Gods Sovereignty

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by Mike Vinson

A friend questioned the sovereignty of God when reading in Jas 1:13 that God did not tempt men and thought that therefore God is not responsible for evil, only the good things that happen to us.

What James says is “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for 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” (Jas 1:13-14).

James was familiar with the old testament scriptures. He knew very well “that God did tempt Abraham” (Gen. 22:1). James knew that it was God who “moved David” to number Israel (II Sam. 24:1). James knew that the trials (temptations – same Hebrew word #5254 nacah) of Job were not from Satan but from God (Job 1:8).

James knew that Israel’s first temptation (nacah) in the wilderness was from God; “So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses saying, what shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved (#5254 nacah – same as tempted in Gen. 22:1) them” (Ex. 15:22-25).

James was very well aware that God had told Isaiah…”I create evil (Ksa. 45:7). James knew it was “an evil spirit from the Lord: and “an evil spirit from God troubled Saul” (I Sam. 16:14 and 16). James also knew that it was God who had sent a “lying spirit in the mouth of all of his (King Ahab’s) prophets” (1 Ki 22:22-23 and II Chron. 18:21-22).

David tells us plainly that “the wicked (men) are thy sword… are thy hand…” (Psa. 17:13-14). God uses evil for His purposes, which are all good.

We could literally go on for many pages with thousands of scriptures showing and demonstrating the sovereignty of God over not just the good and righteous, but over (in charge of and responsible for) the actions of sinful wicked men as well.

But we do have a will of our own and no human can convince us against our will. Notice, I said no human.

When I speak of “our own will”, like James in Jas 1:13, I am speaking in relative terms as opposed to absolute terms. We are “of the earth, earthy” (I Cor. 15:47). We must of necessity live with this fact. It would be of no edification or benefit at all to say when we are being tried and tempted “well, this is all of God, and if He wants me to sin, I’ll sin and if he doesn’t want me to sin, then I couldn’t sin if I wanted to.”

Such an attitude denies that we are to “deny ourselves and take up our crosses and follow me (Christ)” (Matt. 16:24).

It also denies that we are to “rejoice in our sufferings…. and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in our flesh for his body’s sake which is the church” (Col. 1:24).

James, who taught grace and faith (Jas 4:6 and 2:5) was contending with those who were “turning grace into lasciviousness” (Jdg 4). They were saying “God is tempting me and I can’t resist His will, so I just am going to sin so that ‘grace can abound'”.  James is exhorting us in the relative, earthly, fleshly sense not to think that way, because “God…(Himself) tempts no man but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed” (Jas 1:13,14).

You might well ask “how do I dare to add the word ‘himself’ to Jas 1:13? This is not an addition; it is implied in the context and proven by every scripture quoted above and many we don’t have the time or space here to quote and discuss.

But there is one more scripture on this subject that should demonstrate the truth of this point. In II Sam. 24:1, quoted above, we are told “the Lord moved David to number the people.” The exact same story related again in I Chron. 21:1) gives us the relative viewpoint: “And Satan stood up aginst Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”

Some critics, given eyes by God that they cannot see and ears that they cannot hear (Rom. 11:8), claim that this is a contradiction in the word of God.

To those who have been given by God “eyes to see and ears to hear” (Matt. 13:10-11), this is anything but a contradiction. This is an open door to the mind of God. These two scriptures – II Sam. 24:1 and I Chron. 21:1- demonstrate the biblical principle of the relative and the absolute. God does not deny His absolute total sovereignty. He declares it (Isa. 45:7; Rom. 11:36; Eph. 1:11; I Cor. 11:12; II Cor. 5:18). While He declares His sovereignty in the absolute sense, He reveals that in the relative sense, He operates through spirits, yes, even evil spirits.

So while we appear in our minds to be struggling with our own flesh and lusts, as James points out in the relative sense, in the absolute sense, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this world (age), AGAINST SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES (the heavens #2032 epouranios – same word translated heavenly in Joh 3:12).

God is love (1 Jn 4:16) but “whom the Lord loves, He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). If God is not in control over evil as well as good, He wouldn’t be an all powerful God, able to help us in all life’s circumstances, would he?

His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa. 55:8) unless we have the mind of Christ (Php 2:5). Then we can say from our hearts with Christ, “not my will, but thine be done” (Matt. 26:39).

Other related posts