Is God the author of sin? This issue or subject has been a hot potato for some time now and I really don’t see it going away anytime in the near future. So, I was hoping to take a little bit of time to deal with it and share what I believe the Lord has revealed to me. I am only speaking for myself and am not trying to persuade or convince anyone. But I do ask that you do as scripture exhorts and try all things by the Scriptures and to be as a Berean and search the Scriptures to see if these things expounded below are true. I also ask that you look at this from a Scriptural standpoint and not an emotional one.
What does the term “author of sin” mean? There are examples in the writings of Beebe, Trott, and others on this site who state that “God is not the author of sin”. But, with looking through some of them I was unable to find what the original charge or accusation was. Therefore it appears that they were in response to accusations from the enemies of the truth who weren’t given an understanding of God being in control of all things. The term “author of sin” is not a biblical term and to try to deal with the term within scripture cannot really be done properly though I hope to show that the concept is throughout Scripture. I personally don’t see a problem with using the term (just like the term “Absolute Predestination” is not a biblical term) in the affirmative because if God is not the “author of sin” then who is? Yet, let me start off with clarifying what I don’t mean by it: I don’t mean that God can sin or is a sinner for “in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). As far as I am concerned and what I can speculate from the use of this term in the past and the present, is that it has been for many years and continues to be a scare tactic of those who have not been given eyes to see that God is absolutely in control of ALL things. Unfortunately though even today some who profess to believe that God is in control of ALL things have fallen prey to this mind-set as well. This was and continues to be a very highly emotionally charged accusation by those who have not been taught the Sovereignty of God by the Spirit.
But saying that, let’s toss out the term of “author of sin” for now and just take a look at God’s sovereignty over sin with a few examples from Scripture.
In the book of James it says: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (4:17)” Here it very clearly says that it is “sin” for him that knows to do good and yet doesn’t do it. (I believe that I am rendering and understanding this verse correctly.) Yet, do we not also see in Proverbs that “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps (16:9)”? Since it is the Lord directing man’s every step, then does it not stand to reason that this also includes when man does “not” take a step or does “not” do that which he knows is good? Man in his arrogance and ignorance may think that he will go “this way” or go “that way”, but if it is not the Lord’s direction then he is going nowhere. (Just like Paul and Silas in the book of Acts – they would have gone on into Asia to preach the gospel but the Holy Ghost forbade them. (16:6)) In the book of Psalms it says: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (37:23)” Notice the italicized word “good”. That word was added by the translators, thus the verse actually says, “The steps of man are ordered by the Lord.” The word for “are ordered” means “causatively to set up, fixed, established.” So we again see that all of man’s steps are established and fixed by the Lord (which leaves no room for the common misconception that God just leaves man in the corruption of his nature and that is why he does what he does or takes the steps that he takes). In the book of Jeremiah it says: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. (10:23)” If it is not in man to direct his steps, then who is directing them? Are these verses just simply pointing to a general path or road that man takes? Or are they referring to every single specific step that man takes? I believe whole-heartedly that this is in reference to every single step that man takes in this life. And this includes all the dung that is stepped in, all the puddles stepped in, all the nice soft green grass stepped on, and every direction that is taken. Paul tells the Philippian brethren that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (2:13)” Scripture is consistent through and through! It is God who directs mans steps and it is God who works in man both to will and do of good pleasure. The word for “will” is “intention, desire, love” and therefore it means that any desire that we have or any intention that we have is only there because of God working it in us and that includes what we might personally consider both negative and positive aspects of intent. And it is God working in us all that we do (or do not do) of HIS good pleasure.
Looking at 2 Samuel chapter 11: Joab and the rest of David’s men were off at war but David did not go as was his usual custom. He was left alone in the city to do as he pleased (or so he thought). At some point he went up on the roof (scripture doesn’t say why but we do know that it was appointed because scriptures says that “it came to pass”) and while up there he noticed a woman bathing. He was immediately smitten with her, sent someone for her and ended up laying with her which resulted in a new life within her womb. Because of this he then attempted to cover up his deed (remind you of any one? – Adam) but to no avail. So then he was only left with admitting what happened or sending Uriah to the front-line where there was no likelihood that he would come back alive which is what he did. And which is where Uriah was killed.
