It’s a wonderful verse full of wonderful truth, but oh how often it is misused:
Ephesians 1:11 (KJV) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
First of all we have to accept that this verse is teaching that God does work out all things after the counsel of his own will. But the real question is this; what is the “counsel of his own will”? Well the verse cannot mean that God causes absolutely all things and that this is the counsel of his own will, why? Well for a few reasons:
1) The verse is all encompassing “all things” is used.
2) It says that it is the counsel of his will. God’s will is that we do not sin, see John 9:31 (KJV): Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
So the “all things” being talked about here cannot be “all things in the universe that ever happen”, for if we took this conclusion then we turn God into the causation of all sins and all bad things, something we have seen already that God does not cause or desire in the life of anyone. Therefore Ephesians 1:11 isn’t an all encompassing verse that states that God causes absolutely all things in your life (and others) according to the counsel of His will, it means something else. What does it mean? Well I will leave you to do that research for yourself, it’s not a topic I want to cover in this blog post.
But it is not saying God causes absolutely all things, which is what people have imported onto the text and try to fit it into the text, this would contradict the scriptures that teach God does not cause or desire anyone to sin at all at absolutely any time. The following second of this blog post confirms this truth.
Does God cause all things (including sin)?
Think of a bad moment in life when someone has done something hurtful to you, or when you have done something hurtful to someone else. We ask things like “Why did that happen?”, and “why did God put me in this situation and then cause that person to do that?”. If the act that the person performed was a sin then God’s hand was not in it, if it was a good thing the person did that also does not necessarily mean God caused them to do it. God may have turned the heart to do something good to someone else; however God certainly did not turn the heart to do something sinful and negative. People try to avoid this by saying that God does everything he pleases in according to the council of his will (as Ephesians 1:11 above), therefore if a man’s heart is turned to sin it was because God causes it to happen for a specific reason. Let me tell you plain, no way! Do not even think about it, to quote the Apostle Paul; perish the thought! Consider the words of James carefully:
James 1 (KJV) 13 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: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
The passage from James goes on to explain more regarding this, the passage is in direct contrast to the notion that God causes all things including man’s sin by turning peoples hearts that way to achieve something in his will. God’s will and desires never include causing man to sin, yes God can use sins committed by man to achieve His own desires, however God will not cause man to sin. There is a big difference. James makes it clear, don’t blame God for when you or someone else sins or when you (or someone else) make a bad choice or move in life.
So when someone says/asks “why did God cause that person to sin? It must be a sign to me from God”, forget about it! God didn’t turn that person’s heart or will to sin, they did it because of their own sinful nature. We all make mistakes, its part of being a sinner.
Ephesians 1:11 is not stating to us that God causes absolutely everything in the universe to occur which would include sin, by people interpreting this verse as a literal and all encompassing “all things” they make God out to be the cause of all sin and all disastrous events that God did not desire (Jeremiah 19:5). Why? Because the verse does say “all things”, therefore we know that this verse isn’t talking about absolutely “all things” but means something else, for if it meant absolutely everything it would mean we had no free will, it turns God into the author of our sin, and that God desires things He has stated already in His work that He does not desire.