Exposing the Permissive Will of God

The distinction between the sovereign will of God and the permissive will of God is fraught with peril and tends to generate untold confusion.

In ordinary language, the term permission suggests some sort of positive sanction. 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.

What is usually meant by divine permission is that God simply lets it happen. That is, He does not directly intervene to prevent its happening. Here is where grave dangers lurk. Some theologies view this drama as if God were impotent to do anything about human sin.

This view makes man sovereign, not God. God is reduced to the role of spectator or cheerleader, by which God's exercise in providence is that of a helpless Father who, having done all He can do, must now sit back and simply hope for the best. He permits what He cannot help but permit because He has no sovereign power over it. This ghastly view is not merely a defective view of theism; it is unvarnished atheism.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

How has a false view of God's permissive will affected your Christian walk in the past? Do you have a different view of His permissive will now? How will it affect your walk in the future?

For Further Study

John 7:17: "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority."

Psalm 37:23: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way."

Psalm 27:11: "Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies."

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved
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