What has God given us to combat the evil that is present in our world?
Despite the evil that exists in our world, the Bible says that God keeps it from unraveling.
So, for now, God allows evil to be unleashed– at least to a degree– while keeping it in check so He can fulfill the plan He has for all ages— and until He establishes His eternal reign after the defeat of evil and all evildoers.
Even now, even with free will, God is actively doing something about evil.
He’s given us the church. The presence of believers and churches restrain evil. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus commissions Peter to be the ‘rock’ of the church, a church that will not be overcome by the influence of sin and evil.
We’ve also been given the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:1-6). The Holy Spirit guides us and acts within Christians. We also have our consciences and our concern for our reputation. God has given us a conscience and a community around us that helps restrain the influence of evil in our lives.
We’ve also been given external structures and influences to act against evil. First, God has given us the governmental structures to create laws and regulate people’s actions. God tells us to submit to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7). He has also established our family units to bring stability into our communities. Parents discipline their children and promote Godly influences in their lives (Proverbs 22:15; 23:13).
Finally, God has given us His Word (Psalm 119). Studying and learning God’s Word is a shield against the influence of evil and the work of Satan.
In my posts on evil, I’ve discussed the influence and spread of evil, how evil exists under the sovereignty of a good and powerful God, and how God works to restrain evil. I hope you have grown in an understanding of evil and its limited role in our world.
We’ve seen a lot of death, pain, suffering, and evil in our world during the last few years, so today I want to address a few questions having to do with evil, pain and suffering— questions that, I believe, all ‘thinking’ people ask.
First, I want to help us understand evil—
The reality of “evil” isn’t something that has its own existence… but it is a corruption of something that already exists. Evil is like rot, decay, or rust. Rot can only exist as long as the rotting thing exists. Rust isn’t something in and of itself– it doesn’t have its own existence… it exists because there is something ‘to’ rust. Decay only occurs ON something.
So evil is like rot, rust, or decay: it feeds on & corrupts that which is good.
That is what happened at the Fall: humankind made the willful, deliberate, and conscious decision to disobey God and His Commands. This rebellion produced wickedness, and this vile product of evil entered time and was unleashed against all of the created cosmos.
When we discuss evil, there are three issues we must deal with: God’s goodness, God’s power, and evil itself.
When we talk about all the entailments of evil, we begin to ask ourselves about God’s goodness, like “If God is good, why would He let this happen?” But we also begin to ask questions about God’s power. “If God is all-powerful, why won’t He stop this from happening?”
God isn’t finite or powerless against evil.
The fact is that God is able to do something about evil. God is all powerful. But the fact is that God’s timing isn’t always human timing. (As we see when Jesus allowed his friend Lazarus to die, read John 11). The fact that God hasn’t yet defeated evil doesn’t mean He isn’t going to or isn’t able to.
God and the existence of evil is not a contradiction.
Most people either decide, because the world has such problems, that either GOD DOESN’T EXIST or that He can’t do anything about it or isn’t a good God. All of these are wrong answers.
God allows evil and that means that He has allowed it to become a part of His ultimate plan. It wasn’t originally that way, but because of human rebellion, God allows it to exist, as it was ushered into existence through free-will and angelic/human agency (choice). And because God is sovereign, He is able to let it exist and still oversee His purposes and plans for the universe and all its peoples, without contradicting Him.
So the POINT of evil’s existence is that the ONLY WAY for people to have free will or a choice in anything is for people to have the possibility of making a WRONG “choice.” If you don’t have the opportunity to make a ‘wrong’ choice, then it’s not a choice at all, and you aren’t free.
‘Choice’ is a real thing and it has REAL consequences. God didn’t create ‘choice’ and free will and it not MEAN anything. No– when we do something wrong, there are REAL consequences. And real ramifications occur– and that is the tragedy of evil.. That people do it anyway… but free will is the only way that people can show true love– and that goes for human relationships with one another, as well as our relationship with God.
What is God’s ultimate purpose in allowing evil?
C.S. Lewis reminds us that the God-given freedom of choice and human sin didn’t take God by surprise: “And God knew, in His ultimate wisdom, that He could allow a world of free creatures and, even though they fell, He could work out a deeper happiness and fuller splendor than an automatic world would produce.”
If God is to preserve freedom and to defeat evil, this is the best way to do it. Free will allows each person to determine his own destiny. But ultimately, God will separate evil from Himself and those who want to do good. That’s when evil will be overcome because God will confine those who choose sin to live in sin, and sin will cease its harm and will be eternally quarantined— unable to upset the perfect world that is to come (heaven).
The result: The goal of a perfect world comes about… and people still had a free will to make their decision and choose their destiny, and those who abused the freedom and harmed people will be cast out of the perfect world they didn’t want to be a part of.
So, it’s not that this current world is a perfect world, but now that we spoiled it, it’s the best way TO a perfect world.
So, one day evil will be done away with— and time continues to unfold until that day.
Evil is obviously present in the world, seen in murder, child abuse, terrorism, and natural disasters. Many Christians and non-Christians don’t understand why evil is present in the world. What’s important for Christians to remember is:
None of this was originally supposed to happen.
God created the world ‘good’— everything that was created God considered “good,” and that word actually means ‘perfect’ (Genesis 1:102; 31). The world was a world of goodness, harmony, vitality, hope– even ‘bliss,’
In Genesis 3, we read of the Fall. Adam and Eve were innocent– unfallen and without sin, but not necessarily perfect. In other words, they were at least ‘capable’ of committing wrong acts. When the rebellion occurred, it was a volitional, willful, deliberate act. Though Eve was deceived, God’s command was broken by the eating of the excluded fruit– and to do that was forbidden. Giving in to temptation, they rationalized their desires, justified their behavior in their own eyes, and did what they wanted to do. The Fall occurred as a result… it set into motion ruin, spoil, contamination, corruption— and every human evil and disposition that there is. As a result, each was cursed for playing a role in what happened (Genesis 3:16ff)
The effects of the Fall were: a broken relationship between God and humanity, strained relationships between human beings, and the injection of evil into the world. This is the cause of every bad and evil thing in our world– disorder, loneliness, heart disease, physical problems, pain, aging, death, and corruption. These effects of sin entered the cosmos (the world God created and everything in it).
The Fall of Humanity was the fault of mankind– and mankind alone. God’s goodness was in no way eclipsed by their actions, and it was because of people that there was unleashed EVIL on a cosmic/global and personal scale. The sin of Adam was like turning a lock and opening the door for the spoiling of the universe and all humanity.
Evil had three expressions: bad things or evil as a direct consequence of deliberate human choice (making a decision to do something bad– killing someone), as an indirect consequence of non-deliberate human choice (unintentional killings and lesser situations; things going wrong even though people didn’t mean to do things wrong), and bad things ‘just going wrong’ without any humans being involved (natural disasters).
All of these things are effects/consequences of the Fall or “Expressions of the Curse”
Jesus came to address the problem of Evil. He did so by attacking and defeating ‘sin.’ He did this through giving his life on a hill called Calvary on the cross of crucifixion. When He did that, he won the war, but now all things must unfold to that great end of the age— as He continues to work out His plan on earth. The Bible (end of time/beginning of eternity) ends with the destruction of the Curse— and the resolution of all human pain and suffering forever– UNDOING THE EFFECTS OF SIN.
God does not introduce evil into the world, it entered through the Fall, through our sin. When Jesus returns, the effects of sin will finally end. God will come to judge and to undo the effects of sin.