It seems almost impossible for us to do away with the issue of origins. We need to know how things came about if we want to know the true purpose of anything in this world.
Our interest is not only in the origin of the universe or in how life sprang forth in it. We also want to know how ‘evil’ came about in the first place. Sometimes, it’s just amazing how the Christian is always the first person to be put on the spot whenever the problem of evil comes up. What about the Muslim or the Buddhist? Or the atheist or the skeptic or the naturalist? In fact, what do YOU also have to say about it? It’s a different matter if you’re unmoved by it. You might as well kindly exit from here because what I’ll be discussing won’t be of much interest to you. For the rest of us who are very concerned, we must one way or another attempt to address and offer solutions to the problem of evil. However, it’s not in my interest to talk about someone’s idea concerning this issue. I don’t plan to read someone’s mail. I will only read what is mine to you from the Christian worldview.
God is never responsible for the evil we see around us— we are.
God is not the author of evil. He does not commit evil. He did not ‘invent’ it and He doesn’t manipulate anyone to commit evil. When you read the Bible, you will rather find out that God and evil are on opposite ends of the bar. For instance, In 1 John 1:5 the Apostle John reports that, “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all”. It means that God is the author of Life, Knowledge, Holiness, Righteousness and anything that pertains to Goodness. So, the converse is this: God is not the originator of death, ignorance, impurity and anything that pertains to evil. ‘In Him is no darkness at all’ simply means what it is: you won’t find any form of ‘darkness’ or ‘evil’ residing in Him. Everything that has to do with evil certainly dwells outside of Him because it contrasts His true nature. In other words, evil only comes about when something (be it an action or a thought) contradicts the character and will of God. If you ever read or heard anywhere that God is any of the descriptions in the opening statements of this particular paragraph, I stand on the authority of God’s Word to say that it is absolutely false and unbiblical! God is NOT the creator of Evil!
If you’ve been following closely up until now, you’ll agree with me that evil is more like the negative version or the absence of God’s original nature. Once again, the Bible tells us a couple of times that, when God created everything it was good. I repeat, when God created everything, it was GOOD! If God indeed created evil in addition to goodness, will it make sense for Him to want to destroy it finally when He returns for the ultimate judgment? It’s almost like trying to ‘put an end’ to a part of His personality because for all we know, He will come to hate that part of Him in the near future. To me, that sounds like trying to say God is ignorant. As if He doesn’t know that the ‘evil’ side of Him will become a huge problem to deal with one day. By the way, I don’t believe in “process theology” so I know God isn’t a ‘work in progress’ where we can say He’s limited in power or wisdom for now. Now, back to the case. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that both good and evil dwell in God. That’s totally absurd and inconsistent with scripture. Maybe you haven’t read Isaiah 6 yet. If you can, find a quiet spot in your home or anywhere and read that portion of scripture. Just relax and read the sixth chapter of the book of Isaiah. No one will have to tell you that evil is an uninvited guest in God’s presence!
I want to mention something I recently read from John MacArthur’s sermon, “Unleashing God’s truth, One verse at a time”. He said that God embedded in us the gift of intelligence and reasoning alongside the freedom of choice. Intelligence. Reasoning. Choice. Just think about it. Intelligence grants us the capacity to learn and understand things. Reasoning provides us with the ability to process our understanding towards a certain conduct. The last one, which is choice, provides us the freedom to make decisions based on what we gather from our intelligence and reasoning. Put the three together in that sequence and you realize that we have the freedom to do or not to do something per our ‘intelligent reasoning’. Nevertheless, wherever there is freedom, there is also the possibility of its abuse. As long as there is the possibility of an abuse, perversion of goodness is a likely occurrence.
Freedom is like fire. They say ‘fire is a good servant but a bad master’. I believe the same applies to freedom too. You must be careful to use freedom wisely and under control so it does not hurt you badly in the end. Let’s not think that freedom, intelligence, or reasoning is a bad thing. Not at all. They are actually good in themselves. They are good and perfect gifts from God who is the Father of Lights. What did I say about God not too long ago? That God is the author of Life, Knowledge, Holiness, Righteousness and all that pertains to Goodness. Everything that comes out of Him is good. He is the Father of Lights. We have already established the meaning of ‘light’ in the earlier paragraphs so you understand what I mean. Another thing is God values relationship above everything else. That is the message of Christianity. A life of intimate, uninterrupted fellowship between a Father (God) and His son (man). For the relationship to be meaningful, God (out of His sovereign will) has granted us the freedom to love or reject Him. This is where we spoiled the beautiful offer. The moment we rejected God’s love, we shifted to the side, which is ‘not of God’s love’. We chose the side which is absent of all that is good.
Do you now understand why God is not responsible for evil? We are the ones who destroyed what was once declared as good. Once you defile something good, you violate its purpose. When purpose is violated, good is lost and evil is made manifest. Therefore, ‘evil’ is not as original as ‘good’. Evil is only explainable because of what goodness stands for. For example, rape is sexual abuse, right? We say it’s an abuse because we understand what a normal sexual behavior is. We don’t try to explain what a normal sexual behavior is from an abnormal one. It is rather the vice-versa. That’s why we can easily categorize rape as an abused form of normal sexuality. This is what I mean by saying evil is not as original as good. It borrows its meaning from that which is normal (the good in this case).
Evil is not a created substance like a car or a house. Evil is ‘good’ that has been defiled. Evil manifests once an act of goodness is defiled. The fallen angels chose to disobey God in the heavens. Man also chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden. Bottom line: Both rebelled against God, a total violation of purpose (a defilement of goodness). Hence the effect: Defiled life initiates death. Defiled knowledge initiates ignorance. Defiled holiness initiates impurity. In short, defiled goodness together with its cohorts initiates evil.
Can we say that it was a wrong move from God to have given man the freedom of choice? Or are we right to think that it is still God’s responsibility since He created man knowing that there was the tendency for him to choose evil? Remember this. If God is indeed the enablement behind our ability to reason in the first place, then our attempt to argue God’s ‘mistake’ falls flat. We won’t be able to successfully argue against the One who has gifted us with what we use to learn and reason in the first place. Let’s not forget that God’s eternal purpose has been designed according to His perfect wisdom. The thoughts behind His plans are thoughts of good and not of evil to bring us to an expected end.
I have a much more important question to even ask, “where does evil end up?” All these things like murder, rape, terrorism…what will be the end of these acts of evil? So, you see our problem isn’t just about knowing where evil originated from. Will it even end at all? This is what I have to say according to the letter I’m reading to you. Evil together with anyone who loves it will be utterly destroyed on the last day. On the other hand is the good news itself; anyone who decides to be an obedient servant to God’s son (Jesus Christ), wouldn’t have to worry at all about the destruction because we are already on the winning side. This is the free gift of salvation working on our side. It is still available to anyone who wants to join God’s family. I will be frank with you, God is the creator of all but not the Father of all. You make the decision. There’s always the freedom to choose whatever you want in this life but there’s no freedom to bargain the results once your choice is made. Once again, God is not the author of evil. He did not create it. He did not invent it.