[A sermon preached at Avenue Road Alliance Church by A. W. Tozer]
Choose Your Destiny # 1
Now, there's a voice that's speaking to us tonight. In the Word and out of Heaven this voice speaks ... and it says "Consider". And consider means, of course, to look at closely and to think about seriously. And all society is conspiring to prevent us from doing this.
Organized human society wants us to do everything but this one thing: consider our ways. And the Holy Spirit says "Consider your ways". Now this is more important than any other thing that you could consider. You may give consideration to a house, to a car, to a journey, to health, to insurance, to any one of a number or of many legitimate things. But more than all these it is important that you consider your ways. And when the scripture says "Consider your ways" it means consider your moral ways. Now it's vitally important that you study this. More important than any branch of learning that you might engage in anywhere at any time, that you give careful, serious, intelligent and honest consideration to your ways. And I ask also that you'll notice that it's your own ways that you are to consider. And this is exactly contrary to our common habit. For our common habit practically never is to consider our own ways but always to consider other people's ways.
The Pharisees were a classic terrible example of people who knew the sins of everybody but themselves. They did not know their own sins. They considered the sins of the harlot. They considered the sin of the tax collector. They knew the sin of the drunkard. But they never knew their own sin at all. Society's not only in a conspiracy to prevent us from considering ... but it is in a particular conspiracy to prevent us from considering our own ways. And since the human mind is so constituted that it must consider something, we compromise by considering other people's ways.
We read the newspapers and we tut-tut and scold and raise our eyebrows and we can't understand why people do the things they do. But the scripture says not consider the criminal in the newspaper account, it says consider your own ways. And it is the work of the Holy Spirit to focus my attention upon my own ways. And now as we do this I want you to set your ways over against this one thing tonight: the law of choices and consequences.
Now, everything is related to its past and to its future. Every act that is committed, every thing that exists, every word that you utter, and every deed that you do is related to two things: it's related to the past, as a consequence; and it is related to the future, as an effect which will produce another consequence. The simple illustration as I often give, is that of the egg in the nest, the egg lying in the nest is an effect of another act, the previous act, the bird, the act of the bird that laid it, but while it is an effect, a consequence of an act it is also the cause of another thing, and that is the new bird that will be hatched out after awhile. It is a link between what was and what will be and so are you and so is every thought you have, and so is every deed you do alike between something that made you do or think or say this thing and that which will be the result of your having said or thought or done this thing.
Now, everything is a consequence. The curse doesn't come causeless and the blessing doesn't come causeless. Everything is a result. Everything is an effect. It is an effect of something else. But everything is not only a consequence of something else, everything has consequences in something else. And the simplest word that you uttered today was a result of some conditioning of your mind and heart yesterday. And this simplest, most casual utterance today will have consequences - they may only be mild but there will be consequences, tomorrow. For everything you are or say or do or think resulted from some choice you made and everything you are or do or say or think will result in some future saying or doing or being or thinking.
Now, everything has consequences of dual importance so everything is of dual importance. It is important for what it is in itself and it is important for what it causes to be. It is important, we being intelligent and moral creatures, we are accountable for our acts. I think it would make a wonderful difference in our lives if we were to remember, and if we were to believe that we are going to be accountable for our acts, that we are going to give account to God for every deed and every word. And we're intelligent and we're moral, we have quality and therefore we will be accountable, and each act that we do has consequence in our own moral structure.
I am not sure but this may be, finally and at last, the most vitally, terribly important thing about consequences and acts and effects and causes, that is what everything does to our own moral structure. What it does to our lives. For what we are will determine our destiny. Our moral fabric will determine heaven or hell for us. This cheap, modern idea that we go to heaven by kind of a nickel-in-the-slot, pull down the lever and take out your ticket idea, and that if I accept Jesus I go to heaven and if I don't accept Him I go to hell - I heard a man on the radio not long ago telling, and trying to make it very plain that it didn't require righteousness to go to heaven, it required nothing but accepting Jesus.
Well, what he forgot was the act of accepting Christ if it is a true indeed act of accepting Christ has an instant effect upon the whole moral life and it changes the man from being a bad man to being a good man. It is ridiculous to say that heaven is the garbage pail for all the wickedness of men, only by grace the Lord takes foulness in! No king ever took the garbage pail into the king's parlor! And God is not going, by some trick of grace, to take evil, foul-minded, self-righteous and vile people into His heaven. When He saves a man, He saves him from sin! And if he's not saved from sin he's not saved at all! And there is no act of grace and no trick of mercy and no trick of justification that can take an unholy man into the presence of God or take an evil man into God's holy Heaven! He came not to call the righteous but people who knew they were sinful! But when He calls us to Himself and saves us, He saves us out of our past and out of our iniquity and by the twofold act of justification, or the threefold act of justification, regeneration, and sanctification He makes people fit for heaven!
~A. W. Tozer~
(continued with # 2)