Photo courtesy of Milada Vigerova on Unsplash
Defining “good” and “evil”
Many people have given up on God because of the evil in the world. If God were really a loving, good God, He’d stop all the evil. He wouldn’t allow evil to exist at all. In fact, if God created everything, isn’t He actually the creator of evil? To tackle this ticklish issue, we need some good, working definitions. But we can’t just hop to the nearest dictionary to find them.
Did God create everything?
The Bible tells us in Genesis 1:31 that not only did He create everything, but that it was all good.
“”And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31, KJV).”
(If you are not comfortable that God created everything, I’ll cover that in another post.) So we can go from here with putting the credit on God for absolutely every single thing that was created.
Then doesn’t that mean that He created evil?
The problem here is why we need definitions. What is good? What is evil? Good is the quality of a thing that conforms to the character of God. Evil is the corruption of good. Evil is not a thing in and of itself. It does not exist as an independent entity. Have you ever walked into a room and seen an evil in it? Think of evil as a weeping wound on a person’s body. The body—the thing that God created that conforms to the quality of good in God—is there. But you cannot have the weeping wound without the body. It is the body that exists. The wound cannot exist without the body. It is the corruption of the good that constitutes evil.
Photo courtesy of Hailey Kean on Unsplash
So why does God allow evil?
The answer to this question is two-fold. I’ll start with the most commonly spoken answer: because of free will. God made us in His image, which makes us free agents of will. We can will to do good or we can will to do bad. We are given great freedom from God to choose His ways or to choose our own, even when those choices lead us into evil. Every person ever born is given the gift of free will. God desires us to choose good because He can stand at the beginning and see the end. He knows what the outcomes and consequences of our choices will be, but He will not stop us from making wrong choices if that is what we have determined in our hearts to do.
You may not be aware of how often God actually intervenes in your life to prevent something that would take your life or even worse, steal your faith. But He doesn’t violate your free will.
Yes, it’s true that He could have simply made us love him. But then is that really, truly love? Do you want your kids to love you because you make them? Is it even possible to make someone love you? You can see the difficulty here.
(Matthew 13:24-30) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
If you are a believer in Christ, you are the wheat in this story. Those who do not follow the Lord are the tares. The field is the world and the sower is God. Although there are tares (weeds) in the field, the Sower decides not to remove them before the harvest, lest the wheat gets damaged in the process. So as contradictory as it seems, it is for our own sake that He does not simply remove evil right now. When the harvest time comes at the end of the age, everything will be harvested, but the tares will be burned and the wheat will be saved.
“Isaiah 46:10 (KJV) tells us plainly: Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”
God is good all the time
There is never a day that God is not good. He cannot not be good because that is His character and nature. And when we choose evil (the corruption of what He created to be good), it grieves His heart.
Next time we’ll talk about natural evil. Stay tuned.