t budging. Still, he let Jesus think it through. Still, he stood firm while Jesus tried to find a short-cut that would not involve crucifixion. When the combined witness of God, scripture and his own heart showed Jesus that the best way to do what had to be done was simply to do it, Jesus conceded. He wasn’t coerced; he wasn’t forced; he could have said “no” and gone down another path that might have ended with him marrying Mary Magdalene and bouncing 12 Junior Jesus’s on his knee, but he deduced, through logic and God’s witness, that choosing God’s way was the best way to achieve his goal of Messiahship, so he chose it. God then strengthened him, and less than 24 hours later, Jesus took his place forever at the right hand of God.
David had a similar clash of wills with God over David’s first-born with Bathsheba. Through the prophet Nathan, God informed David that the child would fall ill and die, but David reasoned that maybe God would change his mind if he fasted and prayed and mourned. So, he held vigil for seven days and nights, refusing to eat or drink or even talk to anyone. Despite David’s efforts, the child died, but instead of mourning his death, David got up, took a shower, grabbed a bite to eat, and then headed over to Bathsheba’s private suite to “comfort” her in the Biblical way. His servants are taken aback by what they saw was his odd behavior at the death of his son, but he explained that while his child was still alive, there was a chance that God would change his mind and let the child live. The child’s death signaled that God would not change his mind, so David conceded. It was as simple as that. And at David’s concession, God strengthened him, and Solomon was conceived that very night.
God not only allows us but encourages us to use our free thought and free will. He invites us to align our wills with his not by coercion but by logical choice. God wants only the best for us, but sometimes no pain means no gain. God protects us spiritually, but spiritual protection doesn’t mean that we won’t have to suffer pain while still in our Earthly bodies. We need to make up our mind to accept that now, because, as with Jesus and David, some form of pain is almost definitely going to be in the cards if we intend to “endure to the end”. Still, maybe God will give us some wiggle room; who knows? It never hurts to ask. But if you do ask, and he doesn’t budge, you can be sure that what awaits you on the other side of that temporary pain is a whole lot of gain beyond your wildest dreams.