Before I started reading The Evil of Evils by Jeremiah Burroughs this week, I listened to Samuel Renihan's sermon titled 'God's Will: Concurrence & the Problem of Evil' preached on March 10, 2013. It is an excellent sermon, and I recommend that you listen to it here.
If you don't get a chance to listen, I've shared my notes below (quoted directly or closely paraphrased from Mr. Renihan's sermon):
- Sin is a part of God's decree. Sin is not an accident; it is not something that God didn't foresee or foreknow. God decreed for eternity that some angels and all men in Adam would fall into sin, (Lam. 3:37-38). Sin is still under God's control; He knew that sin would happen.
- Remember what sin is. Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of, the law of God. Sin is not a substance or a thing; it is violating what God has commanded [this statement was profound in changing how I think about sin]. God exists apart from creation; therefore, there is no dualistic nature of sin-->because God is good, evil necessarily exists and has always existed. Within the Trinity there is only perfection; the will of God is always carried out. Sin is only possible because God created a world distinct from Himself and gives commands to the creatures within that world. Sin is the disobedience of his creatures. God is accomplishing his decretive will despite the fact that his creatures are constantly violating his preceptive will.
- God is sovereign over sin (over the violation of His revealed will). LBCF chapter 5, paragraph 4 states that God's providence (or His government of the world) extended to the Fall (Adam's sin) and all of the sinful actions of angels and men. God works out His plan through the sin of man (Gen. 50:20). He decrees to permit sin.
- God's permission is not a bare permission. God binds, orders, and governs sin. "In permitting evil God does not simply let it happen, but He determines how far He will let it go and how He will overcome it for good," (Mike Horton). God does not act in and through evil, but over and against it. He does not will sin to be done, but He wills to permit it. (Phil. 2:13).
- God is able to bring good out of sin. Why did God permit sin? Sin is the wisest way for God to demonstrate His character to us.
- God is not the author of sin. God is active and working in mankind, but He does not tempt mankind; He is not the approver of sin; He cannot even associate with sin (Jam. 1:13; 1 John 2:16). God is able to use sin to accomplish His purposes in a way that we cannot (in a way that we cannot fathom). God forbids sin, but is able to guide, direct, govern, and use it to accomplish His own purposes without willing it to be done (without causing anyone to sin & without being the author of it). God hardens hearts, but it is a hardness that is already there; God does not create it.
- Man is responsible for disobeying God. God will execute justice and pour out holy wrath on those who disobey Him. The wages of sin is death because the creature is accountable to the Creator.