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May 30, 2008

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Q/A Topics:
God 'Causes' us to sin?

READER COMMENTS:
I just finished the Romans study from your site - what a blessing!

Anyway, I have a question that I am sure you have been asked before - and the answer is probably somewhere on your site - but I just cannot seem to find it...

Does God cause sin? Or does He allow sin in a Believer - and then cause it to work to His glory?

I find that some hold to the belief that God caused/allowed their sin - therefore they are happy for the sin, for it produced something good.

I guess I am struggling in regards to ever being "happy" for a sin, for I look to my past sins and grieve. I HATE that I ever committed them - but I am thankful for God's grace and forgiveness, but I cannot bring myself to that way of understanding - being OK with the sin because of what came of it. NEVER!

VW ANSWER:
Let me send you back to that Romans series...

    "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Rom6:1-2)
Also:
    Ja1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
    14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed.
    15 Then, when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
    16 Do not be led astray, my beloved brethren.
    17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no change or shadow of turning.
Also, turning to Romans ch8, where vs28 comes from
    28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
    29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Notice how that chapter begins:
    1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
    2 For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.
Notice that those who would "rejoice" for sin, because it brings about vs28, if you check...they are probably also using a perversion that deletes the last half of vs1, the part that says, "who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit"

In other words: It doesn't matter; God accepts us "just as we are"; we don't need to change; we don't need to regulate our lives into a holy fashion in conformity to Jesus Christ (Ro8:29)...there is "no condemnation" because we "love Jesus"....and everything turns out all right.

No! Paul, in answer to the question: Shall we continue sinning? says LET IT NOT BE! Yes, we are "justified freely" by His grace (Rom3:24). But we do NOT CONTINUE in sin..!! The state of "no condemnation" is

1) a declaration of God's grace (Rom5:19)
2) our following up the declaration of clemency by good works (Eph2:10); the "works -BEFITTING- (appropriate to) repentance" (Ac26:20)

As Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go and SIN NO MORE." (Jn8:11)

Yes....God works everything for the good to those who love Him. But it is not for the purpose to remain in sin; but when God works things "for good" (vs28), we are to be "conformed to the image of His Son" (vs29)

Everybody just luuuuuvs vs28 (grace) but conveniently ignores vs29 (responsibility, indebtedness and conformity)

They love the bit about "no condemnation", but want nothing to do with "not [walking] according to the flesh"....because in truth, they have never repented of sin and received the cleansing of Jesus' blood; which is also why they preach a "gospel" of "graaeeesss" sans repentance. They want the benefits of Heaven, without the repudiation of the sin that keeps us from God's holy presence.

Yes, God takes a broken life and 'fixes' it. But if it is truly fixed, we don't go back to the old (broken) ways.

To share a bit of my own testimony (again):
I had years of compromise, switched to a perversion for 20 years, married an unequal yoke, and lived a stagnant life. Then the Lord took and 'fixed' things (Rom8:28), and today I can say that I am exactly where God wants me to be. It might be said (as I have in the past) that had I not been in compromise, I would not have gone through all the things I did, and my life now might not be exactly what it is today.

HOWEVER: If I had not submitted to compromise, had not switched to the perversion those years, had not become unequally yoked...where -COULD- my life have been today? I will never know, because I failed the Lord those years; and allowed people into my life that further led me down the apostate path.

Yes...I -am- today where God wants, taking into account my failures that He fixed. And in that, I rejoice. But what would those 20 years have produced if they had been in total faithfulness? How much -more- rejoicing might there be today?

No! No! No! To be sinning is NEVER something to desire or rejoice over!

It's like the common understanding: If a vehicle is involved in a wreck, it can be fixed up "like new". But there is also often an understanding that the vehicle is never again -quite- "like new"...as if it had never been wrecked.

Like that other story told, about the boy who was to pound a nail into this board everytime he did something naughty. Then, as he righted those wrongs he would pull out the nails. Trouble was, the nail -holes- remained. The board was never again "like new"...smooth and hole-less.

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Where does Evil come from?

