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Free to Choose, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
May 13, 2021 8:00 am

Free to Choose, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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May 13, 2021 8:00 am

When God gave us the freedom to choose, it came with the freedom to choose wrong. Join Dr. Tony Evans as he explains why so many of us are intend on doing just that, and talk about some of the consequences in store when we do.

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Beacon Baptist
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Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
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Skip Heitzig

God's blessings, whatever they are for you, are tied to God's boundaries. Dr. Tony Evans says we limit our reception of God's goodness when we don't respect his established field of play.

When you skip his boundaries, the whistle blows. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, this is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. God gave us boundaries in life, but He also gave us the freedom to choose. So what happens when we abuse that freedom?

Well, that's what Dr. Evans will explore today. Let's join him as he teaches from Deuteronomy chapter 30. According to the Promised Land, Moses wants to give them a final word. And in this final word, he wants to talk to them about their freedom to choose—that they can make the decision, based on their choice, of how life will work out for them.

Now follow this. This was not a decision about where they were going to spend eternity. It was not a decision about heaven or hell. It was a decision about the kind of life they were going to live. Would they live a life of favor, or would they live a life that was not favorable?

And that would be affected by their choice. In introducing the sermon—we're at the end of this portion of Moses' sermon—the word is the word covenant. If you will look in chapter 29, here's what you read. Verse 1 says, These are the words of the covenant. Verse 9 says, So keep the words of the covenant. Verse 12 says that you may enter into the covenant. Verse 14 says, Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath. A covenant was designed to bring people who were related to God under His covering. So a covenant provided a cover, an umbrella, if you will, over God's people because they were related to Him.

He says, You have a choice. I have established a covenant with you, but the question is, do you choose to operate under my covering? You can have an umbrella and still get wet because the umbrella is closed.

You can have an umbrella and stay dry because you open up the umbrella and you are covered. While Israel was God's covenant, the question is, are you going to open the umbrella or keep it closed? Will you be covered or not covered by the covenant? If you are undercover, that is, operating underneath the lordship, rulership of Jesus Christ, because many Christians choose not to do that. He says when you are operating under the lordship of Jesus Christ, you are undercover. And Jesus Christ has a full-time job in heaven making intercession that is interfering with your life on an as-needed basis.

Many of the things we are dealing with, we are dealing with because we don't have cover. Not because we don't have a Savior, but the umbrella of His covenant has been closed. The Bible says when you take communion, you enter into the new covenant, the new arrangement, the new agreement, which outpaces the old one in the Old Testament.

That Jesus Christ ever lives to work out deliverances for His people, saving. He wants us to understand that there is a choice, and between choosing God or not choosing God, there is no twilight zone. There is no in-between area of non-choice. It's not to choose, it's to choose.

So He says, I come before you and I set this before you. I'm putting it on the table. You can choose. You can make the decision.

I'm going to give you the options. Everything relates to your relationship to the covenant, your alignment to the covenant. Are you in line with the rule of God or are you out of line with the rule of God regardless of whether you're a child of God or not?

It's an alignment issue. And what many Christians do not understand is that because they insist on being out of alignment, they are not experiencing what Jesus said in John 10-10, I have come to give you life, and then He says, and to give it to you more abundantly. I came to give you two things, not one. I came to give you life, salvation, as we normally speak of it. But then on top of that, I came to give you abundant living.

Not problemless living, but fulfillment in living. I've come to give it to you because it's offered by grace. I come to give it to you, but the alignment must be there. I think I've mentioned once before when I went to the garage and pushed the garage door, it wouldn't open. Pushed the garage door, it wouldn't open. Pushed the garage door, it wouldn't open. Called the garage repairman. He said, walk over to the door.

I walked over to the door. He said, those canvases on the left and the right, which way are they facing? I said, well, one is facing the other, the other is facing out.

He said, that's your problem. They're not in alignment, so stuff is not working. I simply turned to one to face the other. They got the message, the door opened.

Doors that refused to open before, doors too heavy for me to open on my own, opened once the alignment was straightened out. And so today we have Christians who insist on not being aligned to divine rule while at the same time asking God for divine favor. That's a contradictory request because of the nature of a covenant. It's a divinely created bond to which we must be in alignment. So what would be the problem of God's people not being in alignment?

He tells you in verse 17, but if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare that you will perish. What would be the problem? Well, you've heard it over and over again. It would be a problem of idols. See, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, Amorites, they had other gods.

Watch this. So they would be going to a promised land ruled by pagans. Their whole environment would surround them with anti-God philosophies, worldview, perspectives, education, entertainment. All of that would be surrounding the people of God in the place of blessing. God says, now when you go to My place of blessing, which for them was the promised land, which is for us, our salvation, our new relationship with Jesus Christ, when you go into that land, you're going to be surrounded by anti-God sentiments, anti-God worldviews, anti-God philosophy, anti-God perspective. If you go after them, if you renege on me because they sound good to you, then you have to understand you have removed yourself from My cover, because you have chosen another god.

