Your Marriage Is Designed To Kill You


It is a subject that has been – and continues to be – talked about to infinity and back.

That subject is marriage.

More specifically, how to have a ‘happy marriage’ (with ‘happy’ being open to interpretation).

It is interesting in today’s ever-changing social milieu that marriage, despite its myriad definitions, is still viewed by many as a preferred means of achieving lasting satisfaction and fulfillment in life.

Unfortunately, these pursuits are usually undertaken on the basis of such misguided reasoning as: I consent to add you to my life for reasons that are important to me and, likewise, you consent to add me to your life for reasons that are important to you, and voila! – as if pulling a rabbit out of a hat – marital bliss!

But as elementary as this way of thinking may appear, it is rather ironic that the thing that motivates most people to pursue marriage in the first place – personal happiness – is very often the one thing that contributes to the demise of those relationships.

Namely, the failure by one spouse to live up to the unrealistically nirvanic expectations of the other.

Your Choice: Person or Purpose

With few exceptions, the overwhelming majority of people who contemplate marriage embark on their journey toward “living happily ever-after” by making the mistake of putting the proverbial cart before the horse. They do this by creating for themselves a visage of the kind of person they want to marry, without giving due thought and consideration to the purpose of marriage.

To harbor such an inverted view of marriage, one that values person above purpose is, to say the least, unwise. For in doing so we make marriage a self-centered proposition as opposed to a God-centered one; an attitude that leads only to disappointment in and discouragement with both God and our spouse.

This is not to suggest or imply that one should not have any standards or expectations of the person he or she hopes to marry.

Not at all.

God’s word is clear. As followers of Christ we are not to be unequally yoked in our relationships (2 Cor. 6:14). It is a proscription that applies not only to marriage – though many Christians limit it to that – but to every aspect of a believer’s life. And yet, in many ways, marriage is a yoke that a man and woman volitionally choose to take upon themselves; a burden that they each willingly consent to bear up under (1 Cor. 7:32-34).

Even so, a question remains: whose burden is your spouse taking on?

Yours or God’s (Matt. 11:28-29)?

There is a difference.

God’s Goal: Sanctification Not Satisfaction

The importance of placing purpose above person in marriage is underscored by these words from theologian Douglas Wilson who writes that:

“God is preeminent in all things, including marriage. Our marriages are to glorify God. A mature Christian understands these truths and seeks to live them out. Therefore it is necessary to be a mature Christian in order to be a mature spouse.”  – Reforming Marriage: Gospel Living for Couples

Wilson is right.

Nonetheless, “glorifying God” in marriage, or in life in general, is not easy. The reason it’s not easy is because our nature is such that we have no innate desire to glorify God (Rom. 3:11-12). Ask ten unmarried people what characteristics or qualities are most important to them in a potential marriage partner, and I would venture to guess that “a sensitivity to sin” would not be among the traits mentioned. But as pastor and author Dave Harvey reminds us:

“Marriage is the union of two people who arrive toting the luggage of life. And that luggage always contains sin.” – When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage

To glorify God in marriage means the desire of our heart (Ps. 37:4) mirrors the desire of the heart of God, namely, to display His purpose for marriage within the bonds of covenant relationship. This desire is demonstrated as husbands and wives mature in their understanding that:

“Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to his redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married. If you hope to be, that should be your dream.” – John Piper,  This Momentary Marriage: a Parable of Permanence 

The Bible calls this maturation process sanctification.

And our personal sanctification (Phil. 1:6), the means, methods, and, yes, people God uses to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29a), has very little to do with our personal satisfaction.

Saying “I Do” Means Saying “I’ll Die”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard married people say, “Marriage is hard” (as if the institution of marriage is inherently burdensome and oppressive by nature). The truth, however, is to whatever degree marriage seems difficult it is not because marriage itself is hard, but because you and I are (Mk. 7:17-23).

If you are reading this and you are married, or hope to be, my prayer is that you will come to realize that marriage has been designed by God to destroy in you all manner of pride, selfishness, self-centeredness, arrogance, entitlement, and any other sinful attitudes and behaviors that may have led you to believe, at one point or another, that marriage is about you and your personal satisfaction and gratification.

