There is no doubt that evil exists. In fact, evil is the default state of humanity. (Babies have to be taught not to bite, after all.) Did God create evil?
God is both loving and all-powerful. Despite this, He seems unwilling or incapable of preventing the vast amount of evil and suffering in this world. That was essentially the question posed in yesterday’s email.
“I have recently had a question posed to me and I find I am unable to find an answer (if there is even one). I have been asked why God did not send Lucifer immediately to the place prepared for him and his legions when he rebelled. Why did a loving God allow him to enter the Garden of Eden to destroy mankind? I admit my attempts to explain fell short of their anticipated answer. I know you have most likely addressed this in the past, but could you perhaps address again for us that might have missed this.”
Fair enough. We’ve all been hit at one time or another with what is a seemingly unanswerable question: “Why didn’t God just nuke Lucifer before the Garden and avoid all the fuss?”
The short answer is, “Because you couldn’t go to heaven if He did!” — but that seldom satisfies the critics.
The longer answer is because the universe is created in a balance.
For there to be darkness, there must first be light. Darkness is measured by the absence of light. Without the prior existence of light, darkness could not exist. You can’t measure light without darkness.
In order for there to be cold, there must first be heat. Cold is a measure of the absence of heat. Without heat, cold could not exist.
Evil is a measure of the absence of good. Without good, evil could not exist. Evil is not a creation of God, since it cannot exist outside of the creation of good. But evil does exist, because goodexists.
Think of it like a battery. It takes both the positive and negative poles to create power. Good would have no power to effect change without evil, just as evil has no existence without good.
How could one choose good if there were no evil against which to measure it?
In a sense, good “creates” evil by good’s very existence because good exposes evil for what it is. The purpose of the Law was to establish what is good, proving we are all sinners, so that we would recognize our need for a Savior.
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Romans 7:7-8)
In His creation, God never pronounced the universe ‘perfect’ — He found some of His creation to be ‘good’ some of it to be ‘very good’ and even some of it that He pronounced, ‘not good’.
“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis2:18)
God created the universe as it exists for the express purpose of allowing free will spiritual beings the opportunity to choose to have fellowship with Him, or to reject Him. Those who choose to have fellowship with Him will do so in some future, perfect creation.
And if His purpose is to have free-will fellowship in some future creation, then there must also exist some means by which these spiritual beings can make a choice whether or not to enter into this relationship with Him.
“. . . I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Genesis 8:21)
The Bible tells us that humanity is desperately wicked and sinful (Romans 3:10–18,23). God allows human beings to commit sin because if He were to prevent it, the human race would not truly be free.
The Apostle Paul outlines God’s fourteen-point indictment against the human race;
- There is none righteous, no, not one.
- There is none that understandeth,
- there is none that seeketh after God.
- They are all gone out of the way,
- they are together become unprofitable;
- there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
- Their throat is an open sepulchre;
- with their tongues they have used deceit;
- the poison of asps is under their lips:
- Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
- Their feet are swift to shed blood:
- Destruction and misery are in their ways:
- And the way of peace have they not known:
- There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:10-18)
It takes an incredible capacity for self-deception not to see oneself mirrored in that list. Think back to before you were saved. That is the condition of every lost person you meet.
Paul goes on to point out that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (3:23) but that there is an offer extended to us to be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (3:24)
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (3:27-28)
So God allows evil to exist in order to allow free will to exist. Without the existence of evil, there is no choice possible. God permitted it because it was necessary to His plan.
The Scriptures tell us that God is the Creator and the source of all good, and it reveals that, during this present dispensation, Satan is the god of this world and the source of all evil.
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2nd Corinthians 4:4)
Much of the suffering that exists in this world is a direct result of evil choices made by free-will human beings that impact others.
Natural disasters — hurricanes, volcanoes, etc., are part of the cycle of power required by this imperfect universe in order for it to exist in balance.
In the new creation, there will be some limits on our free will, since the new creation will not contain evil. In this life, we have a free will choice whether to agree to give that up in the next.
That is what it means to turn one’s life and will over to Jesus Christ. It is the conscious and deliberate choice to surrender our free will to God for eternity.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Those who refuse the opportunity in this life will not be forced to in the next life, but will instead exist separately from the new creation, and apart from God. The place set aside for those who reject God is the place originally prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)
Bad things happen in this universe, because that is how it is designed. No human being has in himself ever been righteous. Even Adam was not righteous: he was innocent— until God allowed the serpent to test him.
As soon as the choice was offered, he chose unrighteousness.
Ultimately, there is not an answer to these questions that we can fully comprehend. We, as finite human beings, can never fully understand an infinite God (Romans 11:33-34).
Sometimes we think we understand why God is doing something, only to find out later that it was for a different purpose than we originally thought.
We look at things from an earthly perspective. God looks at things from an eternal perspective;
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
It is impossible for us finite human beings to understand the ways of an infinite God (Romans 11:33-35). Second, we must realize that God is not responsible for the wicked acts of evil men.
God had to allow the possibility of evil for us to have a true choice of whether to worship God or not. If we never had to suffer and experience evil, would we know how wonderful heaven is?
We don’t know everything, but we can be confident knowing this:
“And we know that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
That’s why God allows evil to exist. So you could choose good.