Life is all about choices. In our modern culture, it seems that we have more choices to make than ever before. But for every choice we make, there is a consequence. If you choose to disregard the speed limit signs on your street, it is likely that there will eventually be a nice policeman who will explain to you the consequences of your decision. If you pour too much Emeril’s Red Pepper Sauce on your pork chops, you will suffer the consequences later. For every action there is an equal reaction.
God makes it plain to His people that there are consequences for our choices: blessings for obedience, and curses (or judgments) for disobedience. Many times we live as if there is no consequence for disregarding the commands of God, and yet, as we see from Scripture, the opposite is true. Likewise, we see that if we are obedient to God, He pours out His blessings on us.
The first issue we must address is simple: why must we obey God? For the Israelites, it was because they were His covenant people (Deut. 27:9-10). Because the Lord was their God, they were to live by His direction. The same applies to believers today: as we trust in Christ as Savior and surrender our lives to His Lordship, we become a part of God’s covenant family, grafted on the tree by our relationship with Christ (Rom. 11:17-24). Just like the Israelites, we cannot call Him Lord if we are not willing to obey Him.
Next, we must realize that our rebellious choices bring us into a position whereby we must be judged. In Deuteronomy 27 we see the recurring phrase “cursed is the one”, which is followed by a statement of some sinful act. The word “cursed” is a symbol of God’s necessary judgment on sin. Because He is holy, He cannot tolerate sin; God’s natural reaction to sin must be judgment. When we disregard the commands of God, we remove ourselves from His divine protection and place ourselves in the danger zone. We have no one to blame but ourselves for the calamities that befall us when we are in open rebellion against God and His Word.
Further, its not just the individual who suffers for their sinfulness. None of us live in a vacuum: invariably, others are drawn into the consequences of our sin. When a person commits adultery, their entire family suffers as a result of their sin. This is just one example of how the consequences of our wicked behavior have a detrimental effect on those around us.
On the flip side, we see that obedience brings God’s blessings upon us (Deut. 28:2-6). So many times we think that God sits around waiting to zap us when we get out of line. The fact is, God wants to bless us. If we are obedient to Him, His blessings will follow. King David wrote: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it” (Psa. 37:4-5).
We want God’s favor to shine upon us, but we don’t always want to do what is required to receive it. People have always had trouble balancing privilege and responsibility: we want the benefits without the effort. If we want to be found faithful by our great God, and if we want to receive all that He has in store for us, we must share the sentiment of John the Baptist: “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30). When we do this, we will be better equipped to make the right choices.