Perhaps the greatest challenge in our understanding regarding God working all things together for good involves our yesterdays of sin and failure. Are we to believe that our Heavenly Father weaves even our times of unbelief and disobedience into His good purposes of conforming us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ? If so, how does this not lead to the erroneous and dangerous notion of “Let us do evil, that good may come?” (Romans 3:8).
First, let us acknowledge the possibility that the truth of “all things together for good” can lead to a wrong view of our Lord’s working in our lives. As the Apostle Paul often experienced, grace is easily misunderstood as our spiritual enemies use even Truth in their attempt to distract and deceive us. Some will inevitably see an opportunity for waywardness in this Biblical truth. “Well, if God works it out all for good, including sin, what does it really matter how I live? It’s all good in the end!”
Such a notion cannot rest comfortably in a genuinely born again believer’s heart as we remember the consequences of sin borne by our Savior on the cross of Calvary, and by ourselves as God often allows us to reap bitter fruits sown by unbelief and disobedience. However, our flesh can be tempted in the immediate sense to see a false rationale in God’s all-encompassing work in our lives. We must therefore reject any thought that Joseph’s brothers, for example, did an acceptable thing by consigning their brother to slavery because God ultimately “meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20). They did not, any more than do we ourselves when we distrust and disobey our Lord. Sin is to be hatred and rejected in the believer’s heart as the terrible thing it is, that is, the dark horror that made our Lord’s misery, forsakenness and death necessary.
The truth remains that God often takes advantage of our waywardness in His good purposes. The prodigal son learned much in the slough of the swine, preparing him to return in proper shame and contrition to his merciful father (Luke 15:14-18). “I am no more worthy to be called thy son” he confessed, even as he also had confidence that his father would at least receive him again as a servant. We know, of course, the response of the father, and one can only imagine how much he was thereafter loved by a son who had gone so wrong, but who had also learned vital lessons in the squalid mire of his sin. “To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” (Luke 7:47).
We will one day see that God wasted nothing in His purpose of birthing, maturing and glorifying many sons and daughters who bear the image of the Beloved Son. In Heaven, we will better understand our Father’s working of all things together for good, and we will be even more amazed by His pervasive involvement in every moment of our earthly sojourn. We will better know the extent of our Lord’s forgiveness, and how He used even our darkest times to illuminate and redeem us. We will love much as a result, and the wonders of God’s grace and mercy will fill us and thrill us forevermore as we declare with the Psalmist…
“Great is Thy mercy toward me, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell!”
Tomorrow: Conclusion, “The Best Robe”