Revelation 17:17

Revelation 17:16-17 (see also 2nd Kings 19:252nd Chron. 18:22Luke 22:31John 8:441st John 3:8)
And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled. 

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “God is merely fixing, setting, establishing that which men and women have already chosen.”

​Question: How has “God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose”? 

Answer: If God puts it into their heart through secondary means of passive permission, or abandonment to the will of Antichrist, then that’s one thing, but if God actively works sin in the lives of Antichrist’s followers, scripting their thoughts, through any form of active partnership, then it is unavoidable that God is seen as the agent of sin, which Arminians reject.

Calvinist, Stephen Garrett: “Those who say God causes things ‘passively’ still have God causing it. If I know that my inaction will cause a certain thing, is my inaction not a cause in the same way action is a cause? (My Daily Bread, emphasis mine)

Question: But what exactly is God causing?

Answer:  Consider it from the perspective of Romans 1:28: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.” So, you could say that God caused them to have a depraved mind, but you don’t want to lose sight of the fact that it was passive, reluctant and against God’s will. God permits them to exercise their will, removes His grace and gives them up, similar to the way in which the father of the prodigal son had passively, reluctantly and unwillingly given up his son. God had given up the tribulation “666” crowd, as well as King Ahab according to Chronicles, to the will and purpose of Satan.

When God gives someone up, He also gives them over, but it’s with the intent of bringing something good out of if. Consider an example from the apostle Paul: “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1st Corinthians 5:5) This was reluctant, in that this was not what Paul desired from the start, but in giving him over, it was for a righteous purpose.

Ben Henshaw: “...the passage does not say that God controlled their wills. It only says that He put it into their hearts (or minds) to share a common purpose. This common purpose was secured in the fact that they gave their kingdoms to the beast. ... Second, their wills and desires were already in line with those of the beast so God did not influence them to sin (since He did not give them those desires). They were already in allegiance with the beast in their hearts before God put it in their hearts to give their kingdoms to the beast. God only influenced them to make tangible the allegiance which was already in their hearts so that God could accomplish His purpose. ... Third, verse 13 tells us that these kings received their authority from the beast. So these kings are not even really yielding their kingdoms to the beast in a sense because the power and authority they have came from the beast in the first place. The emphasis, then, is on the fact that God put it in their hearts to exercise their power in line with the purpose of the beast (i.e., to cooperate with him to accomplish something). And what was that purpose? This is the key to understanding this passage. Verse 16 tells us what God was trying to accomplish: ‘And the ten horns [kings] which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.’ God put it into the hearts of the kings to be of one purpose with the beast to destroy the whore of Babylon. God was using the beast and the kings to exercise divine judgment on her (who probably represents the corrupt world system). So God put it in their hearts to do His will, which was to destroy Babylon (the great harlot). Was the destruction of Babylon a bad thing? No. It was a good thing for Babylon to be destroyed, an act of divine judgment, and it was that alone which God put into their hearts to accomplish. So God actually put it in their hearts to do a good thing, even if their intentions were not good! Fourth, even if God had irresistibly influenced them to be of one purpose it does not follow that this is always how God operates. In fact, the fact that the text specifically tells us that God put it into their hearts would seem to suggest that this is not how God usually operates. If God always controls man’s thoughts and will, then there would be no need to make a point of it here. The fact that the text makes a point of God’s involvement suggests that this is not always the case.” (Arminian Perspectives

​Question: If God controls man’s thoughts and will, and does so always via Determinism, then why make a point of it here?

Answer: The fact that the text makes a point of God’s involvement suggests that this is not always the case.

Calvinist, John MacArthur: “Antichrist’s self-serving, satanically inspired actions are, however, precisely in the scope of God’s sovereign plan. In fact, it is God who will put it in the hearts of Antichrist’s followers to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast. God’s power is behind the destruction and consolidation of the evil empire; as alwaysSatan is the instrument of God’s purposes.” (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11, p.172, emphasis mine)

​MacArthur: “satanically inspired actionsGod’s sovereign plan.”

MacArthur: “as always, Satan is the instrument of God’s purposes.”

That’s the long dark road of Determinism.

