Sovereignty, Humility, and Confidence
What is sovereignty?
In a geopolitical context, sovereignty is when a state has supreme power, or autonomy over all its affairs. They are free from external control because they are in control. Sovereignty is the declared authority and ability to rule over that which has been placed under your dominion.
That second word—ability—is important. If you don’t possess the power to keep things under your control, it doesn’t really matter if you declare yourself to be in control.
By this definition, Paul Tripp has no sovereignty whatsoever. Just this week, I could barely control the whereabouts of my inanimate car keys, cell phone, and earbuds! We must be willing to admit that there are very few things in life we can control.
It is humbling to stop and consider the limits of our sovereignty. Consider your career as just one example. No matter how hard you studied in school and how many overtime shifts you worked, there is no way you could have controlled all the elements over the years that put you in the position where you are today.
I think of my 51 years of marriage to Luella. How could a girl from Cuba and a boy from Ohio ever end up in the same place at the same time unless our story was woven together by a God of awesome sovereignty? Sure, we have worked hard on our marriage, but there has been a seemingly endless catalog of undeserved and unexpected blessings we have experienced that have contributed to the health and longevity of our relationship.
If you forget the sovereignty of God, you will take credit for things you could never have accomplished, produced, or controlled on your own. And when you take credit for what you couldn’t have done on your own, you fail to give praise to the one who alone deserves all the glory.
Functional belief in the doctrine of the sovereignty of God will result in personal humility and a more profound, more genuine spirit of thanksgiving and worship. But it will also produce a confidence in your soul that cannot be shaken.
Few things yield greater comfort than knowing that your world is under careful rule, and that the one who rules is your loving, wise Lord. The writer of Hebrews says, “He upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3)
I love how Colossians 1:16–17 captures the comprehensive sovereignty of Christ: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Your Lord never has questions, never is surprised, never is frustrated, never wonders, never is greeted with mystery, never wishes he could have, never looks back with regret, never is hoping, never is waiting, never feels helpless, has nothing he can’t figure out, and never finds himself at a loss.
No one can back God into a corner. He is never pressed to do something. There is no authority over him that he has to answer to. He does what he pleases, decides whatever he wants, and acts as he chooses.
In a world that appears so out of control, your confidence will never be found in figuring your life out, but in trusting the one who has it all figured out for his glory and your eternal good.
Paul David Tripp
1. How did you demonstrate your lack of sovereignty and an inability to control even the most minor of affairs in your life this week?
2. Consider something in your life that is worth celebrating—a successful career, a beautiful marriage, a family that loves and serves the Lord, a ministry that has made an impact on the Kingdom of God, etc. In what ways have you been, or are you, tempted to take credit? Identify just a few instances of your lack of control over the trajectory of this good thing in your life.
3. Why should the doctrine of the sovereignty of God produce more humility in your life? Be specific, using different examples than from Question #2.
4. Why should the doctrine of the sovereignty of God produce more confidence in your life? Be specific. Then, apply these answers to how you answer Question #5.
5. What are some things in your life that are causing reason for fear, doubt, and confusion? Where are these emotions justified and sympathized with in Scripture? The ultimate question is: are you letting these emotions dominate your heart, or is your confidence in the sovereignty of God creating “a peace which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7)?