Addressing the problem of evil is one of those subjects that always needs to be addressed because when life has a tragedy in it people begin to question if there is a God. Some of this stems from that people have the wrong concept of God and therefore believe He should act differently than He does at times.
What do we consider evil?
- Evil People: Hitler or Charles Manson
- Evil Acts: Murder/ rape/ stealing
- Evil Events: Hurricanes/ Tornadoes/ Earthquakes
- Evil Sicknesses: Cancer/ blindness
What is Evil? Evil is the lack of good just like darkness is the absence of light.
1) If there is no God then there is no evil
If we are all part of an evolutionary process with no God, then you cannot call something good and something evil it just is. So people that get cancer or who are hit by a tornado we should just say that evolution didn’t work out for them. If we believe in evolution then we should not criticize anyone for how they act no matter how evil we think it is.
So for someone to say that God does not exist because evil does not make sense because evil only exist if there is a God who is good.
2) Evil exist because God allows us to make choices
Genesis 2:15-17 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[d] of it you shall surely die.”
This is why I believe that Christianity has the answers to not only eternity but life as well. Christianity gives the answer to how evil entered the world and why it entered our world. When Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God we all suffered the consequences. Although we may believe this is not fair we have to remember that we all suffer the consequences of others decisions on a daily basis. We also have to remember that others suffer from our decisions as well.
No one wants a God that forces them to act and think a certain way but we He allows you to act and think differently than Him you complain about it. So you can have no evil in the world but to do so would mean that you also would not be given a choice between right and wrong.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:20-23 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Would you like God to cut out all evil? What if He starts with you?
The problem most of us have is we define evil as anything anyone does that we find bad. What we have to realize is that what we think is acceptable, God is calling evil. We have to stop comparing ourselves to others and start trying to understand how perfect God is.
Isaiah 6:2-3 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”[a]
So first of all if God were to remove evil there are many things we do not consider evil that God would remove. Secondly to remove the evil would mean that He would have to remove us because our thoughts and actions are evil according to God.
“The evil that we get so upset about doesn’t seem to upset us very much when we perpetrate it.” Ravi Zacharias, Beyond Opinion, pg 206)
If God were to say at midnight tonight all evil will be banished from the universe, who would be here at 12:01?
We are corrupted beyond what we know and we will never fully realize that this side of Heaven. People do not understand their own corruption and that is why they believe that by their own actions they will be accepted by God.
Only Jesus Christ could make us right again before a Holy and Perfect God and that is why He came to earth to die for us. If we do not accept the perfect sacrifice of Christ for our sins then we will not spend eternity with God.
Jesus did not come to earth to make us better people; He came to make us Holy in the sight of God.
Romans 5:17-19For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.18 Therefore, as one trespass[a] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[b] leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
3) God uses evil
As we said before if there is no God then there cannot be any evil and if God allows us to make choices then evil has to be one of those choices then the next question has to be; Is God in control while evil things are taking place?
This is how sovereign our God is that even in the midst of things looking as if He is not in control He is using evil to help fulfill His will. I do not pretend that any answer will satisfy you when you are the one who has walked through or are walking through something that seems to be evil. Just because there might be an explanation does not mean the pain is any less.
We have to look no further than the death of Christ on the cross by evil men who set out to destroy Him. What seemed like pure evil and pain was God orchestrating a beautiful story of redemption that would be for all eternity. Yes the immediate situation looked grim and seemed wrong but God was using the temporary for the eternal.
A) Death was defeated through pain and evil
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
It was the pain and death of the cross that brings us eternal life through Christ. We celebrate the evil and pain Christ suffered for us so that we can have eternal life. If we acknowledge that God can use evil for eternal purposes then we can also trust Him as we walk through evil and suffering for a purpose beyond what we can know.
B) God has a purpose for evil even though we do not understand
“There is a difference between our knowing the purpose for evil and God having a purpose for it. Even if we don’t know God’s purpose, He may still have a good reason for allowing evil in our lives. So we can’t assume that there is no good purpose for something just because we don’t know what it could be. (When Skeptics Ask, Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks, Pg 65)
We like the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis because we get to see the final result of all the pain he walked through. We realize that being lied about, forgotten, betrayed, sold into slavery all led to a magnificent plan that God had to save the people of Israel from a famine. I believe we also like the story because it is not us walking through it.
Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today.
The Apostle Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon while in prison. I am sure he was frustrated that he could not get the message of Christ out only to have it seen by more people than he would have ever been able to through traveling and speaking. I am sure the apostle Paul did not fully understand why he was in prison but God used it in order that we may have some of the books of the Bible for us to better understand who God is and His purposes.
We always want to say that life is not fair but Christianity is not fair as well. If God were fair then we would all pay for our own sins. If God were fair then He would not allow anyone into Heaven. Life is not fair but remember this life is temporary but God has made a way for us to have eternity with Him.
“Never forget that you are part of something bigger than your present situation”
C) God grows us through evil and pain
This part we do not like because we always think we will grow in pleasure. No athlete or business person would tell you that it was through success they grew. Pain is always the reason that good people become great so why do we expect our spiritual journey to be any different?
What about Job who lost everything and was stricken with disease? Did He ever fully understand the ways of God?
Job 42:5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
After all the contemplating and all the bad advice, Job realized God is bigger than he could ever imagine and in the process he discovered God Himself in a more intimate way. It is knowing God that our hearts truly long for and not the pleasures of this world. If God uses pain to get us to the point of knowing Him better then it is worth it.
When soldiers walk through war together they are bonded for life, not because of the success but the pain and death they had to endure together. Our relationship with God can grow closer through the things we call evil and pain as we continue to walk through them with Him.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[d] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
God has eternal purposes that we cannot understand for what we walk through. God uses evil and pain and it grows us into different people. For some it turns them toward God for others it turns them away from Him.
If there were no pain for our actions then we, being the selfish people we are, would continue down paths away from God. God uses pain to grow us and develop us. If you look back on your life and see when you grew the most spiritually it would be when God was growing you or disciplining you through the pain your own experiences or others choices.
“You can’t develop courage unless there is danger. You can’t develop perseverance unless you have obstacles in your way. You won’t learn how to be a servant unless there’s someone to serve. And compassion would never be summoned if there were never anyone in pain or in need.” (Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist, pg 391)
4) God is allowing evil and pain for a time.
2 Peter 3:8-10 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed
So God is patient with people and their evil for a time because one day He will no longer allow it to go on. In the meantime there will be hurt and pain and that is where we as Ambassadors for Christ are to step in and bring healing and comfort to those who are afflicted.
Revelation 21:1-8 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Yes Evil and pain are real and sometimes we do not understand Gods ways.
We can trust him with our pain and we can trust that He will grow and reward us for how we walk through it.
He will hold those accountable for their sins but our hearts should be broken for them not hardened because of their actions.
We need an eternal perspective to make it through this life and to lose it means our focus will be on things that in 100 years will not matter.
Are you mad at God?
Is your life not fair?
God has an eternal plan for you and no matter what you are walking through He will use in your life and in the lives of those around you. Even if you do not understand it, God has eternal purposes for what you are walking through.
My faith is not that God will remove my pain. My faith is in God who is sovereign no matter how out of control my life may seem.