God does not tempt anyone, nor does he cause people to sin
Is God pleased to put humans into impossible predicaments which he himself decrees and in which there is no escape? Only to turn around and send those poor people to hell for doing his exact will (by sinning)? How does that line up with:
Psalm 5:4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.
Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
The Bible says that God doesn’t even TEMPT anyone, so how could anyone possibly suggest that God plays the role of Satan and causes people to sin, and even worse; pretend to be angry at the sin that he himself caused? Between Genesis and Revelations we cannot find one single case where God in any way causes/forces anyone to sin. IF 2 Chronicles 18 would tell us that God caused someone to sin (which it doesn’t) would this mean that God is the one who causes all people to sin at all times? Can every single sin under the sun be traced back to GOD? So every time we see people refusing to hearken to God and when they rebel against him, it’s really GOD who caused them to do this all along? So our Lord wants people to rebel against him? You must be joking…
James. 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Numbers 14:22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have NOT hearkened to my voice;
There are a few occasions where God allows a group of evil people to be victorious over his chosen people Israel, and we can see Israel’s enemy gain the Lord’s reluctant permission (2 Sam. 24 and 1 Chr. 21) to go through with their desire to cause calamity. Israel’s enemy was of course set on destroying Israel from the start, so it wasn’t a desire that God planted in them.
Saul and evil spirits
God can absolutely send “evil spirits” (or rather allow Satan certain power) just like he did with Saul, but note that God doesn’t do this randomly to people for no reason at all. God chose Saul to be king but Saul ended up being selfish and wicked which resulted in that God repented of having chosen him. Due to Saul’s evil approach, God sent him an evil spirit – or rather allowed Satan to torture him through evil spirits, which boils down to the same thing. The reason for the presence of this evil spirit is therefore Saul’s, and not God’s.
1 Samuel 15:35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
1 Sam. 16:1 And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.—14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.—23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
1 Samuel 18:10 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.
1 Samuel 19:9 And the evil spirit from the Lord was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand.
There is a difference between God ruling over the activity of demons and God ruling the activity of demons. God is of course more powerful than Satan and his demons. God can (albeit oftentimes reluctantly) allow demons to afflict men for various reasons, which is not to be compared with the idea that God plays dice and commands demons to torture people for no reason at all – or just because he can.
1 Kings 22 below shows that God simply allowed King Ahab to do what he already wanted and had set his mind to – i.e., to listen to his false prophets. King Ahab of Israel twice complained to King Jehoshaphat of Judah that the Lord’s prophet Micaiah never says anything good about him but only speaks calamity. Ahab was not thankful for God’s warning to him which he chose to reject, and he was resentful once Micaiah gave him the word of the Lord. God extended even more patience toward Ahab by having Micaiah tell the king exactly what evil spirits had been doing to plot his downfall, but Ahab rejected this further warning as well. If God’s intent was to command demons to lie and deceive Ahab, why would He bother warning Ahab about it? What would be the point with trying to warn Ahab against the very disaster to which he was trying to entice him?!
When we read only certain phrases in 1 Kings 22 it may sound as though God is the direct causal agent to what happened, but if we are honest and read the whole context we get another picture. Micaiah says to Ahab: “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.” The word for “evil” in Hebrew may also be translated as disaster or calamity, and it’s not uncommon at all to see God punishing Israel (for their rebellion against him) by causing calamity to happen. This can easily be done by taking away his protective hand over Israel and by doing so allow the enemy to be victorious in their desire to conquer Israel – which their hearts are set upon. God is described by Micaiah as someone who has put a lying spirit in the mouth of the false prophets, while the context shows that God is doing this by permission and not by a commandment, and he even warns Ahab in the process. It’s an idiomatic way of speaking which the entire context of 1 Kings 22 demonstrates. “The Lord hath sent a lying spirit” is a stronger way of including God’s overall power than merely stating “God has allowed a lying spirit”. The lying spirit helps the false prophets to speak lies to Ahab about all that the king himself wants to believe about his future. God is not sending Ahab what He (God) wants but rather what Ahab wants! Certainly a bad choice by Ahab.
2 Chron. 18:18 Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.19 And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.20 Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith?21 And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.22 Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee.
Same story, but in Kings:
1 King. 22:19 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.
Note that God is asking “who shall entice Ahab?” and “wherewith?” when a certain spirit volunteered to do it and explained how he intended to do it. God did not take the other route by selecting a spirit and telling him “This is what I will cause you to do through predestination”, but instead he allowed/granted the spirit to do what he proposed to do which was what Ahab in fact asked for.
We can compare this with what happened to Job, and it’s clear from context of Job 2 that God merely allowed events to happen.
Job. 2:3 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
God desired to allow Satan to have certain power, but it’s not certain that God wanted him to use the power the way he did. When God says that he ruined Job he speaks idiomatically as though he were the causal agent, despite that the context shows he was not. There is a “lost book” called “The testimony of Job”, and even if it’s not a canonical book and therefore cannot be totally trusted, it still provides a reasonable answer to why Job was even selected to go through all this pain at all (he more or less opened up for it himself). We know that Job’s life started out being very blessed just as the end of his life. His painful time happened somewhere in the middle and it was a parentheses in his life time.