God is the Author of Sin

In my years working with sin, I have come across the notion many times that it is imperative that God not be directly responsible for, or the author of, sin. This is typically accompanied by logical conclusions based on the ‘goodness’ of God, that if God is the embodiment of good, it is impossible for Him to be the source of any form of bad. In some cases, it is also accompanied by the argument that if God is the author of sin, it proves that He is a terrible God who hates humanity and does not deserve our worship, or some such thing. What I plan to write here, is to prove that it is actually impossible for God to not be the author of sin, and to suggest ways that the other two arguments might be misguided.

Adam and Satan By Nouman Ali Khan - YouTube

First, let us begin with sin’s authorship. The most popular argument for sin’s existence outside of God is that it is either Adam’s fault or Satan’s fault. That is, sin, from nothing, arose within either of these people due to some fault or corruption within them, or outside of them in the case of Adam. Do you see the problem yet? It is absolutely impossible for either of these beings, both of whom were lovingly crafted by God, to be capable of developing or manifesting any form of corruption without God’s direct knowledge, and even more, His direct intention. In essence, there is nothing that can come from Adam or Satan that is not the direct responsibility of their creator in some form or another. This is part of the universal and complete sovereignty of God because even the laws which govern the very particles which constitute both of these beings was painstakingly crafted by God. That it is even possible for either of them to conceive of sin must be the will of God.

Why Did God Create Evil? | St. Disillusion

This takes us naturally to the other two cases. How can God knowingly and intentionally be the author of sin and still be the ultimate good and righteous Father? Let me first say that within the arguments of ‘good’, we humans tend to use our human understanding of good, a mere shadow of God’s goodness. Rather than challenging God’s goodness with our own, when we find He differs from our expectations, we should check our expectations, not His existence. One way that I have found of understanding the existence of sin in the world which maintains the beauty and wholly holy goodness of God is the Cycle of Consequence as introduced in this blog.

Thank You God | Igniter Media | WorshipHouse Media

Understanding the existence of sin as necessary for love changes the entire picture of God’s character from ‘Why do you allow suffering you terrible God’ to ‘Thank you for allowing suffering, for without it we would not exist’. Yes, that’s right, from this perspective, sin is also good. Is not anything good which allows us to love the Father?

So there you go, this one is shorter than I thought because it is pretty much signed and sealed with an understanding of the Cycle of Consequence. Sin is necessary for love. Because God is love, its ultimate source and existence, I will trust Him to know it best, and trust that the universe He created was made with His love of us all in mind and heart.

Grace and Peace to you all.

I look forward to your questions, please leave them below.

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14 thoughts on “God is the Author of Sin

  1. Part of the time reading this I am thinking, Zach, you just think too much! And part of the time I am thinking… If God created sin, then how is he good, so how is he God so maybe we are all just kidding ourselves! But that doesn’t work for me either, because in my heart I believe there is a God and he is ultimately good! So anyway, I think your conclusion is a good one. Sin allows us to know and love God. Crazy, but it makes sense.

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    1. I like your thoughts Stephen, thank you for sharing them.

      When you ask a question like, ‘If God created sin, then how is He good,’ I think you are assuming that you know what the true nature of ‘good’ is. As in, this is what I think is good, so God must be this, but in fact, God is magnitudes above what you think is good. His perspective is so far back that He can see the good of all creation. We can only imagine the amount of less good there would be if not for His creating our universe to be this good.

      The simple fact is, sin would not exist unless God created it, and so we have to assume that sin is also good. That is trusting God, right? I think I’ve touched a fraction of how sin is necessary for good, but I certainly can’t say I understand true ‘good’ either. I just have to trust God that it is good. Because there is no doubt, with God being who God is, sovereign, creator of the universe and all of its rules and laws, that God is the author of sin. So it must be good.