I assure you it is not (Jn. 3:30).

There will be times, perhaps often, when, by God’s grace, you and your spouse will bring joy and happiness to one another. But such moments, regardless how frequent, are ancillary to God’s primary purpose for your marriage which, ultimately, is that you reflect the image of Christ in all aspects of that relationship (word, thought, and deed).

God purposely designed your marriage to kill you.

He did this so that, as the 16th century reformer John Calvin implored, “the invisible kingdom of Christ would become visible in our midst.”

Soli Deo Gloria!

Darrell

Image credit: thegospelcoalition.org

A Soteriology of Selfies: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well

“Come see a man who told me all the things that I have done.”
– John 4:29a (NASB)


Nearly two decades after the advent of the first camera phone, selfies remain a thing.

It seems everyone from former president Barack Obama to Pope Francis has become enamored with the prospect of taking pictures of the themselves and posting them on social media to the admiration and idolization of millions.

Me, My Selfie, and I

Though often innocent and harmless in their intent, selfies can say more about us than we would care to admit.

Selfies appeal to our vanity (Philippians 2:3).

They satiate our desire to be worshiped (Luke 12:16-21).

With the help of an ever-increasing suite of social media platforms, selfies have become the primary means by which we display to others how physically attractive we are, how nice of a car we drive, how happy a marriage we have, and how well-accomplished our children have become (among other self-exalting purposes).

“Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart.” Psalm 26:2 (NASB)

The beauty of selfies, no pun intended, is they afford us opportunities to formulate narratives about ourselves by picking and choosing how others see us.

Motivated to a large extent by an innate longing for affirmation and approval, selfies advertise our most attractive attributes and qualities, while concealing and disguising those things that are less praiseworthy about us.

But given that selfies are so subjective, is it really a selfie when one can so easily manipulate what others see and don’t see?

True, what other people see of you in a selfie is still you, physically speaking, but what they see is not really you.

Is it?

Seeing is Believing

The New Testament provides what I consider to be a genuine selfie moment, not a mere superficial or manufactured one.

It is a story which, more than likely, you are not unfamiliar.

I’m speaking of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4:7-42.

The name of the Samaritan woman is not mentioned in the text. Nor is her age, height, or weight given.

We know nothing about her that would be evident had selfies existed in that day – the color of her eyes, the length of her hair, the whiteness of her smile, or how well-manicured were her fingernails.

What we do know is she was a woman who lived a morally-depraved life; a fact that not even she denied (John 4:19).

“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man.” – Proverbs 27:19 (NASB)

The Samaritan woman had been married five times (John 4:18a), and on the occasion of her encounter with Jesus at the well, was living conjugally with a man who was not her husband (John 4:18b).

She went to the well to get water.

The irony of this is that water is transparent; you can see right through it.

But not only that.

Water also acts as a mirror.

It reflects images as they actually are.

Believing is Seeing

In our desire to fulfill the ‘Great Commission’ (Matthew 28:19-20), there are various tactics we Christians will employ to introduce unbelievers to Jesus, most of which are designed to be inoffensive and non-intrusive. Kind of like how selfies display only what is on the surface while concealing our true nature (Mark 7:17-23).

But, you see, that’s neither how Jesus, nor His gospel, works (Hebrews 4:12).

“You will never glory in God until first God has killed your glorifying in yourself.” – C.H. Spurgeon

The gospel of Christ is a gospel that is invasive.

It is that way by design.

Unlike the selfies we like to share with others, the word of God is such that it reveals things about ourselves that we would want no one else to see or know.

Not even God.

To have our sins laid bare to others is the last thing you or I would want for ourselves. (Genesis 3:8-10). But to encounter the perfect holiness of Christ is the ultimate selfie, for it is in that moment that we see ourselves for who we really are (Luke 5:8).

And it is only as we begin to understand the reality of our sinfulness in light of the reality of the holiness of Christ, that authentic spiritual transformation can begin to take place (Romans 12:2).

“Come see a man…”

The Samaritan woman was so utterly transformed by having her sinfulness exposed by Jesus, that her motive for telling others about Jesus was that her sinfulness had been exposed by Jesus (John 4:29). Subsequently, Jesus used the transparency of her testimony to bring many others to faith in Him (John 4:39-41).

