How Do Sinful and Hurtful Things Glorify God?
Lorraine Day, M.D.
Does everything that happens in the world – the good and the evil – accord with God’s purpose? The Bible tells us:
“All is of God, through God and to (for) God: to Him be glory for the eons.” Romans 11:36
Does everything that happens glorify God? How can that be?
Paul, in Romans 11:36 speaks of “the glory” that attends (i.e., that is connected with) ALL that exists and all that occurs. Therefore there is glory associated with everything, no matter how inglorious any certain thing may be in itself. This is simply to say that there is something glorious with which every inglorious thing is connected – some glorious outcome that depends for its existence and fulfillment upon the previous existence of something that, in itself, is inglorious.
The permanent, greater good that God will bring into existence as the consequence of temporary evil, justifies the existence of temporary evil. Deliverance from sin and evil is the greatest good that can ever exist. This is because it is only thus that God can be glorified as Savior: and only thus that His creatures can know the blessing of salvation.
It then follows that since God is good and these evil things are happening, that with respect to the achievement of the divine purpose, the world in which we now live is the best possible world.
If it were best that the world should contain some different kind or degree of good and evil than that which it does contain, then God would make the world in just such a way. But since God makes the world and all that is in it (Acts 17:24), not otherwise but precisely as we find it, it follows that the world in which we live IS the best possible world. After all, it is God - - Who is love, Whose goodness and wisdom know no imperfection – Who makes the world and all that is in it. Consequently, with respect to God’s purpose, it would not be best if the world existed in some different form than the form in which it, in fact, exists.
Believe this to be true (indeed, being aware that is IS so), we can boldly say, “to God be the glory” with respect to the marvelous good that He will one day bring out of even the most horrible of tragic, present occurrences.
Where these things are truly believed, believers no longer contend for a fancied freewill, consisting of a power to do otherwise than what is now happening. Instead, they realize that whatever happens accords with “what must be”, for the achievement of God’s purpose.
However that realization does not deter those who believe accordingly from seeking uprightness in their walk with the Lord. They are aware that only that which is good in itself is pleasing to God and of present benefit to themselves
Yet this realization, that all is for God’s purpose, frees believers from the usual forms of both pride and contempt. They realize that both the good things and the bad things in every person constitute the counsel of God’s will as to what should be, and what should occur.
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works ALL according to the counsel of HIS OWN Will.” Eph 1:11
Obviously, believers prefer, both in themselves and in others, the fellowship of good rather than evil, and will seek to conduct their lives accordingly. But in so doing, they will boast only in the Lord concerning their own or anyone else’s virtues. And concerning their own or anyone else’s failures, while abhorring the sin itself, they will say, “to God be the glory that will be the eventual result of this dreadful deed that God has wisely purposed.” Consequently, their attitude toward their enemies and toward those who injure them becomes more Christ-like. How glorious is the type of Christ exhibited in Joseph, when he declares to his brothers: “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves that you sold me hither, because God has sent me on before you to preserve lives. . . God sent me on before you to set up for you a remnant on earth, and to preserve lives for you in a great deliverance. So now, you did not send me here, but God did. . . You devised evil against me, yet God devised it for good for me, in order to accomplish, as at this day, to preserve many people alive. So now do not fear; I myself shall sustain you and your little ones. Thus, he comforted them and spoke to their hearts.” Gen 45:5,7,8; 50:209,21 May God comfort and speak to our hearts as well. “For whatsoever things were written beforehand were written π, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have expectation (of the glorious outcome).” Romans 15:4 How can it be that God wants to display His wrath? “What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath made for destruction: “And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of loving kindness, that He had before prepared for glory.” Roman 9:22,23 We must remember that God’s wrath is defined by Paul in Romans 1:18,21, 24,26,28: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him NOT as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their thinking, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man . . . . . and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also GAVE THEM UP to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves. . . For this cause God GAVE THEM UP unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. . . And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God GAVE THEM OVER to a reprobate mind (a mind void of judgment) to do those things which are not fitting.” So God’s wrath is nothing more than giving us over to our own desires – to reap the consequences of what we have sown. “Be not deceived. God will not be mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Gal 6:7 When we think of the billions and billions of awful sins that, for thousands of years, have occurred in the human race, we are completely overwhelmed. Even though man’s injustice itself is indeed terrible, sin in the universe is by no means gratuitous. This is because man’s unrighteousness serves an unspeakably glorious purpose. The most notable purpose in human injustice is that it serves in the commendation of its opposite, the righteousness of God. What a tremendous contrast man’s uncleanness and wickedness makes to God’s purity and holiness! How glorious is the light when set against such a black background! Since God wants to display His wrath and to make His powerful doings known (Romans 9:22), it must not be left to chance that there should be dishonorable men, but rather it must be incorporated within the divine counsels that there should be just such persons, ones who are in fact vessels for dishonor. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” Romans 9:21 As awful as it is in itself, since man’s injustice does indeed serve God’s wise purpose, the presence of human injustice in the world is justified because of the glory of the eventual reconciliation of all to Christ. In the depths of His heart, it is not at all that God, at any time, is enraged or filled with fury. Indeed, “Who has withstood God’s intention?” (Rom 9:19) In this respect, there is nothing for God to be indignant (wrathful) about. Consequently, God is the “blessed” God (1 Tim 1:11), even as the God of peace (Phil 4:9). God is love (1 John 4:8), and love is not incensed; neither is it taking account of evil (1 Cor 13:5). When, at the consummation, God becomes ALL in all (1 Cor 15:28), including ALL in all of those who were once, briefly, the objects of His wrath, undoubtedly all such ones will glorify him accordingly. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 1:10,11 God, in Christ, has reconciled the world to Himself “All are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. “How that God was in Christ, conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing in us the word of the conciliation. . . “For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor 5:18-21 The fact that God has conciliated the world to Himself and is not reckoning their offenses to them, affirms the fact that man’s sinfulness continues to be offensive to God. It is not that man’s sinful ways are no longer offensive to God. That is far from the case. It is instead that now that the Sin Offering has been made, God is on longer reckoning (accounting) man’s offenses to him. “Sin” (hamartia, Un-Marking) speaks of failure; it speaks of that which “misses the mark,” the mark or “target” of that which is inherently good, well pleasing, and perfect (Rom 12:2). Sin in the flesh (“the sin of the world”) has met its judgment through the One Who is the Sin Offering. Now, through the work of Christ, man is “justified from” the evil slaveowner: Sin (2 Cor 5:14; Rom 6:7). “Sin” personified (literally, man’s sinful deeds), no long has the prerogative concerning man’s judgment. Instead, God through Christ, has gained the prerogative. Therefore, God, not Sin, will now determine each man’s judgment and final destiny. And, He will do so according to His own purpose, not according to individual merit. In the end, God, Who loves all (John 3:16), and wills to save all (1 Tim 2:4), will become ALL in all (1 Cor 15:28). In that day, God will fully manifest Himself as the One Who, indeed, is the Savior of ALL mankind (1 Tim 4:10). This is the “Gospel” – the Good News of Jesus Christ!