It’s probably quite obvious that Nora and I are both insanely passionate about the sovereignty of the Lord – it’s honestly my favorite attribute of who He is. To think, God predestined for His children to choose sin over His Glory in the garden and planned the most beautiful story of redemption through the Cross, it never ever ever gets old.
To define God’s sovereignty, A.W Pink says, “The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of his supremacy. Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases as He pleases.” God’s sovereignty is necessary for our salvation, but I wanted to discuss why it gets even better through a life’s process of sanctification.
One of my most favorite things to say whether I am praying over someone, reminding myself of the sovereignty of the Lord, or explaining the doctrine of predestination is – “We are never outside of God’s Will.” I feel like those 7 words hold so much weight, so I wanted to unpack them a bit. As sinful human beings, it can be quite intimidating to know someone is ordaining every single one of my actions. I love being in control of what I do, where I go, and who I am — but isn’t that the essence of total depravity anyway? I think the basis of God’s sovereignty has got to begin with salvation; if we don’t believe He’s sovereign and in complete control over our salvation, than why would we believe He controls all other aspects of our lives? So, yes God is indeed sovereign over our sinful little hearts, softening them and opening our eyes to see His Glory. But let’s check that with scripture first; Ephesians 1:5-7 —”He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Pretty clear ;)
Sooooo every little thing we do, even sin, is predestinated by the God of the Universe? Yes, yes it is. But yes, we have responsibility over our choices. The Lord graciously provides us with wisdom — “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:6-7. As Christ followers, there is this constant tension of knowing God is sovereign over our choices, but also being wise. It’s dang hard. The first thing to agree on is that God is in control of our wills, desires, and motives. John Piper coined the term “Christian Hedonism” (I have my own thoughts about that term, but it fits for this argument). Essentially, Piper’s argument is we will make a god out of what we take most pleasure in. So, God transforms our hearts, and places specific desires in our hearts. Obviously, the main one is His Glory above all. Say I have two choices in front me, UGA or Harvard — the one I pick is the one God has given me the greatest desire for. I am not in control of my desires, God is. Our choices come back to that each and every time. So, we are redeemed, still tainted by sin though. In understanding this, we recognize that sometimes our desires will be very sinful — acknowledging whose in control, we go to the Lord in prayer, understanding the depth of our sin, and beg Him to replace that sinful desire with holiness. Accountability, prayer, scripture, and the local church are such necessary remedies for such desires.
I know you remember me saying that I believe God ordains our sin — so confusing, I know, but so.dang.good!! God plays no part in sin and hates sin — but he does ordain sin for such greater good. Hear me out. Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Joseph literally spoke this doctrine clear as day alllll the way back Genesis. Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him, God wanted to save a ton of people. So, God ordained their sin, knowing the sinful desires of their heart — but ultimately their sin would bring about Joseph saving a ton of people and becoming the ruler over Egypt. I bet his brothers never had that intent when they were trying to kill him.
Sit in this truth, wrestle with it, and cling to it.
“There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation — the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands — the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne . . . It is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon the throne whom we trust.”
—- Charles Spurgeon
For more on this subject, check out the book, What About Free Will: Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty.