Friday, May 5, 2023

Sin and God’s Sovereignty (Proverbs 10:30; 13:9; 16:4)

"The LORD has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom" (Prov. 16:4).

A common question put to Christians is “If God controls everything, isn’t He responsible for man’s wickedness? And if so, how can He condemn wicked people to hell for something He ultimately caused?” Charles Bridges handles this question in his commentary on Proverbs 16:4: “The LORD has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.” Here’s what Bridges has to say about this vexing tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility:

“The Lord created all things—all the works of the creation … for Himself; not to fill up a vacuum … but for the manifestation of His glory to His intelligent creatures.… Even the wicked, whose existence might seem scarcely reconcilable to the Divine perfections, He includes in the grand purpose of setting out His Name. ‘It is the greatest praise of His wisdom that He can turn the evil of men to His own glory.’ He hath made even the wicked tor the day of evil—[Men make themselves wicked]. God made them not so. He does not compel them to be so. He abhors their wickedness. But He foresaw their evil. He permitted it; and though ‘He hath no pleasure in their death’ (Ezek. 33:11), He will be glorified in them in the day of evil; and when they sin by their own free-will, He ordains them to punishment, as the monuments of His power, His justice, and His long-suffering.

“Clearly God is not the Author of sin. He cannot impart what He has not—what is contrary to His nature.… Absolute holiness cannot be the cause of sin; though, like the law, it may be the innocent occasion or excitement of it.… If He permits evil, so far as not to hinder it, He hates it as evil, and permits it only for the greater good—the greatest of all good—the more full manifestation of His own glory in it, and out of it.… His retributive justice, no less than the riches of His grace, sets out His glory.”

God causes no one to sin, but He holds each person accountable for their own actions. He sovereignly controls all the actions of men for His own glorious purposes. God permits sin in order to reveal His mercy in His longsuffering, to manifest His grace in the redemption of sinners, and to glorify His justice in their condemnation.

Read Genesis 45:1–8 and 50:15–21. How did Joseph’s understanding of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility enable him to forgive His brothers? Has anyone wronged you recently? Has anyone frustrated or hurt you? Forgive them and consider their actions from God’s perspective—that He works all things for His glory.