Where does this idea of God being evil, enjoying suffering, choosing people to create to occupy Hell, etc., come from? Is it true?

May I say something startling?

Hover mouse over photograph for caption.
[Photograph from Answers in Genesis Museum]

It comes from us.

We like evil.  It is a secret craving, a secret burden, and what we hate most about ourselves.  People don’t just do bad things because they haven’t been educated or because they are copying the behaviors of others.  People do bad things because they like evil.

Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.
(Psalm 36:1-4, ESV)

We have a perverse love for evil.  We hate this perversion, and yet we love it so much.  We try to starve it, and yet we gorge it.  We try to cast it out, but then we get so lonely for it.  We try to run away from it, but we end up following it.  We are friends with, mesmerized by, imaginative of, and focused on evil.

We are caged by it.
[Photograph by PetteriO]

The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.
(Proverbs 4:19, ESV)

The love of evil saturates our culture.  It is in every joke about suffering, every taunt one TV character gives another, the smile of the cartoon villain, the gruesome massacres that sell horror films.  It is a way of thinking called the flesh.  And it leads straight to Hell.

For they [the wicked] cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
(Proverbs 4:16-17, ESV)

What sorrow awaits you who lie awake at night, thinking up evil plans. You rise at dawn and hurry to carry them out, simply because you have the power to do so. (Micah 2:1, ESV)

When we are awakened to our hideous infatuation, we have a horror with how to change ourselves.  The realization of our love for evil drives people to suicide every day.  They don’t want to live with who they are or what they’ve done.

For troubles surround me–too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. (Psalm 40:12, NLT)

So we know we are evil, bent on evil, and most of us regret at least some of our evil.

But what about God?  Is God like us?  Did we get our evil from Him?  Does the God of John 3:16 exist?

Hover mouse over photograph for caption.
[Photograph by Ralph Unden]

Have you ever hesitated to go back to a favorite restaurant, because you were afraid the menu might have changed, or been afraid to visit a childhood place, because it might not be as grand as you remember it?

In a bit of the same way, many of us are afraid that, if we look too closely at God, we might actually find that He is evil.  If God is evil, all is lost.  Some think He’s better “left: in the classrooms of children’s Sunday school or in a Noah’s Ark baby nursery, or a Broadway play about a bright coat.  Some try to leave Him behind the way we leave Santa Clause behind when we become adults.  But there is something far worse at stake than when we discovered Santa wasn’t real.  We fear that God might actually exist but be evil.

If God is evil, there is no Heaven and never will be.  If God is evil, there is no source for good.  If God is evil, then the only powers in the world are powers of darkness.  If God is evil, then He is no better than Satan, only more powerful.

If God is evil, there is nothing to look forward to but pain and suffering and hurting others.

Some people look forward to pain or hurting others, but no one looks forward to suffering.  Suffering is whatever causes each of us grief.  Suffering is something we try to run from, no matter who we are, where we live, or what we believe about God.  (The person who self-inflicts pain is still running from suffering, because that person experiences more suffering from not inflicting pain than from inflicting it.)

No one wants to suffer . . but this is what happens without God.  As darkness comes in a room with boarded windows, so suffering comes in a world that rejects God.
But light makes itself known through a splinter of an opening. And God makes Himself known to us through His Son, the Light of the World.  
[Photograph by David Morris]

If God is evil, we have only Hell for the future, but we also logically only have Hell for the present and past.  But is that what we witness?  Is this earth only Hell?

If there is even one good thing in this world, then our fear that God is evil WILL BE SHATTERED.

Is everything in this world evil?  I absolutely, immediately know the answer is no.

  • It is not evil for a firefighter to pull a child out of a burning home.
  • It is not evil for a stranger to prevent a young woman from being raped.
  • It is not evil for a man to jump in the water and rescue a friend who is drowning.
  • It is not evil for a sister to donate one of her kidneys to save her brother’s life.

We see good in the world–not just evil.  Perfect goodness must come from God.  If it came from anyone less powerful than God, and God was evil, He would just destroy it.
[Photograph by Kai Schreiber]

And on and on and on.  I remember once as a teenager, my mom and I were coming inside the house through our garage, nothing out of the ordinary.  As she was talking to me, she reached through a wire shelf to shut the garage door.  There was a sudden change in Mom’s expression and almost instantly she was crying for help.  Her arm had gotten caught in the wire shelf, and the laser sensor on the garage door only worked at floor-level.  The garage door was going to either rip off her hand or throw her down to the ground as bones would surely be broken.  Because she was caught a certain way, she couldn’t even reach over to the garage door opener.

