As a parent, would you rather your child followed your every whim, or was free to make their own choices? True love wants them to make their own choices… and this is God’s desire for His children. I will never be able to fully reconcile the two inherent truths of our free will and His sovereignty, but God has shown me an inkling in the following perspective.
We as human beings cannot control everything. It’s a basic fact of life and one of the main reasons many of us struggle with anxiety. In many cases, “life” throws us many circumstances that play a huge role in charting our course. Now consider… if God is truly sovereign, then He has control over all things, including those circumstances. One thing that must be understood before we move on is that “…God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” (James 1:13b) God may allow circumstances caused by sin and evil intent, but He Himself hasn’t a shadow of evil in Him. (“…God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5b The context being darkness is sin.) So, if He is sovereign and good, then why does He allow circumstances caused by evil?
Enter the beautiful truth of Romans 8:28-29: “And we know that God causes all thing to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren[.]”
Paul is giving us a rare peek behind the curtain of God’s will, here - and not just any peek, but a look at what lays the foundation for all of God’s will! According to this passage, God’s purpose is that His children would be “conformed to the image of His Son,” or, in other words, that we would think and act like His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is part of the Triune God, and as such, lived the example of how we should act and think like Him. (Just like we want our children to be like us!) So if the beginning of that quoted passage is true, then God is using His sovereignty (His power over everything) to work everything to teach us to be more like Christ (please note the distinction to being like Christ rather than being like God; they had very different roles). Even our trials. Even our joys. And make no mistake - Job 42:2 says, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”
Just as we don’t control every little thing our child does (and even less as they get older), God does not control us (unless, of course, we engage in the joy of offering ourselves to be used by Him), but rather lets us make our own choices. This is how we learn and grow. And just like our children often make wrong choices, so do God’s children (us). While we may regret a poor choice, God, in His sovereignty, uses it to make us more like Christ! We as parents can sometimes do this, but God, per Romans 8:28, uses all things toward this end. This is another piece of the joy of following Christ: even our failures don’t make us less, but instead God, in His grace, uses them to teach us. God does not want to force us into the image of His Son, He wants us to choose to be like His Son.
God’s sovereignty enables our free will.
As I said before, this doesn’t fully explain how free will and God’s sovereignty coexist, but it satisfies me enough that I can look at Job 40:2 and 40:8 and bow humbly before His will. God addresses Job in both verses:
“‘Will the faultfinder [that would be me, too] contend with the Almighty? Let Him who reproves God answer it.’”
“‘Will you [again… me!] really annul My judgment? Will You condemn Me that you may be justified?’”
Who am I to reprove God and question His judgment? Did I create the earth and its workings? Did I create man and know his very thoughts? Do I really want to serve a God I can fully understand? Would He be God if I could fully understand Him?
I am insignificant and yet, God, in His amazing grace, chooses to work all things for the good of His children (of whom I am one!), and for His glory! These two goals never part. Our good gives Him glory! This isn’t to make it all about us - it’s all about Him! - but to show you the value God has given you as His child. In this lies our worth - not in what we can do for Him. This granted value never changes. It is not raised or lowered by anything you do, and God Himself does not raise or lower it. God loves you with a love so pure, it brought Him to death on a cross. God is so pure, that He rose again, freeing us from the penalty of our sin.
Praise God for His sovereignty! And praise God for granting us free will!