Last week’s article dealt with one thought-provoking question: When terrorists strike, is it God’s will? In response to this post, a long-time, well-trusted Christian friend enumerated the questions she often encounters as she talks to people about God:

  1. Is it God’s will that babies and children are raped?
  2. Is it God’s will people are killed by drunk drivers?
  3. Is it God’s will that His children are hideously tortured before being
    raped and murdered?
  4. Is it God’s will that women have abortions?
  5. Where does our “free will” begin and God’s will end?

These are very difficult questions, and Christians should deal with them sensitively, thoughtfully, and truthfully. Often, these questions arise because people have been wounded, traumatized by some horrible event, possibly doubting God’s love and care. We’ll address comforting those in need of comfort in a later post, but for now, I’d like to look at a thought that popped up as I tried to think through these questions. I began to wonder if we’ve been dealing with these terrible realities with the wrong beginning premise, a skewed premise.

Please allow me to explain.

Everyone would know, especially Christians, that our loving God hates sin and has commanded us to obey His moral commands. It is wise to do so. Nevertheless, people have rebelled against Him and committed terrible sins like those listed above. However—and this is the idea that occurred to me, later than it should have, I think—everyone walking around on this planet is rebellious from God’s point of view. Therefore, we must adjust our perception and realize that we are all horrible sinners—just like the ones who committed the crimes listed above.

Does that bother you?

It bothers me.

But consider. Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:21–22). 1 So, we may not have murdered an unborn child, but we have been angry. We may have insulted someone by saying he or she was foolish. Jesus taught those sins were akin to murder. Therefore, very many of us are murderers in God’s view and deserve death ourselves.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to maintain that all men have committed adultery, which Jesus also addressed. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28). In the Old Testament, that sin was also worthy of death.

Keep in mind that Scripture teaches that if we commit one sin, we are guilty of them all. “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. (James 2:10). So, if we claim innocence concerning anger and adultery, we cannot claim innocence in keeping His laws, the most important of which is to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

Thus, all of us deserve the death penalty.

So, to echo the questions at the beginning of this article, is it God’s will that you were angry? No, but you were. Is it God’s will that you said someone was foolish? No, but you did. Is it God’s will that men commit adultery? No, but men do. So, just as it is not God’s will that children are raped, people are killed by drunk drivers, people are tortured and murdered, it is also not God’s will that you sin—at all.

So, how are you any different from the people who commit the horrendous crimes in the above list? You are not different. This is the reason I think this line of reasoning begins with a skewed premise, a list of very awful sins but ignores the horrendous sins that the questioner—that all of us—have committed.

Now, would I use this line of reasoning with a wounded person who is grieving because he or she, demolished by grief, is attempting to navigate through a devastating tragedy? Never. However, understanding God’s will concerning sick and sinful events is part of the groundwork that we must lay at some point in this discussion, and if we are not talking to a person in need of a healing balm, should remove any implied self-righteousness behind such questions.

Next week, we’ll discuss the issue of ministering to those who are hurt by terrible sins committed against themselves or the ones they love.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.