The following is a rewritten chapter from Bittersweet Refinements. If you would like to read the entire book, from start to finish and in the proper order, please go [here].
Command and Control
For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he
may have mercy on them all. [Romans 11:32 NIV]
I like to refer to them as being “eye-poppers.” For when I “find” [Isaiah 65:1-2] such a verse, it feels like my eyes are about to pop out of their sockets.
Romans 11:32 is such a verse. For it serves as written confirmation of the absolute truth of the matter truly being that we are not nearly as free to do as we like as what we have been so strongly encouraged to believe [Proverbs 16:33].
Alas, is it not any wonder that seldom a sermon is heard that is based upon the verse? For hearing it preached that our Heavenly Father is the reason why none of us can really be good in and of ourselves is not something that far too many want to hear [2 Timothy 4:2-4].
Yes, many would argue that the main reason why there are not that many sermons based upon Romans 11:32 is because it represents old news. For it is already well established that all are born into sin [Romans 3:23], and it has been widely taught that Romans 11:32 speaks to that.
Ah, but for that to be true, Ezekiel 18:20 would have to be false. For it is written: The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. [Ezekiel 18:20 NIV]
No, this is not to deny that all have sinned. For it is also written: There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. [Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV]
Nonetheless, let it be widely known and well understood that what Romans 11:32 is really addressing is something much more personal. For it is the same today as it was during the days of the Prophet Ezekiel: For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die. [Ezekiel 18:4 NIV]
Yes, since none of us would purposely subject ourselves to all that our Heavenly Father truly has [Romans 8:20], it is naturally inconceivable that the Creator of us all would. For who from amongst us would allow something that they had created for their own good pleasure [Philippians 2:13] to continue to fail to meet their expectations if there was anything that they could do about it? After all, would it not be preferable to just destroy it and start all over rather than leave it as a reminder of a miserable failure? That is, unless it did not mean all that much to them in the first-place, of course.
No, that is not something that applies to our Heavenly Father. For it is written: “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” [Ezekiel 18:30-32 NIV]
Neither should it be assumed that it must be that there is nothing that He can do about our inherent unrighteousness. For it is also written: “If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’” [Job 9:12 NIV]
Yes, there are many who would point to a discussion between our Heavenly Father and Moses as being an indication of why we are still around. For it is written: "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. "O LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, `It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: `I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.' " Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. [Exodus 32:9-14 NIV]
Be assured that they do have a point. For it is because of the promise given to us all that we have hope [Galatians 3:26-29].
Nonetheless, do not take too much stock in the premise that it is because of our Heavenly Father not wanting to appear unrighteous in the eyes of His enemies that is the real reason for why we still exist. For both the deceiver and the deceived are His to do with as He likes [Job 12:16].
Yes, it is the very definition of bittersweet, but unless we are willing to conclude that our Heavenly Father must not be all that He actually says that He absolutely is, it must be accepted that even our sinfulness is by design [Colossians 1:16-17]. For who could do anything against His will if He truly is all-powerful [Psalms 33:6-11]? Moreover, would He not know all about the deed to be done even before it came to mind if He is truly all-knowing [Psalms 94:11], and would He not actually be there at the very moment that it came to pass if He is truly always-present [Psalms 139:1-16]?
No, this is not to say that we were created to sin. For the absolute truth of the matter truly is that we were created without the ability not to sin [Proverbs 20:9].
Yes, there is a big difference between the two, but what does it really matter if it cannot be accepted that our Heavenly Father truly is perfect in all of His most awesome ways [Psalms 18:30-32]? For it may very well be that the Apostle Paul really was out of his mind [2 Corinthians 11:16-29] to place into writing the rest of the story to Romans 11:32: Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. [Romans 11:33-36 NIV]
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