So let me make it easy. How do you know when you've chosen an idol? Remember, an idol is any unauthorized noun, person, place, thing, or thought. An idol is any unauthorized noun, person, place, thing, or thought.

God hasn't okayed it. You know it's an idol, or you know what you're truly worshiping— watch this—by who gets to make the final decision. Whoever makes the final decision is God, because they're the ones that you obeyed. They're the ones that you served. So if the secularists make the final decision, if the entertainment industry makes the final decision, if the economics makes the final decision, unauthorized, trumping what God has said, whatever that person, place, thing, or thought of, at that moment, in that decision, became your god.

And you move from under the umbrella. The covering no longer works once you choose an idol. I was talking to a young man, and he was struggling with the decision. It was a business decision that could make him a great deal of money. It would have been a legal decision. He was not doing something illegal in the decision. The law would have supported the decision. The problem was that the Bible disagreed with the decision. The Bible disagreed with the decision, which would have made him a lot of money, opened up a lot of doors, been economically beneficial, and he made the mistake of asking me about it. This was a phone call, but I could see him on the other end.

Why did I make this phone call? To which I said to him, even though it's legal, because God says you can't do it, you must choose God over mammon, for you cannot serve two masters. Even though—I feel it, and I wanted to be sympathetic, because many of you perhaps have been in that situation. That's a tough one, when you can see the money flowing. You can feel it.

It's almost in your hand. And it's not legally unethical, and God gets in the way. Any of you ever had God get in the way? And I said, you cannot choose prophet over principal. And yes, in the Promised Land, the gods of a culture, people have chosen race over God, culture over God, class over God, gender over God. We keep making all these choices and wonder why things are chaotic, not only in the world, but in the church, because we keep choosing the idol in the name of something offered by the culture. And we wonder why all the prayer meetings, there are no answers. Well, we're talking to the right God, but we're talking without an umbrella covering us.

So you can make an idol of anything. Whoever gets to make the final decision is your God. And if it's an unauthorized, person-placed thing of thought, you're no longer under the covering of the covenant.

But you get to choose. Dr. Evans will have more on the impact of idols in our lives when he returns in just a moment. First, though, I want to let you know that what you're hearing today is the final lesson from his current message collection called Consequences. It's a six-part study that explains why society's who-cares attitude about sin is not only wrong, but dangerous.

Along the way, we've learned about the deadly traps Satan sets for us and how to recognize and reject them by using the freedom of choice God provides. We want to help you put these important principles to work, so we're offering CDs and digital downloads of all six full-length lessons in this set with our thanks for your contribution toward Tony's ministry. And if you contact us today, we'll also include his powerful booklet, Thirty Days to Overcoming Emotional Strongholds, as a special bonus. This is the last day we're making this bonus offer available, so be sure to contact us as soon as possible at to make your contribution and your request. Or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222, where someone on our resource team is standing by to help you.

Again, that's 1-800-800-3222. I'll repeat that information for you after part two of today's message and this. The biblical roles of husbands and wives, the source of our authority as believers, understanding the concept of grace, winning spiritual battles. They're all important subjects but seem as different as night and day.

Would it surprise you to know there's a common thread running through all four? You can discover what it is by taking the course on Ephesians in the Tony Evans Training Center. One by one, you'll dig into the powerful themes of this book and make new discoveries about what Jesus' death accomplished, how to maintain unity at home and at church, what spiritual armor is all about. The course includes custom content from Tony not available anywhere else. Work through it at your own pace.

Collaborate with other students. Get your specific questions answered through our online forum. Connect with the Tony Evans Training Center at It's like having a seminary on your smartphone or other device.

Start today. The reason why idols—it can be anything, person, place, or thing—are so appealing is they give us the comfort level of a safety valve. Just in case my God doesn't work out, I need a safety valve. And Jesus says, no, I won't be your safety valve.

I'll let your God handle the whole thing. He says, now here are your options. Verse 15, I set before you life and prosperity. So He connects life with prosperity. And then He said, death at adversity. He connects death with adversity.

So it doesn't mean you're going to physically die every time or the room would be empty. Biblical life is the experience of God. Biblical death is separation from the experience of God. Death means separation in the Bible. So life is the experience of God. Death is the absence of that experience. Eternal death, hell for non-believers, is the eternal absence of the experience of God. Notice what else He says. He says in verse 19, I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.

The principle is simply this. God's blessings, whatever they are for you, are tied to God's boundaries. When you skip His boundaries, the whistle blows.

