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AA Hodge on God’s Permission of Sin and Evil

November 20, 2008

AA Hodge:

24. What do the Scriptures teach arr to the relation of Providence to the sinful acts of men?

The Scriptures teach–

1st. The sinful acts of men are in such a sense under the divine control that they occur only by his permission and according to his purpose.–I Chron. i. 4-14; Gen. xlv. 5 and 1. 20. Compare 1 Sam. vi. 6 and Ex. vii. 13 and xiv. 17; Is. lxri. 4; 2 Thess. ii. 11; Acts iv. 27, 28; ii 23; iii. 18.

2d. He restrains and controls sin.-Ps. lxxvi. 10; Gen. 1. 20; 18. x. 15.

3d. He overrules it for good.–Gen. 1. 20; Acts iii. 13.

4th. God neither causes sin, nor approves it, he only permits, directs, restrains, limits, and overrules it. Man, the free agent, is the sole responsible and guilty cause of his own sin. Turretin sets fort the testimony of Scripture upon this subject thus–

1st. As to the beginning of the sin, (1) God freely permits it But this permission is neither a, while permitting it physically, he never approves it; nor merely negative, i.e., he does not simply concur in the result, but he positively determines that bad men shall be permitted for wise and holy ends to act according to their bad natures.–Acts xiv. 16; Pa lxxxi. 12. (2.) He deserts those who sin, either by withdrawing grace abused, or by withholding additional grace. This desertion may be either (a) partial, to prove man’s heart (2 Chron. xxxii. 31), or (b) for correction, or (c) vii. 29; Rom. i 24-26). (3) God so orders providential circumstances that the inherent wickedness of men takes the particular course of action he has determined to permit (Acts ii. 23; iii. 18). (4.) God delivers men to Satan, (a) as a tempter (2 Thess. ii 9-11), (b) as a torturer (1 Cor. v. 5).

2d As to the progress of the sin, God restrains it as to its intensity and its duration, and as to its influence upon others. This he effects both by internal influences upon the heart, and by the control of external circumstances.–Ps. lxxvi. 10.

3d. As to the end or result of the sin, God uniformly overrules it and directs it for good.-Gen. l. 20; Job i.12; ii.6–10; Acts iii. 13; iv. 27, 28.

AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology (London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1879), 267-268.

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