God Can Work Through Anyone and Everything — Even You and Your Sin

By Amy K. Hall Published on April 21, 2024

If there’s one thing we learn from the book of Judges, it’s this: God can — and does — work through anyone and everything, including our sin and failures.

Throughout the book, we see flawed man after flawed man leading the floundering nation of Israel. Each time, God uses even their sin to accomplish His own purposes. It’s not just that their sin can’t derail God’s plan; it’s that God uses their inevitable sin as part of His plan. Of course, using sinners and their sin makes sense since God only has sinners to work with!

Take Samson, for instance, in Judges 13–16. In most ways, he certainly wasn’t anyone we would want to emulate, and he seems to have cared more about his own glory than God’s, yet God moved His plan of redemption forward through Samson, rescuing the Israelites and judging the Philistines through him for twenty years.

Samson’s death illustrates God’s providence perfectly. Through his own foolishness and sin, he ends up being captured by the Philistines, bound in chains, eyes gouged out, entertaining the lords of the Philistines at a giant rally for their god:

Now the lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice, for they said, ‘Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands.’ When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said, ‘Our god has given our enemy into our hands, even the destroyer of our country, who has slain many of us.’

They thought they had won — that their god had conquered Israel’s God. Who wouldn’t? How much lower could Samson get? He was thoroughly defeated. But God wasn’t. Though by all appearances God had failed because of Samson’s sin, in fact He had one more judgment to enact against the Philistines in order to rescue Israel, and the situation was progressing precisely the way God intended:

Then Samson called to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.’ Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.

Note that Samson had quite different intentions from God here. God was judging the Philistines and saving Israel. Samson was seeking revenge for his two eyes. The gap between these two intentions is ridiculously huge. God was just. Samson was pathetically self-centered. But the gap between them didn’t matter. God used even Samson’s sins to accomplish His purposes.

Even Rebellion Serves God’s Victory

This is exactly what we see happening on the cross a thousand years later. Fallen people sinfully put the Son of God to death, but did those sinners and their sin spoil God’s good plan? No! Rather, they were deliberately used by God as part of His plan. Listen to how followers of Jesus describe this in Acts 4:24–28:

O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

Though people think they are conquering God with their rebellious actions, they are only doing “whatever His hand and His purpose predestined to occur.” They can’t win. No one defeats God or His plan. In fact, everything they do — even their sin — is being used by God to accomplish His own purposes. A victory accomplished through the actions of the very ones trying to prevent it is the ultimate victory. It is literally impossible to prevent it, no matter how hard anyone tries, since every attempt made to stop the victory is being used to serve it.

Rest from Regret

There are two points here for us as Christians. First, do you regret your sin? Ask forgiveness because you have truly done something wrong that deserves punishment (just as Pilate and Judas did), but do not wallow in despair. Instead, receive your forgiveness — paid for in full by Jesus — and then rest in God’s sovereignty, knowing that even that sin you regret will, in the end, bring glory to God in some way. The fact that God is using even your sin to ultimately reveal His glory, work for your good, and further His plans for the world does not lessen the seriousness of your sin, but it does mean you can utterly rest from any fear and regret you have over it because God has redeemed both you and your sin. Not only did you not ruin God’s plan, but you inadvertently furthered it despite your efforts to thwart it. What rest this gives!

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Before going on to the second point, I need to note here that Paul anticipates an objection to this that might have already crossed your mind:

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? … If through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), ‘Let us do evil that good may come’? Their condemnation is just. (Rom. 3:5–8)

According to Paul, the truth is that despite the fact that God will use a person’s sin to His glory, that person is still guilty of committing the sin. He’s still worthy of being judged for his evil. It is absolutely wrong for anyone to rebel against God by breaking His good commands. It doesn’t matter in the least that God uses it for good. The idea of our purposely rebelling against God’s commands — something we have no right to do — as a method of glorifying Him is so ridiculous that all Paul can say in response is, “Their condemnation is just.” Justice demands that our evil be punished, no matter how God intends to use it for good.

Rest from Discouragement

Second, are you discouraged by those around you who are rebelling against God? Again you can rest, knowing that their rage against God is futile. It is literally impossible for them to defeat God even the tiniest bit. Even if we find ourselves as low as blind Samson in chains, they have not achieved a victory for their god. They are only inadvertently furthering the aims of the true God. If Jesus conquered sin through those who committed the greatest sin of all time, how could any lesser sin fail to play a part in God’s plan?

If you can truly grasp the idea that God has fully conquered all sin in this way — that His power and glory are undefeatable no matter how it looks at any one moment — then you will finally have rest from regret and discouragement, and you will see the glory of the God who “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11), who is so great, wise, and weighty that no evil can escape His gravity. It is all swept into His good plan.

 

Amy Hall has an M.A. in Christian apologetics from Biola University and currently works as a writer, editor, and podcaster for Stand to Reason, where she explores culture, ethics, philosophy, and theology in light of the truth of the Christian worldview. You can hear her on Stand to Reason’s #STRask podcast.

Originally published at Stand to Reason. Reprinted with permission.

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