Do All Things Work Together for Good?

allthingsI hear it all the time. “All things work together for good”. This phrase, or some form of it is often quoted in the midst of circumstances we do not understand. It’s meant to comfort and bring hope.

And it does offer both.

But we forget the rest of verse 28 and over look completely verse 29 and 30. There are conditions to this “all things working out” promise.

Recently I was talking with a woman who confesses she is a Christian. She believes in Christ. Her life is a mess. She is separated from her husband, living with another man, who is also separated, and they have had a child together. She wants me to tell her it will all work out. That it’s okay. After all they are happier than they have ever been. They are a family now and how can that be wrong?

I couldn’t give her the answers she wanted. I couldn’t tell her the words she longed to hear. I couldn’t comfort her by telling her she wasn’t or hasn’t been living in sin. Regardless of what one may or may not believe is right about divorce, they were both still married. They were not free to live together or to have a child. It is sin. I couldn’t tell her everything will work out for good.

What I could tell her was that she is loved.  I could share with her the love of Christ. I reminded her that sin, all sin is forgivable. We only have to confess, to repent and turn from it. She wasn’t ready. It required too much. To repent means to turn from, and she couldn’t leave the man she was living with. As we ended our conversation and she was going out the door she turned to me and said, “I know it will be okay. God will work it all out.”

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed into the image of His Son, so that He might become the first born of many brethren. Romans 8:28-29

Yes God will work it out for good. He will work out all things, even our sinful choices. Bu here is what I think we so often forget. This is why I think we need to be careful in offering this hope to just anyone.

We already know this is a promise to the believer only. It is a promise to those who God has foreknown and called according to His purpose. To those who love God.

So, in the life of the believer will God work out ALL things, even sinful choices, if we continue to live apart from Him? If we continue to live in known sin, disregarding what truth says will God still work everything out?

My answer in the short term is no. Meaning that as long as I continue to live in sin and refuse to repent then I believe God will allow the consequences of sin to rule my life. BUT the moment I return to Him, confess and turn from my sin I believe He can and will work all things out.

Paul tell us that God will work out all things for those 1) Who love God 2) called according to His purpose and 3) for those whom He foreknew. And why will He work all things out? So that we might be conformed to the image of His Son.

1 John 2:5-6 says that, “…whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked.” Also we know that children of Light walk as children of Light.  They do not continually walk in darkness. (1 John 1:5-7)

As I reflect and pray through this I am challenged with this thought. “If I am unwilling to live as a child of God, if I do not live in such a way that allows God’s Spirit to conform me into the image of His Son, then how can God work out everything for good?”

Furthermore, another question that arises is “if I say I love God yet continue to walk in unrepentant sin can I really call myself His Child?” If I am not really His then this promise isn’t for me.

So will God work out all things, even sin, for good?

Yes to the believer walking in humble obedience. Yes to the one who is allowing the Spirit to continually conform him into the image of Christ. No to the believer continuing to walk in unrepentant sin. No to the one who is not called by God as His child.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all…If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:5 and 9

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