WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 06, 2023
TOPIC: GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY DOESN’T CANCEL MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the LORD. ‘Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!’” (Jeremiah 18:3-6 New King James Version)
God’s sovereignty is His “absolute right to do all things according to his own good pleasure” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). But God’s sovereignty doesn’t cancel man’s responsibility. Everyone must understand this.
God is sovereign. He owns and controls the earth. Telling Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of his dream, Daniel said, among other things, “They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4:25 New King James Version).
Later, after the dream had come to pass and Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity was restored, he said, “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Verses 34-35 New King James Version). However, God’s sovereignty does not cancel human responsibility.
If Nebuchadnezzar had heeded the advice of Daniel, he could have averted what happened to him. In verse 27, Daniel told him, “Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity” (New King James Version). But twelve months later, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream came to pass (verse 29). This was because he didn’t follow Daniel’s advice.
God created human beings as free moral agents and has given the earth to man. Psalm 115:16 says, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men” (New King James Version). God has also given man the power to choose. God will not impose His will on anyone.
Joshua told the Israelites in Joshua 24:15, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (New King James Version).
The potter has control over the clay that he molds and determines what he shapes it into (Romans 9:21). Jeremiah said, “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the LORD. ‘Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!’” (Jeremiah 18:3-6 New King James Version). God is the supreme ruler; He determines what He makes out of you. However, you must cooperate with God to become all He wants you to be. He is sovereign but not arbitrary. You cannot blame God for the choices you have made.
Although God does everything according to His good pleasure, it is for your good (Deuteronomy 8:16; 10:13). He is omnipotent but He needs your willing cooperation. God’s sovereignty does not cancel human responsibility. God’s sovereignty is no excuse for anyone not to do what He should do to fulfil God’s purpose for his life.
The Bible tells us that God is omniscient – He knows all things; He knows the end from the beginning. He has all the facts, which are not available to you. David said, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:14-16 New International Version).
God told Jeremiah His purpose for creating him. He said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 New King James Version). God went further in that chapter to outline the detail of Jeremiah’s assignment. There is a reason God created you. He has a purpose for you to fulfil on earth. And as much as God will do everything to help you fulfil that purpose, He requires your participation. He will not force His will on you.
In Isaiah 49:5, Isaiah said the Lord formed him in his mother’s womb to be his servant and commissioned him to bring His people, the Israelites, back to Him. But Isaiah would have frustrated God’s purpose for his life if he didn’t cooperate with Him. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (New King James Version).
While it is true that God is sovereign and, thus, has the absolute right to do all things according to His good pleasure, it doesn’t free you from your responsibility or exonerate you from the consequences of your actions. Nobody can justify his evil deeds based on the truth that God has control over everything that happens. Even when what happens was predestined by God, each person is responsible for his decisions or choices.
For example, God planned ahead of time the death of Jesus for the sins of the world but the Jews were guilty of His crucifixion. They decided to kill Him. Peter, in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, said, “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:22-23 New International Version).
Not only the Jews were guilty, but all others who conspired to do what God had planned were also. Acts 4:27-28 says, “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen” (New International Version). Although God decided beforehand on Christ’s crucifixion, He didn’t compel these conspirators to kill him. Therefore, they were responsible for their action.
In God’s sovereignty, He chose Assyria as the rod of His anger to punish Judah, a godless nation (Isaiah 10:5-11). But God didn’t exonerate Assyria for the evil she did against Judah. Indeed, God said, “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath” (verse 5 New International Version). Verse 12 says that when God had finished all His work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, He would punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes (verse 12).
God used Assyria unknown to her, but she was guilty of pride and the haughty look in his eyes for which God eventually punished her. Assyria said in her arrogance, “By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings. As one reaches into a nest, so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations; as men gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp” (Isaiah 10:13-14 New International Version).
God promised to punish Assyria for failing to acknowledge that she was an instrument in His hand (verses 15-19). God’s sovereignty did not free Assyria from her responsibility for the evil against Judah that was motivated by arrogance. God punished Assyria for this. In 2 Kings 19:35 and Isaiah 37:36, the Bible records how an angel killed 185, 000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. Later, Babylon defeated the Assyrian empire.
Also, regarding prayer, while it is important in life, and God answers prayer, prayer doesn’t exempt you from your responsibility. You cannot transfer your responsibility to God. Prayer will never be a substitute for human responsibility. God’s sovereignty doesn’t cancel man’s responsibility. Prayer doesn’t free you from your responsibility. Work and pray!
Acknowledge God’s sovereignty but don’t neglect your responsibility. Perform your responsibility. Accept your responsibility. Don’t make excuses.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I shall not make excuses based on God’s sovereignty but perform my responsibility. I shall perform my responsibility and not transfer it to God. Holy Spirit, help me to pray and do what I am supposed to do. I am God’s workmanship; Holy Spirit, help me to do the good works that God prepared me beforehand to walk in.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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