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If I fool around with my studies and fail in my exam, can I tell myself that God allowed me to fail in order to teach me humility? God had nothing to do with it. I am just reaping what I have sown. No way I can blame God for it!
Many Christians don't agree! They ask, "Are you saying God is not in control?" My answer is, "Are you saying that God made me fail? Or that He could have made me pass in spite of my lack of preparation but He chose to teach me humility? No, I failed because I didn't study well. Don't blame God for that."
A lot of our problems remain and become worse because we have the habit of not taking responsibility for our mistakes. We try to blame everyone and everything else and even place the blame indirectly on God! But as long as we don't admit our faults we cannot receive forgiveness or transformation.
Classifying everything that happens as the will of God comes from thinking of God's sovereignty in an exaggerated way. Some think because God is almighty and does whatever He wants (Ps.115:3), therefore whatever happens is either His will or what He has permitted. But to think that whatever He has permitted is also His will because He could have prevented it is not right. In His sovereign will, God has created us in His image, and one part of that image is our free will or the ability to make our own decisions. When God did this He knew that we might sin, but when we sin we are to be blamed and not He! It was we who chose to sin and not He.
Another mistake we make from this misunderstanding is leaving things to God and not doing what we ought to do, believing that God is in control and He will do everything right. For example, we don't save for our future thinking that God will take care of it. On the other hand, we do wrong things and think that God will anyway work things for our good.
God is sovereign, but the free will He has created us makes us responsible for our actions because we do them by our own choice. God is also sovereign in the sense that He is able to overrule anything at any time He wants. He is in overall control of our life, but He has given us freedom to make our own choices and so we are responsible for the choices we make.
Repentance begins with taking responsibility for our sinful actions (Jer.3:13). It is only when we do it that we can begin to become real. Even when there are things outside of our control, our response to such things is still within our control. Because of the sinful nature that we are born with, we are initially not able to make the right decisions. But when we are born again and God gives us a new mind, we begin to hate the old ways and want to do God's will. Then the Holy Spirit begins to teach and enable us to actually make the right choices (Php.2:12,13). This is a lifelong process which begins in our mind – where we recognise things we have been doing wrong and change over to thinking according to God's laws – and results in action (Ro.12:2).