Why does God make us so we will sin?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... the place where I discuss the thinking that went into this article.)

Question: My son asked me, “Why did God create us as sinners — only to be punished? If God loves us, why does he send us to hell? God knows that we will sin, so why didn’t he put salvation in our hearts, so we’d behave appropriately? Then no one would go to hell.” Now I’m asking you!

Answer: Greetings friend. Thank you for asking such an important question. If God is — as he is commonly understood to be — omnipotent — this is, a being who can do anything — why didn’t he create us so we would continually live up to his standards? If that were the case, then hell would not be necessary… and the issue of a God who sends people to hell — which is a philosophical sticking-point for many who are thinking about adopting Christian theism — would disappear.

As it turns out, God is not a being who can do anything — and this surprises most people! But here’s the thing: God cannot make things like a square circle or a married bachelor. In general terms, he cannot make “A” become “non-A.” So, although we can put those words together in syntactically reasonable sentences, the contents of those sentences are nonsense — and I mean that in the technical sense. God cannot do — because he will not do — anything against his nature, and it’s his nature not to perform illogical or absurd acts.

The fact that God “cannot” make a square circle does not mean that he’s not omnipotent. Instead, that “restriction” informs us more specifically about what omnipotence means. As such, God is off the hook for “having” to do things that are nonsensical or illogical, even if they sound logical in a sentence. As such, there is an infinite number of things that God cannot do, and you need to “own” that concept before the rest of this answer will make any sense.

God created the physical universe to be a logical place, and he wants us to figure things out by observing his creation (Romans 1:18-20). This would only work if physics followed certain rules — which it demonstrably does — and it works that way in metaphysical realms, too.

For instance, there is a non-physical realm that contains abstract objects such as numbers and propositional truths; these have no physical substance. But even though they are conceptual rather than concrete, the same kind of logic applies to them as that of the physical world. This is why, in the universe God created and plunked us in, 2 plus 2 cannot equal 5 — and even our “omnipotent” God cannot change that.

Your son’s main mistake is establishing a false premise. His argument relies on a nonsensical entity — a being who “has” true free will — but who cannot “exercise” that free will in every area of their life. It’s a sad fact of life that people go to hell — but note this well: everyone who does so does so by the exercise of their free will. The concept of free moral agents who cannot exercise and then reap the results of their decisions is absurd. Such beings do not exist; this makes your son’s challenge nonsensical.

Note then that God is not limited by his inability to build that “square circle” — a volitional being whose choices have no consequences, and are, therefore, not choices at all. And if God can’t have it both ways, neither can we! If people with free will exist — and this is demonstrably so — then all people are morally culpable for their behavior in the world. (Note the word “all” in the following verse.)

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, NIV)

At this point, we’ve only dealt with the false premise of your son’s complaint — that God could create a being who exercises free will, yet could not exercise the free will to go to hell. That’s the primary problem with this challenge. But I think this would be a hollow answer without telling the rest of the story — why and how God provided salvation through Jesus Christ — and only Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

We’ve been focusing on God’s omnipotence so far, but he has many more attributes. To get through today’s answer, we will look at two more: God is infinitely holy and infinitely just — and since we human beings were made in his image (Genesis 1:26), we have a “feeling” for our failures here. It is obvious that we sin, and since we sin, we are rightly condemned (Romans 6:23).

But why can’t God — whom the Bible describes as rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4) — just give us a pass? Why doesn’t God — who, as a judge, has the power and the right to do so — just wave his hand and say, “These people are okay...” and have us go to heaven instead of hell? Because he is also just (Isaiah 30:18) … and this action would offend his justice.

This is where his Son, Jesus Christ, comes in. God sent him to become one of us and to save us. He could do this because he lived a sinless life. As such, he was the only one qualified to atone for our sins. He gave himself up to be crucified, but death could not hold him, and he rose from the grave on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-7). This is why you can trust him.

All we have to do is believe in him to be saved from the hell your son is complaining about (Acts 16:31). God has made this provision — and it’s the only provision — that could satisfy all the conditions of salvation: that volitional people could live meaningful lives with meaningful consequences, that sin would be paid for, that God’s holiness and justice would be respected, and that any who called upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

Frankly, I don’t see what there is to complain about. Salvation through Christ is the best deal going!

In closing, let me give you links to a few pages that explain salvation through Jesus Christ more thoroughly. My prayer is that you and your son will see how he has set up and a false barrier to God and that he will follow through to see how salvation through Christ is logical and wonderful. Here are the links, God bless you.

https://www.gotquestions.org/how-can-I-be-saved.html

https://mainsailministries.org/index.php/christian-topics/395-an-alternative-to-death.html

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20201207 Why does God make us like this? So we will sin?).

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