Is God to Blame?
Is God controlling everything? Your immediate answer may be, “Of course He is! After all, He is GOD! Common phrases like “God is in control!” and “it’s all part of God’s plan” have caused many Christians to be of the mindset that everything that happens is God’s will. However, if one looks close enough, observations in the world and numerous passages in Scripture point to a very different answer.
One of the most crippling convictions held by believers today is the idea that everything that happens is the will of God. This false conclusion is a poisonous belief that will destroy your confidence in God because you will end up believing terrible things about Him. When you read a news report about innocent women taken hostage and forced into sex slavery in the United States- is that really the will of God? If someone is raped, that is then chalked up to “God allowing” the event to happen, except that Scripture is very clear that we are to treat each other with compassion, love and respect (Eph. 4:32, 1 Pet. 3:8). What about someone being killed by a drunk driver? Doesn’t that event completely contradict God’s will when Scripture says to never be drunk with wine (Eph. 5:18, Gal. 5:21)? God “allowed” when He gave free will to His creation.
Listen very carefully. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that God never causes anyone to sin: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers” (James 1:13–16).
God does not tempt, nor does He cause you to sin. But people sin every day, and their sins have devastating consequences. There are all kinds of events happening every day that are not caused by God. Remember—we live in a world where God has granted human beings the power to make things happen. This is only possible because God created us in His image and shared some of His power with us. God did not cause Adam and Eve to sin, nor did He prevent them from doing so and their sin had staggering consequences. If God were to intervene and stop every person from rebelling or making horrible choices, free will would no longer exist. The choice to choose Him and to love Him would then be gone. True love cannot exist without free will. God created us for deep relationship.
God IS ALMIGHTY, NOT ALL CONTROLLING
To be clear, God is almighty (Genesis 35:11) and all powerful (1 Chronicles 29:11).There is no doubt about that. He upholds the universe (Hebrews 1:3) and without Him nothing could exist (Colossians 1:17). God makes His will clearly known when He says what is good and righteous and what is sin. He knows what is best for us and He wants the best for us. (Isaiah 48:17-18, Psalm 128:1, Deut 30:19, John 10:10). If God is controlling everything then why is the Bible jam-packed with instructions on choice and how we should live (Deut. 30:15-20, Josh. 24:15)? Why does Jesus tell us to pray for God’s will to be done (Matt. 6:9-11) if it is automatic or if everything that happens is God’s will? He is not a puppet-master controlling every event on the earth. He is a Father constantly wanting to lead us, while preserving the gift of free will.
As an example, if someone gets hit by a bus, it's not because God ordained it or it was their time (Matt. 18:14). There are many reasons why this could have happened and many of them can be chalked up to free will. Someone walked across the street when they weren’t supposed to, or the driver was distracted looking at their cell phone, or someone pushed them into the street, or...the list goes on. What about natural disasters? Surely that must be God? Do we ever stop and consider the consequences of all the damage that we do to the environment? Free will has so much to do with what is wrong with our world, but we always want to shift the blame over to God because of a wrong belief about God.
WE HAVE AN ENEMY
Jesus draws a very clear line in John 10:10 when He says “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Here we can clearly see who is responsible for death and destruction and it is not God, there is someone else in this equation. Many Christians worldview no longer recognizes the work of Satan yet Jesus Himself found it important enough to tell us about this. The Apostle Peter also mentions this (1 Peter 5:8) when he says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” The apostle Paul warns the church “not to give a foothold to the devil” (Eph 4:27).
Sovereignty does not equal control
Of course, God does intervene in the world according to His will and in the lives of people who love Him, but this is not the same as controlling everything. God’s foreknowledge is often confused with His sovereignty. Many believe that because God is all-knowing then He must control everything. Foreknowledge does not require predestining every single event - God can know everything while being in ultimate control of the final outcome. To be sovereign does not require that God control all aspects of every moment. This is why God can work all things together for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). This is the intersection of foreknowledge and His sovereignty. This is also why people believe that God caused a bad event to happen; because good came out of it, mistaking His grace with His purpose.
GOD DESIRES REAL RELATIONSHIP
If people don’t want God in their life, He will pursue them, but He won’t force them into a relationship with Him. He is standing at the door knocking (Rev. 3:20), but it is our choice to open the door to Him. We see in the life of Jesus, the people that accepted His truth and listened to Him, He was able to do more for them (Luke 5:1-3, John 8:2), but the people that rejected Him, He moved onto the next town (Luke 4:29-30, Mark 6:3-6). Since we know that Jesus is God in the flesh and the exact representation of the Father in Heaven (John 14:8-9, Heb. 1:3), we can say that God also behaves like this. He doesn’t force himself on anyone. But, for those who do choose Him, His promises are so great (Ps. 34:10)! Although bad things do happen because we live in a fallen world full of fallen people, God promises to never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
Although we don’t have complete understanding of God’s sovereignty and knowledge, we do know the abundance of truth that God has revealed to us. “Then the Lord said to Job, ‘Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?’” In the absence of knowledge, don’t create nonsense. The next time you hear someone say, “God is controlling everything” or “God is the one to blame”, remember the truth about God: that’s not God!