As we live our life, it is not so much whether we should choose to do something “good” versus something “evil”. It is not a question of how well we follow our own ethical systems. We all have rules that we use to govern our behavior. Some of these rules are derived from God’s revelation, and others may not be. But the primary question is not whether we choose “good” or “evil”. It is whether we choose “God” or “evil”. “Evil” also includes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is all about US choosing for ourselves what is right or wrong for us according to our own independent judgment. There is a “good” part in that tree, and that is what many people in the world outside of Christ are pursuing, each in their own way. But what GOD is really calling for, from start to finish, are people that will love HIM and His presence, and OBEY His voice (Jeremiah 11:7; John 10:27,28; Hebrews 12:25). Out of this will flow the right kind of life and living. But more than this, it is the only way to truly walk with God. It is the only way to have relationship, and not merely religion.
Every day we are going to have to deny ourselves if we want to follow Jesus.
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23).
Denying oneself means saying no to oneself. So even in a regenerate person, there are going to be things in the self-life that we must say no to. And the reason is this, that the self-life, the principle of self-pleasing, will take us in the opposite direction to the leading of the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit of God who will please us and satisfy us, not ourselves. And He will surely do this if we say ‘No’ to the self-life, which many times include some of our natural lifestyle preferences, and instead go after God is diligent prayer, meditation, praise and courageous speaking forth of the Word of the Lord.
I take issue with those theologians who say that men always do what they desire to do, and that they are not free to do anything else. If that were so, it would be impossible to ever deny oneself. Furthermore, even Jesus would never have gone to the cross as a man, if he had done only what He desired to do. Perfect as He was, Jesus was asking God for another way rather than the way of the cross, if that were possible. He learned obedience through the things He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-9). Jesus also shared a nature like ours (Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 4:15).
The real choice then for us to make daily is this: “Will I seek the presence of God through the Holy Spirit and do those things God shows me will help me draw near to God, whilst denying myself those things which will cool my affections towards God and quench the work of the HOLY Spirit in me”? This is a choice we all make daily, no matter what our theology is.