Causality—the Law that everything has a cause, it’s also known as Cause and Effect. We count on this law for the order and stability of being able to know “if x, then y”, everything from “I turn my key in the ignition and my car starts” to “I train my child up in the way he should go so he will follow the Lord.” We believe there are consequences if we do something we know is wrong. But what about when you do what you think is right, and it leads to something that is all wrong? Today we’re talking about “unintended consequences”—why they happen and how we should react to them. And is there such a thing as an “unintended consequence” to God?


Table Talk Notes

Galatians 6:Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • Politics has always been full of UCs. Those who look at all change as “static” rather than “dynamic” fall prey to this all the time, eg. Expecting that by raising taxes, revenue will increase—in fact, the opposite almost always happens as the higher taxes cause people to stop doing what is being taxed (cigarettes, gas). Cutting taxes actually causes revenue to increase. Likewise, raising the minimum wage causes a reduction in the standard of living, as employers get rid of workers and raise the cost of their goods to offset the increase in expenses
  • Recent unintended consequences: Pres. GW Bush invaded Iraq & overthrew Saddam Hussein—good reasons: to save the world from the WMDs he was reported to have, and to free his people from his brutal tyranny. Bad result: he was the stabilizing influence to allow Christians to live free in the country—his removal led to their persecution by the Muslim majorities, driving millions to flee (1.5 mil in 2003—6% of the population, to 200,000 in 2014). Likewise the seemingly “noble goal” of the Arab Spring was to remove tyrants and bring democracy to these countries—the result: ISIS. WHY:
    • Assuming everyone all over the world wants the same thing—I want to have freedom and democracy, so everyone must want it too
    • Based on wrong worldview: Man is basically “good” vs Man is Sinful—in the former, if I “liberate” the man, he will always do the right thing, being likewise merciful and selfless with others, and we have utopia
    • Social Justice: thinking man is “good” in nature, we think if we give man all he needs to live, he will be happy and productive (again, utopia)—instead he becomes lazy, covetous and more discontent (Johnson’s Great Society)
  • Fact: We can do everything right and things can still turn out bad: example above “I train my child up in the way he should go…” and they turn away from everything they were taught. WHY:
    • Your child has free will (you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink) and can choose to reject what they have been taught
    • You can’t keep them in an isolated bubble forever—the world will eventually have access to influence them, and since all are born with a sinful nature, temptation to sin will always be there
    • We often mistake their professions of faith as being genuine, when they are only mirroring back to us our own faith (telling us what we want to hear or trying to please us).
  • Fact: We can do what we think is “right” and not get the result we want:
    • Solomon in Ecclesiastes—tried everything to find happiness and satisfaction in life—realized only fearing God was worthwhile
    • David and his children: David showed grace and mercy to son Amnon when he raped his sister Tamar, but by not holding Amnon accountable and giving him a just punishment, it spurred Tamar’s brother Absalom to murder Amnon, which eventually led to a civil war with his father (2 Sam 13)
  • Is there ever an “unintended consequence” with God?
    • Judas picked as one of the 12 Disciples: was necessary to fulfill prophecy Psalm 41:Even myclose friend in whom I trusted,
      who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
    • Man by Pool of Bethesda in John 5: Jesus heals him and he betrays Jesus to the Pharisees When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him,“Do you want to be healed?”… 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
  • God “regretting” He ever made man Gen 6:5-7 | The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. “regretted” (“it repented the Lord” in KJV) nâcham naw-kham’ properly to sigh, that is, breathe strongly; by implication to be sorry, (reflexively) rue; repent (-er, -ing, self).

“it grieved Him to (at) His heart” ‛âtsab aw-tsab’ properly to carve, that is, fabricate or fashion; hence (in a bad sense) to worry, pain or anger: – displease, grieve, hurt, make, be sorry, vex, wrest.

  • God tells Moses He will destroy the Israelites for their rebellion, and make a nation out of Moses & his descendants: Numbers 14: 11 And the Lordsaid to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” 13 But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land… 15 Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, 16 ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ 17 And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.” 20 Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. 21 But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, 22 none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, 23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it.
  • God is omniscient, knowing all things and knowing every human heart—Doubting this means our salvation could have been an “unintended consequence” of His grace & mercy—we can start thinking that God “regrets” saving us:

Romans 8: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.