God Made Me Do It
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will . . . Ephesians 1:11-12
Whether in jest or not, we’ve all heard the phrase, The devil made me do it. Usually, the saying is understood as an excuse or justification for some bad behavior. The premise is that there are dark, irresistible forces at work in our lives that are beyond our control. Strangely though, I’ve heard the same argument applied to God as well. I’ve known those Christians who use God’s sovereignty as an argument or justification to dismiss their own responsibility for their sin. If it happened, then it was God’s will. My failures are actually not my doing. My moral downfall happened, so I know that God wanted it to happen. God made me do it. It’s not my fault.
Those who believe this will point to passages such as today’s. In it, Paul did indeed teach that God has predestined all things to work out according to his will. God made all of creation and there’s nothing beyond his control. Ultimately, he will work everything out according to his sovereign purpose. So, the argument goes, If God gets what God wants, we can assume that everything that has ever happened, since the beginning of time, was foreordained by God to happen. Nothing can happen outside of God’s will, so if it’s happened, God must have wanted it to happen.
This black and white thinking is attractive, because it makes it much easier for us to understand the mysteries of the universe. God is in control. Therefore, I cannot be in control. So, I have no choice – in anything.
If you read only chapter one of Ephesians, you may be able to make a case for this. Later however, Paul dedicated the last three chapters of his letter to instructing us how to live. We’re told to put off the old self so we may put on the new self. We’re commanded to flee sexual immorality. We’re told to tell the truth and to be kind. Verse after verse instructs on how to obey God and to follow his will. This is all based on the premise that we must choose how we live.
Why is this important? We must accept that God is ultimately in control, but we must also understand that we have a responsibility to follow his will. We must comprehend that we aren’t destined to be addicted, overweight, angry, greedy, lustful, and selfish. God has predestined or chosen to make us his children, now we must respond appropriately, choosing to live like it.