Why does God use sin to bring about his will?
1 Kings 22:20
And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to march up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one suggested this, and another that. 21 Then a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will entice him.’ ‘By what means?’ asked the LORD. 22 And he replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ ‘You will surely entice him and prevail,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’
Why does God use evil? Doesn’t this make him guilty of the same evil?
This is a confusing passage and illustrative of many times that God uses sin in ways that confuse us. He sends evil spirits to lie, yet his sending of the spirit is not evil itself. He does many things like this with which you are no doubt familiar. He allows for sin, orders the destruction of entire nations, hardens hearts, and hastens premature death, even the death of his own Son. Why does he have to use sin so liberally?
This is indeed confusing, but I believe we can understand it better from the right perspective. Here is a parable I have been working on to illustrate the solutions. As with all parables and illustrations, as an old seminary prof of mine used to say, “Don’t make it walk on all four legs, it can only do so much.”
Parable of the Painter
The world-renowned Painter made a proclamation that he would create a new painting. This sent ripples of excitement throughout the land. There was nothing more on earth that the people needed than a painting. As the greatest painter on earth, the expectations were high for what he would produce.
All the Painter required from the people was to provide the supplies for the painting. The people eagerly obliged and were elated l to be a part of the creation of a masterpiece.
The Painter embarked on his new project, pouring his heart and soul into every brushstroke. For thousands of years, he toiled away, mostly in secret, never revealing the totality of his work to the outside world.
As time passed, anticipation grew for the unveiling of the painting. And finally, after what felt like an eternity, the Painter declared that he was ready to reveal his masterpiece to the world. All the people stood with great anticipation of what the painting would look like.
When he revealed it, the entire crowd gasped. Some people loved it, but the majority of the people loathed it. The few people who loved it, stood in front of it day and night in wonder and awe. With tears in their eyes. They said to one another, “How could He have done this? It doesn’t make sense?!” To them, while He had done many wonderful paintings beyond description, this one unexpectedly topped the all. Nobody could believe it. Of course, they expected something good but they got something that was very good.
However, the majority of the people were disgusted by it. They could not even look at it. They ran from the painting and the Painter in horror, criticizing both at every chance they got for their entire lives. They taught their children and their children’s children to hate it, never letting them see the whole thing. They banned it in their schools and laughed about it at parties. They would say to one another, “How can he be considered the greatest Painter? His painting is so grotesque. From now on, let’s us make our own paintings.” They also came to hate those who disagreed with them.
You must understand. There was something different about this painting. It was all painted in black. The strange thing was that the Painter himself never used black before. In fact, he passionately hated it and often spoke out against it, decrying it’s existence. No one ever expected black to be used at all, much less expecting the entire painting to be in black.
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For thousands of years the painting hung. It was the most infamous painting ever. The reactions were always bifurcating. Of course, everyone was in awe of the Painters phenomenal skill and creativity. The confession of the paintings beauty was also ubiquitous, even among those that hated it (though they would not admit it). Nevertheless, the majority of the people continued to passionately hate it while the fewer number loved it. There was no middle ground. You couldn’t find a person on earth who didn’t have an opinion about the painting and the Painter, one way or the other.
You see, there was something very different about this painting. It was entirely made out of black paint. The people who hated the painting hated it because it was in black. It was disgusting to them. Of course, their discust did not come from any disdain they personally had for black. In fact, it was their favorite color. They were the ones who created black paint. But they hated the painting because they knew the Painter hated black. They thought he was a Hypocrite for using it.
One day, those who hated it were given the chance to talk to the Painter. When they asked why he used black for his painting, he responded in one sentence: “It is all you gave me to work with.”
I hope that made some sense. I need to work on it. But the point is that we often complain that God uses sin for good when sin is all we gave him to work with. If he didn’t use sin, he wouldn’t work at all. The cross may be gruesome and unthinkable, but to those of us who are being saved, it is the most beautiful thing there is.