God’s Sovereignty Man’s Responsibility

A World of Opposites

Have you ever put your mind to the world of opposites? Our world is made up of opposites. Hot or Cold, black or white, rain or shine, love or hate, dictatorship or democracy, up or down, in or out, prison or freedom, sweet or bitter, good job or bad job— these are just some of the terms we have for opposites in our lives. In fact, if we listen closely in our conversations with others we will discover that we are continually in a comparing state of mind in some fashion. We talk about so and so doing something we like or do not like, or we talk about accomplishing a task that is different from another person’s accomplishment. By even thinking or saying something about another person’s actions or position at work, we are dealing with opposites. Our human tendency is to move toward one or the other (there are the opposites). “Why?” as my grandchildren would ask. Why? Why are we pulled to one position or pole? The very basic reason is that we cannot tolerate in our mind “opposites”. We want to make sense out of our world and we cannot hold opposites equally in our mind. We want the certainties that comes from being in one position or the other. Being in the middle is an uncomfortable place to be. We want to run to one position or the other. It is safe there. We want to stand on the solid ground of things being certain. When we go to see the doctor we want to know what is wrong with us and what the prognosis is. Uncertainties produce great anxiety. Even those who say that each person creates their own reality cannot tolerate opposites. They withdraw or fight to get their opposite view accepted. We struggle in our mind over things that are vague and not clear. We’ll ponder over what is going on with our friend or family member if we don’t have certainty that brings understanding. When we have that understanding we feel relieved because our mind is now at rest. We can put behind us the issues that are uncertain.

You may, by this time, have wondered where I’m going with this. I sure would if I was in your position. Why? I would read it as though this was a bunch of “gobbledy gook”. It would make me analyze something that is not easy to get a handle on and cause me to get out of my comfort zone of being at one pole or the other. You see, I’ve created some uncertainty already by not laying out specifics. After awhile you would probably get bored because it seems like I’m taking you in circles and you probably would give up on reading what I’ve written. You may be saying how senseless to talk and say nothing. We look for concrete cause and effect. “A causes B”, and not “A causes B causes C causes A”. As the old expression goes, “The dog is chasing his tail,” which means he is going around in circles. Well here is where I’m going. In God’s inerrant Word, the Bible, there are many opposites.

The major opposite is God’s absolute sovereignty over His creation and the absolute responsibility of man to His creator. This is the most difficult to accept in one’s mind from God’s Word. Many folks say they do believe in God’s absolute sovereignty, but in reality their mind orders a world that provides a foundation of behavior and thinking within them that does not deal with this opposite. Why? Here’s that old question of “why?” again. We want to make sense out of our world with us being the center of it, so we can be in control.

The whole of Scripture is about these opposites. Man constantly fights God when He says, “Do such and such.” We are prone to doing what our nature tells us to do. It all started with Adam. The sin nature handed down from Adam does not want us to believe that we are not in control of our destiny, so we fight God over His sovereignty so we can put ours in operation. The basic belief of us as humans is that we have the freedom to be completely in charge of self. In fact, it seems to say that in the U.S. Constitution, and we are told by others to “be responsible and take charge of your life”. So in God’s Word we are being told to submit to Him, but be responsible. To us, we think that means we determine our destiny and He stays out of our life, but then He tells us we are in deep trouble if we don’t obey because God is sovereign over His creation. That means He determines the outcome of our existence. Now that puts you and I in a position of total confusion or frustration, and we rebel. Again, “why?” Because of our inheritance from Adam. Here are some verses that help us see that God is sovereign and that we are responsible. In Psalm 139 is a song of praise to God for His sovereignty over His creation (That’s us).

1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

You understand my thought from afar.

3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,

And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,

Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

5 You have enclosed me behind and before,

And laid Your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the dawn,

If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand will lead me,

And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,

And the light around me will be night,”

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,

And the night is as bright as the day.

Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

When I awake, I am still with You.

19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;

Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

20 For they speak against You wickedly,

And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?

And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;

They have become my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way.

We read in Job where Satan comes before God and asks permission to strike Job so he will curse God. We see Satan is even under the control of God.

In chapter 1 we read, “The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” 12 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.

From the New Testament I will draw one little verse to show our responsibility to God. In Romans 2:5 we read, “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”.

Notice that God is saying that “You are storing up wrath”. We are responsible for any wrath that we suffer but in Job God allowed Satan to cause Job to suffer.

Therein lie the opposites. God is absolutely sovereign over His creation—us—and we are absolutely responsible for the consequences of our sin. “Doesn’t make sense,” someone would say. And “How dare God say I’m responsible if He is sovereign over me.”

SO WHAT DO WE DO? Accept, reject, rebel (fight) or run!!!! Well we can’t run. He is everywhere. We can rebel and fight—thousands of us have, but in the end we die because He is in charge of His creation. Maybe we can give up!

The Prince of Preachers, C. H. Spurgeon, of the 1800’s had this to say when questioned about the incompatibility of God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility in God’s Word.

I do not try to reconcile friends.” You see Spurgeon believed both and did not try to make one fit into the other. His belief was that God is sovereign and man is responsible and accountable to Him.

The bottom line is that we live in a world of opposites, and some of them we cannot control, so we must accept them or deny that they exist. If we deny they exist we are not living in the real word. In regard to the scriptural opposite, we can parse God’s Word so it will fit into our way of thinking or we can submit to Him our total being. I don’t know about you, but as for me, I like the submitting role. But of course I have to give me up for Him. Sounds like I can no longer be my own god but believe in and depend on HIS SOVEREIGNTY. My, oh my, WHAT A GREAT RELIEF!

May God richly bless.

Dewey Wise

Print This Page Print This Page

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.