Sep 29, 2023
While God’s Sovereignty and His Providence can be spoken of separately, these realities are actually woven together (like all attributes of God) and have massive implications for the way we live. Let’s look at each one of these characteristics of the Lord and then see how they impact our lives.
What is the Sovereignty of God? John Piper defines God’s Sovereignty like this: “His right and power to do all that he decides to do.” In other words, God has the right and power to do as He pleases. And, as the Author and Creator of all things, that makes Him Sovereign over all of Creation.
God’s Providence could be defined as His wise, good and purposeful Sovereignty. It includes the idea of a “seeing to” of all things that will ultimately accomplish His purpose.
So, the Sovereign Providence of God is the intersection of His Sovereign power and will over all things and His wise goodness as He carries out that power through His Providence.
We see this Sovereign goodness to us in this in the beloved verse, Romans 8:28.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
God is the One who is working in “all things” but more than that, He is working “all things” for the good of the elect, whom He loves.
So, what happens when we actually take God at His word and believe in His Sovereign Providence?
There’s much to be said in answering this question but we will focus on three things.
First, when we hold to a strong belief in the Sovereign Providence of God, we are empowered to fight temptation.
We see in James 1:13-18 the following words,
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:13-18
This passage is all about fighting temptation but there is a connection here to the goodness of God that we often miss. In the midst of telling us about the temptations that we all face, we have this verse that is so often ripped from this context. James tells us not to be deceived and then he reminds us of the everlasting, consistent and pure goodness of God.
Isn’t that what we need to face temptation and fight sin in our lives. IF we truly believe in the Sovereign Providence of God, we know that His ways are always wise and always good. Might this knowledge make us more inclined to flee temptation the moment it strikes? I think so!
In fact, I believe that the secret to fighting the temptation to sin is to be more and more convinced of the goodness of God - that is, convinced of His Good and Wise Sovereign Providence.
Not only does belief in the Sovereign Providence of God help us fight temptation, it actually encourages our obedience.
See what the Psalmist and the Apostle Paul have to say.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” Psalm 84:11-12
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
For those walking with Christ, we need to know that God is for us. He bestows favor and honor upon us. He does not withhold good. In fact, He even uses trials and suffering for our good.
And, beyond that, He has given us His son - what more could He give?
Well, here He promises to graciously give us “all things.” Note that these verses do not support any type of material-focused prosperity Gospel. But, they do support the idea that “God has it rigged.’ What does that mean? It means a life lived His way and for His glory is associated with our spiritual well-being and great hope for the future.
So, what does this mean in our daily lives? These words encourage our obedience to God’s ways and this obedience can show up in the daily trials of life.
We show our trust in His Sovereign Providence....
....when we resist the urge to gossip about others.
....when we admit our wrongdoing when we are confronted with the truth of our actions.
....when, instead of falling into worry and anxiety, we live with an understanding that there is purpose in our suffering and that God is building endurance and hope in us as He prepares us for future glory.
....or when we choose kind words or humble servitude over sarcasm or isolation in response to a moody spouse.
In these everyday moments, we can see that we have the opportunity to trust in the Sovereign Providence of our God and to bring glory to His name.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Every moment is an opportunity to glorify God and nothing we do out of a heart of obedience to His will is ever in vain.
And, that brings us to our third point.
A belief in the Sovereign Providence of God drives us to our knees in prayer.
Let’s consider the Lord’s Prayer:
“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10
As we ask God for His Kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth, we are, among other things, asking God to unite our desires to His Kingdom work on earth. We are asking that He keep us from our own plans and desires and that, instead, we would embrace what He wants us to do as He continues to bring His Kingly rule to full fruition. We want to rightly participate in His Sovereign rule and we know that we need Him to empower us so, we seek Him in prayer.
Our belief in the Sovereign Providence of God changes the way we pray and the way we participate in the Kingdom of God. We are eager to be a part. We find purpose in all that we do as we trust in and live for our Good and Sovereign King.
And so we see that our belief in the Sovereign Providence of God empowers us to fight temptation, to pursue obedience and to seek the Lord in prayer and we find that, ultimately, that this belief gives us the courage to live boldly for the King.
We know, all too well, what life looks like without confidence in the Sovereign Providence of God. We know that, although we have placed our faith in the One who has come to redeem and restore and we know that He has called us to be a part of this mission, we often live our lives consumed with lesser things.
A growing belief in the Sovereign Providence of God changes this. As we fight sin and temptation, as we pursue holiness through obedience to God’s Word, and as we pray for His will in our lives, the Holy Spirit changes us, conforming us to the image of Christ. And, the more we take hold of the beauty and security of resting in God’s Sovereign Providence, the more we will embrace opportunities to be a part of His mission.
And, we will live courageously for His Kingdom and His glory!