The attitude exhibited by the woman at the well is both profound and challenging in its application to us as believers today.

When was the last time you were motivated to tell someone about Jesus because of your sinfulness not theirs?

In posing this question, I am not at all naïve to the fact that such an attitude would be virtually unheard of in the Jesus-meet-my-needs milieu of today’s evangelicalism. Nevertheless, to see ourselves reflected against the living water of Jesus Christ is to see not an image of a selfie but an image of self.

There is a difference.

Just ask the Samaritan woman.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Image credit: netloid.com

Related:
Don’t Let Facebook Make You Miserable – NY Times

How the Easiness of ‘American Christianity’ Minimizes the Atonement of Christ

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“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
– 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NASB)


For several months now I have been burdened by what appears, to me at least, to be an increasing apathy and indifference on the part of Christians, particularly in America, to the import and significance of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

These observations have led me to the lamentable conclusion that this spiritual lassitude is rooted primarily in a collective ignorance of and, consequently, a lack of appreciation for, Christ’s vicarious Atonement and its eternal implications to our lives, both in this world and in the world to come.

In his book, The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology, Dr. Jeremy R. Treat has defined the doctrine of the atonement as:

“…faith seeking understanding of the way in which Christ, through all of his work but primarily his death, has dealt with sin and its effects restoring the broken covenant relationship between God and humans and thereby brought about the turn of the ages. At its core, the doctrine of the atonement is the attempt to understand the meaning of Christ’s death as “for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).”

When compared to Christians in other parts of the world, believers in America have it easy.

Perhaps too easy.

For the vast majority of professing Christians in America, living the so-called “Christian life” – a term that is becoming more ambiguous by the day – is a relatively effortless and often superficial undertaking.

We attend church if and when we feel like it. Conversely, advances in technology have made the Word of God so readily accessible that we tend to treat it no less casually than we would any other book. Consequently, personal convenience becomes the primary variable by which we determine to commit (or not) ourselves to study to actually know God to any great extent (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

It is with the aforementioned thoughts in mind that I am reminded of the words of J.I. Packer, who comments that:

“He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.”Knowing God, p. 18

Unlike our persecuted brethren in countries like China and North Korea, who must resort to obtaining bibles through clandestine and surreptitious means – often at risk of their own lives – we need not concern ourselves with the hazards of having the gospel smuggled in to us because, as the saying goes, “there’s an app for that”.

The stylistic nuances and ecumenical aesthetics to which we have become so accustomed, particularly as it relates to our personal preferences in corporate worship, have fostered a collective spirit of indifference to the fundamental reason why we gather together to worship to begin with: the death of the Son of God on the cross.

It is against the backdrop of this kind of apathy that Charles Spurgeon declared:

“Nothing provokes the devil like the cross. Modern theology has for its main object the obscuration of the doctrine of atonement. These modern cuttlefishes make the water of life black with their ink. They make our sin to be a trifle, and the punishment of it to be a temporary business; and thus they degrade the remedy by underrating the disease.”

When examined on the whole, there really is nothing about being a Christian in America that can be said to be sacrificially demanding.

Not really.

Notwithstanding certain targeted political attacks against Christians in recent years, the truth is that the Christian experience in America can largely be defined not in terms of suffering (Philippians 1:29), but of indulging in creature-comforts like coffee bar lounges in our churches that resemble the neighborhood Starbucks®.

After all, how can anyone be expected to practice good liturgy without a good latté?

“We live in an age where the one wrong thing to say is that somebody else is wrong. One of the impacts of postmodern epistemology is that we all have our own independent points of view, and we look at things from the perspective of our own small interpretive communities. What is sin to one group is not sin to another group. But not only does the Bible insist that there is such a thing as sin, it insists that the heart of its ugly offensiveness is its horrible odiousness to God – how it offends God.” – D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, p. 42

Christianity in America has become so accommodating, so unexacting, so facile, that we have numbed ourselves to what it truly means to be a follower of Christ (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). And, perhaps more importantly, what was accomplished for us as a result of God volitionally bringing about that reality in our lives (Ephesians 2:8-9).