Last week we addressed the above Q/A. In the past we have also addressed "Does Evil Exist?" [link]

All of these follow similar themes. But some just are not satisfied, nor (apparently?) convinced. A subscriber sent me a lengthy promulgation by somebody-or-other, pontificating that God -created- evil. God created the devil. And wanted my reaction to it. I am not going to respond to it, other than to repeat a generic observation about false prophets. And this observation, I have noticed over time, applies to just about every false teaching you will find out there.

They do not support their promulgations with Scripture. Yes, you will find a few Scriptures scattered here and there, related to unrelated or out-of-context concepts; or as they lay an erroneous foundation leading into their primary dogma. (And of course, if the foundation or elements thereof are in error, the primary dogma cannot help -but- be in error!) But when they get into the nitty gritty of their lengthy diatribes, extensively proclaiming their primary agenda, there will be not a shred of contextually correct Scripture to support it. It is a most deceptive scheme. It is like framing a piece of garbage in a very pretty frame, but the focus is garbage. With their peripheral introductory foundational sub-topics, usually out-of-context, they quote Scripture.

Such a tactic throws the hearer off-guard: See? They are proclaiming FROM SCRIPTURE. They are a "Bible teacher". And because a few miscellaneous Scriptures have been quoted, the hearer then assumes -everything- they are now proclaiming is similarly Scripture-based... when, due to their "well-turned" (2Pt2:3) and "smooth" (Rom16:18) words, it is not.

Satan even tried this with Jesus,

    "For it is written: He shall give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you, and, In their hands they shall bear you up, that you may not dash your foot against a stone." (Lk4:10-11) See? Satan quoted Scripture.
That passage originally was an assurance regarding those who trust in God for safety (Ps91); not doing dare-devil stunts like satan was taunting Jesus to do. Satan took it out-of-context. And Jesus then comes back at satan with the real issue that was going on at that moment,
    "You shall not test the Lord your God" (Lk4:12, De6:16)
What we say here, most of its points have already been said on numerous other occasions and contexts. But 'last' night the Lord was getting me up out of bed several times to scribble down some notes. Perhaps we can make a little 'package' of understanding here.

First of all, we need to make sure we understand the Scriptures. What is our Bible? What does it tell us? What period of history does it cover?

    "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God was making the earth and the heavens," (Gen2:4)

    "For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled." (Mt5:18)

    "And the heavens separated as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." (Rev6:14)

    "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." (Re21:1)

That these verses refer to the "2nd heavens" where the stars and galaxies are should be clear. These verses are not about the "third Heaven" where God's throne is.
    "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever" (Ps45:6)
    "Thus says Jehovah, Heaven is My throne" (Is66:1)
    "do not swear at all: neither by Heaven, for it is God’s throne" (Mt5:34)
    Paul "was caught up to the third Heaven." (2Co12:2)
The Heaven where God's throne is, is "forever and ever". It does not "pass away". But if God was creating the "heavens and earth", does it not stand to reason that the Gen1:1 "heavens" are not the same "forever and ever" Heaven where God's throne is. If God is "eternal" (Ge21:33, Ex3:15), the place of His existence (throne in Heaven) is also eternal. Thus, it was already in existence when God "in the beginning created" the "heavens" that are recorded in Scripture.

Thus, if the Scriptures are a record of -this- "heavens and earth", and there was a "beginning" to -this- creation, what was happening during eternity -past-? What happened -before- Genesis 1:1? Other than a few little quips, the Bible does not tell us. And it is not the purpose of the Bible to do so. Thus, we are left with many unanswered questions; which we aren't meant to know yet, either.

    "For now we see through a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know just as I also am fully known." (1Co13:12)
One thing we do know: Before this heavens and earth, the angels were in existence. And we can be pretty sure that God did NOT create satan in Genesis ch1-2, but he had 'already' existed. How do we know?
    "To what were (earth's) foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job38:6-7)
The fact that satan is among the "sons of God" is clear:
    "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, and Satan also came among them." (Job1:6)
Even though the Bible does not spell it out in so-many words, does not our God-given logic help us understand that, if the angels rejoiced when God created the earth, that they were there to see it happen? Thus, they were in existence -before- the earth. How long before? We don't know.

But we do know that God created them. Regarding the "anointed cherub that covers" it says...

