Why did God create us knowing we would sin?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

Question: Why did God would create people in the first place... if he is only going to destroy them all in Noah's flood. If the omniscient  God knew that sin was going to happen, then why did he create anybody?

Answer: I see that you don’t mind bumping into the edges of our understanding of God. I say this because the Bible does not directly tell us why God created us — and especially with his knowledge of humanity’s certain fall into sin. However, we do have some good ideas about this, and I’ll be happy to share a few. But please understand that these are merely human interpretations of how God’s revealed characteristics might have worked themselves out among us. In other words, the Bible gives us some building blocks… but no blueprints. Yet we build.

Before we consider why God created us, we should eliminate any potential answers that violate his revealed characteristics. For instance, God did not need to create anything — not us, the angels, the world or our universe. He is intrinsically sufficient, which means that he does not need any people or any materials to complete him. It should be no surprise then, that the God who created the universe has no self-esteem issues.

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24–25, ESV)

Furthermore, God did not create us because he was lonely or bored. The Bible reveals God as triune. Even before anything was created, he enjoyed perfect fellowship within the Godhead.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26, ESV)

Now that we’ve narrowed the field, let us look at some plausible reasons why God created us… in spite of us. The Bible reveals that his creative acts were related to his pleasure. Please understand that God does not need pleasure, as if pleasure would fill a hole. In fact, just the opposite is true. God’s pleasure is over and above his sufficiency, in that it is on top of everything else. He is merely pleased to receive it when it comes, and his pleasure is tied inexorably to his receiving glory.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11, ESV)

“For by him all things were created…all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16, ESV)

Creation certainly serves humanity, but God created for himself. Why so? This very creation gives him glory. Does this mean that God was deficient in glory before the creation? No! God is a being who is intrinsically sufficient by definition. Why create then? Perhaps because even God could not receive the special type of glory that a non-God entity could give him until that entity was created.

Before creation, there was no external glory for God simply because there were no non-God entities to give it. Additionally, there was no possibility of one member of the Godhead opting out of giving or receiving glory. So, that special type of glory, an external glory that could be given or withheld, was missing from the universe. But once he created non-God volitional beings (that includes angels and humans), all that changed. How sweet the glory that is volitionally given! How sad the glory that is withheld. Perhaps this is one reason why God created. Without non-God entities, there would be no external witness for God, and without risk, the glory given by sentient beings would be worthless. However, this does not address why he went ahead with creation knowing that it would go sour. To answer that we have to look at love.

The Bible tells us that God himself is love and that he loved us with an everlasting love, and this type of everlasting extends to before creation. So, he loved us before he made us and loves us still…sour or no. In fact, he even calls us his friends.

“… I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
(Jeremiah 31:3, ESV)

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8, ESV)

“You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:14–15, ESV)

Another aspect of his love is that he included us in his eternal plan, and understanding this is key to understanding why he went through with creation. Most Christians know that God instituted redemption to save a sinful world, but we must remember that this plan was in place before creation — before sin was manifest on the earth.

“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (1 Peter 1:18–20, ESV)

This tells us that, even before anything was created, it was the plan of God to redeem — and redeem makes no sense in the absence of sin. So, it was God’s plan that there would be both sin and redemption. At this point, only one question matters. Was God’s plan flawed? No. God, who is perfect in all his ways, cannot craft a flawed plan. He did not create sin… but he did create volitional beings that in turn created sin, and sin needs redemption. Therefore, the plan was perfect. Noah’s flood demonstrates this.

Not only does Noah’s flood demonstrate the devastation of sin, but it also upholds the necessity of free will in creation. God sent the flood after a tipping point — after the world was intractably wrecked by sin. And how did it get that way? By individuals making continual choices to ignore God and let sin have its way. If God, through his foreknowledge, had forced changes into the hearts of these individuals rather than letting the results of free choice reign, that would have killed free will just as much as if he had made them robots in the first place. And if he had prevented creation for that reason, that too would be an attack on free will.

But God’s act of mercy, sending the ark, violated no one’s free will, and in this, we have a picture of humanity under sin. Everyone, without exception, is dying. Only by the merciful provision of God is anyone saved. That ark symbolizes the Savior, Jesus Christ. If God did not continue with his plan because sin was about to wreck the world, then sin (the worst thing in the world) would have defeated grace (the best thing in the world).

So, why did God create us? The Westminster Shorter Catechism’s first statement answers this — but in a funny way. It focusses on mankind and not on God-kind, in that man is the subject of the statement and God is the object. I have always found this interesting because if I were to develop a catechism, I would put God first. I would begin with his attributes and go on from there. But these ancients knew better. What we individuals do as volitional creatures is of much more immediate importance than is any head knowledge about God — and that makes a guy like me wiggle.

Their first statement asks, “What is the chief end of man?” It answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” So, our part is the give God glory and enjoy his fellowship. But this relies on volition, and volition requires that sentient persons be created, and sentient volition beings are those who can sin — this by definition.

As to your question then, God went through with the plan to create us, with full knowledge of the risk of sin, so that we might glorify and enjoy him. Could this have occurred in a universe created so that nothing could go wrong? No! Why would God even bother creating such a thing? But he did bother to create a universe that is wrought with trials, and our volitional natures fit right in. We are built for trials, and that each test gives us an opportunity either to sin or to overcome sin. We can also infer since we are guaranteed death upon birth, that God has the disposition to save us from sin and death. In my opinion, God’s act of creation affirms his perfect handling of sin; it does not challenge his wisdom in performing that creative act.

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