God gave our first parents freedom of choice. In the tropical paradise of Eden, they were permitted to decide for themselves whether to heed the divine warning concerning the forbidden tree. This freedom to choose between right and wrong has come down to all the children of Adam and Eve.
Some choices, though, lie beyond human grasp. For instance, people cannot choose to be neutral toward Jesus. Some men and women have no desire to embrace the Christian life, but neither do they relish the idea of being counted among Satan’s black sheep. So they decide to be neutral, neither for Christ nor against him. But this is impossible. The Lord himself says that “he who is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23). The refusal to love Jesus and honor him above all puts a person at enmity with God—whether we intend it or not.
Choosing the consequences of sin is also beyond human power. A man can choose to toss a stone into a pond, but he cannot choose for the rock to produce no ripples. Similarly, he can choose to disregard God’s will but cannot control the results. Paul explains that “God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption” (Gal. 6:7-8). A husband can decide to lie to his wife but cannot prevent the ensuing anger and distrust from corrupting his marriage. A woman can choose to gossip about a coworker, but she is powerless to control the resulting strife and retaliation corrupting the workplace.
God has given us the liberty to make decisions for ourselves, but this freedom has limits. We choose our conduct; God chooses the consequences. We choose our own path in this life; God determines our destiny in the next.