If God knows the future, then He knew Adam and Eve would sin. Why did He allow that to happen?
Why did God allow Adam and Eve to sin? This question can make many Christians feel uncomfortable. On the one hand, the Bible is very clear that God is perfectly good (Luke 18:19) and holy (Isaiah 6:3) and we can never blame Him for sin (James 1:13). But, on the other hand, if God knew from the start that Adam and Eve would sin, and He didn’t stop them when He could have, doesn’t that make God somehow guilty for their sin? Before we answer this question, let’s first look at two very common wrong answers that Christians sometimes give to this question.
The first wrong answer
The first wrong answer is to say that, actually, God didn’t know that Adam and Eve would sin; and because He didn’t know, we shouldn’t blame Him for their actions. However, this answer is clearly wrong: the Bible teaches us that God knows everything (1 John 3:20) including all our thoughts (Psalm 139:1-2; Hebrews 4:13) and all the things that will happen in the future (Psalm 139:16; Isaiah 42:9; 46:9-10). This means that when God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden (Genesis 2:9), God already knew that Adam and Eve would later sin against Him and eat from it (Genesis 3:6). What’s more, God also knew that their disobedience would bring sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12).
The second wrong answer
The second wrong answer is to say that although God did know they were going to sin, He couldn’t stop it. This answer is also clearly wrong: the Bible teaches us that God can stop sin if He wants to (Genesis 20:6; 1 Samuel 25:34). Some Christians ignore Scripture and use the philosophical argument: “God doesn’t want us to be robots, He wants us to love Him truly, with our own real will; but if we have a real will, it must also be possible for us to sin against God and reject Him!” We quickly see the problem with this argument when we think about the next life. In the New Creation, will Christians truly love God? Yes (Revelation 2:4-7)! In the New Creation, will it be possible for Christians to sin? No (Revelation 22:14-15)! In the New Creation, will we be robots? No (Revelation 22:17)! And so, it is possible to truly love God without needing the possibility to sin. And if God is able to make the new creation in this way, then there is no reason why He could not have made the original creation in this same way if He had wanted to.
God did know
So, to summarise so far: God did know that Adam and Eve would sin; and God did consciously allow them to sin when He could have stopped them. And so we return to our original question: “Why did God allow Adam and Eve to sin?” The answer becomes clear when we remember the goal of all creation: God’s glory (Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Revelation 4:11) through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 16:7; Philippians 2:11; Jude 25). How did Adam and Eve’s sin lead, in the end, to God being glorified through the Lord Jesus Christ? Because, when God placed the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden, He looked forward through time and saw, not only Adam and Eve’s sin, but also the day that He would send His only Son to be crucified for our sins (1 Peter 2:24), and to lift creation to a new glory even greater than the glory God created it with at first (Romans 8:21; Revelation 21:1-4). Moreover, through sending Jesus, God proved Himself faithful to the gospel promises He made to Adam and Eve right back in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15, 20-21).
God’s plans were greater
If God had stopped Adam and Eve from ever sinning, perhaps they would have lived happily forever in the garden, worshipping Him as the mighty and generous Creator of the universe (Revelation 4:11). But God’s plans were greater than this. Allowing Adam and Eve to sin enabled God to ultimately reveal His glory in an all-surpassing way. And so, today, we know God, above all, as the One Who so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son to die for us (John 3:16). Because God did not stop Adam and Eve’s sin, but instead allowed it, and then came to our rescue, God will for all eternity be known, praised and glorified not only as the Creator, but also as the righteous Judge of the wicked (Revelation 19:1-4), and the Saviour of repentant sinners (Revelation 7:10): a Saviour so gracious that He freely suffered to redeem even His enemies (Romans 5:8) – even shedding His own blood for their forgiveness (Acts 20:28).
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