Mom’s screaming was a horror.  I couldn’t slam my hand on the garage door opener fast enough for either of us, but I did hit it in time.  Mom’s first job was to work her hand out of the shelf; then we examined her hand.  She’d hurt it, but it hadn’t broken.  For sure and certain, my hand on that garage door opener had been no evil thing.

We don’t always recognize it, but we are totally dependent on God.
What causes so many people to care about little creatures? Our Creator gave us His image, and, though we are ruined by the Fall, we still bear His image. In His image, we have a soul, capability for kindness, love, mercy, generosity, and respect. Jesus told us that He is so alert to the pains in this world that not even little birds seen as almost worthless at the time could die without God’s awareness and approval. But why did God place a curse on sin anyway? Why are we cursed to one day die? Actually, the curse of death is one of the most merciful acts of God. In a sin-filled world, it keeps people from being prisoners of war, or trapped in an abusive relationship, or with a painful disease for thousands of years. But most importantly, it reminds us that we will all one day meet our God and be judged.  God desires for us to see the consequences of sin NOW, while we can repent and be saved through Jesus Christ.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” (Matthew 10:29, NIV)
[Photograph by Melissa Gutierrez]

Even apart from human actions, we see things that are not evil in the world.  It is not evil for a flower to grow from the ground.  It is not evil for a butterfly to hatch from a cocoon.  It is not evil for a bird to shield her babies from an onslaught of rain.

Since there are things in our world that are not evil, we know God is not evil.  God is the greatest and highest source.  If God is not good, then there would never be any good, because He would immediately overrule it.

Knowing God is good is foundational to ever having a relationship with Him, and God’s goodness is absolutely proven around us every day.  We a lot of times go about our thinking of God the opposite way that we should.  We look at the bad in the world and blame it on God, rather than recognizing our choice to sin and bring calamity into the world, starting in Genesis 3 and not stopping since.

Instead of trying to blame our evil on God, we need to look at the goodness of the world and wonder how on earth it got here!  It could only have come from God.  Remember, if God is not good, then there would never be any good, because He would immediately overrule it.

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him (from Daniel 9:9, NIV)

Hover mouse over photograph for caption.
[Photograph by Alex Parks Photos]

Without His goodness, there would be no summer days, no sweet peaches, no chirping dolphins, no puppies to curl up in our laps, no clouds to pour rain on our crops and trees and meadows, no smile of a child trying watermelon for the first time.

Even in the most desperate places, we still see an awesome remnant of goodness deliberately left there by God.  Rats and mice have been pets for prisoners.  Corrie ten Boom, in prison camp because she hid Jews in her home, found comfort in a flock of little ants coming through the cracks of her cell.  The sun rising in the morning shines on the homeless.  I am convinced that there is never a time in this world where we see a full removal of the goodness of God, no matter how terrible our circumstances.  Only Christ has seen that, because He took on the total effects of our sin.

Even things we don’t think about like shock, unconsciousness, and death itself can be graces from God to permit the worst of evils from continuing.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

Sometimes we look for ways to accuse God of evil.  We do it out of jealousy, to make ourselves look better, out of doubt and fear, out of sick fantasy . . for all kinds of reasons.  When we hold up self-made evidence that we’ve found evil against God, what we’re actually holding up is evidence of our own love for evil.

I was visiting the zoo yesterday with a friend.  We had climbed up a long, winding sidewalk path in almost 90-degree heat to a Jr. Mount Everest post, to be “rewarded” with a view of the head and tail of a relaxing cheetah lying in the cool shade behind a tree.

[Photograph by Matt P.]

A girl was looking through those big metal binoculars that cost quarters to look through.  Her grandparents were resting on the wooden benches, as soon was I.

“I see a cheetah,” she said.  The binoculars were pointed in the direction of a barn.  I was immediately interested.  I looked in that direction and could kind-of see the blurred outline of some animal.

Her grandparents and I talked a little bit about why a cheetah might be in a shelter, when the girl announced something like, “I think it’s a deer.  It has big antlers.  Yeah.”

This should, really, have been a tip-off to me, but remember I had just climbed Jr. Mount Everest in 88-degree-before-factoring-in-the-blacktop weather.  I talked more with her grandparents, as we wondered what kind of deer-like creature it might be.  I was feeling very wise and a bit zoological.  Not to brag, but I did get a brief letter about my pet frog published in a nature magazine once.

The girl’s voice suddenly, definitively rang out.  “Actually,” she said, “I think it’s a poodle.”

This ended our conversation about what animal was out there.

