Choice, Consequences and Personal Responsibility

Memory Verse: Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Life is a series of choices that you make one after another all day long from the time you get up to the time you go to sleep. The next day when you wake up, you do the same thing, make choices. What is choice? What does it mean?

Choice – an act of choosing or selection – the right, opportunity or power to choose freely

Notice that freedom is implied by the word “choice”. You are free to choose or not to choose. Your choices, however, always have consequences – good or bad. Every choice carries a consequence. You cannot have choice without consequences – good or bad. The overriding consequence of every single decision you make is personal responsibility. You are personally responsible for every choice you make and you are personally responsible for all of the consequences, good, bad or ugly, of those choices.

Right from the beginning, God gave mankind the freedom to choose to obey Him or not. With obedience came peace, blessings, and fellowship with God. With disobedience the consequences were death – not only physical death but also spiritual death -- and separation from God.

You started this lesson by acting out what happened in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were created by God. At first everything was fine. Adam and Eve ignored the tree that God had told Adam not to eat from and tended the Garden of Eden. Then the serpent showed up and talked to Eve.

Genesis 2:9 & Genesis 2:15-17
“9 The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden He placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him; “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

Genesis 3:1-6
“1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.”

What was Eve’s first mistake? She chose to stay and listen to the serpent’s reasoning as to why she should disobey God. The serpent twisted God’s words, deceived her and made her think that God was not being fair, that God was withholding something she should have had. Her desire to be like God and to acquire more knowledge outweighed her desire to obey God and honor her husband. She even embellished or added to what God said saying, God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” Did God say that? What did He say? He told them not to eat it or they would die. Did they die? God never said they would drop dead right there and then if they ate the fruit. He told them they would surely die. They both died later, but they did die. God did not lie to them. The serpent lied to Eve. He told her that she would not die if she ate the fruit.

What other errors did Eve make? She didn’t talk to her husband before eating the fruit. She doubted God and decided to choose for herself what was good for her and she chose to disobey God.

What can we learn from her errors? Don’t stay in an evil environment – leave immediately. Don’t participate in an evil activity. Don’t stay and listen if you can see it will lead to an evil outcome. Guard your ears in what they hear, your eyes in what they see, your hands and body in what they do, and your heart and mind in what you allow to enter into your life.
Always discuss major decisions with your mate, a parent or a wise, trusted, close friend if you do not have a mate. Ask yourself before making any decision if God would approve of it. Is there any part of this decision that goes against God’s Word? Is this is a decision that glorifies God? Would Jesus make this decision?

What else did Eve do? She took some of the fruit and gave it to Adam and he ate it. Was Adam deceived? No one deceived Adam. He freely chose to eat the fruit knowing that Eve had already eaten some of it.

What did you learn from this? The serpent deceived Eve, but she chose to disobey God. Adam was not deceived but he knowingly chose to disobey God. His love and need for Eve outweighed his love and need for his God and Creator. He chose to die with Eve rather than live forever with God. Both of them made the wrong choice. Remember all choices, both good and bad choices, have consequences. What were the consequences of the choices that Adam and Eve made that day?

Genesis 3:7-11
7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

Realizing they were naked, they felt shame and tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. They tried to hide from God because they were afraid.

What did you learn from this? Sin causes guilt and shame and a desire to hide from God. When you live in a state of sin you do not want to be around God or anything having to do with God. You stop praying. You stop going to church. You stop fellowshipping with other believers. You stop reading your Bible. You become more interested in worldly things and activities than in godly ones. You start making excuses for your sin. You try to find ways to justify your sin, not only to yourself and others, but also to God. You blame God, circumstances, things that happened to you, your parents, your friends – everyone and everything except yourself for what you are doing and how you are living. Eventually, if you stay in your sin, you will eventually turn your back on God and His Word and go your own way, doing what you think is right or wrong --deciding for yourself without regard to what God thinks or wants.

What is the remedy? Repentance. Repentance removes guilt and shame by teaching you to admit to God that you did something wrong, that you are sorry for doing it and will do everything you can so you will never do it again. It is a 180-degree turning away from the sin you committed and admitting to God that you alone are responsible for the bad choice and all the consequences that happen to you and to others because of that bad choice.

