(Thanks to Hugh for the inspiration.)
A good friend recently wrote to me about an atheism promotion he witnessed on the side of a bus that read, “Be good without God!”
The truth of the matter is that one cannot even beevil without God.
“In Him we live and move and have our being… He giveth to all life and breath and all things” (Acts17:25; 28).
This does not imply, of course, that God is responsible for the wickedness of man. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man” (James 1:13). It does mean that the “life, breath and all things” required for human beings to disbelieve and disobey their Maker comes directly from the very One they reject. The atheist who foolishly encourages the search for goodness apart from God is able to suggest such wickedness only because the Divine provision of “life, breath and all things” makes possible his waywardness.
If this does not cause headscratching puzzlement, it can only be because we do not have heads, or we fail to consider carefully enough the Biblical proposal. Again, the wicked have no being save in God. They possess no breath apart from His generous bestowal. Thus, He gives those who reject Him the basic necessities for the exercise of their rejection. Furthermore, He somehow fits their unbelief and disobedience into His eternal purpose in Christ, despite the truth that He does not cause sin, or even tempt to sin. We need proceed no further to promote a furrowed brow, a scratched head, and the puzzled response, “But Lord, how….?”
We need not go there. We don’t require answers for such mystery, and couldn’t handle the truth even if God attempted to explain His ineffable ways. It’s enough to know thatHe knows, and that the atheist’s bluster, while personally tragic to the bearer, does not interfere with our Lord’s inexorable march toward redeeming and filling the universe with the glory of His Son (Ephesians 1:10). Remember always that exhaled expressions of unbelief begin always with breath inhaled as the direct gift of God to those who reject Him. The Lord could withhold such a gift if He chose to do so, and if He could not somehow fit the atheist’s bluster into His purposes. He can. He does. And here we rest our hearts in a world wherein we increasingly witness tragic misuse of God’s gifts, but triumphant fulfillment of His purposes.
“God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”(Ephesians 1:11)