As the late theologian John R.W. Stott writes in his masterwork, The Cross of Christ, it is vital for Christians to realize that:

“The essential background to the cross…is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross. If we reinterpret sin as a lapse instead of a rebellion, and God as indulgent instead of indignant, then naturally the cross appears superfluous. But to dethrone God and enthrone ourselves not only dispenses with the cross; it also degrades both God and humans. A biblical view of God and ourselves, however – that is, of our sin and of God’s wrath – honors both. It honors human beings by affirming them as responsible for their own actions. It honors God by affirming him as having moral character.”

Our nature as sinners is such that the degree of appreciation we have, even for those we say mean the most to us, can tend to wane the more comfortable with them we become. I can only imagine how many marriages today are being destroyed because one spouse is inclined to take the other for granted.

But, as Christians living in America, is our mindset any different when it comes to how lightly we treat the death of Jesus? Are we any less guilty of taking for granted the One who espoused Himself to us, His bride, through His propitiatory death on the cross (Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10)?

Has the easiness of American Christianity reduced the cross of Christ to a mere symbol in our eyes? Or do we carry within us the incredible weight of knowing that the cross is absolutely the only means by which a just and holy God could ever be satisfied with sinners like you and me (Acts 4:12; John 3:36; 2 Peter 3:7)?

As you contemplate those questions, consider prayerfully these words from theologian James M. Hamilton, who reminds us that:

“The cross uniquely displays that both Jesus and the Father are committed to justice and mercy, even unto death. The cross displays that Jesus and the Father are unique – holy – in their devotion to righteousness, to mercy, and to one another. The cross displays the all-conquering love of Father and Son for rebels who will repent and believe in Jesus. Such a sacrifice to save sinners!”God’s Glory In Salvation Through Judgement: A Biblical Theology, p. 416

Please understand that none of what I have said is to suggest or imply that biblical Christianity either is, or should be, based upon a life of perpetual suffering.

Nor am I intimating that Christians in America should feel guilty for not suffering, either at all or as much as, their brothers and sisters who are in other countries around the world. God is sovereign over all events that occur in the universe; and it is He who ordains the outcomes of those events in our lives (Psalm 115:3).

Nevertheless, I do caution against giving in to the allure of the kind of Christianity that minimizes the death of Christ, making the cross an adornment to be worn around our necks as opposed to a way of life to be borne on our backs (as it were).

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” – Matthew 16:24 (NASB)

Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate (Colossians 2:9), died a brutal, demeaning, dehumanizing, and gruesome death for unworthy and undeserving sinners like you and me (Mark 14:65; 15:17-20). This reality should serve to remind us that it is we who, by virtue of our innate sinfulness, put Jesus on the cross thereby necessitating the shedding of His blood.

Despite the relative comforts of living as a Christian in America, as followers of Christ we must avoid at all costs the temptation not to take the death of Christ seriously. Instead, we must see ourselves as our gracious and merciful God saw us before the foundation of the world – as worthless sinners in desperate need of a Savior.

American Christianity would have us believe that we are somehow worthy of Christ’s dying on the cross for our sins, but I assure you we are not (Ephesians 2:8-9).

There is no church apart from the cross.

The cross of Christ should not only be worn; it must be borne.

May we not let a single day pass without contemplating the inexplicable wonder of which the great hymnist Charles Wesley wrote nearly 280 years ago:

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood! Died He for me who caused His pain? For me who Him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?”

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Abortion, Evil, and the Sovereignty of God

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways”, declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
– Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)


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For many within the evangelical church, the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is a difficult one to accept.

Fundamental to this tension is the issue of theodicy. Theodicy is that aspect of systematic theology that deals with the problem of evil in light of the existence of God.

The “Prince of Preachers”, Charles H. Spurgeon, has said that,

“No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God.”

Spurgeon is right.

That you and I struggle at times with the notion that a loving, kind, and merciful God would allow evil to exist, is interesting if not ironic. For rarely, if ever, do we consider our own sinfulness as contributing to the evil which God, to our bewilderment, seems to us to tolerate (Romans 3:23; 2 Peter 3:9).

