13. But aren’t you limiting God’s power when you say that He’s not in total control of everything?
No, I don’t think so. And yes, He is in control of everything as far as everything that happens to us has to go through Him first. And I am not saying that He’s not all-powerful. I believe that He is indeed all-powerful. If He chose to wipe out the earth in a second, He could. He could do whatever He wants to do. But I don’t think that He does do whatever He wants to do. Because I think that when He created the world, He decided to make man with a free-will that He (generally) will not override, even though He can.
And if you still aren’t sure if it’s Biblically accurate that He voluntarily limits His use of power and that He allows people to make choices that affect His Will for them, if you still want to say that God will do whatever He wants regardless of us, here’s a few examples from the Bible:
In 1 Samuel 8, we read how Israel asks for a king. This was not God’s desire for them. He even says that they are asking for another king because they have rejected Him as “king.” But after warning them of what a king will do to them, they demand one anyway. And so He provides one. But He makes it clear that this is not best for them. It’s not His Will that they have an earthly king, but He gives them what they asked for.
In Genesis 16, we read how Abraham took it into his own hands to fulfill God’s promise to him to provide an heir. Instead of waiting for God, he slept with Sarah’s maidservant and she conceived Ishmael. Was it God’s Will that Abraham didn’t wait and took matters in his own hands? Did God cause Abraham to do this for some reason? Of course not. We never see that God instructed Abraham to do this or that He agreed with Abraham’s decision. The promised child was Isaac. But God allowed him to sleep with the maidservant. And God, in His supreme wisdom, will take whatever happens (even those things that He doesn’t cause) and work them out for good.
Exodus 15:25-26 gives us another example of how God works, as He gives these instructions to the Israelites: “There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
What happens hinges on what the Israelites do, on their obedience and whether they listen to the Lord or not. God doesn’t say that He does what He wills, regardless of what man does. He says that we have an influence on the direction of our lives. Think about how many times that you have read things in the Bible like this: “If you obey . . . If you listen to My voice . . . I put before you blessings and curses, now choose.”
Once again, I’m saying that He voluntarily limits the use of His power by allowing man to have free-will. And instead of overriding man’s free-will (and the consequences that come with it), He tries to get man to work in cooperation with Him to get His Will done: by calling us to righteousness through His Word, by growing our faith, by helping us to be more like Him, by prayer, and by teaching us to get our will in line with His.
At least, He does this with those that are willing to. We are not puppets on a string, under the control of an all-powerful God that has orchestrated every event and detail of our lives. He made us with minds, free-will, responsibility, and the right to have an effect on what happens in this world and in our lives. Scary, sobering thought!
Posts in this "Understanding God's Will" series:
3: His Will Is A Verb 4: Taking It Seriously 5: Prayer Matters 6: But God Can Read Minds 7: But God Knows Our Needs 8a: Pray Specifics? 8b: Three Keys For Next Step 8c: About Smaller Decisions 9a: Name It Claim It 9b: Help
9c: Verses 9d: Idolatry 9e: Unanswered 9f: Not Listening 9g: More Verses 9h: Effective Prayer 9i: Still Waiting 10: Bad Things Happen 11a: Happens For A Reason? 11b: Marriage Trouble 11c: Deliberate Ignorance 11d: Bad Things Beyond Us 12: God Works Good 13: Limiting God? 14/15: God Forcing Things? 16: Change God's Mind? 17: But God Can't Change? 18: Our Responsibilities