God is not the author of sin. God does not force people to sin. Man can not blame God for his own sin. We can not relax in our fight against sin. Now that we have that out of the way…
When we speak about God’s sovereignty over creation, there are varying degrees of acceptance and exceptions in the mind of the given hearer. For example, nobody has a problem with saying God makes the grass grow and die, or that he feeds the birds. Even though these events require meticulous levels of providence (photosynthesis in plants, exact timing of worms and birds crossing paths, the sun’s effect on temperature and season etc.), every little detail is controlled by God, and we take no issue with God’s right and ability to do so.
The closer we come to dealing with man, however, the more resistance we may meet. Any concept of God having a part in man’s autonomous choices brings accusations, from various directions, of reducing men to robots or puppets. As Calvinists, we see seen this in action when we speak about Reformed Soteriology. The concept of God regenerating a man against His natural will, for example, is often met with arguments, misrepresentation, and disdain.
The issue I’m addressing today is especially volatile, because I’m not only talking about God’s involvement in man’s affairs, but the sins of man – sin, being the very thing that is against God’s nature, and hated by God. I say all this as a pleading for the reader to hear me rationally, honestly, and not simply emotionally.
God determines everything that comes to pass
“Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” -Psalm 135:6
Let me start by simply saying God does whatever He wants. He retains all rights and ability to accomplish anything He desires as He deals with His own Creation.
”In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” -Ephesians 1:11
As it will certainly be pointed out, this verse deals with salvation, which is true, but there is also a simple concept that extends outside the immediate context of being chosen in Christ. Paul, here says that God “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” A very simple idea, that I hope we can all agree with. Nothing takes place in history that is not being used by God to accomplish His will, not stubbed toes, not tornadoes, and not terrorist attacks. God is working all things for His will. There are no “holes” in his sovereignty. Even seemingly random things are attributed to God’s providential sovereignty:
The rolling of the dice:
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” -Proverbs 16:33
The fate of your individual hairs:
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” -Matthew 10:30
“Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” -Exodus 4:11
I am assuming we are all on the same page at this point. The Lord is sovereign, and He is “working” all things for His purposes. The question, then, is: what does it mean for God to be working all things? And specifically, how does that pertain to sin? Is God simply standing back and permitting sin, then responding to what happened? Does He simply know it will happen, and he’s worked it into His plan? Or are humanly sinful actions actually decreed, even willed, by God as part of His greater plan, while God remains Holy, and free from any stain of sinfulness?