Acts 2:22-24
22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through Him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and His prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed Him to a cross and killed Him. 24 But God released Him from the horrors of death and raised Him back to life, for death could not keep Him in its grip.”

Acts 2:37-39
37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”

Did Adam and Eve admit to God they had sinned? Did they repent?

Genesis 3:12-13
12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”
“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

Neither Adam nor Eve admitted their guilt to God. Instead, Adam blamed Eve and God, and Eve blamed the serpent – neither repented and neither admitted personal responsibility.

Did the serpent put a gun to Eve’s head and force her to eat the fruit? No. She chose to eat it. Did she admit that to God? No. She blamed the serpent’s deception. Was she or the serpent responsible for her disobedience? Eve was responsible for her sin. She chose to eat the fruit knowing that God had told them not to eat it. She allowed the serpent’s words to enter her ears and mind and chose to disobey God, knowing what God had told Adam would happen if they chose to eat the fruit from that tree.

Did Eve put a gun to Adam’s head and force him to eat the fruit? No. He ate it knowing that Eve had already eaten it. Did he admit that to God? No. He blamed God and his wife. He told God “it was the woman YOU GAVE ME who gave me the fruit”. Was Adam responsible? Yes. He chose to eat the fruit. Both blamed someone else for their sin. Neither admitted personal responsibility for the choice that they themselves had made freely. No one forced them to sin. Eve was deceived, yes, but she chose to disobey God. Adam knowingly disobeyed God. Both sinned and both were personally responsible for their sin. Both experienced the consequences of their sin. Both grew old and died, just as God had told them. Was God unfair? No. He warned them of the consequences of eating the fruit from that tree before they ever sinned and before Eve talked to the serpent.

The choices you make not only have consequences but they bear your personal responsibility for the outcomes of those choices. You alone are responsible. Others may have contributed to or affected your decision, but you alone are responsible for them. Those others too will bear the consequences and personal responsibility of their choices.

If Adam and Eve were personally responsible for the consequences of the choices they made, why did God also punish the serpent? The serpent deliberately deceived and successfully and deliberately tempted Eve to disobey God. The serpent was also personally responsible to bear the consequences and personal responsibility of its choices.

Genesis 3:14-15
14 “Then the Lord God said to the serpent, because you have done this, you are cursed
more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. 15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

What were other long-term consequences to Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God?

Genesis 3:16-24
16 Then He said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” 17 And to the man He said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. 19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” 20 Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live. 21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. 22 Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” 23 So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and He sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. 24 After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And He placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Eve would bear children in pain. Adam would have to battle thorns, thistles and weeds and work to grow food to feed the two of them. A couple of animals had to be sacrificed to provide clothing for them. Blood was shed so they could adequately cover their nakedness. They were banished from the Garden of Eden and lost the personal fellowship they had had with God. All their descendants would bear the consequences of their bad choice. They and all their descendants would grow old and die and turn back into the dust from which they had been made. Death and sin entered the world because of the choices they made. Adam and Eve’s sin affected every single person born since then. Their sin carried huge long-term consequences. They had chosen short-term enjoyment and long-term consequences for all of humanity.

Was God being unfair to treat Adam and Eve like this? No. They knew the consequence of death should they choose to disobey God. What do you think would have happened if God had not banished them from the garden? They had not repented, nor admitted their guilt and responsibility for their sins of disobedience, and if they had eaten from the tree of life in this condition they would live forever unrepentant and rebellious against God.

The effects of your choices, whatever you choose to do, the video games you play, the clothes you wear, the books, magazines and written words you read, the movies and TV programs you watch and hear, the kind of music and the people you listen to, all have consequences good and bad, depending on what you choose.

God made you free to choose, but you must choose wisely. You have a standard by which you can judge the wisdom or foolishness of the choices you make. You don’t have to decide for yourself. You don’t have to learn the hard way. God gave you His Word, the Holy Bible, to guide you in your choices. It is full of examples of good and bad choices that people throughout history made and the consequences and personal responsibility that went along with those choices. Read something in your Bible everyday to guide you in the choices that you will make that day. Ask God’s help. He doesn’t want you to fail and He doesn’t want you to make bad choices.

Deuteronomy 30:15-19
15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. 17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. 19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!"

God has given you everything you need to make good choices. Choose wisely. Choose life.

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