God and Sin

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Providence

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death… Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:13-17)

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)

These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. (Psalm 50:21)

Over the past few emails we’ve been looking at the relationship between our will and God’s will. We’ve seen how God can use the evil desires of some to bring about his will, and how even seemingly random events serve God’s purposes. His will is simply deeper than ours, but that doesn’t excuse our actions. We weren’t simply following orders.

The Apostle James is insistent that God is not the author of sin - he tempts no-one. The fact that he can use evil as a means to bring about good does not excuse the evil, judgment still falls onto one who does wrong. The Apostle John makes a similar point, and wants to ensure we recognise the distinction between things which come from God and things which come from “the world”.

The final quote, from Psalm 50, is a telling one. All too often silence is taken for assent, and that applies to the spiritual world too. People - maybe even we - seem to get away with things, and there are no consequences. Worse, at times we think that God must think as we do and share our own morality. After all, isn’t God simply a better version of us at our best? There are many reasons for God’s silence, some of which we will look at in a further email, but the psalmist understands that justice will be done in the end.

We do bear the consequences for our own actions, but God has also extended to us the offer of forgiveness. Rather than thinking we are good enough, better to see that Christ is entirely good and allow him to bear our sins for us. The cross is, after all, a sign of grace and mercy.

Warriors and the Will of God

Against a godless nation I send [Assyria], and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few … When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. (Isaiah 10:6-7, 12) - Just before his death, Moses warned the people that if they turn to other gods, then they will lose the land. The only way to maintain life in the land is to obey the commandments of God.


So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) - At times God uses our afflictions to draw us to him. At other times, we struggle with something or other which reminds us that we are not as perfect we as think. And then we fall upon God’s grace. Afflictions are, as in the case with the Apostle Paul, a means to a greater glory

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