Choose Your Destiny # 4
Now, nobody ever deliberately chose death. I'm sure of that. Wasn't it Tennyson that said, "No matter what crazy sorrow saith / No man that ever breathed with moral breath / Has ever really longed for death. They just choose the path that leads there! So they've chosen it by a series of small choices. They made the last choice of moral folly! They chose death. Not that they looked at death and said "I choose you!" but they looked at all the pleasant ways that lead there and said "I choose you!"
Young couples that get out in a car on a night like this, drink a little - you can get it somewhere - and get excited and worked up and go out onto the highway, full of jokes, borderline - and all other kind. They zoom down the highway - not one of them's choosing death.
Ask the driver as he stops somewhere for gas, "Do you want to die?" If you can get him still long enough and quiet long enough he'll say, "Why do you ask me a foolish question! Of course not!"
Ask the girl that sits beside him, "Do you want to die?" And she said, "No, I'm too young, I've got my life ahead of me. I'm just having some fun."
Ask the two in the back seat, sitting as close as one, and said "Do you two want to die?" And they say, "No, we don't want to die, of course not!" We want to live and love and enjoy the world."
Nobody wants to die. But they wanted to drink! And they wanted to see how much was in the old car. And the boy at the wheel wanted to show off before his giggling companion. And as they round a bend they lose control and the poor, hard-working cops come along later and, sick inside, drag them out. One or two of them dead and a couple more broken. They didn't choose to die! They simply chose the way that leads there!
Choose you this day. "I set before you the way of life and the way of death, choose you this day." Toronto hasn't chosen death. Toronto's just chosen to have burlesque shows on Sunday, if I read the paper right! Toronto hasn't chosen to die and rot, like New York and Chicago. "Toronto the good" has just decided that they can't be old-fashioned and puritanical any longer. So they've opened the door. And brother, when you open that Pandora box you let out all the devils and evil that is possible to know.
They say that before Rome collapsed under the blows of the Norsemen that policemen had to accompany women on the streets - if wasn't safe. And in great areas and sections of the city of Chicago my wife and I never allowed our daughter to go alone. Never! Somebody had to be with her.
Cities don't choose to rot and die; they just choose to do that which leads them to rot and die! And just as men do not choose life - or death, they do not choose life, in itself! No man can stand up and say "I choose life" in that sense he says "I choose the one who gives life. I choose the way to life. I choose life by choosing the way that leads there. I choose life by choosing the one that gives life. I choose life by repudiating death."
I choose life! I've made a lot of fool choices in my time, I suppose, but I've never regretted the one I made when I decided that I would become a Christian. There was nobody in my home that was a Christian - nobody - not any influence anywhere, anywhere in my whole circle of relations and close friends, not one! But by the good mercy of God I said I would. I didn't know what I was getting myself in for! I didn't know the joys and I didn't know the sorrows. I didn't know the pleasures and I didn't know the hardships. But I chose.
And so men choose life by choosing the course that leads to life. Doesn't the Bible say, "Choose you this day, choose life"! Yes! But you can't walk up and say "I choose life" you have to come where the life is. You choose water but you come where the water is and drink. You choose to be saved but you have to come where the Lord and Saviour is to be saved and give yourself into His hands.
So we make the right choice by starting with repentance. I'm talking to people who are taking their religion very casually, very casually indeed! You're very casual about it all. Watch out that you don't cast your lot with mortality! Watch out that you don't say to the worms "They are my sister." Watch out that you don't say to death "This is my brother!" You can't afford to be casual.
There are people that would influence you. Some of you would be better Christians if you weren't under the influence of certain who aren't good Christians. Some of you are being influenced to make wrong choices. And those that influence you are blind. Or they're hard or they're calloused or they're morally irresponsible and they're influencing you! But did you ever think they can't help you in that day? Can't help you!
When the Jews wanted to kill Jesus they hunted his least worthy disciple, Judas, the one that they figured would be - the one they could reach, as they say in politics. So they went to him and sure enough, they'd guessed right; they could reach him, he could be bought. So they said "We'd like to arrest your master but we're not familiar with his face, we don't know which one he is and we don't want to make a scene. We'd like to slip in quietly and put some handcuffs on the one that's your master but they're all dressed alike and we don't know one from the other."
He said "I'll tell you who he is - for a price. Eighteen dollars. For eighteen dollars I'll tell you who." They said "All right. Here's the eighteen dollars." He said, "Now, we'll figure it like this: when I get to a certain place I'll run up to one of the twelve - the eleven, and I'll kiss one of them and the one that I kiss, that's your man."
And so he went up to Jesus and said "Rabbi". Jesus turned and sadly said to him, "Friend". He kissed his cheek and they grabbed him. Then later on, when Judas had an attack of conscience and the money burned like fire in his hand and he saw them lead his loved friend away, he turned against himself viciously and ran back to these evil men and threw the eighteen dollars at their feet and said "I have betrayed innocent blood!" and they said - oh, the infinitely devilish cynicism of this - they said, "What's that to us? You see to that!"
That fellow that's leading you off, he's influencing you now and leading you away but in that day he'll say, "What's that to me? I can't answer for you. See you to that!"
That business partner that's persuading you to cut edges and corners and be a bit crooked - he smiles and pats your back and tells people "Good old Joe, he's a great guy, he's a great guy, ha-ha!" But there'll be a day when "good old Joe" will stand all by himself and that'll be you and your business partner won't be able to help you at all.
I tell you, I'm frankly trying to influence you! I have nothing to gain by you choosing the right, not a dime have I to gain by it. I have nothing to lose if you choose the wrong and yet I plead with you in the language of the Holy Spirit. God sets before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life. Choose life by choosing the Living One. Choose life by repudiating death and sin. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. He that hath the Son hath Life and he that hath not the Son hath not life. Choose life by choosing the Living One who is the life. And I am earnestly trying to influence you to choose the right way and the right One.
I am trying to influence you Christians who are living casual Christian lives to put away that wickedness and consider your ways and this night start to live a Christian life that will shame the devil and please God and start you on the way to victorious living and fruitful service and holy character. Choose you. You must make the choice. That choice will result in deeds and deeds will result in destiny. This is an honor God's bestowed upon us, that we can choose. Have you chosen? Do you choose? What have you chosen?
And those of you who tonight are halfway in between and you don't know whether to believe or doubt, you don't know whether to surrender or "bull-it" through a little longer, you don't know whether to say yes or no: I am seriously trying to influence you to say yes to God and no to sin. Yes to Jesus, as the song says, and no to the devil. What about it?
You that are tempted, oh so deeply and bitterly tempted and you don't know which way to turn. I'm earnestly trying to get you to turn the way of righteousness and God. Will you do it, tonight? Let's pray.
~A. W. Tozer~