Sin is Good - Or is it?


I am now a Christian. I am very young in the faith. However, I committed adultery, but God worked things out with my wife. She fully forgave me. I am trying to understand how God works. So, is sin right? Is sin good?


First, it is great that you are a Christian and are studying Scripture and asking questions. This is part and parcel of making our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10) and continuing in the faith by heeding God's Word (Col. 1:23).

Second, God has been merciful to you by giving you a spouse that has shown you great mercy and grace. By forgiving you, she has shown you the gospel in word and deed (1 Pet. 3:1-6). This has not been easy for her and neither was it easy for Christ on the cross.

Third, when God moves in answer to prayer or otherwise, this does not mean that we have been sinless in our actions. And just because we get to where we desire to go, it does not mean that our journey has been sinless (1 John 1:8-9). The point is God can work things to "our good" despite our sin! (Rom. 5:8; 8:28).

Adultery is sin! (Ex. 20:14; Heb. 13:4). It is not the correct solution to any situation. Sin is evil. It is hideous. It is an offense to God. It is disobedience and rebellion against God (Deut. 9:7). God hates sin (Prov. 6:16-19). God judges sin. However, while sin is evil (not good), God can use it for good. But just because God may use our sin for his glory, does not justify our sinful actions.

We see an example of this principle in the Old Testament where Samson was bold before men but weak before women. He was a great sinner with woman (Judg. 16:1, 4-7, 10-11, 13, 14, 15-22; cf. Prov. 5:3-5); however, in the midst of his sin, God still worked greatly through his life (Judg. 14:8-9, 10-20; 16:3, 9-14, 23-31: Heb. 11:32). God took what was really sinful in Samson's life and used it for good. Although Samson did suffer and ultimately die, he died in repentance and brought glory to God.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Most people understand how the positive things we do (walking in righteousness, etc.), and even somewhat neutral things (like a gentle rain, or sunset, etc.) may work to our good. However, "all things" most certainly also includes all the things that we would instinctively label as bad, such as all forms of evil, suffering, and sin. This is perhaps where we find some difficulty in understanding God.

God uses secondary causes in his eternal plan. He is working when the car breaks down, when the air conditioner gets struck by lightening, when we get sick, or when our spouse commits adultery. In all this and more, God works things together for our good.

C.H. Spurgeon once said:

Did you ever hear of a man who got his health by being sick? That is a Christian. He gets rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he goes on by being pushed back, he lives by dying, he grows by being diminished, and becomes full by being emptied. Well, if the bad things work for him so much good, what must his best things do? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven!

As Richard Sibbes once said:

Whatsoever is good for God's children they shall have it, for all is theirs to further them to heaven; therefore, if poverty be good, they shall have it; if disgrace be good, they shall have it; if crosses be good, they shall have them; if misery be good, they shall have it; for all is ours, to serve for our greatest good.

How precious to the believer is the promise that our Father, in whose presence mountains tremble (Exod. 19:18) and to whom nations are but a drop in the bucket (Isa. 40:15), works all things for our good. While God works in suffering to our good (2 Cor. 11:23-29; 12:1-10), he also works despite our sin.

Actually, even the very fall of mankind in Adam (an evil of evils - Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12-19) works to our good in that we could not know and experience the fullness of God's love without it. Without the introduction of sin, we would have never seen the cross. Without it we would never have experienced the "greater love" spoken of by the Apostle John: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down ones life for ones friends" (John 15:13).

However, while God works despite our sin, it is no more right for a Christian to sin than for unbelievers to persecute believers. So we should understand that God gives us Romans 8:28 for encouragement, but not for license (Rom. 6:15).

God working together for our good in the midst of our sin is undeserved grace at work and not a certificate which says, "Well done good and faithful servant." Romans 8:28 is full of assurance of mercy and grace for the Christian; however, just because this reservoir of grace is endless and boundless for the, we should not attempt to live out our lives to deplete it. Rather, we should walk in righteousness.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).