Can good come out of evil?

If this was true, then evil could somehow be justified by the good that came after.    Evil could actually be commendable.  For example, if my jealousy could cause someone to be more content, or if my anger could cause someone to be more patient, then it would seem I was actually doing them a favor!

But we know this isn’t so.  The Bible calls sin as what it is: sin.  Sin is rebellion against God and separation from God.

Since nothing good comes out of sin, good can’t come out of evil.

But doesn’t God use evil for His will?

No.  If I use something, it is in some way mine.  If I use a cell phone or a pencil or a dish, I am, for some small moment anyway, claiming ownership over it.  Does God own evil?  No.

But if this is so, then why does the Bible say,

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV)

II think God does give us clues to what this might look like.

I still remember when, at about eleven years old, a best friend had to move away.  I was totally distraught and basically thought life was over except for when we would visit each other.  I remember sobbing hysterically one night until my mom driving me to our Hallmark store, where she bought me a duck with a raincoat and a seal Beanie Baby.  Things didn’t seem near so bad after that (at least for a few hours).

This is a silly example, I know, but the point is that my mom wasn’t responsible for my friend moving.  But she worked through the difficult circumstances and brought about kindness for me.  But her kindness actually wasn’t contingent on the sad at all.  She still could have taken me to the Hallmark store.  So whether the sad event happened or not, my mother could have demonstrated her love.

Even though this is a simple and feeble story, it helps illustrate a truth about God.  God does not cause evil to happen.  But He does plan for what He will do about evil.  The Bible tells us that God had a rescue plan for us from before the foundations of the earth (e.g., Romans 16:25-27, Ephesians 1:4, 2 Timothy 1:8-10, 1 Peter 1:20).

But God did not bring about the evil.  In fact, He could have demonstrated His love without there ever having been evil in the world, but Adam and Eve didn’t choose to go that route.  Instead, they chose to sin, costing God more than anyone except God would be willing to pay.  But God chose to pay . . . and He sent His Son to die.

I wasn’t sure for many years whether or not God wanted us to sin so He could rescue us.  What a beyond stupid thought, reminding me something like what the apostle Paul talks about (Romans 3:7-8).

God’s sacrifice of Christ was totally genuine and totally necessary.  If there had been any other way to save humanity, God would have brought it about (e.g., Matthew 26:39, Matthew 26:42, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42).

I remember the day God in His grace revealed to me something I’d never seen, that changed my perspective about the cross:

There was a great deal more distress at the plan for the cross than we recognize, picturing God only as a master planner and not a father.

God knows what will happen, and He plans for it, but He does not bring all things about.  God has no part in evil (e.g., Daniel 9:14, Psalm 116:5, Psalm 119:137, Ephesians 4:22-24, 1 John 1:5, 1 John 4:8,1 John 4:16,  James 1:17) and He never will.

(This is not the same as saying God has no part in punishing evil.  Punishing evil is not evil, rather, the Bible tells us it is righteous.  See, for example, Daniel 9:7 and 9:14.)

Out of a mercy deeper than I will ever totally understand, God chooses to come along behind the wreckage of sin and His teaching and gifts bring about His incredible promise:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV)

Why can’t this work for everyone?  Why is it that God only promises His goodness to

those who are called according to his purpose


Without God’s good preceding and following the wreckage of sin we leave . . . all we have is that wreckage.  And we are condemned forever to face it.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, NIV)


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