Sin is Never “Necessary”

How Not to Read Sin

Over the past several weeks, I have been talking to people in person and in online groups about Judges 19, and that has thrown tendrils of discussion out into many other areas of Scripture.  I ran across a very upsetting mindset that I feel compelled to address.  I’m not just fussing at others, here.  I have done this mental exercise a time or two, myself.  Through my discussions with others, however, I have come to realize what a hideously sinful and backward mindset it really is.

The mindset is one that excuses the sins of characters in the Bible by saying that their sin was “necessary” to execute God’s plan for mankind.

For example, someone with this mindset would excuse Abraham’s sending his wife into the Pharaoh’s house by lying and saying she was his sister (Gen 12:10-20).  To this mindset, the wealth Abraham gleaned from literally pimping out his wife to Pharaoh with a lie is proof that his sin was “necessary for God’s plan.”  After all, without all of that wealth, Abraham and Lot would not have gotten on as well as they did or risen to such political and economic power/fame in the land.

Another example of this mindset is excusing David’s sin with Bathsheba as “necessary for the birth of Jesus.”  After all, Jesus descended from Solomon who was the son of Bathsheba with David.

There are tons of examples, but those two should suffice to illustrate the perspective I’m responding to, and I’m going to respond rather bluntly and briefly because I just finished churning out a 5,000 word-plus wall of text on Judges 19.  My fingertips are exhausted and I need to leave the house to buy toilet paper and coffee!!  ha ha ha

God doesn’t need our sin.

God’s work does not depend upon the actions or cooperation of men.

God’s work will be accomplished when and how he says it will be accomplished, and our only “job” is obedience.

When we disobey, God gets his plan accomplished, anyway, but our disobedience wasn’t the plan and our disobedience wasn’t “necessary” to the plan’s accomplishment.

God does not “need” our sin.  Sin is never “necessary.”

Got it?

If Abraham hadn’t been dishonest and thrown his wife into sexual sin with a pharaoh of Egypt, God would have provided the wealth he needed in some other way–and you can guarantee it would have been a better way.

If David hadn’t impregnated Bathsheba in a state of adultery and then murdered her husband, Jesus would still have come at the appointed time, and his line of genetic ancestry would have been secured by God in another way–and you can guarantee it would have been a better way.  Note that Solomon was produced after David married Bathsheba.  The child of their sin did not thrive and died in infancy.  So…case in point.

Excusing or diminishing the sins we are shown in the Bible–or twisting the events to cast blame on someone other than the “hero” a la Samson and Delilah–is a mealy, weak, and cowardly way to study Scripture.  It is dishonest, and it fails to engage with God and His Word appropriately.  We can recognize the great majesty of God using fallen sinners to accomplish his perfect works, but we must recognize that He does this in spite of sin…not because of it.  He uses us even though we are sinners, but he didn’t need us to be sinners in order to use us.

To my mind, it is borderline blasphemy to say that God needed David or Abraham to sin in order to bring about the birth of our sinless Messiah.  So if you’ve been doing that, please stop it.  It is not criticizing the Bible or questioning its authority to acknowledge the lessons we are being taught in the tales of the Patriarchs and Judges and Kings of Israel.  They were sinners, just like we are, and we can learn from their sins at the same time we marvel at the work God performed through their flawed and broken humanity.  Don’t diminish God by saying things like, “Well, God needed him to commit adultery and kill his mistress’ husband so we could get Jesus.”  That is just…disgusting.  It is untrue and it is a filthy thing to say.  The Bible never said that and, in fact, it says the opposite in  many places in many ways.

God does not need our sin.  He hates our sin; he certainly doesn’t need it.  He doesn’t need our obedience.  He loves our obedience, but our works are as filthy rags.  He doesn’t need us at all.  We are here by his grace, and his mighty work will be accomplished whether we obey or whether we sin.


8 thoughts on “Sin is Never “Necessary”

  1. There’s some passion in this blog post. I like it! You are 1000000% right though. David is still an adulterer. Noah is still a drunk. I could go on but I have a feeling you’ve read a few of these stories 😉 but yes, there is this attitude that if something happens, God NEEDED it to happen (e.g. our sin) errmm no. Just because God ALLOWS something to happens, as in, there is no divine intervention, that doesn’t mean He’s happy with what you’re doing and frankly, I think that blames God for your sin. It’s like saying, “Welll, if this were REALLY wrong, God would stop me”. Now you’ve got me all worked up. Hahaha good post!

  2. If we constantly subscribe to the idea that God will stop something evil, then we tell every molestation/murder/assault victim that God wanted them to suffer or he would have stopped it. That is seriously uncool and it is seriously untrue. People don’t think these evil distortions through. They use them because they either want to feel good about an evil they are committing themselves, or they use them because they are too intellectually lazy to study Scripture deeply enough to get at the correct answer/reasoning. I know that’s harsh, but I say it because it’s a sin; it’s a sin I’ve committed myself; and I felt really compelled to put it out in public.

    1. I think we get this idea of what it means to be ‘good’ and we try to cram God into that idea. Like…if God were good than He would (fill in the blank). We so often forget that God and God alone gets to define, well, everything

  3. Good points – God makes beautiful things from the ashes that sin create but we fail to ponder what could have been. What if David hadn’t fallen or Rahab had told the truth – How God would have been faithful and carried out his plan. The original borders of Israel as given by God are a good example of what could have been.

  4. (I have been replying to you through NPB facebook because I didn’t know there was a “comment” area here, HA!)
    Anyway, for most of my life I have had the impression that the Old Testament was a story about “the good guys” (the Jewish people) vs. “the bad guys” (everyone else). I’m so embarrassed that I never bothered to read it for myself until recently (just started, finishing Exodus now). I’m astonished at some of the things that happened just in the book of Genesis that I never even knew about until now, and my whole mindset has been shaken up by some of the stories of “the good guys”. I have heard people talk about them as if every transgression is excused simply because they were “God’s people”.
    Anyway, I have never heard anyone make this point before, and I’m SO glad you wrote about it!

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you liked it, and in a very real sense, we are all the “bad guys.” We have all fallen short and are unworthy of God’s glory (Romans–chapter something: verse something). 🙂

      That said, God loves all of us. He chose Abraham and the nation of Israel that his progeny created for strategic reasons of His own, but he loved all of the nations. He wants all of us to come home. My husband and I talked in Genesis a lot because I struggled hard in Genesis. I got ANGRY at Genesis…because of the depravity.

      My husband (and my pastor when I brought it to him later) suggested that what we’re reading in the Bible is just one side of the story–the side future generations needed to see and learn–but that the Amorites had a story, too. The Edomites had a story. The Moabites had a story. And God was watching all of them. In Genesis 15:16, God tells Abraham that it will be four generations before Abraham’s descendants can return to Canaan and claim it. He tells them that this is because the Amorites had not yet sinned badly enough to warrant their destruction. God was working among the Amorites, too. We don’t have that story because the lessons for us are in the Israel story…but the Israelites are not shown to us as an example of perfection or an example to follow. They are simply shown to us to demonstrate how God worked among them. Their sins are laid out. Their failures are laid out. And we see their successes, as well.

      It has always been about ALL of us.

      When we try to ignore the sins of Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob & Esau, Aaron, the judges, David, etc. in order to set them up as an example, we miss the point. The only hero is God. None of them were good enough. All of them, every single one, committed horrible sins and were infuriatingly stubborn.

      Once I realized that (and it happened in Leviticus…oh, Genesis and Exodus had me in a right state, but I was given the grace to “see” in Leviticus), everything fell into its right place, and I was better able to see some of the things God wanted us to learn.

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