Updated: Jun 1
God decrees everything that comes to pass, good and bad. Does this mean He decrees suffering? Does He decree sin? Before we delve into these questions, we must remember who God is. God is not the same as us.
God is a Spirit, Infinite, Eternal, and Unchangeable, in his Being, Wisdom, Power, Holiness, Justice, Goodness and Truth.
This is who He is. Everything He does, has done, or will do, is in complete harmony with these attributes. His way is perfect.
If God decreed something and it did not happen, how could we say He was all powerful? His decree would have failed. Why would God decree some things and be indifferent about others? God is the first cause and last end of all things. Therefore, everything that comes to pass must surely be decreed by God, even suffering.
The world when it was created was perfect, it was paradise, no cancer, no death, no suffering. These all came about because of sin. The first humans Adam and Eve sinned by taking of the forbidden fruit. God being infinite in justice, must punish their sin. Every person is under the sentence for sin, which is physical, spiritual, and eternal death.
People tend to think God overreacted, that His punishment was overly harsh. We might also say why am I punished for a sin I did not commit? But we sinned in Adam. What does that mean? Adam represented the whole human race. He represented us when he sinned. We might think we would have done better, but we have no stones to throw.
So why was his sin so heinous to God? Well, Adam knew exactly what he was doing. He knew that he was going against God’s express instruction. God had given him everything he could wish for, yet it wasn’t enough. Adam’s sin was rebellion against God. He wanted to decide right and wrong for himself. By his actions he proclaimed God a liar.
But then how can Adam or anyone be responsible for sin, if God decrees it? Firstly, God does not make people sin.
God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
We sin because we want to. We are responsible for the choices we make. We are drawn into sin due to our own lust.
We can see this working in the life of Joseph. His brother’s hated him so much, they sold him to strangers. Skipping a long story short, he ended up in Egypt, and eventually became Pharaoh's right hand man. Second ruler to Pharaoh. Years later there was widespread famine, but Pharaoh had plenty of corn. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy it. Joseph’s father Jacob, his sons, and their families, afterwards moved to Egypt, at the request of Joseph to Pharaoh. This meant they had plenty of food despite the famine.
After Joseph’s father died. Joseph’s brothers were afraid that he would take revenge on them. The words of Joseph at the end of this story are remarkable. He told them not to be afraid and said, “you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good”.
God didn’t force or coerce Joseph’s brothers to the evil act of selling him, and deceiving their father Jacob, nor make them do it like puppets on a string. But they out of their own jealousy, bitterness, and hatred towards him did it. Everything was performing God’s plan for the preservation of Jacob’s family, who would become the nation of Israel. The evil in his brother’s hearts when they sold him, and all the other things that happened to him were all part of it.
You may hear people say when referring to an event, “it’s God’s will”. Sometimes they mean it’s God’s decree, at other times they mean it’s in God’s favour. Evil is not in God’s favour. Everything that comes to pass whether good or bad is in God’s decree. But evil is not in God’s favour.
God has revealed everything we need to know in the Bible. It clearly shows the difference between right and wrong. What is in His favour and what is not. Therefore, we are to seek to do what is in His favour. We are not to take the doctrine of God’s decree to justify fatalism in any aspect, spiritual or temporal. God doesn’t anywhere say to sit there with the attitude of what will be will be.
God’s ordering of all things should not discourage us. But rather encourage us. However crooked things may seem. We know that behind the seeming chaos, the heavenly potter is shaping all things. Working all things for good to those that are called according to his purpose. Not one atom is out of place in the whole cosmos. But each one is working out the divine decree of God who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.
Just as God decreed the fall of mankind, so He has decreed the redemption of mankind. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. Adam by one sin ruined the whole creation. So, Christ by His one offering, offering up himself, has redeemed sinners from the curse they are under. The light has shined into darkness. God could have left the whole human race to their sin. But by His infinite mercy He chose to redeem sinners from the corruption of their own hearts, and bring them to glory.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Bible References [click links below to read references]