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Editor: Ed Barnes      ph 423-458-5043     

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vol 4 no 22 September 12, 1999

God and Evil

THE WORLD IS FILLED WITH suffering and evil. Babies are born with crippling deformities. Innocent bystanders are killed in criminal acts. Thousands are killed by both natural disasters and manmade disasters.

To many people this raises doubts about the existence of God. If this world was created by God, they ask, how come there is so much evil in it? It looks like God is either not good enough to be God, or not strong enough to be God. This is a very serious question in the minds of many people, and should not be dismissed lightly.

In answer to this question, it should be pointed out first of all that the world as originally created by God was perfectly good (Gen 1:31). Sin, evil and suffering are not things that were created by God at all. In fact, evil is not a "thing." Evil is always a misuse or perversion of one of the good things that God has created. An apple tree, for example, is good. But is someone takes its wood and makes a weapon to kill someone, the result is evil. But man did the evil, not God.

Evil is always the result of man's choice to rebel against the will of God. That is not to say that every evil thing that befalls an individual is a result of some particular sin he has committed. It is simply to say that all evil -- even that which befalls the innocent -- traces it ultimate origin to the fact that man is a sinner and his sins have separated him from the goodness of the God that created him.

Adam committed the first sin (Gen 3). And it was only after that and as a result of that that death, pain, and suffering entered the world (Gen 3:16-19). But it is not just because of Adam that man suffers. Every man since him has consented to his act and joined the rebellion against God at some point in his life.

But, someone asks, why didn't God just make man so he could not sin? Well of course God could have done just that. But the beings he would have created would not have been men. They would have no free will. They would just be glorified robots. God could have done one of three things. He could have created free human beings who could either obey or disobey him. He could have created non-free robots which could only obey. Or he could have created nothing at all.

Perhaps some think the third option is the one God should have taken. But we only think this because we forget the real purpose of creation. God did not create us just to have some toys to play with. He made us so that we might have fellowship with him, and ultimately that we might partake of the divine nature and glory with him (2 Peter 1:3-4; Rom 8:17-18). God was not only willing to take the risk. He was willing to suffer with man to give man a second hope of that glory after man had failed the first time. This he did by sending his only son, Jesus, to suffer and die, above all, and for all.

But, someone else asks, now that man has sinned, couldn't God just stamp out all evil once and for all? The answer, of course, is yes he could. And someday he will make a complete destruction of all sin and evil. But suppose for a moment that he were to do so right at this very instant. Where would that leave us? Would we be among those destroyed?

Are we free from sin? No, what God has done for the present is provide those of us who are sinners a way to repent and be forgiven of our sins, so that we will not be destroyed when the final judgement does come. Thus, even though the delay of judgement does necessitate a continuation of suffering there, we should look on it as a blessing, for in reality it is only God's gracious way of giving us a little more opportunity to escape the eternal suffering we really deserve as a result of our sins (2 Peter 3:3-10).

No, God is not unaware of our suffering. Nor is he indifferent to it. Indeed, our suffering is his own suffering, for in spite of our sins, he still loves us, and was willing to suffer with us in the person of his own son. And we should learn to see in the suffering of the world around us, not a challenge to our faith, but the wages of sin, the cross of Calvary, and the one who suffered and died for us.

- Phil Roberts


The multitude of books is making us ignorant. -- Voltaire

We have a dangerous tendency to forgive whatever we really understand

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