    "You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you." (Ezk28:15)
About this one whom we know as satan/devil, who in pride lifted himself up and proclaimed, "I will be like the Most High" (Is14:14), we know three things:

1) He was a created being
2) He was created "perfect"

And -then-

3) Iniquity was found in him

The false teachers proclaim that God created the devil 'evil'. This passage right here says He did NOT. God created him perfect. Sinless. He was the anointed cherub that covers. Please see "Treason", to see exactly his original place in creation, from which he fell [link]

Let us understand clearly. This cherub was perfect "till" iniquity was found. The word "till" is a word indicating conditional 'time'. His original condition was in perfection -till- something else was the case. Iniquity. How long did he remain in perfection? We don't know. "Till" doesn't tell us that. But at some point he rebelled. -Till- that point, he was perfect... -as- God created him. And -then- he 'became' fallen.

What were the 'rules' in Heaven before Gen1:1? We are not told. But apparently, when satan rebelled, and took a third of the angels with him (Rev12:4), there was no such thing available to them as "grace". When grace and mercy is extended to mankind, that concept is something the angels "desire to look into" (1Pt1:12) The word "desire" here carries with it a "longing" regarding something that is "forbidden" to them. They wish for it, but can't have it. In other words, when they rebelled, that was it. No second chances. They are now "wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." (Ju1:13)

That's Heaven, and the angels.

So, God creates earth and puts man on it. Since the Garden of Eden had the tree of the knowledge of "good and evil" (Ge2:9), the false teachers proclaim that God -created- evil; otherwise, why did He make that tree?

And in this line of thinking they also quote Is45:7 out-of-context where God says "...creating evil. I, Jehovah, do all these things" But what is the 'context' of that statement? What is the 'other half' of "evil" in that sentence? The part that fits where I just typed "..." says, "making peace and creating evil" God also says, "There is no peace, says Jehovah, unto the wicked" (Is48:22) God is also a "man of war" (Ex15:3) to mete out retribution to the wicked. Is not such retribution "evil", by definition. But is it the same evil that satan and mankind perpetrate against God's holy standards when they commit wickeness, immorality, idolatry....sin? It's a different -kind- of "evil", that God metes out in punishment -because- of sin; KEEPING HIS PROMISE.

However, the fact that evil -existed- prior to Gen1:1 is probably true. When Ezk28:13 says that the Cherub had been in Eden, it doesn't necessarily say 'when' he was there. (before or after his fall?) But also, if the Tree of Life was in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, but it is also in the Paradise of God (Rev2:7), is it possible that the "Garden of God" was/is also in Heaven, and that's where the Anointed Cherub was? Just as Moses was exhorted to follow the pattern of things in Heaven (Heb8:5, Ex25:40), is it possible that God took "Eden" (presumably from Heaven) and made the earthly one after the Heavenly pattern? Thus, the original "Heaven on earth"?

After the creation, when God pronounces everything "extremely good" (Ge1:31), did that mean there was no evil lurking? I used to assume so. Or, what did "good" mean? One of the definitions of "good" is "agreeable". Agreeable for/to what?

Perhaps: the test? What test?

Satan, when tempting, and Jesus did not disagree, says:

    "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will do homage before me, all will be Yours." (Lk4:5-7)
Remember Job? Job's entire time of torture came about from an argument between God and Satan. God says: See righteous Job? Satan says: Sure, you've made life easy for him, but give him adversity and he will curse You. So God says to Satan: Ok... go for it... but with these limits. Do your best; and then we'll see what's what.

You see, when the Anointed Cherub became satan, he was not immediately thrown down from Heaven and totally banished. That is yet to come in the future. (Re12:9) Yes, we do have Jesus' comment: "I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven." (Lk10:18) But satan still has access to God's throne, seeing as how he is the "accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night" (Rev12:10) And what is the possibility that that statement by Jesus was 'prophetic'? He "saw" it prophetically, since God "[declares] the end from the beginning" (Is46:10) ?

Many who deny man's sin nature at conception and birth posit this argument: If babies were taken -immediately- at birth and separated from all adult human contact, and allowed to grow in an idyllic environment, without all the hang-ups and disfunction of family, that they would grow up perfect (sinless). That the rebellion that we call "sin" is a result of baby not getting all his desires and needs met, so he squalls...and thus...SIN.

Isn't that what God already did with Eden? Adam and Eve did not come to their union with prior family dysfunction. They were created with a clean slate. And... how well did that turn out?

