Consciously Sensitive

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God’s providence includes every detail, every small matter and the believer is called to be consciously sensitive to such matters. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield, the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly”(Ps 84:11). Obadiah Sedgwick reads this and carefully concludes – that not every good thing (what we might consider to be good) is good for me, he also says that secondary causes cannot succeed “without the blessing of the Lord’s providence”(Ps 127). Meaning that any effort made to acquire a good thing, that is not good for me with either not succeed, to teach us that the Lord is shaping our hearts whichever way He pleases. Or in acquiring the good we desire, we fail to see that no good will come from it.

William Perkins (1558-1602) shows us the detail of God’s providence in the fall. God created Adam with a righteous human will, the inward ability to will and do what is good. But God did not give Adam the grace to persevere in willing and doing good under temptation. God cannot be blamed for withholding this grace because God owes no man anything and God must of had good purposes for withholding it. Adam sinned because he did not lean on God to keep him from temptation. As Thomas Boston (1676-1732) teaches, God tempts no person to sin (James 1:13) but He does permit us to sin (Acts 14:16). He withholds the grace that would prevent sin (Ps 89:11-12) and overrules sin to fulfil His holy purposes (Gen 50:20; Isa 46:10). John Owen (1616-1683) says that the certainty of God’s promises depends on His determining and turning the will of men as he pleases (Prov 3:4; Ps 106:46; Job 12:17; Matt 16:18).

Hosea was commanded by God to marry Gomer and God knowing the possibilities of Gomer’s heart knew that Hosea would come to experience what God felt concerning his own people. Their unfaithfulness to God, like Gomer to Hosea meant that Hosea would come to understand the heart of God. That sin wasn’t just wrong, it hurts. In order for us to understand God’s providence it requires us to become consciously sensitive and like Hosea this is sometimes very painful and the words of Obadiah Sedgwick and other Puritans, that not everything which is good is good for me and not everything which is bad is bad for me, for it is the very means of making us more like the Lord.

By Daniel Ralph

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