We’re made for a better world. We’re made for better lives. When God created this world and placed humankind in the midst of it, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31, NIV). God designed the world, and the life in it, to be perfectly good. We were created for lives that in every action, thought, and feeling would reflect, proclaim, celebrate, and enjoy the goodness of God. That was and is God’s intention and desire for our lives in this world.
But something went wrong.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose to deviate from God’s design for life. Their actions plunged their own existence and the rest of creation into unfathomable pain and suffering. Had they only listened, had they only been faithful, then all the evil that followed would have been avoided. But they trusted themselves rather than God, and listened to the devil. Since then, the story of humankind has been one of unfaithfulness to God’s design for life, of not trusting God, of pain and suffering, and of death.
But God hasn’t abandoned us. God is continuously trying to reach every person in the world. God’s intention and desire for goodness in this world and in our lives still stands. But the devil is on a mission to attack everything that is God’s—everything God created, everything that’s good, everything that’s life. We’re living in the midst of this great controversy between Christ and Satan, between good and evil, between life and death. Christ is seeking to save, while the devil is seeking to destroy. We all have fallen victim to the attacks of the devil. We all have gone astray and walked our own way (Isa. 53:6). But wherever the devil goes to destroy, God is already there to seek and to save (Luke 19:10). God hasn’t abandoned us or the world.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (verse 10),¹ Jesus said. His mission was and is to counter and overcome the evil of the devil, who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Christ’s mission in the world is life, and life in abundance. The devil’s mission is death. There’s no life in evil. In evil there’s only death. Life can be had only in Christ. Life can be had only in what is good. Life— and life in abundance—can be had only in faithfulness to God’s design for the world and life in it.
Since the beginning, the devil has been “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). His master trick has been to convince men and women that what he offers is better, more desirable, more exciting, more satisfying. He makes what is bad, sinful, and evil look good. His great deception is that what he offers sets us free and adds to life, while what God offers limits and detracts from life.
But it’s a lie. Real life, true life, can be had only in what God has created, blessed, and given. Only what God gives provides for our real needs and satisfies our deepest longings.
“No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11). God is the only giver, sustainer, and healer of life. Only He who made life can prescribe what is good. The Bible is His revelation to humanity of what is good. The principles for living that the Holy Spirit convicts us of when we prayerfully read and reflect on Scripture are God’s prescription to you and me for the best life we can live in this world. From the story of Creation to the promise of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1), from Genesis to Revelation, “He has shown you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6:8, NKJV). He has withheld no good thing from us.
While we live in the midst of the raging conflict between good and evil, remembering Eden and longing for heaven, we need daily healing and restoration. God has prescribed how we should live, and Ellen White reflects on the principles of this lifestyle in the book The Ministry of Healing. She says, “Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power—these are the true remedies.”²
These principles for healthful living, however, are under attack. Ellen White counsels that “every practice which destroys the physical, mental, or spiritual energies is sin, and that health is to be secured through obedience to the laws that God has established for the good of all mankind.”³ She continues: “Let it be made plain that the way of God’s commandments is the way of life. God has established the laws of nature, but His laws are not arbitrary exactions. Every ‘Thou shalt not,’ whether in physical or in moral law, implies a promise. If we obey it, blessing will attend our steps. God never forces us to do right, but He seeks to save us from the evil and lead us to the good.”⁴
As the people of Israel stood at the border to the Promised Land, Moses challenged and pleaded with them:
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase. . . . Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life” (Deut. 30:15-20, NIV).
We stand today at the border of another Promised Land. We live in the last days before the coming of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1). The challenge and plea to every one of us now and every day is this: Love God, listen to His voice, walk in obedience, and hold fast to Him. Then we will know what is good, and we can choose life.
Questions for Reflection:
In what areas do you most sense the devil’s attacks on your life?
What is God calling you to change in your lifestyle so that you can enjoy more fullness of life?
How can you seek power from God and support from others as you commit to making life changes?