It is in the context of this mindset that I concur with theologian Millard J. Erickson, who states that:

“…the problem of evil occurs when some particular aspect of one’s [personal] experience calls into question the greatness or goodness of God, and hence threatens the relationship between the believer and God.”Christian Theology, Third Edition, Evil and God’s World: A Special Problem, p. 385

Our nature is such that the sovereignty of God is usually broached only in situations in which we have personally experienced some degree of grief, disappointment, or discouragement. It is in those instances that we are quick to remind ourselves that “God is in control”.

We are less inclined, however, to give God the benefit of the doubt in situations that are somewhat removed from any personal point of reference we might assign to them. In other words, unless “it” happens to us – whatever it is – or to someone in whose well-being we have a vested interest, the sovereignty of God is a distant consideration (if it is considered at all).

Sin has so affected our earthly existence that there are any number of situations that would prompt us to question the notion of a sovereign God (Romans 8:22-23). Who of us has not experienced a circumstance in our life, that caused us to doubt whether there actually is a God “up there somewhere” who is aware of the evil that occurs in the world (Proverbs 15:3)?

It is in moments of our deepest pain and perplexity that we seek answers to the question “Where was God (Malachi 2:17)?” This inquiry is borne out of a preconceived notion that the nature of God consists primarily of one attribute: love. As such, we assume that a “God of love” would never abide evil in any form or under any circumstances (Psalm 5:4).

“In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider – God has made the one as well as the other.” – Ecclesiastes 7:14a (NASB)

One such evil that is often debated in the context of the sovereignty of God is that of abortion, particularly in cases of rape.

Many people today, including Christians, who otherwise would be opposed to abortion – save perhaps for the sake of the life of the mother – are comfortable with making an exception in instances where a child is conceived under such odious circumstances.

On the one hand, this mindset seems perfectly understandable. Practically every religion that exists today proffers a deity who is loving, merciful, and who abhors and punishes evil. On the other hand, however, one should guard against contextualizing an attribute of the biblical God solely on the basis of religious tradition or personal experience.

It is with this thought in mind that I find the words of the Puritan reformer John Calvin to be particularly noteworthy:

“There is a great difference between what is fitting for man to will and what is fitting for God…for through the bad wills of evil men God fulfills what He righteously wills.” – Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1:234 (1.18.3)

Augustine of Hippo, whom Calvin quoted more than any other theologian, expressed similar thoughts in that:

“Man sometimes with a good will wishes something which God does not will, as when a good son wishes his father to live, while God wishes him to die. Again it may happen that man with a bad will wishes what God wills righteously, as when a bad son wishes his father to die, and God also wills it …For the things which God rightly wills, He accomplishes by the evil wills of bad men.”

Both Calvin and Augustine touch on what is an unarguable yet often misunderstood aspect of God’s sovereignty, one that most people fail to consider when contemplating what the sovereignty of God actually means: that even our unrighteous deeds are ordained by God for His righteous purposes.

Consider the words of theologian Wayne Grudem, who writes that:

“All things come to pass by God’s wise providence. This means that we should adopt a more “personal” understanding of the universe and the events in it. The universe is not governed by impersonal fate or luck, but by a personal God. Nothing “just happens” – we should see God’s hand in events throughout the day, causing all things to work together for good for those who love Him.” – Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Chapter 16: God’s Providence, p. 337

In speaking on the matter of theodicy, and God’s sovereignty over evil, a key text of Scripture is Exodus 21:12-13, one of the many ordinances against personal injury that God established for the nation of Israel:

“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee.” (NASB)

Admittedly, the aforementioned text in Exodus is a difficult one to digest. Nevertheless, it is unambiguous in declaring that not only is God aware of the evil that occurs in the world, He also ordains that evil to occur.

If the Lord hath done it, questions are out of the question; and truly the Lord has done it. There may be a secondary agent, there probably is; the devil himself may be that secondary agent, yet the Lord hath done it.” – C.H. Spurgeon

The very word rape – let alone the act itself – engenders within us feelings of anger, outrage, and indignation – and rightly so (John 7:24).

The reason such a response is right(eous) is because there exists within each of us an innate awareness of God’s objective standard of right and wrong, particularly as it relates to how we who bear His image (Genesis 1:27) are to treat one another. We possess this awareness because God Himself placed it within us (Romans 1:18-19).