Let’s start this off with some “why” questions. Why did David tarry in Jerusalem when Joab and the rest of his men went off to war? Why did it “come to pass” that David went up on the roof at the precise moment that Bath-Sheba was bathing below? Why did it come to pass that Bath-Sheba was fertile at that precise time and conceived (only for her baby to die later)? Why did it come to pass that when David tried to get Uriah to come and lay with Bath-Sheba (to cover up David’s sin) that he refused to go home but instead slept at David’s door? Why didn’t Uriah go home and lay with his wife or even just sleep in his own bed even after David got him drunk with wine? Now think about it for a moment and put yourself in his shoes: Here was a man who had been away at war for who knows how long. He has been away from his normal bed and especially away from his wife for some time now. You would think that at the very least he would want to get a good night sleep in his own bed which would also put him next to his wife which would give him opportunity to be intimate with her. David is obviously a little frustrated by now and therefore he asks Uriah why he won’t go to his own house. Uriah explains to David that while others of Israel and Judah are in tents and in the open fields he would not go down to his house. That to me shows an extreme amount of loyalty to his brethren and to his country but unfortunately that is far too rare for our human nature to be the norm. Which tells me that those thoughts could only have come from a sovereign God who was working all things after the counsel of His will. Another thing to contemplate if you are given to is that when Uriah was sent back to war and ended up on the front-line, could he have been killed if it wasn’t his time (See Eccl. 3:2)? All of this can be nothing short of God’s sovereignty over all things and points to Him directing each and every step and bringing everything to fruition or to pass. Scripture is the best commentary for Scripture and we see in the book of Matthew the reason that all of this HAD to come to pass exactly as it did. In the lineage of Christ we see Bath-sheba mentioned (as she who had been the wife of Uriah) in chapter 1 verse 6 for bringing forth Solomon. IF things had not played out the way they did, or this incident had not have happened EXACTLY as it happened there would have been a break in the lineage of Christ. Was David in sin? Absolutely! and he confessed that sin before God. Was God in control of every thought and every action? Absolutely! and not only in control of it but He is the one who orchestrated every single moment of the incident to occur exactly as it happened.
Looking again in the book of Second Samuel it says: “And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. (24:1)” Here we see that the Lord was angry with Israel again and he (the Lord) moved David against them in numbering the people. The word for “and he moved” means to “prick” or better yet to “stimulate, seduce, entice, persuade and provoke”. So we see the Lord “causing” David to say “Go, number Israel and Judah” because of his anger towards Israel. Then King David tells his captain of the host Joab to go out and number all the people. Then after it is all said and done, David is convicted or pricked in the heart for numbering the people and says unto the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. (24:10)” David confessed to sinning greatly before the Lord. Here it was Jehovah who moved (directed his steps) David to sin in numbering the people and then we see David confessing his sin to Jehovah for numbering the people. (To me, this is a perfect invalidation to the accusation that if it is God that causes one to sin then that person can just turn around and blame their sin on God. David was moved to do this action and yet it is evident from these verses that he was convicted of that sin and confessed that sin before the Lord.) Now, I can probably guess as to what some are probably thinking: But it says in 1 Chronicles that: “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. (21:1)” Yes, you are absolutely correct and that verse is as much Scripture and truth as the verses quoted above, yet scripture is also very clear elsewhere that Satan is nothing but God’s servant, or better yet His puppet and he does what he is told to do (Job 1:8, etc.). And one cannot deny that these Scriptures in 2nd Samuel very clearly state that it was God who moved David to number Israel. (If you get the time to really look at this section of scripture, you will see a beautiful type of the Godhead in salvation. Look at the meaning of the words of David and Joab and then look at the entirety of this section of scripture with interjecting the ‘meaning’ of the names with the names themselves.)
In Peter’s second letter, he brings out that “there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2:1-2)” Did those false prophets get to be among the people without God directing their steps? Ezekiel says: “And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. (14:9)” It was God who deceived the prophets, it was He who directed them to speak that deceit and it was He who destroyed them from the midst of His people. Can we say that the “false prophets” and “false teachers” that Peter makes reference to are being any less directed by the Lord? Did God just look ahead and see who would follow these false teachers, or was He the directing force behind it? This again is an excellent example of ALL things happening according to God directing each and every step?
Look with me if you will at the book of Jonah with a very brief overview. The Lord tells Jonah to get up and go down to Nineveh to and cry against it. Jonah instead gets up and runs to Tarshish thinking that he can escape the presence of God. While Jonah was on the ship and sleeping, the Lord sent out such a mighty wind that even the seasoned mariners were afraid that the ship was going to be broken. They sacrificed Jonah with throwing him over the edge into the sea and unbeknown to them a great fish was waiting for him. The fish swallowed him whole and transported him close to Nineveh. At the appointed time the fish vomited Jonah up onto the dry land where the Lord came to Jonah again and told him to go to Nineveh. Jonah then went to Nineveh and preached through the city and the city repented before the Lord.
When Jonah fled, we can speculate that he was thinking that he could escape the presence of the Lord but did it take God by surprise? Did God have to come up with another plan in the spur of the moment? Could God just “use” Jonah’s supposed surprise bolt to His purpose? Did God look ahead and see that this would happen and therefore had a plan “B” enacted? Or was this the plan and route that the Lord had for Jonah from the beginning and Jonah was just behaving and walking along the path that was set before him? If every step is ordered by the Lord, then it is obvious that the way that everything happened with Jonah was according to God’s purpose and plan. When Jonah fled it was because he didn’t want to go to where God told him to go, which is rebellion. Scripture says that rebellion is as as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). The Lord led Jonah into this rebellion by ordering his very steps that he took. The men on the boat threw Jonah overboard (at the exact time and place that was ordained from all eternity) and for all they knew, they murdered him which is another sin. For they said, “let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood (Jonah 1:14).” They tried with all of their might to row (better yet – work) their way out of the situation but it was to no avail. From their standpoint they had no other option, and ultimately they didn’t have any other option because each and every step was ordered by the Lord and they took every step. Then there just “happened” to be a great fish waiting for him at the precise time and place where they threw Jonah over to let him die. Was this just a coincidence? Absolutely not! It says that the “Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” This specific fish that was there at the precise place and exact time when Jonah was thrown over, swallowed him up whole which resulted in him being in the belly for three days and three nights. We will never know but I wonder what Jonah was doing and thinking about those first three days and two nights? At the end of the three days and three nights, then Jonah prays. And at the end of the ordered time, the Lord speaks to the fish and the fish vomits Jonah out onto dry land. Another little tidbit to think about was that even though the stomach acid from the fish didn’t appear to hurt Jonah, and even though scripture doesn’t specify, we can speculate that he still smelled of decaying fish and other sea animals as he was walking through Nineveh. Can you imagine the looks that he got?
