Could God be both good and evil?

We know from the Bible and our experiences that there are two forces in this world: good and evil.   The question is, Do both originate with God?

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You. (Psalm 89:14, NASB)

For both good and evil to have originated with God, they would have to live in harmony.  Otherwise, God wouldn’t be able to make any decisions until one or the other was destroyed.

But could God have good and evil living in harmony in Himself, something like the yen and the yang?

Let me look at this personally first. Do good and evil live in harmony in me?

Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. (Romans 2:14-15)

(God could never have had this conflict to begin with because, if God had ever had this conflict, He would not be able to judge between good and evil without condemning Himself for one or the other.)

People who see no distinction between good and bad are called pathological or, more truthfully, totally evil.

Yet we all begin our lives with a knowledge of good and evil and even a desire to do good.  The vast majority end our lives holding onto this ability, though a few totally suppress it and desire only total evil.

We all, to a degree, suppress the knowledge of good and evil in our lives.  We do this whenever we do something we know is wrong or we don’t do something we know would have been the right thing to do.  For example,

“Yes, I used the money I was planning on giving to the homeless mission this month.  But they probably don’t need the money anyway.  Probably a lot of people will give this month.  Probably there’s a lot of mismanagement of funds anyway.  Probably those homeless people are hucksters.  And I really needed that new outfit.  It will probably be encouraging to other people to see me wearing this new outfit.  In fact, they’ll probably feel better about themselves when they see my new outfit, and that really outweighs any benefit the homeless shelter would have gotten from my money anyway, what with the lack of need and all the people giving and the corruption and charlatans and everything.  Really now, I did the right thing.”

Yes, we have a very clear battle raging inside us.  We can smother it sometimes, but does it not very often come back to our minds?  Something like this:

Oh, what was I thinking?  I feel so bad wearing this outfit it’s not even worth it.  I keep thinking about that homeless shelter.  I saw that commercial for the shelter again, and I just felt so bad . .

Good and evil aren’t in harmony in us.  Either good wins out, or evil.  They are less at peace with each other than a lion and a bear in the same cage.

So good and evil can’t be in harmony in God, either.  We know God wouldn’t be able to make a decision if good and evil were equal within Him.  And if He was at war with Himself, not only would everything be in catastrophe, such as the earth would vanish and appear every split second (because He might want it to one minute, and then not want it to the next), but values would be in catastrophe, like helping the poor might be good one minute and bad the next.

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Jesus, quoted in Mark 3:35)

If everything we had in our power to do we could do, wouldn’t this world be in a mess?  One minute we’d create a huge house for our family and the next minute we’d kill them.  It’s the harsh reality of our thought life.

But the God of the Bible doesn’t have any internal conflict.  There is never an argument, because God is perfectly good.  He never acts selfishly; He never enjoys cruelty; He never rules unjustly.

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4, NIV)

The evil in us, then, has to come from another source.  And it does: Satan.

God reigns from the Kingdom of Heaven.  Satan is the ruler of our earth, meaning that he tries to ruin everyone’s lives by the power of sin.  Why does he do it?  Surely because he hates God!

But what do we have to do with Satan’s hate for God?  Why target us?

Because Satan knows he can’t destroy God directly and he knows God loves us.

That we would even ask the question, Can God be both good and evil? reflects the handiwork of Satan.  Satan is like Golum, luring us into Shelob’s lair.  Since he cannot win against God, Satan wants nothing more than to see you and I in Hell.  But how could he possibly convince anyone to run from the Creator and Redeemer of Eden to run into the mouth of Hell?

By questioning the goodness of God.

Over and over, all of your life, Satan will try to cause you to question God’s goodness.  Satan has only two ways to destroy your soul: doubting God’s goodness and longing for evil.  In Eden, Satan tricked Eve into abandoning God’s goodness and longing for the forbidden fruit.  Ever since then, Satan plays the same trick over and over.  Question the goodness of God.  Long for the pandemic of evil.  Question the goodness of God.  Long for the pandemic of evil.  Over and over.

Logic (created by God) will tell you God is only good.  God’s Word will tell you God is only good.  The life of Jesus will tell you God is only good.  The only one who will call God’s goodness into question is Satan.  And he is not someone we should be listening to.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15b, NIV)

 

 

The Bible’s First Inning

Genesis 1 is the story of God’s homeruns.  Every time God is up to bat, He creates ex nihlo (out of nothing), and what He creates is very good.

The crowd is almost too shocked to keep cheering.  Surely there must be a catch somewhere.  Surely there is something that God cannot do.  Don’t all stories have a problem?  What problem will God have to overcome?

And yet, there is nothing in Genesis 1 that would bring us to conclude God has any sort of problem at all, or that He needs any sort of problem at all.  His creative processes are so marvelous that they need no mistake to make them exciting.  In fact, any such error from God would ruin His perfect inning, prohibiting the perfect creation that we find our hearts so longing for.

Will God actually succeed?  Will He be able to smash homeruns on every single pitch?

The unquestionable answer Genesis 1 leaves us with is yes.  Yes, God will get homeruns every single time.  Usually, we long for variety in a game, but we find ourselves here (as our hearts fall in love with a God who acknowledges us on His first time up to bat–waves to us even!), filling with deeper and deeper joy each time the ball flies out of the stadium.  There is something deeply personal about God’s homeruns, and we intuitively know He is doing this for us.

We have the astonishing inkling, so uncanny we’re almost sure it can’t be true, that we are actually going to find ourselves stepping up to the mound very soon.  But why?  Why would God share His field with us?  As Genesis 1 unfolds, He proves time and time again that He can do everything well–alone.  Why would He want us?

Could it be that God delights in giving away adventure, creativity, and the choice and power to love . . . as free gifts . . . because His very nature is to be good?

He has hit the biggest homerun of the inning.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! (Genesis 1:31, NLT)