When the girl and her grandparents turned to leave, the grandfather said something like, “You might want to use those binoculars.  We didn’t put any money in, and they seem to be working just fine for our granddaughter.”

At this point, I was suspecting something the grandfather didn’t seem to suspect.  Once they were descending Jr. Mount Everest, I put my eyes up to the binoculars.

What would a poodle habitat look like in a zoo?  Probably a lot like this.
[Photograph by John Ross]

Sure enough, they were almost totally black.  There was only a pinhole of light in each one, through which the girl had ‘sighted’ a cheetah, deer, and, yes, even a poodle.

I had been had, and so had her grandparents.  We had all assumed the binoculars were working.  That imaginative little girl had been staring into darkness for all that time and making up stories.

We need to be so careful who we are listening to.  Are we only listening to what other people are saying they’ve found out about God, or are we reading His Word for ourselves?  And are we reading His Word with eyes that have been opened by the grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, or through the eyes we’ve allowed Satan to gouge at every time we sin?

Only Jesus can give us new eyes.

The idea of God being evil, enjoying suffering, choosing people to create to occupy Hell, etc., is talking like that little girl staring through black binoculars.  We simply don’t know what we’re talking about.

These wicked ideas come from us.  But do we know what doesn’t come from us?

Goodness.  Goodness comes only from God.

The kind of goodness of a God who came to pay for the lies we have told about Him.  The kind of God who

God’s light will never go out . . . all light is a gift from Him. One day, He will come gather all His people to live with Him and He will take His light with Him.  If we are not with Him, we will be without light.  Hell will have no light.  It is the place where those who hate God’s gifts will finally get what they want: a life without His presents and, infinitely worse, without His Presence.
[Photograph by Till Westermayer]

Had I understood this some twenty-two years ago, my life would have taken a very different course.  But I believe with all my heart that God can redeem my many years of squinting through black binoculars . . by His great Light of Jesus, God-the-Son.

Even in those years looking through those black binoculars, I always had at least a pinhole of light: that one day, I could know God.

If you doubt God’s goodness, look at the pinhole of light He gives to stream into even the darkest of souls: hope that they will one day know Him.

Know that if you die without receiving the goodness of Jesus Christ in His gift of the cross, you will find yourself in a place of only evil . . a place where God won’t be . . because He has no part in evil.

But if you sincerely seek God now, you will find Him.  He will put His own quarters in the binoculars, and you will see.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105, NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7, NIV)

You will see your first glimpse of His goodness through binoculars that work, and you will not believe how dark you really are.  The goodness of God that sinners like me and you see first is His wrath, because we are coming to see that the way we have thought about God, misled ourselves and others about Him, and lived apart from Him is nothing less than monstrous.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20, NIV)

Don’t turn from the binoculars here.  If you do, you will miss seeing His grace and love–and living in the mercy and forgiveness only God can give us.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4, NIV)

Looking at God’s justice should cause us to fall on our knees.  And from there, God adjusts the binoculars so we can see another part of His goodness, the grace and love that brought Him to give His only Son to pay for our darkness–forever.

If you could compare yourself to something else in God’s creation, what would you compare yourself to?
Did you know that one of the things God compares Himself to is light? What does that tell us about the nature of God?
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV)
[Photograph by Raven King]

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Romans 7:24-25, 8:1, NLT)

Every day of my life, as a believer in Christ, I wake up to binoculars that require no payment for service from me, for they have already been purchased . . and I get to gaze at the goodness of God through His Word and His love in my life.  And every time He moves the angle of the binoculars just a touch, I see infinities more goodness than I ever thought possible.

The further I graze into the love of Christ, the further I want to graze.
[Photograph by Nishant Mathur]

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)

God is not evil.  And, praise be to Jesus, I am not evil anymore, because of Him.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. (Philippians 3:8-9a, NLT)


Photograph of Adam and Eve’s fall, personal photograph.

Photograph of bird in cage by petteriO, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/51710725@N08/

Photograph of lantern by Ralph Unden, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/ralphunden/

Photograph of thorn tree by David Morris, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/revdave/

Photograph of garage door by Kai Schreiber, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/genista/

Photograph of helper, hummingbird, and feeder by Melissa Gutierrez, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/oddharmonic/

Photograph of dandelion by Alex Parks Photos, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/56278705@N05/

Photograph of binoculars by Matt P., profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/electricwindows/

Photograph of poodle by Jon Ross, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/jon_a_ross/

Photograph of dark street by Till Westermayer, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/tillwe/

Photograph of light and trees by Raven King, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/34823245@N08/

Photograph of horses grazing by Nishant Mathur, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/nishantmathur/

Photographs are under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.


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