In case you haven’t noticed, there seems to be a lot of evil happening in the United States at the moment in ways that seem to be blurring the lines and turning us against each other – where is God in the midst of all this evil?
The concept of evil is a problem for those who are already people of faith, but it’s even more challenging for those considering or trying to develop a belief in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).
We read the news headlines and see the evil that human beings do to one another. The evil that people perpetrate makes some wonder if there could be any god at all? It raises questions about how God operates in the universe.
Three common questions arise during a discussion about God and evil. They are:
God gave human beings free will. Humans are not robots program to do what God wants them to. Humans are autonomous.
Humankind first exercised its free will in the Garden of Eden, eating the forbidden fruit, and obtaining the knowledge of good and evil. No longer blind, mankind could freely choose between going good or evil. God gave mankind a set of commandments to follow for righteous living. While this behavior is God’s will for righteousness, mankind still is free of its own will to behave as one pleases.
But sin also has consequences from cause and effect on Earth.
While God did not create evil, he recognized how evil could be used for His plan and purpose, which is to restore existence to its pre-Eden state. The Bible shows us that this restoration will ultimately occur.
The answer to this again is free will. While God does sometimes intervene, and every human being has a guardian angel, God also allows cause and effect to play out. The law of cause and effect it is well documented in the universe by science. God’s laws are part of cause and effect as well.
Righteousness brings eternal life, while sin brings eternal death. People are free to choose to love God and follow his commandments, or reject God and follow their own will. Like everything in the universe, actions have consequences.
God is all powerful and could stop evil. But He didn’t. Why?
In his sermon, “The Problem of Evil,” Pastor John MacArthur says there is no other conclusion possible than the realization that God wills evil to exist.
But by allowing evil, God shows us what good is. Evil gives us perspective on what is righteous and holy. Without evil, there would be no appreciation for God because there would be no standard for what is good and holy. God allowed evil to exist to his own glory.
God did not create evil. God is holy and incapable of sin or evil. The origin of sin is explained in Genesis 3. Evil came about because of the rebellion against God, both in heaven and on earth.
Pastor John MacArthur explains how God cannot be the author of evil.
“If God created evil, then God would be both good and evil,” MacArthur says. “And if God were both good and evil, there would be no hope for the ultimate triumph of good which the Bible promises. If God were Himself evil, He could not therefore triumph over evil, so good could not triumph. If God were the source of evil, He would have to be evil Himself. And if He were evil Himself, then there could be no basis for salvation, for God could not save us from evil if evil was in His nature.”
Jesus realized the game Satan can play with mankind. And he recognized how Satan could manipulate Old Testament Jewish Law, which aimed for fair retribution for wrongdoing, but wrongly interpreted, these laws also set the stage for acts of revenge.
Jesus brought clarity to this issue of the Law, saying:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
– Matthew 5:38-39
Revenge doesn’t solve problems. It only becomes a perpetual cycle of revenging one wrong after another.
Jesus’ statement isn’t about being a coward. It’s about not repaying evil for evil. It’s about having inner strength that recognizes evil but won’t stoop to the same level. Most importantly, it’s also an inner conviction of the mind in yourself that won’t allow evil people to provoke evil thoughts in you.
The answer isn’t more fighting or wishing death on one another. The solution only comes by changing hearts and minds. And there is only one solution – getting people to love and respect one another. This starts by treating each person fairly in the way that we would choose to be treated.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
– Matthew 5:43-44
Jesus also knew that the only answer is forgiveness. Viewing others as the enemy and holding on to anger only brings more evil.
Besides loving one another, it’s essential that we forgive one another. We can’t move forward without letting go of the anger or mistakes of the past. Many of the problems happening right now in America are the direct result of dredging up old issues of the past that really have no place in our current dialogue.
People are fighting over acts performed generations ago by people long dead. That is in part due to efforts by some sectors of society engaged in revisionist history that are undermining forgiveness that was already achieved previously.