We have the following question that we would like to answer in this issue: "God's agency regarding man's sin: is there a concursus?" This is a brief question, but important and difficult.
There are those who believe that God has nothing to do with the presence of sin in the world and no control over it. This is, however, contrary to Scripture and a denial of God's sovereignty.
Scripture teaches several things about God's agency with respect to sin.
(1) Scripture says that God eternally decreed sin (Prov. 16:4, Acts 2:23, 4:26-28, Rom. 9:21, I Pet. 2:8, Jude 4).
(2) Scripture also shows that God brings sin to pass (II Sam. 16:10, 24:1, I Kings 22:19-23, Is. 63:17, Amos 3:6, Rom. 9:17, Eph. 1:11) - He does not just permit it to happen. He does this not only by outward circumstances, but even by working in the hearts of men (Ex. 4:21, Prov. 21:1, Rom. 9:18).
(3) We learn, too, from Scripture, that God sovereignly controls and uses sin to His own ends (Gen. 50:20, Rom. 9:17, 22, Phil. 1:12-14).
Scripture also teaches that in all of this God maintains man's accountability for his sin and is Himself not tainted with the guilt or pollution of man's sin (II Sam. 24:17 -in light of verse 1, Hab. 1:13, Acts 2:23 - note the emphasis on wicked hands, Rom. 9:17-21, Jas. 1:13-14). To think otherwise is blasphemy.
The difficulty is always in explaining how God can be sovereign over sin without being in any way accountable for it. Nevertheless, and that is finally the answer we must be content with - He is sovereign over it and He is not accountable for it.
While Scripture does not give us a complete answer on this matter, therefore, it does say several things that help us to understand.
(1) We learn, for example, that God does not love evil (Ps. 5:4) and therefore does not try to seduce men to sin (Jas. 1:13-14). Unlike Satan He never tells them that evil is good, nor does He seek to persuade them that sin is profitable and pleasant. Rather He speaks plainly of its terrible consequences and warns against it (Gen. 2:17).
(2) Nor does God ever force men to sin against their will (Prov. 1:24-31, Is. 66:3-4, Rom. 1:32). In sinning, they always do exactly what they want to do. In this especially they are guilty before God.
This is very important in repentance for sin. When by God's grace we are finally confronted inescapably with our sin and guilt, we need look no further than our own willful disobedience, depravity, perverseness, and corruption.
Comparing II Samuel 24:1 with I Chronicles 21:1, we learn both that God moved David to number the people and that He used Satan as His instrument in doing so. Nevertheless, when confronted with his sin, David needed to know nothing further than that he had followed the pride and wickedness of his own heart (II Sam. 24:17).
(3) Finally Scripture teaches that God is God. We must believe therefore that He as God can be sovereign over sin and yet not accountable for it.
Beyond that, then, we cannot and need not go. For our comfort Scripture shows us that God is sovereign even over our sins. That we may repent of them, Scripture teaches that we alone are guilty.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 8
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address13823 Clear Lake Rd.
State or ProvinceWA