Calvinist Excuses

If God is sovereign, should we confess our sin?

In other words, if God planned that we were going to sin, then isn’t our sin His responsibility? If He willed our sin to bring about His glory, and, in some cases, to bring about good for us, then what is really wrong with it? It is not a new question.

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. (Romans 3:5–8)

This is a deep subject, one that requires more than a few hundred words to cover. But there are a few things that we can hold as securely as oil is slippery.

  1. God is sovereign. He does whatever He pleases. His will, decreed before the foundation of time, always takes place. God meant the sale of Joseph for good, to save many people alive. God meant the crucifixion of Jesus for good, to atone for many sinners. God meant the rejection of Jesus by the Jews for good, to spread the gospel to all the peoples.
  2. God calls sin, sin. Joseph’s brothers meant evil against Joseph when they sold him. The Jews and Romans meant evil against Jesus when they tortured and killed Him. The Jews who failed to submit to Jesus as the Messiah were evil in their unbelief.
  3. God holds men responsible. The same God who wills history is the same God who wills obedience for men. He has revealed laws, instructions, prohibitions, and warnings. He has also followed through with many warnings, providing us with examples that He’s serious.

He wills to condemn every man who will not confess, He wills to forgive every believer in Christ if we do confess. Shall we excuse our sin because God is sovereign? May it never be!

Spilling the Beans onto Someone Else’s Lap

It is possible to concede sin but not confess it. Or, to put it another way, a man may acknowledge what he did without acknowledging that it was his fault that he did it.

In the second year of Saul’s reign as Israel’s king, he and his small army went to Gilgal to fight the Philistines. Saul was supposed to wait there for Samuel seven days, the appointed time for Samuel to come and offer sacrifices. But Samuel was late and the trembling troops were starting to scatter. So Saul offered burnt offerings and peace offerings himself. Samuel showed up “as soon as he had finished.”

Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” (1 Samuel 13:11–12)

Saul admitted his conduct but not his culpability. In fact, it was Samuel’s fault for running behind. And really, if you think about it, it was God’s fault. God is the one who required the sacrifices. God made Saul king and put Israel in this fight. Saul had no choice but to disobey.

“Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you.'” (1 Samuel 13:13) So now “the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart” (verse 14).

Saul is not the first man to spill the beans onto someone else’s lap. He owned up to behavior but not the blame, just like Adam did in the Eden. “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12).

When we confess our sins to God, we should confess all the way down to our hearts where the conduct came from. The other person, the time of day, the lack of sleep, the urgency of the demand, the sovereignty of God, not one of these “force” us to disobey. We wanted to do that all by ourselves.