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  2. I think it might be a little questionable to say that sin itself is good. Not that I don’t see the logic of your argument – it’s a question of semantics. God created a universe where the possibility (and therefore the reality) of sin must exist, and that universe is good. Okay. But does that mean sin itself is good? I’m not sure. Did God create sin directly? God knew that sin must exist, and it would cause separation between himself and his creations. He created creatures that would sin, and still called those creatures good. He created a world where sin must exist and still called it good. But is it possible that foreseeing sin’s existence made God sad, and that sin is not called good, in itself, though it is part of the broader system (cycle) that is, overall, good?

    The fact that people CAN choose to sin is part of a system that makes love possible, and so may be called good. But the fact that people actually DO sin? The sin itself – the choice, the act? Is that goodness incarnate because it creates the possibility for redemption? Does God rejoice when a person harms another person or even themselves because all-the-better-to-love-you? Or does God mourn that that person could not see love at that moment, and took the path of fear and negative action (bad? evil?), even while he sees that love will shine through in the end (good)?

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    1. This is a very interesting line of thought, thank you for sharing it.

      I think you may be right. I was also uncomfortable with saying that sin itself is good, but that is where I landed, because sin is part of what is necessary to make a good universe, it is also good. But perhaps, as you say, something which is necessary for good, and so is part of a system the end and ultimate purpose of which is good, is not necessarily good in itself, in its being. What about the other steps? Is freedom good, even though it leads to sin and love? Is ignorance good because it allows for freedom and love, but leads to sin? I feel like if we start qualifying each step to consider whether it is good, we come to the conclusion that maybe only love is good, and the rest of it is simply necessary.

      In this way, I think God does rejoice when we choose to love. I think he rejoices in our ability to choose, but perhaps not what we choose. I think he rejoices not necessarily in our ignorance, but in our seeking knowledge in love. Perhaps, then, God can see sin as necessary for good, and so good on one level, while only rejoicing when we properly recognize it’s place and use it to understand ourselves and our damage so we can love ourselves and him better. As you know, I do think God weeps when we choose to remain ignorant, when we choose pain for ourselves and for others.

      Let me try to clarify my position with an example. Gravity is good because gravity is essential for our existence. Without it, we would not exist. However, gravity also means it is difficult for us to explore God’s universe, that it is possible to fall, injur ourselves, or die. I think God can weep when gravity hurts us but rejoice in gravity itself because of its necessity for existence. In this same way, perhaps sin is good because God on the largest scales sees it as a sign of humanities possibility to love, but on the occasions when it concurs us, when we submit to it, God weeps. I’ll keep thinking about it.

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      1. I tend to agree with Jessica’s thoughts. Each act of sinning is bad, but the possibility of sin is necessary for us to truly choose and love God.

        The problem for me lies in God being both loving and omniscient. For us to truly love God, we must choose God, but how can God know everything while still giving us a choice?

        I think this all comes back to God being the author of creation–even the overseer of it–but not micromanaging it. The bible says that God knows all things, but it isn’t specified in what way. To me, there’s a difference between knowing ABOUT things (i.e.: dates, facts, statistics, etc.) and PERSONALLY knowing things (having a deep understanding of their nature and character). God personally knows all things because God created them, but that doesn’t require God knowing every single detail of how every single event will play out. Since God is also omnipotent, it is also possible for God to directly intervene in certain matters to move creation toward its ultimate plan and design, but that doesn’t necessitate direct control over every single thing that everyone does.

        This, I would argue, is how we can claim God knows (personally) all things, because God created them, while still allowing for us to truly love and choose God. Knowing about every single event and detail that will ever happen requires God’s direct control in every action, whereby leaving choice and love impossible.

        I don’t know if I sufficiently explained that, so let me know if you have any more thoughts or questions.

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      2. Hey Matt, thanks for your thoughts,

        From what I’m reading, you seem to be equating God’s intimate knowledge of all things with His control over all things. To me, these things are in no way related.

        God, by being God, is the creator of all things, designer of all things. He is in control of every single thing that happens. However, one of the things that He is in direct control is human freedom. He chose to create a universe in which human will could impact the universe. That you can think for yourself is of His design. That you have thoughts, imagination, reason, are all of His design.

