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 goodness and righteousness of God is the lens through which to ask all questions.

Suppose I told you that a famous murderer just murdered another person.  Would you believe it?  Probably.  You’d have no reason not to.

But what I told you that a person you dearly love just murdered someone?  Would you believe it?  Certainly not.  You’d have every reason not to.  You would go straight to that person for the facts and ignore me.

In the same way, when we have a right relationship with God–when we know that He is good and when we have received Christ’s payment for our sins so we can live in His goodness–we will not be so easily mislead and thrown down by Satan’s “best arguments”.

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.” (2 Samuel 22:31, NIV)

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9, NLT)

Jesus warns us there are three things Satan wishes to do:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy

(John 10:10a, NIV)

Destroy is the last one.  If Satan can destroy someone’s faith by slandering God, he’ll do it.  Any questions that doubt God’s character are from Satan.

Do we doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow?  Yet how much more faithful is God, who, from eternity past and to eternity future, always acts justly, in truth, and from a righteous heart?

There might be times when we read a Bible passage, and think we would have acted differently than God.  This doesn’t, however, point to a lack of goodness in God, but a lack of goodness in us.

One time when I was a kid, I busted my head open.  The pediatrician I knew and trusted was not in, and my mom allowed a doctor (who was on call) to stitch up my head.  I was very unapproving of this.  First off, I didn’t understand why there were scissors in front of my face and what looked like wax paper of my head.  I had no idea he was stitching up my head; I didn’t really see the needle through the paper.  I mistrusted the doctor because I didn’t know him and I decided I didn’t like him.

He sewed up my head beautifully.  I can’t even see the scar.  Had I trusted him, I could have laid still while he mended me instead of screaming my head off.  I never even thanked him.  I was suspicious of him to the end.  I didn’t know what a good surgeon he was.

This is a picture of what we do to God.  Can you imagine dying from a head wound that could be easily treated?  Yet we do far worse when we run from God’s goodness back to our sin.  God wants to help us; He knows how to help us, and He has chosen to help us–the question is, will we believe Him?

When we read something about God, and we’re not sure we understand it, we need to realize that He never contradicts His nature of light, truth, righteousness, justice, and merciful love.  He is the God who would rather Himself be tormented for our sin than us!

If we think we’ve come to something that “proves” God is unfair, mean-hearted, or cruel . . we need to look again.  As a six-year-old, I disliked the doctor who saved my life because I didn’t understand what was really going on, and I made irrational judgments about him.  In the same way, when we don’t recognize who God is–our Creator, our Judge, and, if we receive His sacrifice, our Redeemer–we miss that He is the only one who can heal us.

He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9b, NIV)

Did God the Father really turn His back on His Son on the cross? Is God cold-hearted?

At three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mark 15:34, GW)

I read a true story once long ago that was both disturbing and showed the reality of how far a parent’s love can go for a child.  A mother and daughter were in a severe car wreck.  Their car was thrown from the road and no one knew where they were.  In the days that followed, the young daughter woke up and began crying out, “I’m thirsty!  I’m thirsty!” over and over again.

The mother, who was paralyzed by her injuries, became frantic to help her daughter.  She asked herself, What can I do?

She decided to do something that is so extreme it is almost hard to understand, but in another sense, it is easy to understand, because of the extreme love a parent can have for a child.  She picked up a broken glass shard from the shattered car windows and cut her arm open.  She let her daughter drink the blood from her arm.

Over the next few days, every time her daughter cried out that she was thirsty, she cut herself, over and over.  When the paramedics found and rescued the woman and her daughter, the mother had multiple cuts from the many times she had given her own blood for her daughter’s thirst.

When we look at stories like this, and we think about our own instinct to love each other, it seems almost inconceivable that God, who identifies Himself as the deepest, best love in the universe, and the source of love, would turn His back on His own Child on the cross.  It seems nearly unimaginable that God would allow His Son to be spit on, accused of lying when He said God was His Father, mocked, given vinegar to drink to quench His thirst, flogged, and everything else that happened on that long night that turn into dawn and into day.  The sun did not rise on a new day, but on a continuation of the darkest night in history.  As Jesus struggled with His last breaths, the sky turned black.  There was no day on this day.

