Isa. 55:11 π Ezek. 18:20 π Mt. 6:10; 2nd π Mt. 6:13 π Lk. 9:25 π Jn. 12:32 π Jn. 14:6 π Acts 17:30-31 π Rom. 2:7-10 π Rom. 8:28 π Eph. 6:11-13 π Phlp. 2:12 π 1 Tim. 6:12 π 2 Tim. 2:3 π 2 Tim. 2:19 π 2 Tim. 2:26 π Heb. 2:1 π Heb. 2:3 π Jas. 4:4 π 2 Pet. 3:9; 2nd π 2 Pet. 3:13 π 1 Jn. 5:3 π Rev. 3:1 π Rev. 3:5 π Rev. 20:15; 2nd
Some who are under the deceptions of the demonic turn to, believe it or not, the “sovereignty of God” as a reason to not be concerned about error, heresy and darkness as if these things were incapable of harming us in any way. It is very likely that this fuzzy mis-notion about the sovereignty of God is the very point of access for the demonic into these people’s lives! If this “sovereignty of God” causes us to believe that we need not actively, carefully and persistently depart from all iniquity, we have taken the elements of truth within this notion too far and we have believed a lie from the demonic.
This mis-notion is based in misunderstanding the difference between sovereignty and control. The argument is that because God is sovereign, He is in total and complete control of all actions everywhere and at all times. There are two questions that one should ask - and the answers to these two questions completely unravel the deception contained in this notion.
The first question is: Does God get everything He wants? Peter wrote,
The Lord is...not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. ( 2 Pet. 3:9; top )
God does not want or will for anyone to perish. God wants or wills for everyone to come to repentance. This is a plain declaration in the Scriptures!
Is no one going to perish? Is everyone going to repent? Obviously not. John wrote,
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. [the second death] ( Rev. 20:15; top )
As an aside, some base their hope in their “eternal security” in the belief that their name is already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. However, Jesus said to the ekklesia of Sardis:
I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead... He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life... ( Rev. 3:1 , 5; top )
Whatever else we might glean from this passage, let us note that one may have a reputation that speaks of life in Christ but the spiritual reality is that of death. Such a one who is in truth dead will have his name blotted out, covered over, removed from the Book of Life. One cannot blot out what was never written in! This one, at some point, held genuine life in Christ and his name was in the Book of Life, but, for whatever reason, he exchanged life for death. As we will see throughout this study, the “once saved, always saved” deception simply does not bear up under the light of the Scriptures.
But from the above two Scriptures ( 2 Pet. 3:9 ; Rev. 20:15; top ) it is obvious that God does not get everything He wants! If everything automatically happened as God wills or wants it to, then there is no rational reason or genuine need for us to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (see Mt. 6:10 ) Those who would argue that
...My word...shall accomplish what I please... ( Isa. 55:11; top )
fail to recognize that there is nothing pleasing about saving someone who doesn’t want to be saved or about having a love relationship with someone who does not love in return. God, like most people who were created in His image, is not overly interested in a one-sided love affair. It is those who learn to love Him in return for His gracious love that are the primary recipients of His protections and provisions. It is also true that if God did get absolutely everything He wanted, His character would be marred - He would be like a spoiled, pampered child. And He is certainly not that!
All this simply means that the God who is sovereign over all is not choosing to control all actions everywhere and at all times. He is not micro-managing this world though, when He does choose to do so, He intervenes on even the smallest of scales to accomplish His overall purposes. It is also true that because He knows exactly what will happen in every time frame, He knows exactly when, where and how best to accomplish what He has purposed while still allowing people to get exactly what they really want most.
This is precisely the place God has reserved for our free will. We must choose and continue to choose to follow Christ. If we become negligent or deceived about our departure from iniquity, we will fall again into the snares of the devil and we may not be able to escape. (see 2 Tim. 2:26 ) We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (see Phlp. 2:12 ) and we must
...give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. ...how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation...? ( Heb. 2:1 , 3; top )
And we are to regularly pray that God will
...deliver us from the evil one. ( Mt. 6:13 - emphasis added; top)
If the sovereignty of God meant that God absolutely controlled all things (like He does in heaven), then righteousness would dwell here (like it does in heaven - see 2 Pet. 3:13 ; Mt. 6:10 ) But, for now, iniquity is permitted to remain in our world and, as Jesus said,
For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? ( Lk. 9:25; top )
If the whole world is not worth being destroyed or lost for, how much more of a tragedy will it be if one is destroyed or lost for the sake of just one small part of the world, especially when that small part is retained only because the devil has deceived us into believing that something wicked is really righteous. We must not forget James’ warning:
...friendship with the world is enmity with God[.] Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. ( Jas. 4:4; top )
We must not allow the idea that God is “in control” to relieve us of our responsibility to depart from all iniquity! (see 2 Tim. 2:19; top )
Now, God is never surprised by any event in human history and He does intervene to protect His own and to draw all men toward Himself. As Paul wrote:
...all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ( Rom. 8:28 ; also see Jn. 12:32; top )
Let us carefully note that this promise is not for everyone - it is available only to those who are called by God and who love Him. Those who really love God obey Him in all things. ( 1 Jn. 5:3; top ) And even for those who meet these two conditions, the promise is that all things will work for our good - not necessarily the best, but only for good. Though God works all things for good for His own, we can still rob ourselves by not actively, carefully and persistently pursuing His best and highest will for our lives. For those who do not meet both conditions - perhaps called by God but not obedient - there is no promise whatsoever to rely upon. The New Testament is too clear (for those who have ears to hear) in its warnings about our responsibility to exercise our wills toward God if we would receive His rewards.
