The best analogy I know to explain how sin is part of God’s plan is that of an author to his book or play.* You have seen the first Star Wars movie right? Not Episode 1, but the very first Star Wars movie ever made—Star Wars: Episode IV? George Lucas, master of all things science fiction, wrote the screen play for Star Wars.
What happens at the end of Star Wars Episode IV? Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi fight and Darth Vader strikes Obi Wan down and kills him. Is George Lucas responsible for killing Obi Wan? We would not normally say that would we? No we would say that Darth Vader killed Obi Wan, but who ultimately decided that this would happen? George Lucas right?
Our response as we watch the movie unfold is that we want Vader to suffer for this crime. In fact the rest of the Star Wars movies are the quest to bring Vader to justice because we know that he is responsible for this murder! None of us want to hunt down George Lucas and bring him to justice—why not? Because it’s his play, it’s his movie and as it is his, he has every right to do what he wills with the characters in it. In fact as the play unfolds we marvel at how Lucas builds the Rebels’ struggle against the evil Empire and we rejoice when we see evil conquered in the end.
God is the absolute controller of, and authority over, nature and history. Ephesians 1:11 tells us that He works all things according to the counsel of His will. God is the Lawgiver, we are the recipients of the Law, God is the head of His covenant, we are His servants, God is creator, we are His creatures.** Do these differences not put God in a different moral category?
Very often in Scripture when something happens that calls God’s goodness into question, he pointedly refrains from explaining. He even rebukes those who question him.
If you read the book of Job, Job continually demands and interview with God so that he can question God about the suffering he has gone through—you know what God says?
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements- surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
In other words, God is saying to Job—unless you are Creator and know better than me, you have no right to question me!
Romans 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?
God is bigger than we are and operates on a different level than we do. To the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. God doesn’t conform to our ways. God can sovereignly allow evil and yet not be guilty of committing evil because God is Holy.
Until Christ returns or we die and go to be with Him in heaven, we will never know exactly why God does everything He does. Until then we will not see perfectly how God is working for good in the midst of evil, but we must trust that He is, because that is exactly what He promises!
*I basically took Wayne Grudem’s analogy of an author’s relationship to his play and applied the same ideas to Star Wars as Grudem did with Shakespeare and Macbeth (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology. 1994, 321-322).
**I should also admit to have been helped greatly at this juncture by John M. Frame’s The Doctrine of God. I recommend the entire chapter on the Problem of Evil (pp 160-181).