Life on earth is filled with the horrible effects of sin. Why did God create mankind with the capacity to sin? Was there a higher purpose in this or was there a specific reason for it?

I'm specifically looking for an answer based on biblical teaching as interpreted in the Protestant tradition.

  • Perfectly reasonable question but you need to ask for a specfic tradions view on this or about specific differences or something else that can make answers objectivly verifiable.
    – Caleb
    Dec 22, 2011 at 22:13
  • Please edit then flag for reopening when it fits our general guidelines.
    – Caleb
    Dec 22, 2011 at 22:17
  • @Caleb Thanks, Caleb. I've been doing better with this, but missed it on this one.
    – Narnian
    Dec 23, 2011 at 13:45
  • İ finished up the edit. You can't have it both ways. The whole problem is that different traditons might (and in this case do) interpret differently yet claim their doctrine is Biblical.
    – Caleb
    Dec 23, 2011 at 15:09
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    @Nathaniel: It's acceptable, if Protestants have a reasonable consensus on the answer--and in this case, they don't. Not even close. While "Protestants" may indeed be a sufficient scope for one question, it's no guarantee that it's sufficient for any other.
    – Flimzy
    Oct 4, 2015 at 17:55

3 Answers 3


The reason God created anything at all is for His glory. (Isaiah 43:1-7 (esp v.7), Rev. 4:11, Col 1:15-16)This is a hard concept to grasp for anyone, even for a committed Christians. So the answer is that sin is there to glorify God. You may ask, "How does sin glorify God?" Sin glorifies God's attributes of justice and wrath, not His most popular attributes. Many Christians view God a pure love, and that is correct; but God is also pure wrath "a consuming fire" and pure justice. (Hebrews 12:29, Deuteronomy 32:4)

Think about it this way. If you had a family member who had been murdered by a criminal and you were present at the trial and the Judge decided to acquit the criminal despite eye witness testimony, how would you feel? Would the judge be 'glorified' in your eyes. God is glorified in the judging of sinners. In the case of true Christians, Christ stands as their sacrifice. So if we go back to the courtroom example we see the Judge's Son offering to take the punishment of the criminal and the Judge offering to take the criminal into his family to reform him.

So God is glorified by sin in two ways. He is glorified by judging sin righteously and also by His Son taking the punishment for some of the sinners.

Romans 3:22-26 (NKJV):

For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  • Very good! I agree completely, though I'd like to see some Scriptural support.
    – daviesgeek
    Dec 23, 2011 at 18:06
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    Can you quote Scripture as to "God created everything just for his Glory"? Dec 23, 2011 at 21:19
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    Nathan welcome to Christianity.SE! Thanks for taking the time to answer and improving your answer per feedback. Hope to see you around more.
    – Caleb
    Dec 27, 2011 at 11:26
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    Hey all, good discussion here. I just added Isaiah 43:1-7 (esp verse 7) as a reference for God creating for His glory. I am busy right now with holidays and work, but plan to return to this eventually and give a fuller explanation of this. However if God did not create everything for His own glory, why did He create? Easy to bash an idea, harder to come up with a different answer some times. :-) Dec 29, 2011 at 22:53
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    Just added two more verses, Col 1:15-16 and Rev 4:11. Also I think we should all ask ourselves why did God create at all. Being perfect in His state outside of time, he had no needs. I believe that the highest good is the glorification of that which is most worthy of glory. Therefore the only reasonable answer that I can find to this question is that God created all things for His glory. I might also suggest A Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World by Jonathan Edwards Mar 21, 2012 at 0:17

Free will is the ability of people to make choices different than God's commands.

A sin is a thought or act contrary to God's will for us.

Without the ability to sin, there is no free will.

Our problem is that free will is never addressed in the Bible. Bob DeWaay describes it this way:

Even in passages where prophets and others asked God why He allowed so much evil to harm the innocent, it was not discussed. The answer was never that God was committed to the principle of free will and determined that allowing evil was a necessary by-product of free will.

He continues:

Most free will theology is based on philosophical considerations that are imported to the discussion from outside the Bible. Since the Bible does not directly discuss the meaning of “free will,” the concept must be derived from passages about human bondage to sin and human responsibility and culpability before the Law of God. You will see this as we examine literature on the topic.


Free will is not the simple answer to important theological questions that people think it is. It raises more questions and complications than it answers. I set about to study this matter in great detail over ten years ago. I read the best material I could find, much of it sited in this article. The bottom line for me is that we need to accept what the Bible teaches and not try to escape from clear Biblical passages through philosophical speculation. I am not minimizing the sincere desire people have to answer the difficult question about God’s relationship to time, evil, and human choices. But I am saying that outside of Divine revelation in Scripture there are true mysteries.

it's worth the time to read all of Bob DeWaay's essay.

My personal opinion is that God considers the free will of man to be the prime directive, with everything else supporting free will. But my opinion is not supported by the Bible.

  • Free will is not the prime directive, love is. But freedom (and thus, free will) is a very close second (and also a consequence of love). Dec 23, 2011 at 21:17
  • As a side note, there are many verses in the Quran that mention free will and explains why it exists. Here is one instance in Sura 91: "By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; (7) And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;- (8) Truly he succeeds that purifies it, (9) And he fails that corrupts it! (10)"
    – Omtara
    Dec 25, 2011 at 6:03
  • "Without the ability to sin, there is no free will.". Why didn't make god so that there is no sin and still a free will? People say that God is beyond logics (trinity = unlogical, still it's "true"), so God can do even what you say cannot be. Dec 25, 2011 at 10:00
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    @JohannesSchaub-litb: I think most would say the trinity is beyond understanding; not that it actually contradicts logic. There's a very big difference between those two concepts.
    – Flimzy
    Dec 27, 2011 at 7:45
  • It poses the question, then: would there be free will in any Heaven? Dec 30, 2011 at 8:40

"For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all." - Romans 11:32

By looking at this passage alone, we can guess that God had set all this in motion in order to show mercy and love to all.

However, classical Christianity has always fallen silent on this mystery, we may not be intended to know why.

But the Westminster catechism at least teaches that we were intended to "love God and enjoy Him forever." If that the the end that we hold that Christianity has for us, then whatever happens here and now in the interplay of sin and free will, election and grace, is for the purpose of helping us to "love God and enjoy Him forever."

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