We must not mistake God’s sovereign provision and protection as a license to walk in error, heresy or darkness. We know that God is greater than the demonic - and we know that He uses even the very schemes and activities of the demonic to open up ways for us to depart from iniquity. But if we neglect or refuse to step into His way of escape and overcoming, then our faith is misplaced onto the lie that “God is in control of me” when, in fact, He is not.
This is the second question that stops this “sovereignty of God” fallacy cold: Does God control me? If God were truly in complete control of my every action, I could not sin. Obviously, I do sin and God does not control my every action - nor does He control every action of every other individual in the world. If He did, there would be no sin - and no free will. Conversely, if God did control me even in my sin, then He would be the origin and source of my sin. Thus I must confess my sins to the “One” who originated my sin and then rely on that “One” to cleanse me of all the sin “He” originally intended me to do! No! God is not in total and absolute control of me or this world - that is the whole essence of the human problem! God will not be thwarted in His overall purpose - to have children in the family of His Firstborn! - but whether I become an eternal, remaining member of that family depends on my ongoing, progressive obedience to the Father! God rules over (or perhaps better stated, after) all but He does not reign over those who don’t want His direction.
God does not control - He commands. And He foreknows. My disobedience does not thwart His will for anyone else but me. If I practice disobedience because someone else - either human or demonic - has deceived me, I have still practiced disobedience and I must still face the consequences of my disobedience. ( Ezek. 18:20 ) If my own religious or philosophical understandings, opinions and beliefs have caused me to reject the quiet contacts of God’s Spirit within my spirit that point me toward His truth and righteousness, what irrational logic must be invoked to foster my belief that I am entitled to receive eternal life! (see Rom. 2:7-10 ) God still frequently touches men’s spirits and souls (even those who will ultimately reject Him!), relaying to them on many levels their need to repent and turn to Him who is the only way to eternal life. (see Acts 17:30-31 ; Jn. 14:6; top ) Those who ignore and disobey those quiet gentle spiritual contacts from God’s Spirit are those who disobey truth, who practice unrighteousness and who self-centeredly pursue their own agendas (practice lawlessness).
It is in this light that God’s judgments against a people are more readily understood. His judgments - especially early judgments when people are carelessly and negligently ignoring and drifting away from His ways - are many times simply His refusal to protect those people. When the people walk in true holiness, many times the trouble is diverted by a specific intervention by God. When the people walk in darkness, error and sin, God often does not protectively intervene but instead uses the trouble as a chastisement to remind the people of their need for true repentance and holiness. If we investigate our troubles carefully - especially large-scale disasters - most often, the devastation and tragedies have two main roots:
1) the sin of man (usually greed and lust for power); and
2) the withdrawal of God’s specific protective intervention (which is usually reserved for those who love and obey Him).
There are, of course, exceptions where God specifically sends destruction (especially in relation to peoples who have repeatedly refused to repent and change their deeply wicked ways) but this is the overall pattern God often follows in His just dealings with wicked men.
When one submits to God, unlike when one submits to the demonic, the Spirit of God does not move in and take over the controls. In fact, it is precisely here that we can most clearly see the source of our motivations for our behaviors and actions. If we pursue a certain course of action under some unexplained compulsion, there is great chance our compulsion comes from a demonic source. On certain rare occasions, God does implant an inexplicable desire to do a certain thing but, more often, He leads us through the exercise of our God-given liberties in Christ. He commands us to submit so that we might receive and partake of all that pertains to life and godliness. But if we refuse to submit, He will call to us, commanding us to repent and return to Him, but He will not violate our will to choose between light and darkness. If we do submit to Him, He causes all the things that happen to us, no matter how seemingly random or microscopic, to work for the good in our lives, primarily our progressive conformity to the likeness of His Son, Christ Jesus.
There are those who use this “sovereignty of God” fallacy to practically ignore the demonic. But this only results in a foolish denial of the hazards the demonic poses to our life in Christ and/or a lazy or cowardly refusal to take up our place in the spiritual fight against the spirits of darkness. No. We wrestle and we stand against the demonic - it is not God’s responsibility. ( Eph. 6:11-13 ) We are called to fight the good fight and we must lay hold of eternal life - it is not God’s place to do these things. ( 1 Tim. 6:12; top )
We must not sit back and blindly endure the attacks of the enemy and say, “Well, Jesus is still Lord.” If we do not personally consult with Him regarding each of these attacks to find out His strategy for each particular battle, how can we believe He is our Lord? If we don’t personally consult with Him, He is only our superstition, a good luck charm (like a medallion of a “saint” worn around our neck) to “protect” us from evil occurrences - He is not our Commander-in-Chief and we are not good soldiers in His army. (see 2 Tim. 2:3; top ) Let us not fool ourselves nor allow the demonic to fool us any longer in this regard. An interactive relationship with God based in trust in His superior, keeping power is simply not the same thing as a blind presumption that, because I participate in certain religious acts or functions, I am thus entitled to receive and enjoy God’s “sovereign,” carte blanche, blanket protections over my life.
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