        Thinking of it in simple terms, God places you before two doors, both of which He understands fully, and both of which He designed. He intimately knows what will happen regardless of which door you choose, because He is the author of the choice. Your choice, however, is your freedom, designed by Him to be a part of His creation. He designed your freedom and designed the outcomes. He even knows which choice you are going to take, but at that moment you don’t. You are the author of your own destiny, despite it all being specifically designed. Now multiply the complexity of this example by infinity, and you can gain a fraction of the truth of what God did for us.

        In this way, I disagree with your conclusion that ‘knowing about every single event and detail that will ever happen requires God’s direct control in every action’, because God works within and crafts all possibilities. If there were only one possible action which God had crafted, you would be correct, but that is not the case according to scripture and experience. Instead, God crafted layer upon layer of possibilities for us to choose from, each one He knows just as intimately. One of the perks of being omniscient, eternal, and all-powerful. You’ve got all the time in the universe.

        In this way, God is the intimate and ultimate designer of all things, and yet is simultaneously the author of our complete freedom, watching us make choices. If we seek Him, He will even guide our path.

        If I understood you correctly, I hope this helps. If not, let us try again!

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  3. How can God control our freedom without controlling our decisions? If God creates the choice and knows, without a doubt, what we will choose, how is He not also making the decision for us? This “freedom” is only perceived freedom.
    Or, if you’re saying he merely knows the results of each choice and not which decision you’ll make, how can he know your future choices which hinge upon that choice? Even if God has all of our choices laid out for our whole lives and knows the outcomes of every option, it’s impossible to truly know where our lives will end up if there is true freedom throughout every choice; otherwise, God would need to disallow some choices, thus also limiting our freedom.

    So, I suppose my main question is: How can God know everything that will ever happen if we truly have free will?

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    1. My answer to this question, Matt, is that God is outside of time. Because God can see the entirety of time, He can see all of the decisions you will make. God does not disallow some choices, because in creating us for love, He accepted that some of us would choose to reject Him. Would choose to remain estranged. It was necessary that some be allowed to reject Him so that so many more could choose Him.

      You have to think bigger, God-sized. God created all things and saw the entirety of existence emerge and die in the blink of His eye. Creating a computer to choose a number, designing the program to be as random as humanly possible, still means you know the intimacy of every bit of information, and yet you still allow the computer to choose the number. Even if the moment you initiated the program you knew all the numbers it would ever choose, doesn’t mean that the computer didn’t choose them. It simply means you knew before the computer knew.

      You are with God right now, outside of this time. He knew you would struggle with this, because He had already seen you struggling with it, and yet when He first created the universe and became aware of your struggle, it was your choice.

      I suppose it’s like this. God knows everything there is to know, intimately and wholly about the universe. However, God may not be omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent to Himself. Just from where we sit, inside of His creation. He crafted us with freedom, He has watched us wield it, watches us wielding it, and will watch us wield it, because it has all, already, occurred where God is.

      In this way, God can know everything that has ever and will ever happen, and there can still be free will. Because He designed our freedom. We are the computer which was intimately programmed to generate random numbers.

      Does this help?

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      1. I can’t say that’s the greatest analogy, especially since computer’s aren’t known for having free will. What happens when we glitch? (LOL)

        To me, it seems more reasonable for God to be in control on a macro level, then at the micro level. In this case, God essentially says, “I need this kind of person to exist at this time and in this place in order to move my plan along,” He creates us when and where we’re needed, and then lets us do our thing, knowing the types of people we are and how the circumstances around us will shape our decisions.

        This way, God is not disrupting our free will, nor are we working against His plans. God can also know what we’ll do at any given moment, have the best intentions for us, and be doing everything He can to fulfill those intentions. I think this is similar to what you’re saying, but it seems to me that we’re less like either puppets or robots with this explanation.

