Why was I born if God knew I would fail?




In the last couple of months a question has come up at least three times. I am guessing that many others may be asking it as well. Perhaps you can help answer it.

The question is essentially this, "Why was I born, without choice in the matter, into a world where chances for spiritual success is minimal at best? Even Jesus said, "the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it" and Ephesians 1:3-5 indicates that God knew ahead of time that man would fail. Why then is it just for God to condemn a person to eternal punishment for doing what God knew was going to happen?" The people who have posed this question to me are in deep spiritual pain. To them this is a serious and reasonable question.

Why would a parent teach a child to ride a bike? He knows that his child is going to fall and have bumps and bruises. So why put him on a bike? The answer is because there is a benefit to be gained from learning to ride a bike which can outweigh the injuries.

The question of "Why was I born?" presented above looks at life backwards. At its root it sees that life is a mess and places the blame for this on God. The problem of sin, however, rests in man, not God. God's desire has been for people who freely chose to follow Him and do His will. "'For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,' says the Lord GOD. 'Therefore turn and live!'" (Ezekiel 18:32). I suppose God could have created a world where it was impossible to do wrong, but in such a world how would you know a person really wants to do what is right? God created a world where mankind was allowed to make choices between right and wrong.

Suppose we designed a road and put a fork in it. Without any special gift of foreknowledge, I can guarantee that some people will go one way and others will go the other way. Even if I put a sign on one branch warning people not to go this way because they will come to harm, still I can guarantee that some people will still go the wrong way. Why? Because a true choice means people will sometimes chose the wrong.

God knew mankind would stray. He gave men laws to warn them about what was harmful or dangerous, but the nature of choice means the wrong choice would eventually be made. Hence, God has actively been involved in attempting to save men from themselves. "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations" (Isaiah 61:10-11).

Jesus stated, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). This is a statement of fact. There is one right way, but there are endless wrong ways for a person to go. God starts each of us out as righteous. "Truly, this only I have found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes" (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Man, however, has been very innovative in find ways to leave righteousness. Whose fault is this, man or God's? God would like everyone to be saved (II Peter 3:9), but the hard reality is that most don't want to be saved.

The questioner is saying that it is God's fault. It is God's fault that I was born. It is God's fault that I was tempted. It is God's fault that I sin. The question never addresses his own responsibility toward the choices he made.

The Bible tells us that God allows us to choose, but that He gives us laws to warn us in advance which choice is better. He insures that no temptation can overwhelm us so that we have no choice (I Corinthians 10:13). And He designed a way for us to return to Him even after we make a bad choice.

""But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live? But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?"" (Ezekiel 18:21-29).

Despite all the sorrows generated by sin, there are benefits. Just has you never can become an athlete laying on a couch, God knows that in battling sin people become stronger. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4). Sure, the process of becoming strong is rough, but the end result outweighs the difficulties.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Purpose of Life
Questions and Answers regarding Foreknowledge
Questions and Answers regarding Evil
Questions and Answers regarding Law
"I Didn't Ask to be Born!" from Moral Principles for Young People
Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?
The Nature of Law
Predetermined Destiny
"Judge of All the Earth" from The Lord Your God is an Awesome God