That God ordains evil should never be construed to mean He approves of it or receives some morbid sense of satisfaction from it.

God is not a masochist.

Unlike you or me, God is holy by nature (Numbers 23:19). As such, all that He sovereignly wills to happen – either to us or to the world in which we live – is inherently right and good (Psalm 145:17; James 1:13).

The words of theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul, Sr. prove helpful in that:

“To say that God “allows” or “permits” evil does not mean that He sanctions it in the sense that He approves of it. It is easy to discern that God never permits sin in the sense that He sanctions it in His creatures.”

Likewise, Wayne Grudem exhorts us that:

“In thinking about God using evil to fulfill His purposes, we should remember that there are things that are right for God to do but wrong for us to do; He requires others to worship Him, and He accepts worship from them. He seeks glory for Himself. He will execute final judgment on wrongdoers. He also uses evil to bring about good purposes, but He does not allow us to do so.” – Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Chapter 16: God’s Providence, p. 329

When a woman is raped, and conceives a child as a result, there are those who feel justified in devaluing the pregnancy on the basis of the circumstances in which it occurred. Their rationale being that because the attack was unprovoked, unwarranted, and undeserved, that it becomes not only the woman’s right but also her prerogative to abort the child.

But, as sensitive as I am to those who hold to that position, the truth is God does not value life on a curve.

To argue that a child who is conceived in rape should be aborted because of the rape, is to rob God of His sovereign authority in ordaining the rape – and the subsequent conception – to occur. Though rape is never God’s prescriptive will – neither is murder nor molestation nor any sin for that matter – such acts of evil are sometimes His permissive will for our lives.

When a woman is sinned against in such an egregious manner as to be raped, we must be mindful that, even in the midst of such heinous evil, God is sovereign and there is nothing that escapes His divine notice (Proverbs 15:3).

Consider, again, the words of C.H. Spurgeon, who encourages us that:

“God has a plan, depend upon it. It were an insult to the Supreme Intellect if we supposed that He worked at random, without a plan or method. To some of us it is a truth which we never doubt, that God has one boundless purpose which embraces all things, both things which He permits and things which He ordains. Without for a moment denying the freedom of the human will, we still believe that the Supreme Wisdom foresees also the curious twistings of human will, and overrules all for His own ends.” 

To whatever extent the devil, as Spurgeon noted above, is in fact a “secondary agent” in God bringing to pass the evil He has ordained to occur in a person’s life, he is not autonomous in that capacity (Job 1:6-12).

Satan is not sovereign.

He is not omniscient.

He is not omnipresent.

He never has been any of those things.

Only God can claim to possess those attributes (Psalm 103:19; Isaiah 45:5-6).

The sin of rape is both horrific and inexcusable. It is so egregious, in fact, that the Old Testament records that a massive civil war ensued among the tribes of Israel over the rape of one concubine (Judges 19:22-20:48).

And yet the sovereignty of God is such that we must understand that the sin is in the act of the rape, not in the conception that resulted from it.

“I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” – Isaiah 45:6b-7 (NASB)

Sin – all sin – grieves the heart of God (Genesis 6:5-6; Psalm 78:40; Mark 3:5). And because we are made in the image of God, that which grieves the heart of God should grieve our hearts as well.

As followers of the only true God (John 17:3), we must resist the urge to construct for ourselves an emotionalized or compartmentalized theology of the sovereignty of God in that we trust that He is in control of certain events but not others (Roman 8:28).

“If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it?” – Amos 3:6b (NASB)

That the God of the Bible is a God who ordains evil is neither easy nor comfortable for our finite minds to comprehend. Nevertheless, as Christians, we are called to trust that even in situations of the most nefarious and intolerable wrongdoing, we serve a good and just God whose ways we will not always understand (Proverbs 3:5-6).

God does not value life on a curve.

He is the sovereign God of all the universe and, as such, remains the Author of all life regardless the circumstances under which that life is created.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Related:
The Problem of Evil (audio message) – Dr. John MacArthur
God’s Sovereignty (audio message) – Dr. R.C. Sproul, Sr.
Ten Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering and Satan’s Hand In It (audio message) – Dr. John Piper
The Sovereignty of God – John Murray (as published at opc.org)