God said, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Genesis 2:17). Adam and Eve chose poorly. How can we avoid making the wrong choice?
Adam and Eve were faced with a classic choice during their earliest days in the Garden of Eden. The tree of life and all the other trees in the garden were there for their health and happiness, but God told them eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would lead to death.
The wrong choice made by Adam and Eve is well documented in the Bible. Whether we think about it or not, we also make daily choices. When faced with making a good choice or a wrong choice, we are usually tempted to make the bad choice. What determines the choice we will make?
The framework for choosing
The choices we make and the actions we take in life are the result of the thoughts that feed our minds daily. Notice Luke 6:45: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
The “heart” (mind) stores the thoughts and feelings that produce the actions and choices in our lives.
The book of Romans amplifies this thought process and ties it into the two outcomes described in the account of Adam and Eve. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
There are many scriptures advising us about the importance of what we feed our minds. This principle is discussed in the book of Psalms: “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way” (Psalm 119:36-37).
The apostle Paul also emphasized the importance of building up a healthy mind with positive thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
The choices we make and the actions we take in life are the result of the thoughts that feed our minds daily.So we can prepare for these choices and equip ourselves to make the good choices by focusing our minds on the good and dwelling on the positive results of good choices. But is that all we need to do in order to choose rightly?
Paul described an internal struggle that he dealt with personally. He also recognized that there were two choices involved in the situations he faced—the choice he knew he should make, and the choice that he was inclined to make, even though he knew better.
“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law in my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:21-24).
The apostle Paul found himself in a struggle between these two choices! Furthermore, he often found that he was tempted to make the wrong choice: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Romans 7:18-19).
Where does that leave the rest of us if even the apostle Paul had this difficulty in avoiding the wrong choice and always choosing what was right?
And yet despite that internal struggle, we need to make the right choices, as poor choices result in death. Notice Deuteronomy 30:19: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”
Proverbs 14:12 expands on this thought: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
Is it really this bad?
We have all made wrong choices, and (thankfully) have not yet been struck dead for making them. But we must realize that all sins (which are bad choices—the transgression of the law of God) have to be repented of; those sins must be covered and forgiven by Christ’s shed blood. The apostle Paul realized the seriousness of sin. So, even though he faced this struggle of avoiding the wrong choice, he no doubt practiced his own advice about dwelling on good and virtuous thoughts to help him choose the right.
It is true that all people eventually die, regardless of the choices they make. But there is more to the picture than just the natural end of human life. Wrong choices always bring consequences. The history of mankind (beginning with Adam and Eve) reflects a long series of wrong choices and the resulting wars, poverty, disease and destruction. And sins not repented of will bring eternal death.
Look at the big picture
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ made possible a future for mankind beyond the limitations of our mortal flesh. Humanity is not doomed to an inevitable cycle of sin and death! Here are Jesus’ own words: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:9-10).
Jesus Christ wants us to have life, and He does not want to see us make wrong choices. For further explanation of the results of wrong choices and the alternative to those wrong choices, read the final article in this series, “Effects of Sin.”