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God and the control of sin, Pt 1 (from "Spectacular Sins")

We all suffer. Sometimes big. Sometimes barely noticeable.

Where is God in those times? When when we’re affected by terrible sin, either through fault of our own or from others or from our fallen world, what do we think about God then?

Do we see God as a passive observer who feels sorry for us, but whose hands are tied? Do we view him as wishing, wishing, wishing that it were not this way, but powerless to change things?

Or do we see him as sovereign and active, helping us prevail no matter what, knowing that he’ll strengthen us to face even intense suffering with courage?

Since Jesus proved he could control weather while he was on earth, control diseases in bodies, control physics and chemistry and biology and every other science, and even control death, what control, if any, does he have over sin?

In the final chapter of Spectacular Sins, John Piper explains how God made even the most unfathomable, gigantic sin serve his purposes to glorify his Son and to save his people. It's vitally important how we frame this because it can have “a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and make you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition.” [And I certainly won't do it justice here.]

The most spectacular sin ever?
Murdering God.

At whose betrayal?
Judas (Luke 22:3).

Piper works through three questions we think, but don’t always ask, about this sin. (Perhaps because they come dangerously close to this question, “What would I have done if I had been there?”)

1. Did Judas have a choice? What kind of control did he have, or was he being controlled? Was he really a good man until manipulated by Satan?

2. Why would Satan do this anyway—didn’t he know Jesus would resurrect, resulting in Satan’s ultimate defeat? Was this sin under his own control or under God's control?

3. What role did God play in this spectacular sin?

Judas was a thief already (John 12:6), even though he was one of the chosen twelve. Plenty of modern-day examples show that being in the inner religious circle is no guarantee of holiness. Satan loves to work side by side with sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-3).

“Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people.” Judas was no innocent man to begin with. Neither are we. He had already given up control to Satan.

2. When Jesus predicted his death, Peter adamantly opposed it, only to be rebuked by Jesus in a most serious way, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23).

So did Satan oppose Jesus’ death at first? Because the long-term implications of Jesus' resurrection would be suicide to Satan's own demonic power? I don’t know.

Satan was not powerful enough to stop God's gift to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Piper suggests that when Satan realized he couldn’t stop the death, he tried to “at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial. Death to torture.... a spectacular sequence of sins.”

3. But what about God? What role did he play? Continued here...


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