Perhaps when the angels rebelled and learned their fate, perhaps they whined at God about "no second chances"? Perhaps they whined that God's 'rules' were "too restrictive"? Perhaps, in the same way Satan argued with God about Job, perhaps he challenged God to create an idyllic environment with NO RULES?

I don't know if it happened this way. Paul reminds us that Scripture history is written for an "example" (1Co10:6) to us, so that we don't follow the same examples of evil as our ancestors. If Job is given as an example, what are the chances that God and satan have similar conversations about every Believer? And if such challenges have been made on individual bases; well, do you see where I come up with this outlandish speculation about our current creation being God's answer to satan's challenge.

We do see that satan was given earth as his sphere of authority. With mankind on it...why? If satan was fallen, what other reason would there be for God to put him "in charge" of an otherwise 'perfect' earth? When we have the record of Job, this doesn't seem all that far-fetched to me.

Many people wish to put God in a test tube to 'prove' His existence. Perhaps -we- are actually the ones in the test tube? To see how we will respond? Will we respond to God, or follow satan?

The scoffers say that God -sends- evil on people; that He -does- all these bad things to people. They speak of the "evil spirit from Jehovah" that troubled Saul. (1Sa16:14) See? God was just setting Saul up for a fall. Like a child catching a fly, tearing its wings off, and then taunting and prodding it to "fly! fly! C'mon fly!"

Saul had already rejected God. (1Sa15:23) Just as Paul commands to turn the sinning person over "to Satan for the destruction of the flesh" (1Co5:5) Whan Ahab had already turned away from God, and it was now time to kill him in battle, God sends the "lying spirit" (1Ch18:21-22) so he would be deceived and go to battle, and be killed.

These spirits came from around God's throne; thus: "-from- God" But the evil spirits have not yet been banished from God's presence. Just because they came "from" God didn't mean they were God's "righteous" angels.

God does not lie. (Nu23:19) It is "impossible" for Him to do so. (Heb6:18) One of Jesus' attributes is "truth" (Jn14:6) And God gives only "good and perfect" things (Ja1:17)

But it seems that, in the present climate of sin, that God uses these fallen angels that still appear before His throne, to go out and carry out missions of punishment and testing. Since the person is following satan, God sends one of Satan's demons to do according to the person's wickedness. The fulness of this knowledge is yet a mystery. But this is what it appears to be.

    "Therefore Jehovah has RECOMPENSED me ACCORDING TO my righteousness, according to my cleanness before His eyes. With the faithful You show Yourself kind; with a mighty man of integrity You show Yourself upright; with the pure You show Yourself pure; and WITH THE PERVERSE YOU SHOW YOURSELF TWISTED." (2Sa22:25-27)
(Even though God, Himself, is not twisted)

Mankind thinks of himself as being the "big enchilada". But there is SO MUCH MORE going on. As Paul says, our warfare is against the "wiles of the devil" as the enemy is comprised of "rulers...authorities, the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies." (Eph6:11-12)

Who are the world's rulers? President Bush, Ahmadinajad, Kim Jong Il, NATO or the UN? No. They are all small potatoes! Pawns, all of them. It is Satan and his deputies.

However, also, satan and his deputies cannot do anything without God's permission. As Paul says, "For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are ordained by God." (Rom13:1)

You see...world politics is not as simple as the difference between democracy and totalitarianism. When "free" people go to the polls and vote, that is not the end of it. Whatever is going on down here has already been 'discussed' around God's throne.

So you see... When God proclaimed the creation "extremely good" at creation; in light of the demonic arguments, (and the way we use the expression about a "starting gun" regarding the Rapture), perhaps He was saying, in effect: "The stage is set. Let the games begin!"? After all, when man sinned, God's provision of Salvation through Jesus Christ had already been accounted for "-before- the foundation of the world" (1Pt1:20) And those who believe, in His "foreknowledge" (Rom8:29) He also "chose.. before the foundation of the world" (Eph1:4) Thus, all the preparations were made, in place, and ready-to-go.

The thing that most don't understand is that there are two realms. Awhile ago somebody asked about the definitions of "Kingdom of God", "Kingdom of Heaven", and such things. [link] But for many, there is a confusion because, while there are two realms, those two realms are also one. And they try to understand the "two" as if they were "one". But there are differences.

