What rules do you have in your house or in your classroom? Are the rules easy to obey? Hard to obey? Why?
When Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden they were given a choice. They could either choose to trust God and simply receive his life from the Tree of Life by grace, or they could choose to try to be like God on their own by choosing to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Do you remember which tree they chose to eat from?
That’s right. They chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And when they did they chose the tree that would cause them to die. Why? Because they rejected God’s life. They rejected his love and grace. They rejected God himself. And we can’t live without God.
In Deuteronomy, right before God’s people were about to go back into the Promised Land, God gave them a similar choice. Listen to what God said to his people and see if you can hear the choice he gives them:
Deuteronomy 30:15-18. 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.
Did you hear the choice?
The people could choose “life and good,” or “death and evil.” They could choose to be good, or they could choose to be bad. Do you ever choose to be good? Do you ever choose to be bad?
Then God tells them what will happen if they choose to be good. “IF you obey…THEN you shall live.” And God also says that IF they disobey THEN they will “perish” (die).
Have your parents ever used an IF-THEN sentence with you?
IF you clean your room, THEN you can have ice cream.
IF you get your homework done, THEN you can watch TV.
IF you get good grades, THEN you will get your allowance.
IF you play together without fighting, THEN you won’t be in “time out.”
What other IF-THEN sentences have you heard?
Now, when mom and dad give you an IF-THEN sentence it’s usually something that you are able to obey. But God’s IF-THENs are way bigger. And way harder. In fact, they’re impossible. As we’ve said many times before, no one can keep all of God’s “commandments, statutes, and rules.”
But actually that’s what God wanted his people to see. God gave his people all these rules to obey to show them that they could never obey all his rules. He wanted them to understand that they were sinful. He wanted them to understand that they would never be able to figure out the difference between good and bad on their own.
He wanted them to understand that they would need a savior – Jesus!
Jesus is the one human being who always obeyed God’s “commandments, statutes, and rules.” Jesus is the one human being who always chose good over evil. Jesus is the one human being whose heart was never “turned away.” Jesus is the one human being who never worshiped an idol.
And that’s why Jesus is our savior.
And that’s why you can never save yourself. You would have to be perfect, and nobody but Jesus is perfect. This is why we all must choose to simply receive God’s gift of eternal life, and not try to earn it ourselves by being good. Because we’ll never be good enough without Jesus.
Because of Jesus I don’t have to be good enough to have God’s eternal life.
With Jesus I can be good because God has already loved me and given me his eternal life.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Play a board game together (like Chutes and Ladders). Talk about how games have rules. They have IF-THENs. IF you land on a ladder, THEN you go up. IF you land on a chute, THEN you go down.
Help your kids to imagine a game that you could never win because the rules were too hard. And imagine if Jesus came and played the game for you, and then with you, so that you could be a winner every time.
Thank you for always obeying all of God’s rules. Help me to obey God because I know he loves me, not so that he will love me.
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