If God Is Sovereign – How Are Men Responsible?
God is sovereign. You cannot take that too far or overstate it. Everything that happens, happens according to the sovereign will of God. “He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11).
If God’s will determines everything, how can men be responsible for their actions? Paul addressed this question in Romans 9:18-19, “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. Thou wilt say unto me, why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?” A paraphrase would be, “If God hardened my heart, how can I be responsible? I am only acting from the heart that God hardened.” I do not know how to answer that question, other than to say, that is just the way it is. God is sovereign. We are responsible.
If my understanding of God’s sovereignty makes me conclude that men are not responsible for their actions, I really do not understand God’s sovereignty.
But did you know that a belief of human responsibility is an essential part of spiritual life. We have never confessed our sin before God unless we believe our sin is wholly our fault. There is no confession of sin if we lay the blame on God’s sovereign will. We have never truly asked for mercy if we do not believe we are responsible for our sins. If we deny human responsibility, we must also deny salvation by grace. Grace is for the guilty, not for victims of God’s sovereignty. God is sovereign and men are responsible. It is impossible to believe the Gospel if either of these truths are rejected.