03 September, 2016

Belgic Confession, Article 13—“He so restrains the devil and all our enemies...”

This doctrine [of divine providence] affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father, who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under his power that not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust; being persuaded that he so restrains the devil and all our enemies that, without his will and permission, they cannot hurt us (Belgic Confession, Article 13).

This article of the Belgic Confession is often presented as proof for an inner restraint of sin by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all men.


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Common Grace Considered, p. 126]

No Reformed man who believes in the sovereignty of God has ever denied that God restrains sin. No Reformed man has ever denied that included in God’s sovereign control are Satan and his black hosts from hell. Even while our Lord was on earth, the devils who were cast out of devil-possessed people, were subject to the Lord’s will. They could not even enter the pigs without the Lord’s permission (Mark 5:1-17). This profound truth of God’s sovereignty is taught in Article 13 of the Belgic Confession. But there is absolutely no mention made of an inner work of the Holy Spirit who restrains sin from within a man by changing man’s nature so that he can do good. Appeal to this article is an unwarranted twisting of the article on God’s providence.



More to come! (DV)

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