The Extent of the Decrees
Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Notes compiled by Marty Zide and Steve McAtee
Nothing in the universe can be considered to be exempt from the decrees of God. If that is true, what about evil and sin?
Eph. 1:11 - In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.
One of the most common difficulties in understanding this doctrine is the presence of evil in God’s universe and the free actions of intelligent creatures. If God has foreordained all that comes to pass so that there is no uncertainty that His decrees will be carried out exactly as He intended them, then how does this relate to sinful acts which are admittedly present?
Again, we are dependent upon God’s revealed Word to solve this apparent dilemma. God being the cause of sin, is totally contrary to what He has revealed in His Word. It contradicts His character and His capability as a holy God. He is not sinful nor can He be.
Ps. 92:15 - To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
James 1:13 - Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
I John 1:5 - This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
God in His omniscience knew that sin would enter the universe. For good reasons, He included it in His decree, but He Himself did not bring it to pass. It entered the universe by the sin of Lucifer and sins are committed to this very day as sinful humans choose to walk in ways that are contrary to God and His Word. Satan and mankind are held responsible for their evil behavior.
The decrees of God do not release man from being held responsible for the evil that they do. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are truths that are taught in Scripture.
Luke 22:21-22 - But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!
Acts 4:27-28 - For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.
Acts 2:22-23 - Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
The decrees of God included sin and evil while at the same time man is held responsible for the sin and evil that they commit. God is not the author of sin, nor is He held responsible for the sins that evil and godless men commit.
Coming Next - Some Characteristics of God’s Decrees