15 So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
16 And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the Lord?
17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.
18 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?
19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
20 And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him.
22 And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
23 Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee. - 1 Kings 22:15-23
The story here in 1Kings 22 is one of my favorite in the Bible, if not my most favorite. Why? Because it shows that God is not the type of God that Americans make him out to be. He goes against the grain, even against what American Christianity thinks of him as. Stories like this, and that of Jehu, who deceived Israel, pretending to be a huge follower of Baal, only to have it later revealed that it was a set up the whole time; he really was just out to slaughter all of those who turned against the LORD to follow a false god.
The point being, Jehu used deception to glorify God and he is commended for it in scripture. American Christianity would shudder at and/or scorn this type of behavior if they were to see if from a Christian today. "That is certainly not like Christ!" they would shout. But is not Christ the same God who consulted and agreed/approved his own ministering spirits to become lying spirits in the mouth of his prophets, so that he could slay someone whom he hated? And is he not the same God who said unto Jehu,
"And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." -- 2Kings 10:30
So we can see that God doesn't work within the so-called box of scripture in these instances. We assume since God is holy, just, righteous, and cannot lie, that such deceptive acts could never be condoned by him. But the scripture's teaching is so completely obvious in the two mentioned passages. Dispensationlists might attempt to squirm out of these passages by their patented line, "But this is the NEW Testament." But us Reformed know better than that. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
Is God Actually Sovereign?
We have known and believed in the sovereignty of God over all events and peoples, for several years. But the more we get to know Christ, the more we see it true in the practical areas of life; and we are establishing our faith in his total control in our hearts, rather than just as an intellectual head knowledge. It is amazing the peace you can obtain by believing that no single detail of life is outside of God's choosing and control.
But in that sovereignty, over the years, we have seen some wild stuff. Do you believe God can take a sinful situation and turn it into something for his glory? We experienced that in my conversion to Christ, where I ran away from home in rebellion, moved in with a woman, who was herself straying from Christ; but who presented the gospel to me in her sin; in which I was saved and turned into a disciple of Christ. This caused her to turn her life back to Christ, and here we are, married for 14 years, with 8 children being raised for the glory of God. So God used a Christian who was rebelling against him, to convert a sinner to himself. Talk about outside the box!
Do you believe that it can be God's will for a Christian to be openly sinning against him, and still use that Christian for his holy purpose? I do. You don't have to condone the sin itself in order to acknowledge that sometimes God desires and chooses to do things that way. I wouldn't call the two Bible stories I mentioned, an example of this exact thing; because Jehu and the lying spirits were not sinning (although American Christians of today would accuse a Christian who did that very thing today, of sinning).
It is certainly against scripture for a woman to speak in the assembly (1 Corinthians 14:34), but do you believe that God could use this ignorant sin for his glory, to edify his body, and to glorify his name? As much as I hate it, I have to admit, I believe God chooses to do this sometimes. Here the key choice of words "God chooses to do this", come to play.
You might here accuse me of hyper-Calvinism or fatalism, or whatever (I don't believe I am, but even if I could be, I would rather stick with scripture that man-made theology). But I will explain the understanding I am coming around to have; and my view of how God operates in the world:
We like to think that God is not really sovereign. We are presented with a God who is simply real sharp, and quick on his feet, so that any action we take, he can react in order to make it work for his glory. But this kind of view makes man sovereign, not God. God is the one planning, ordering, and carrying out his will:
"[A]ccording to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." (Ephesians 1:11)
We are recently witnessing a huge, outside the box, working of God. We see something happening in certain Christians' lives, and God's working through it with someone, whom it appears, he is drawing to Christ. It really is quite amazing to watch. It is confusing, but exciting. We've never seen it on such an extreme level. And if we were to tell the story to just about any Christian listening, the entire situation would be universally condemned as being against the scripture, against the character of Christ, against principle, so on and so forth. They would say these Christians are deceiving themselves.
I wouldn't ever condone what these Christians I see, are doing....
But hearing people share their hearts, learning all the facts behind the situation, and seeing how God is working with people's weaknesses, it is almost undeniable that this is the way God is choosing to work things. Maybe we could say, "Well God is just using what he has to work with".. fine, if you think that I guess. I suppose that part of it isn't really that important anyway. The main thing I take away from all this, is that God loves his elect with a love that is incomprehensible, and that he will continue to love them despite their failures and flaws, and even continue to use them for his glory, without condemnation (even though he does not condone the behaviors).
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." --Romans 8:28
I guess I should really say I am undecided about all this. Maybe I am totally deceived. But the facts before me seem so undeniable. I am aware of the forms of deception that can be used by Satan to keep believers trapped in sin. But in the end, if the believers, through the situation, escape the sin, come out stronger than ever, while God using them to convert others, what can I really say against it? There is one thing I do know, however:
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" -- Philippians 1:6