John Calvin: “...Satan continually goes about roaring for his prey. Since he is driven by such furious madness to destroy us, nothing is more absurd than for us to lie drowsing. Before the need to fight appears we should already be preparing, because we know our destruction is sought after by Satan, and every means of injuring us is cleverly and carefully grasped in his hands. When it comes to the encounter, let us know that all temptations, wherever they come from, are fabricated in the workshops of that foe.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Matthew, Mark and Luke Vol. III, and James and Jude, p.141, emphasis mine) 

​But according to John MacArthur, all temptations are 
fabricated in the workshops of God.

If you’ve ever wondered whether Calvinists worship 
a different God, it’s statements like this, from John 
MacArthur, that really gives reason to wonder.

Calvinist, Erwin Lutzer: “In the Books of Daniel and Revelation, when the future actions of the Antichrist and his cohorts (who are controlled by Satan) are predicted, it always says, ‘It was given to him power.’ Obviously, Satan serves God’s purposes.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.220, emphasis mine)

Erwin Lutzer: “The devil is also a being filled with only hatred and deceit. He is a rebellious liar and malicious sadist. He desires to see humans suffer for suffering’s sake. Thus he always stands in opposition to God even when he does what God ordains.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.221, emphasis mine)

​Question: If “Satan is the instrument of God’s purposes
 according to “God’s sovereign plan,” then whose works 
did Jesus come to destroy?

Answer: 1st John 3:8 states: “The Son of God appeared 
for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” The 
inevitable consequence of Calvinism is that the Son of 
God has come to destroy the works of God.

​Question: Who tempted Jesus?

Answer: James 1:13 states: “God cannot be tempted by 
evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” At 
Matthew 4:3, the Tempter came to tempt Jesus to sin. 
So if “as always, Satan is the instrument of God’s 
purposes,” who are Calvinists making the real Tempter 
out to be?

Erwin Lutzer: “Satan, regardless of how evil his actions, always serves the purposes of God. God frequently uses the devil to serve his higher ends. When Satan taunted God about Job, the Lord allowed Satan to inspire evil men to kill Job’s servants and steal his cattle; he gave Satan the power to use wind and lightning to kills Jobs children.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.220, emphasis mine)

Is there a difference between allows vs. what God allegedly decrees?

Erwin Lutzer: “Nonetheless, his permission necessarily means that he bore ultimate responsibility for it. After all, he could have chosen ‘not to permit’ it.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.210, emphasis mine)

Erwin Lutzer: “In a word, what God permits, he ordains.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.210, emphasis mine)

Lutzer clarifies: “Calvinists pointedly admit that God ordains evil--this is consistent with both the Bible and logic. In ordinary discussions about human events, we can say that God permitted evil, as long as we understand that he thereby willed that the evil happen. Calvinists agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith that says God ordains all that ever comes to pass. In a word, what God permits, he ordains.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.210, emphasis mine) 

​Question: Should we also infer that since the father of the Prodigal Son according to Luke 11:11-32, permitted his son to leave, that he must have also ordained it? Surely, he could have forbidden it, and held back the money from his son’s inheritance, thereby thwarting the financing behind his son’s sinful adventure.

Answer: Obviously ‘permit’ and ‘ordain’ are not the same things.

​Question: If God ordained sin, as Calvinism teaches, then did God send His Son to Calvary to pay for the sin that He ordained?

Answer: To a Calvinist, this is blasphemy, but to an Arminian, it is the inescapable consequence of making God out to be the ‘ordainer of sin.’

Lutzer continues: “If God wills the damnation of the ungodly, he  may use Satan in whatever capacity he chooses to fulfill his purposes. Even Arminians must admit that God allows the devil to have the satisfaction of working toward the damnation of many.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.221, emphasis mine)

​Question: If “God wills the damnation of the ungodly,” then what does it mean that “Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)

Answer: God is not wishing that any of the ungodly perish, but that all of the ungodly repent (2nd Peter 3:9) However, when the wicked refuse to repent, yes, God does turn them over to Satan, but why should we suppose that that was God’s intentions all along?

Here is a link to a Blog discussion on this point.