The wisdom of God is really unfathomable. It is certainly directed in love. Sometimes we wonder why He does the things He does or act the way He does. We don’t have all the answers, of course, but we still feel at certain moments that it would be nice to know it all. If God is to save those who would eventually believe as well as save the believing, His wisdom should have its way. None of us are perfect; we all make mistakes, and some do major ones. Whether they are emotional, physical, spiritual or materialistic, we all do them and they all require God’s evaluation, correction and justice. I don’t want anyone to use lightly the words ‘we all make mistakes or sin,’ because it is grieving to God. Sometimes we get carried away with it and then further get carried away into setting aside the act of realization. In fact, it is this attitude that leads many to sin often or do the same mistake again and again with no hope to stop. Committing sin is the success of our sin nature. It is our failure to activate or rely on the experience of our conversion and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to fail our sin nature. The outcome is we hurt God and possibly distance from Him.
Nevertheless, I want you to realize how great God’s love is and how wise and tactical He is. It is purely for our sake. And Paul heartily said, “For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all” (Rom. 11:32). God’s mercy gives salvation, deliverance from sin, pain and from the greater as well as the unseen devastations. But first men must see the need for such mercy. They must grasp its greatness, trueness and awesomeness after receiving it. If they do not grasp, they do not appreciate deliverance and His suffering for it; they do not value it. Moreover, He wants them to clearly know the life apart from devastating sin which is joy, freedom, blessings and security. So, He shuts up all in disobedience, i.e. He allows them to stay in it until a strategic time. Make no mistake He is ever eager to show mercy and His wisdom guides Him for perfect timing.
It is true that in the case of unbelievers becoming believers they must first be shut up in disobedience. But, at times it is also true for believers to learn and become better believers. Though the latter have the knowledge of God, the experience of salvation, the Word and the Spirit, it sometimes becomes necessary for them. No one becomes perfect and is rid of all weaknesses the moment he or she is saved. When we are saved we are forgiven of all our sin – past, present and future; it is God’s gift, a promise or guarantee – with the promise of eternity and guidance for it. This means that God begins working with each one of us for the Day of Perfection. Every believer must lead a life in Christ for perfection – we always walk toward perfection. As it is the case, believers stumble in various ways by the activity of Satan supported by their penchant for worldly things, or in some cases by fear of life. Yet, since God promised to keep us, He works with us. As part of it, He shuts us in disobedience so that we become strong holders of righteousness, learn to understand truth and justice by correction, consequences or rebuke. We may never envision that such a thing as this happens to us, or when. Just ask Peter, the apostle. And it is not easy to live the sometimes lengthy course of disobedience. It is painful and tumultuous, since disobedience causes emotional turbidity, costs reputation, spiritual strength and awareness, may even cause loss of health and wealth. Yet, the recovery happens by the unfathomable God’s mercy. You might say what’s the point of mercy and why after all the pain? Because if it’s not for it and if it’s not after pain, God will have to let us all die eternally against His intent. He says, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23).
A great encouragement while still shut up in disobedience is that God watches over us. Or else, He cannot plan a strategic time to bring us back into righteousness. He allows us to go on our ways. In that time one may even improvise faith and believe in things as if they are from Him. But He keeps us that mercy has the final say and that He and we rejoice together. Just look at the story of the prodigal son. Jesus took on the mantle of being our Savior for eternity. He will not lose us; for He did not pay a small or terminating price. And since He paid such a great price, He exercises complete authority over us to save us. As the head of the church He does everything in His unassailable power that we taste God’s mercy. Therefore, God is also able and just to shut up all believers in their disobedience. And when you sin, know that God will bring you out of it whether you like it or not and whether you think it is well-timed or not. In fact, if you are saved by grace through faith alone and were made able to exercise wisdom, at some point you yourselves will see the need for mercy and seek Him for it. So, you, I and all believers will justify the saying, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (Jam. 1:13).
When we have validated that God is holy and righteous, His mercy brings untold blessings and care. We become wiser than before, stronger, clear hearted and with innocuous mind “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11). What essentially happens with mercy is we are brought back into the realization and confession of having been forgiven by God and so, the advent of blessings and care. Plus, we come to understand the many schemes of the devil since during the course of our being shut up in disobedience we played along with him. Now, it becomes very difficult for him to poach us. It is for this reason the course to receiving mercy remains painful. But, later on we rejoice seeing the effects of mercy.
Trying to understand how God works out His mercy helps ease up fears, if there are any.
- Time. “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14). God knows when the time is right. He arranges everything for it. He calculates all things by the good news He is about to deliver, our actions, their consequences and circumstances. He brings us to a point where we allow Him to feed us with wisdom to act on it. As we obey, He makes ways for the casting away of every last garb of disobedience, and then everything else is joy and peace.
- Power. No one can see himself out of sin. By trying to do it he or she will only fall back into it. It is like the saying “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39). For the power of Satan can be overthrown only by the power of God. That power is in His mercy. Our disobedience must be complete, and we don’t get to decide when that is either. It is true, because count the times we wanted to return to God from a wrong doing and couldn’t do it. Only when God induced us with power we did it.
- Guidance. God will teach and invoke us to follow Him. Then, you and I will become something very good and important. “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men’” (Mark 1:17). We will be influencing men for Christ by whatever purpose God gave us.