Can God Use Wicked Men For Good?
At Eagle Heights our most common method of preaching is through the Bible, one section at a time. This causes us to deal with texts that raise difficult and gut-wrenching questions. Several years ago we were going through the book of Acts I said this about Acts 2:23: “God uses wicked men to carry out His plan.” A person who shall remain anonymous emailed me and asked me to elaborate on what I meant. Here is what I wrote:
Thanks for the question. To say that God uses wicked men (people) to carry out his plan is certainly not an admission on my part that he approves of their wickedness or is favorable to it. Every person will be judged for their deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10). Those without Christ will be eternally separated from God and give an account for deeds done in the body. However that’s not to say that God can’t use the wicked deeds of wicked men to accomplish his perfect and holy Will and purposes. Acts 1:15-19 and 2:23 illustrate clearly that God used evil acts by evil people to accomplish His plan of sending Jesus to die for sins of those who would trust Christ as Lord and Savior. Another helpful example is that of Joseph in Genesis. In Genesis 45 Joseph reveals himself to his brothers who sold him into slavery and tells them that it was God’s plan that He be sold into slavery by his brothers in order to save them from a severe famine (Genesis 45:4-8). His brothers meant to do evil to Joseph, but Joseph sees that God used it for good by making Joseph the second in command in all of Egypt to preserve the family of Jacob which becomes the nation of Israel. Another story that illustrates God using evil to accomplish His will is the story of Judah and Tamar. Judah was a son of Jacob and it was from his lineage that Jesus would later be born (Matthew 1:1-17). Genesis 38 tells the story of how Judah’s sons were conceived, who were the ancestor’s of Jesus. The story is pretty twisted, but essentially Judah slept with his daughter-in-law who he thought was a prostitute. God used that mess to bless us and to give us Jesus, though God certainly did not approve of Judah’s impulsive and reckless lifestyle. We all love Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” But this verse simply cannot be true unless God in his infinite power can take the evil deeds of evil men to accomplish good things for His people, because God causes all things to work together for good. That God uses evil for good is a powerful reminder that there is nothing that is impossible for God. God is not the author of evil but He is not limited in His capacity to use it. One last example. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 Paul tells the Corinthians that God nearly killed he and his travel companions when they were in Asia (SW Modern Day Turkey). Why would God let that happen to the apostle Paul? Paul’s answer: “So that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” God uses the evil deeds of evil people for our good and to teach us to trust Him in every situation. That’s what I mean when I say that “God uses wicked men to carry out His plan(s).”