Reggie. I thought I would request some of your insight on the situation of our world regarding sin. I know about Adamic nature coming about because of Adam’s fall. My concern is the beginning of sin. I know God induces calamity even on his own Son. I have and at present am wrestling with the idea that, possibly our Holy God can start the whole process of sin when in him is no darkness at all. A beautiful creature like Lucifer turning to desire to make himself “like the most high”. Is God the initiator of sin to reveal his vast greatness in triumphing over it?
I hesitate even to utter it to be honest.
Augustine was probably correct when He showed how the very existence of good creates the concept of its antithesis with no need of direct creation. The concept of evil must exist for the concept of good to exists, even before evil breaks out into manifest existence. It does not have to be specially created. Though God does not create evil, he purposefully created the conditions that made its appearance inevitable.
We know that God has no delight in sin, but His highest delight is in the end that would be impossible apart from the existence of sin, namely, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. To this one end God made all things. To this one end was creation involuntarily subjected to vanity (see Ro 8:20).
So God certainly created the conditions for sin, and in His sovereignty used those conditions to achieve the one object of His highest eternal delight, which we may be sure was no ‘plan B’. All things answer to the sovereign necessity of a glory that existed before the creation as the theater of its display. I believe it was the glory of this predestined outcome that was already enjoyed as the greatest source of joy and delight between the Father and the Son before creation, and was the greatest single purpose for creation. I believe that if we could fathom the timelessness of God, we would know that the end must be determined before the beginning, precisely because the end is defined by the beginning, and, conversely, the beginning by the end. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” In other words, God already enjoyed before creation what He will have as the result of creation.
The eternality of His purpose is as absolute and necessary as His existence. So regardless of secondary contingencies, the eternal purpose depends on the existence of sin and the conditions necessary to the fall of Satan and man as necessary to the ‘necessary’ glory of redemption. According to Ro 8:20, it was a view toward that final and immutable state of glory to be achieved through Christ that moved God to create in the first place. It was necessary that the immutable new creation be raised up out of the weakness of a first that was made subject to vanity by God’s own purposeful intent with a view to the greater glory of redemption.
There can be no eternal purpose that merely comprehends the free actions of men and angels; it must necessarily ordain them. However, to ‘ordain’ an outcome is not the same as to ’cause’ all that pertains to it. God did not ’cause’ the sin in the hearts of those that crucified Christ, but He did ‘ordain’ to employ that sin in the accomplishment of His own eternal purpose in glory.
The sin of Adam does not require to be divinely induced in order for it to be divinely ordained. How that works, I’m not sure, but I do not doubt that apart from special divine intervention (which God is not ‘obligated’ to extend), it was not probable that the vulnerability of the flesh to vanity would long withstand the powerful blandishments of Satan. All was ordained, but not all was directly caused, since God can never be the direct agent of temptation.
So how is God not directly responsible for the fall that was indispensable in His preordained plan of redemption? Well, I’ve already mentioned the implications of Ro 8:20, and a considerable collection of other passages combine to show that redemption was never a divine afterthought. So I theorize that God cannot be justly charged with injustice if He did not elect to extend special grace that might have upheld Adam in the day of powerful temptation. God does not have to impose sin in order to ordain that it serve a role in His perfect and unalterable eternal purpose in grace.
Nothing can be more glorious to God or precious to man as the grace of Christ, the Father’s greatest eternal delight. Grace will be the theme and song of all eternity. It was the rejoicing of pre-temporal eternity. This is the glory that the persons of the Godhead rejoiced in before time, in perfect contemplation and enjoyment of what would be accomplished in the foreordained goal of creation.
As to Satan’s fall, I used to quip to my kids that “Satan fell when he walked by a mirror.” The point being that evil doesn’t have to be specially created for it to be personally contracted the moment any form of independence from God is conceived and then acted on. The very thought of foolishness is sin (Prov 24:9). Any form of self realization, autonomy, or creaturely self glory is the antithesis of the self-emptying nature of our Servant God. It is the attraction to autonomy that I believe is the birth place of sin and the origin of Satan’s fall. Not only man, but angels too were made subject to vanity.
Sin happens when evil is personalized and actualized by rebellion (Ja 1:13-14). Rebellion is any form of independence or coveted desire outside of the rule of the divine nature. So I believe that the origin of sin and the prior existence of evil must be somewhat distinguished. Sin presupposes the existence of evil, but evil does not require for its existence a particular act of divine creation, it exists ‘necessarily’ in the very definition of good. It would be impossible to ascribe goodness to God if there was no concept of its opposite. When Adam and Eve would come to ‘know’ good and evil, I believe the reference is to ‘experimental’ knowledge. It doesn’t mean they were ignorant of the concept of right and wrong, of good and evil, or blessing or cursing, but that they had no experience of it.
Finally, in taking up such questions, we must always remember that the only kind of glory that God seeks is a grace kind of glory, but for grace to be grace, there can be nothing of debt, and for mercy to be mercy, divine justice, however severe, must be justified as unquestionably just.
Well, these are some of the thoughts that your question served to evoke. So far from hesitating to bring such a question, these are the kinds of questions that make for the most sublime contemplations of the greatness and glory of God. Regardless of our inability to touch the farthest fringes of the unfathomable depths of what theologians and philosophers call “divine theodicy,” one thing I know: Our Lord was the preeminent Servant of servants. The self-emptying of the selfless Son, untainted by original sin, is the hallmark of His deity, and why all fullness was pleased in Him to dwell, as in no other.
I can think of no greater threat to the pride of impenitence than the terrible meekness of a sovereign creator who spared not His only Son to bring an election of grace to the place of eternal fellowship and glory that Jesus enjoyed with the Father before the world began. I don’t understand that, but I think it has something to do with the unfathomable glory of what has been prepared before the foundation of the world for those that are ‘the called according to His purpose’. To question the justness of the sovereignty of such an unfathomably meek and selfless God must appear in His sight as the height of human presumption.
Yours in the Beloved, Reggie