How Does God Control Sin?

The relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s sin

The Bible makes it clear that God is not the cause of sin.

James 1:14: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

However, the sinful acts of men are within God’s sovereign rule.  In this way God does not cause sin, but rather relates to sin.  There are four ways God relates to sin:

1. God can put a stop to sin – at times God prevents men from sinning.

Genesis 20:6:   Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.

2. God can allow sin – God often allows men to commit the sins that they are determined to do in order to bring glory upon Himself.

Romans 1:24:  Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

3. God can use sin – because God is sovereignly in control of His creation He is able to permit sin, and use that sin to accomplish His holy purpose.

Genesis 50:20:  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

4. God can limit sin – in many cases God restrains the sin of men.  This common grace is experienced by all, and it is the reason that despite being totally sinful we are not absolutely sinful.

Job 1:12:  Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.