Why Our God Determined Steps Do Not Excuse Our Thoughts

Proverbs 20:24 (HCSB)A man’s steps are determined by the LORD, so how can anyone understand his own way?

It is understandable why some brethren hold to a deterministic viewpoint when they read verses such as this one. However, earlier in Proverbs this is what was also said…

Proverbs 16:9 (HCSB)A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.

Even though our steps are determined by God, it is important to notice that what we plan comes from us, and not Him. This is why we are culpable to God. We might plan our way, but it is God who decides as to whether or not those plans actually happen. A few verses earlier it says this…

Proverbs 16:1-2 (HCSB)The reflections of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD evaluates the motives.

Our plans, our “reflections of the heart” which “seem right,” reveal who we really are because they “belong” exclusively to us. They do not belong to God. Whether God allows them to happen or not is His prerogative. But we must remember, regardless of His decision to let our plans manifest or not, it is He who “evaluates the motives.” Not only does God weigh our intentions, He even knows what we plan to do before we do it…

Psalms 139:1-4LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, LORD.

This brings us back to that first question:

“…so how can anyone understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

Look in the mirror. Be honest with yourself with regards to your own thought life, and don’t blame your Maker for it… because your designs are yours and yours alone. Such are the things that God will review at the judgement. Here’s Jesus giving warning about our thought life…

Matthew 5:21-22… 27-30 (HCSB)“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, ‘Do not murder,’ and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment… You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell!”

It can be hard to wrap our minds around the fact that even though God is in control of what happens, we are still culpable for what we think. The thing is (according to the Bible anyway) these principles are not mutually exclusive…

Proverbs 19:21 (HCSB)Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the LORD’S decree will prevail.

Might the closing of Psalm 139 help to guide our thoughts, as God guides our steps…

Psalms 139:23-24 (HCSB)Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.

Godspeed, to the brethren!

Check out my book! (click here)