By no means was the above an extensive study on this subject. Hopefully though it was set forth fairly clearly and understood that every single step that man takes (and does not take) has been pre-ordered or predestined by a Sovereign Holy God and man MUST walk accordingly. No one has the power to resist!
One explanation for sin that I have heard is that it originated in Satan. Taking that thought and theory into consideration, lets look at the book of Ezekiel and see what it has to say about him.
Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. (Ezekiel 28:11-15)
I want to mainly focus on the last sentence from the quote above. The first half of the verse says “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created...” The word “perfect” does not mean holy or righteous but it means “complete, without blemish and perfect”. And the verse also makes clear that whom Ezekiel is talking about was a created being and was created perfect or complete. The next thing to notice is in the second part of the verse which says, “...till iniquity was found in thee.” Here we see that “iniquity” which means “evil or wickedness” was found in him. So, think about it in this light: If something is found somewhere does that not mean then that it was there before but just wasn’t made manifest? For example, picture that my wife and I are out walking on a path and as I look down I notice and “find” a silver dollar in the dirt on the ground. Did that silver dollar “originate” at that moment in the dirt because it was found by me? Or was it there before I found it? Obviously it was there before I found it but it was just made manifest to me at that moment. So, when this verse says that “iniquity” was found in him, then it means that this “evil or wickedness” was already there but was made manifest in him at the appointed time.
What else do the Scriptures say about the devil?
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
But now wait! Don’t these verses contradict themselves? Not one bit! When we take the two verses above and the verse from Ezekiel we see that Satan was created a perfect murderer, a perfect liar and a perfect sinner. He has had nothing to do with truth from the beginning because there is no truth in him. He was a sinner from the beginning and he was created that way by God to fulfill God’s purpose.
Another explanation for sin that I have heard, especially a lot lately, is that sin is not a thing, so therefore God can’t be the “author” of it. But as I was looking at this subject and looked at the word “sin” in scripture I couldn’t help but notice that it is used numerous times as a noun (Matt. 1:21; 3:6; 9:2; Mark 2:7; Luke 1:77; John 1:29; Acts 2:38; Rom. 3:9; 1 Cor. 6:18; Gal. 1:4; etc.). My understanding is that a noun is a person, place, thing or idea. Paul says in Romans that “Blessed is the man whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (4:8). If sin is not a “thing” then please explain how it can be imputed unto someone? The word “impute” means to take an inventory and the word “sin” here is used as a noun. In the same letter he also says; “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Rom. 5:12)” The word “sin” is in this verse twice and both times it is a noun with the definite article before it. So, therefore it is actually saying, “Wherefore, as by one man THE sin entered into the world, and death by THE sin;...” On the other hand, the word “sinned” in the above verse is a verb and in the active voice. And it isn’t alone because there are numerous other verses as well that it is used as a verb (see Luke 15:18; John 5:14; 8:11 and Romans 3:23 just for a small example). Consequently, since “sin” is also used as a verb it shows action. If sin is not a thing then how could any action be associated with it? We see therefore that sin “entered” into the world by one man. That one man we know as Adam and it occurred when he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If sin is not a “thing” then how could it “enter” into anywhere? If sin is not a “thing” then how could it be active? Paul also says this about Christ in his second letter to the Corinthian brethren. “For he hath made him sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (5:21)” Here Christ was made sin for His people. He who knew no sin became sin. Now again, if sin is not a thing then please explain how could Christ be made it? Peter also concurs when he writes in his first letter, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (2:24) Again, (I know that I am being extremely redundant here but...) I ask how could Christ bare the sins of His people in his own body if sin is not a thing and how could “we” be dead to sins?
The concept of “sin” is such a huge subject and I know that I didn’t do justice to by any stretch in the above attempt. By definition sin is “to miss the mark” and in order to miss the mark you have to be striving to hit it. By application it is used in Scripture as a noun and a verb. And according to Scripture it is explained as: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23)”; “All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17)”; and “Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4)”. This is just three different aspects of what sin is, so to me to try and box the meaning of sin into one aspect is wrong. And to say that God is “not” the author of it, and by that I mean that He doesn’t have complete control over it and use it to His glory is as wrong.
Let me end this as kind of a side-note with a quote of 1 John 3:4 again; “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Taking that into consideration, please take time to contemplate these next two verses and ask yourself what law was transgressed?
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; (2 Peter 2:4)
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 1:6)