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      2. The problem with God at a macro and not at a micro level is that God would have needed to design the cause and effect of every micro process in order for that process to exist. God would have needed to ‘program’ what would happen if you decided to have Cheerios for breakfast, otherwise having Cheerios for breakfast would not have been possible. Letting us ‘do our thing’ is only possible in a world where every possibility has been programmed to occur. The only reason we have freedom, in other words, is because God designed every detail of our ability to be free. God didn’t just design what you have done, but all of the things you might do, so that the choice is up to you at the time that you encounter it, but once He crafted all the possibilities, He knew which one you were going to choose.

        Even if it were only two choices, such as eat the fruit of the tree, don’t eat the fruit of the tree. Whether you ate the fruit or not, your choice is limited by how many options God crafted for you. In this way, God’s hard work and love is that He created so many possibilities for us, He intimately created our ability to be free creatures. Outside of this, it is impossible to be free, such as in your scenario of a ‘create and let live’ because without God’s active personal involvement, it would not be possible. All that exists, including our freedom, only exists because God made it so.

        We are getting closer to an understanding, but I think you have to accept that possibility that God can be the complete designer of all things, yet free will can still exist because God can design free will to exist.

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      3. We’re mostly agreeing, except perhaps on terminology. I’m saying that God designs all of the possibilities, and even the outcomes from all of the possibilities, without forcing the decisions. I can think of a passage or two from the Bible which essentially says, “If you hadn’t done this, this would have happened instead.” God created both possibilities and designed what would result from each choice, but the decision was still up to the person involved.

        So yes, God designs everything in our lives, including the choices we face and the results of each decision we could possibly make. But he designs it all in advance with the big picture in mind (macro level), without forcing anything to happen at any particular moment (micro level). Hopefully that explains where our difference has been on the macro/micro terminology.

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  4. WOW – great discussions all – I was out of town and crafting a response and when I went to post it I found that most of my thought had already hit the discussion. I was having trouble with your phrase “the universal and complete sovereignty of God” like Matthew, and your concept of the idea that sin is good because it allows for love, like Jess.

    I see God’s ability to squeeze good out of things that are really bad (from our limited perspective.) For instance, I’ve seen folks who have walked in rotten relationships with God and man completely transformed as they battle cancer. The outcome is transformation, but the cost is terrible. I don’t believe God authored the cancer, I don’t believe it was any part of the will of God, but I believe He is able to use whatever we walk through to our ultimate good.

    I consider your use of the phrase “impossible for God to not be the author of sin” tends to be incendiary since you already know it is pushing seriously big red theological buttons. It seems the point you’re pressing is more the fact that the option for sin is necessary for obedience to mean something on the love spectrum.

    Believe me, I get the pushing buttons thing. It can draw attention and a little shock therapy can be helpful at times, but if the button is big enough and red enough, you may get discounted as a heretic without getting a chance to make your case in the first place. Thankfully they’re not burning heretics at the stake these days.

    Anyway – that’s my two cents.

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    1. Hey Ben, thanks for your thoughts, glad you enjoyed the discussion.

      First, I wanted to say that I agree with you that neither cancer nor sin is what God desires for any of His children. However, I believe that the creation in which we live is the best possible creation because God designed it. In this way, cancer and sin are both a part of this creation in which God designed the best outcome for humanity. Why this is so, I do not know. As for sin, I have speculated, as for cancer, I haven’t the expertise to contemplate it. In these ways, I trust that God knows what is best, by accepting that what is true for this creation, is what is best for creation as a whole.

      My title was not intended to be incendiary, but concise. I honestly do believe God is the author of Sin. I also believe it to be impossible that He is not the author of sin, because sin could not exist without His direct design. Because I believe in the complete sovereignty of God, nothing in this creation can exist without His direct influence, which because it exists, includes sin. For instance, there could only be consequences for acting against God’s will if God designed this creation in such a way that, first, allowed such action, and second, enabled those specific consequences.

      As for the why, besides the futility of understanding a being magnitudes above me, I’m still working that out, and I may never succeed, but it sure is fun.

      Does that make sense?

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