For this discussion it is the difference between the angels and man. Angels and man originated differently, have seemingly somewhat different rules, but ultimately end up in the same places.

  1. Angels were created perfect. When some of them went wayward, God created the Lake of Fire for the "devil and his angels" (Mt25:41) At present, satan and many of his demons still have access to God's throne as the "accuser of the brethren" (Re12:10) But some also are presently reserved in Tartarus, "reserved for judgment" (2Pt2:4) But a time is coming when God declares,

      "...the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still." (Re22:10-11)

    And the dragon is cast to the earth for his final throws in wrath as he "knows that he has a short time left" (Re12:12) At which point I suspect all his accusations before God's throne will have come to an end. Whatever the state of things at that moment? That's how they remain

  2. Man, although created perfect, fell immediately. Thus "all have sinned" (Rom3:23) and are sinners from birth (Ps51:5) And if the sinner does not get his name written in the Book of Life, he will appear before the Great White Throne in judgment. (Rev20:11-15)

    But fallen man has something angels appear to not. The chance for salvation. The sinner can "choose life" (De30:19) and be obedient and receive Jesus (Jn1:12); or be "disobedient" and receive God's wrath. (Jn3:36)

Now, while angels started out in God's direct presence perfect, and man begins life on earth (apart from God) as a sinner; the two realms; both who reject God receive the same judgment: Forever in the Lake of Fire. (Re20:10,15) Thus, while they are two different realms, become one in judgment.

Evil seems to have begun with the Anointed Cherub who became the devil, a third of the angels followed him, and he introduced sin to man with the same enticement as his own sin... to be "as God" (Is14:14, Gen3:5) Sin may have begun in the angelic realms, and then man was deceived and followed suit on earth; but both end up in the same place. The two different realms sharing in the same (one) judgment.

Of course, of the righteous angels that did not sin? What do we know about them? Not a whole lot. Besides being more powerful than man at present (2Pt2:11); they also are "ministering spirits" sent on behalf of those who "inherit salvation" (Heb1:14)

(As a side note, seeing as how angels minister on behalf of Believers, does it not seem realistic, the other observation made above, that evil angels are sent to measure out evil to unbelievers?)

Righteous angels are already in God's presence. Believing humans, once changed to incorruption (1Co15:51-53), have access to Heaven, the Tree of Life, and all the joys of God's presence. (Re22:14)

And the angel says to John:

    "For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the Words of this Book." (Re22:9)
Along with those prior questions about the "Kingdom of Heaven" was asked about the "Family of God". When Believers have been translated into Heaven, even though angels and man have different origins, we become One Family in God's righteous presence.

Thus:

  • Angels who fell, and man who refuse to repent, both have the same end: the Lake of Fire.

  • Angels who remained righteous, and sinful man who is redeemed by Jesus's blood, both have the same end: forever in God's presence.
Angels who sinned were "not spared" (2Pt2:4) When Jesus came to die for sin, He did not come to die for angels.
    "For indeed He does not take on the form of angels, but He does take on the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things pertaining to God, in order to make propitiation for the sins of the people." (Heb2:16-17)
So...while there are the two realms that are one, in sharing the same judgments or presence before God; the one is not fully two. Even though the angel proclaims "family" to John, Jesus the Redeemer is not called "brother" to the angels. Jesus was called "My Son" by God; a title not bestowed on angels. (Heb1:5) The angels do homage to the Son. (vs6) And even though the angel speaks of "brethren" to John, the angels do not have their names proclaimed before the Father and all creation like the Redeemed do.
    "...whoever confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will also confess him before the angels of God... He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Lk12:8, Re3:5)
What? Proclamation of 'victory' regarding that original challenge? Satan had "power of death" (Heb2:14); but Jesus triumphed over death:
    "Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Co15:54-57)
Sinners, saved by grace, have a special relationship with Christ which the angels do not share. That realm is, and always will be, different.

It's like that old song that states...

    "For angels never felt the joy
    that our salvation brings..."
And yet...
    "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Lk15:10)
But we we are also told:
    "Do you not know that we shall judge angels?" (1Co6:3)
Mysteries!

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