I made a nice list of phrases related to God, control, and freedom that you don’t have to agree with anymore, why you don’t have to, and better alternatives to each.
You have heard it said, “God made you just the way you are.” But I say, God recreated us as new creations, just the way Jesus is.
If you mean he made you as his beloved child, then yes. But if you are referring to things like disease and depression (anything negative), then no. This only pertains to your true identity in Christ as a new creation and nothing that is part of the fall. God doesn’t make you sick or depressed. He heals you.
You have heard it said, “God has a plan for your life.” But I say, Jesus is God’s only plan for your life.
This phrase is based on some verses in Jeremiah 29. Keep in mind, Jeremiah was not prophesying to you. God was speaking through him to the Israelites concerning the specific circumstances they were in at the time, namely of a coming destruction.
Jeremiah wasn’t saying God had every detail of their lives laid out (as if God has already determined it), nor is he saying God has things he wants us to do down to every detail (as if God wills something specific for every situation in our lives – i.e. he doesn’t care if you wear your blue or black socks).
This doesn’t mean God is uninvolved in our lives and just watches as things happen, not caring how it all goes down. Far from it! His desire is to live in relationship with us, with the most intimate interaction. But that is only possible when we are free. It wouldn’t be much of a relationship if we merely did everything the other told us to do.
You have heard it said, “You need to give God control of your life.” But I say, Holy Spirit has empowered you with self-control.
Guess what? God doesn’t want control over you. And even if you give it, God will reject it.
How pointless would it be if God had only created us so that we would come to a point where all we did was constantly ask God what to do and then do that? If he wanted robots, he could have made those. Instead, he made us in his own image – free and desiring.
(Note: sometimes God doesn’t tell us what to do when we ask him because he wants us to choose, not him.)
God never wanted puppets; he desires children. Although children do go to their daddies for wisdom, they don’t ask what to do for every decision they make. We were not created to suppress our wills and desires but to realize union with our creator, willing and desiring with him.
Yes, at times God does tell us what to do. And we would be plain stupid to not do what tells us to because we know that he has our greatest joy in mind. But these times are only to help us in our maturing process. God is building us up to be able to handle increasingly more freedom with unlimited options (and sometimes his suggestions are things we haven’t even considered yet, opening our eyes to more possibilities). But ultimately, God’s will is that we will.
It was typically the case that God would say ‘No, I don’t have a will for you; I want to know what you want to do.’ So you were put here to will and to make a difference. It’s not always the case that we should want to know what God wants us to do, but often that God wants to know what we want to do. In fact we were put here so that God could trust us and give us what we want to do. – J. P. Moreland
You have heard it said, “Everything happens for a reason.” But I say, God may not have wanted everything that has happened to have happened, but he knows how to bring about good despite it.
Sure, everything that happens does have a reason for happening. But sometimes the reason is that we’re stupid and we make bad decisions. Like it says in Provers 19:3, “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” Bad stuff happens and people blame God. Or bad stuff happens, people attribute it to God, but are quick to add something like “don’t worry, God has a good reason for this and it will bring him glory.”
Just because something happens doesn’t mean God made it happen or that he even wanted it to happen. Romans 8:28 is sometimes twisted to mean that in all the apparently bad things that happen to us in life, there is always good in them. For example, there is good in earthquakes, tsunamis, sicknesses, deaths, etc. Somehow, God is glorified. But it doesn’t say that. God doesn’t work evil to bring good (e.g. make us sick to teach us a lesson), but God works despite the evil, which he is and always was adamantly against.
This doesn’t mean God is not involved in the world and its activities. It just means he only does good things. And I don’t mean that in a “God works in mysterious ways” way (a popular excuse for a lot of evil in this world that we have been empowered to deal with).
You have heard it said, “God is in control.” But I say, God has all authority in heaven and on earth, and he has delegated it to us, his children.
God is not a control freak who exercises meticulous governance because he is worried about giving people freedom to make significant choices. God could control everything if he wanted to, but he doesn’t.
Say you had the power to control everyone that you came into contact with. Would you use that power? I wouldn’t. That would give me the most boring esixtence on earth because it is void of love, which can only be born between free beings.
God does, however, have all authority.
Our world is like a home. The parents (Trinity) have full authority, but that doesn’t mean they control everything that happens within the household. Their kids are still free to do whatever. The parents do give healthy limits to what the kids are allowed to do (because lots of things have negative natural consequences), but even with those prescribed limits the kids can still choose to ignore them. For example, a parent might tell a child, “don’t touch the stove!” when it is burning (likewise, God told Adam and Eve, “don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil – it’ll kill you!”, but they were still able to and did). The limits given are for their benefit, so it would be foolish to ignore them.
People are free to choose to do whatever they want.
Some might ask that if God is not in control, then how can we completely trust God’s sovereignty? But if God’s so-called “sovereignty” includes things like the holocaust, natural disasters, and disease, it’s not a very trustworthy sovereignty to start with. You don’t need a theologian to tell you that these things are evil and that there is no good in them. Jesus himself stopped a stoning, a storm, and healed every single person who came to him because all these things were not aligned with his will.
In conclusion, God is a freedom freak who insists on our being free to make our own choices despite the possibility of our making grave mistakes. What a Dad!
Is God Sovereign?