You didn't cross the boundary. So what does God want me to do? Verse 20, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice and holding fast to Him. For this is your life. God wants an exclusivity clause in the covenantal contract.

And He says, and this is your life. You ever seen jellyfish? Jellyfish always go with the flow of the current. They bouncing all over the place.

Now they're pretty, but they bouncing all over the place, and the reason why is jellyfish don't have backbone. So they can't resist anything. They just go with the flow.

And get to them in the wrong way, they will hurt you. See, we have a generation of Christians who want the flow of the culture. They just go with, well, which way the culture going? What the culture doing? What the culture thinking? And they going with the flow. That's because they've not yet developed spiritual backbone to when necessary swim against the culture, because they belong to another king and another kingdom. He says, I want you to grab hold of it, and I want you to hold tight to it, to say like Joshua in Joshua 24, 15, where he was dealing with all the people of Israel, and some of them were moving toward idols, and he says, I can't tell y'all what to do, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Look at the final verse, chapter 32, verse 47. For it is not an idle word for you. I'm not just talking smack.

I'm not woofing. This is not an idle word. I'm not just talking to talk. For it is not an idle word for you. Indeed, it is your life.

And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess, the life that God has for you. But I know what some may be thinking, saying, feeling, it sounds so hard. It sounds so difficult to make this kind of raw, radical commitment. It could cost me time. It could cost me money. It could cost me a career move. It could cost me notoriety. It could cost me a secular power. You're talking about something that costs me.

Boy, that sounds familiar. Any man that will follow me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Back to chapter 30, verse 11, he says, For this commandment which I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.

Watch this. It is not in heaven that you should say, Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it. It's so high.

God is asking for so much. It's way up there in heaven. I can't get that high. I'm not as spiritual as the next person.

I wasn't raised in a Christian home. How can I get up there? He said, It ain't that high. Verse 13, he says, Nor is it beyond the sea that you should say, Who will cross the sea for us to get it and make us hear it, that we may obey it.

I can't swim that far. What you asking? What God is asking for?

To go against all my culture when it's trumping Him? It's too high. In Romans chapter 10, he comes to around verse 7, and he quotes Deuteronomy 30, and he says, This commandment to make Jesus your Lord is not too high that you can't get it.

And it's not too far apart that you can't swim across to retrieve it. No. The problem is we've been so entrenched by the culture to make it feel like we can't do it, think we can't do it. The devil has lied to us that we can't do it. He says, No, no, you can, because in the New Testament I've given you the Holy Spirit. But you get to choose. It's not going to force your choice except when you cross whatever the boundary is. He's going to let you choose, even as a believer. Now I'm sure in our crowd today there's not probably one person here who hasn't stepped out from under the umbrella at some point in time. God is inviting you back under it.

But guess what? You're free to choose. And if you've never been under God's umbrella before, if you've never asked Christ to forgive your sins and come into your life, then we invite you to log on to and click on the link that says Jesus. There, Tony will tell you all about what it means to be a Christian and walk you through everything you need to know to start your brand-new life today. Again, that's at Dr. Evans will return in just a moment to wrap up today's message, part of his current series, Consequences, a look at the dangers of sin and the path toward redemption. Remember, the full-length versions of all six messages in this collection are yours as our thank-you gift when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on the station. Along with it, we'll include a copy of Tony's popular booklet, 30 Days to Overcoming Emotional Strongholds, designed to help you break the destructive patterns that infect your relationships with others and with God.

This is the final day this offer will be available, so don't put it off. Drop by our website,, where you can get all the details and make the arrangements. Or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222. Team members are standing by 24-7 to help you with resource requests.

Again, that's 1-800-800-3222. Lots of things can be mass-produced, but tomorrow Dr. Evans will start a series based on the idea that God builds one life at a time, each of us with our own special purpose on this planet. Right now, though, he's back to wrap up today's message. In closing, there was an old philosopher, an old man. He was known for how he was able to give these wise answers to questions, and nobody could stump him. There were two students who said, we're gonna get this philosopher.

People think he all that, but he ain't all that. Here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna catch this little bird and put this bird in our hand. We're gonna go up to the philosopher and ask him, is this bird dead or alive? If the philosopher says the bird is dead, we're gonna open up our hand, and the bird's gonna fly away. If the philosopher says the bird is alive, we're gonna squeeze it in our hand and kill it so the bird will be dead. So either way, the philosopher loses.

We're gonna get him. They came up to the philosopher and said, Old man, everybody knows how wise you are, and our hand is a bird. We just want you to tell us, is the bird dead or alive? Philosopher looked at the young man's hand, and he looked up at the young man. He said, is the bird dead or alive? My response is, the answer is in your hands.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-19 03:02:51 / 2023-11-19 03:11:43 / 9

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