God is Sovereign Even Over the Sins of His Creatures

The Bible teaches that God is sovereign (in control) over all things. Though a tornado appears chaotic and “out of control,” it is completely under God’s control. Every blade of grass that is moved by the tornado ends up in exactly the spot God planned for it to land. Theologians call this plan God’s divine decree. This decree is all encompassing and existed before time began. This decree included God’s plan to send His Son into the world at precisely the right time in order to suffer and die a cruel death at the hands of sinful men.[1] This was the greatest sin ever committed but it accomplished God’s purposes perfectly and in complete fulfillment of His divine decree.

God’s divine decree is something that belongs to Him and He has not revealed to us humans how it all works. It is a part of His “secret things.”[2] Human beings do well to respect God’s decision to keep certain things secret. One of God’s secret things is His sovereignty over the sins of His creatures. The Bible does teach that He is indeed sovereign over all things including the sins of His creatures. But it does not convey the details of how that works. To us, there appears to be a conflict. We know that God is holy and perfectly righteous. We know that God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself temp anyone” (James 1:13). Since these things are true, how is it possible at the same time that God is sovereign over the sins of His creatures? To revere God, it is our duty to simply accept both these as true even though we can’t understand or begin to explain how it all works. All we can do is state some things as true that God has already revealed as true.

For example, we can say positively that though God is sovereign over the sins of His creatures, He is not in any way responsible for those sins. The person who commits the sin is the one responsible for the sin, not God! God delights in righteousness and He hates all sin. God Himself does not “move people to sin.” The people that commit the sin do exactly what they want to do. They desire to do the sin and so they commit it. Yet, because the Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all things, we know that each sin that is committed is somehow fulfilling God’s divine decree perfectly. A prime example of this is the greatest sin ever committed, the crucifixion of Jesus. Acts 4:27-28 clearly teaches that though humans committed this sin, it fulfilled God’s purposes that He determined beforehand. (See footnote.)

For another example of this mysterious relationship between the sins of His creatures and His sovereign control over all things, we can point to the time when Joseph’s brothers sold Joseph into slavery. This was utterly sinful and they were the ones totally to blame. Yet, it fulfilled God’s purposes perfectly. At the end, Joseph said to his brothers, “You meant IT for evil but God meant IT for good.”

We can also point to the occasion when David took a census of the soldiers which God commanded kings not to do. It was David’s sin but it fulfilled God’s purposes completely. In the following two verses, we read how God even used Satan in accomplishing His purposes in it.

Chronicles 21:1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. (Here it says that Satan moved David to sin so that he took the census.)

2 Samuel 24:1  Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (Here it says that it was God who moved David to take this census.)

God said in the II Chronicles verse that Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. Yet, in the II Samuel verses, God said that He (God) moved David against them. This clearly shows that God was sovereign over the event including David’s sin and Satan’s sin. But we know from the rest of scripture that God is perfectly righteous and He Himself never sins or tempts people to commit evil.

These principles are true for every single sin committed by God’s creatures because God is sovereign over all things. So, even though it is difficult for us to grasp, God was sovereign over even David’s greatest sin. While he was king over Israel, David saw a woman bathing and summoned her to his abode where he committed adultery with her. In fulfillment of God’s purposes, she became pregnant.[3] To cover up his sin, David arranged for the death of the woman’s husband. In all of this evil, it is difficult to understand how any of it could fulfill God’s purposes. We read in the Bible that great destruction came upon David’s family and kingdom as a result of his sin. But knowing that God is working all things together for good for those who love Him,[4] we can rest assured that God’s grand purposes were being fulfilled through it all.

One of God’s purposes for it was the humbling of His servant David. He was a much more humble man after his sin was found out. We can read how all of these things affected him by reading Psalm 51. In addition, it is clear that God wanted all of David’s sin fully documented forever in His Word. As a result, believers can read the account and be inspired to take heed and watch over their hearts with all diligence so that they don’t experience such a tragic fall. And those who do fall can read this account and know that, like David, they too can come to God for healing and restoration because Jesus’ sacrifice has made reconciliation with God possible for them just as it did so for David.

To summarize, God is righteous and holy. He Himself never moves people to sin. He hates sin. Yet, God somehow uses even the sin of his creatures to accomplish His grand purposes.

[1] Acts 4:27-28  For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together  28 “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

[2] Deuteronomy 29:29  “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

[3] The Bible teaches that God is the One who opens and closes the womb.

[4] Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God,  those who are called according to (His) purpose,

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