Atheists sometimes give Christ’s crucifixion as one of the reasons they could never believe in God.  How could a Father ever, under any circumstances, permit His Son to go through such torture?  And because God knows all things, did He arrange for all this to happen?

In a sense, these are hard questions to answer, when you look at the extreme death of Christ on the cross.  But in another sense, it is easy to understand, because of the extreme love a parent can have for a child. 

You see, we were created to be God’s children.  Not biologically, and not in the sense that we are “gods” or share God’s essence.  But in an “inter-species” adoption, if you will, God adopted Adam as His son when He made him.  Jesus, on the other hand, has always been with God, is one of the three Persons of God, and was not created.

God created us to share in His love and joy.  Creating us was the first gift He gave us.  He could have created us to be no more than dogs or cats, and certainly that would have been wonderful in and of itself in the perfect world He made, but He gave us a priceless gift: He made us in His image.  We have an awareness of love and morality and choice that a dog or cat never can.

We did not want to be God’s children, though.  We rebelled and, in effect, handed our birth certificates over to Satan to claim.  And he did.  The cross is God’s act of buying us back from Hell.

The cross is not a manifestation of God the Father’s abandonment of His Son, but a manifestation of the love all three Persons of God have for His “ex-children”: us. 

Even through everything we have done against Him, God wants to be our Father again.  And He made that way through one Person of God coming to earth and dying.  All three Persons of God fully agreed on this plan, because that is the greatness of the love God has for us.

Jesus is not a victim.  He is like the mother who willingly cut herself to give her child a drink.  Jesus gave us His flesh and blood to bring us back to God.  It was the most costly adoption of all time.

We need to stop accusing God of doing something wrong because He suffered for us.  It is like accusing the mother in the story I told of cruelty and insanity for cutting herself so her child could live.  But it is worse than that.  It is the daughter herself accusing the mother of cruelty and insanity.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB)

Source

God is the source of all goodness, and the source of no evil.

Photograph by Moyan Brenn

The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:9, ESV)

Photograph by Moyan Brenn, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/aigle_dore/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

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)

What is good?

I hear the word “good” a lot.

Good person. Good husband. Good wife. Good father. Good mother. Good friend. Good neighbor.

Good movie.  Good idea.  Good meal.  Good mood.  Good save.  Good day.  Good luck.  Good deal.  Good weather.  Good try.  Even good bye.

So what exactly is good?

Good this, good that: I use the word like I write it on name tags and stick them to all the stuff I like.  Doesn’t mean much.  Doesn’t mean much even to me, if I’m honest with myself.  What I liked ten years ago in movies sure isn’t what I like today.

I don’t think about it, but, really, I’m slandering the word “good”.

I wouldn’t go around and say everything I like is “brave”.  That was a brave cinnamon roll. 

I wouldn’t go around and say everything I like is “thoughtful”.  That was a thoughtful pancake.

I wouldn’t go around and say everything I like is “compassionate”.  That was a compassionate corn dog.

So . . why do I go around saying things are “good” . . just because I like them?

The word good has been used subjectively, carelessly, and cheaply for about 2,000 years at least.  Because, about 2,000 years ago, an important man in government walked up to a poor teacher and called him “good” and got an answer he did not expect.

I don’t know why the government ruler called the teacher good.  Maybe he thought the poor teacher would be overwhelmed by a compliment from such an important person.  Maybe the ruler was trying to flatter him to get in good with God.  Maybe the ruler had in mind to trick the teacher into letting his guard down–others had been trying to think up ways to do that.  Maybe the ruler wasn’t even thinking about what he was saying.

I don’t know what he was thinking, but we do know what he said:

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18b, NIV)

And here is the answer he got:

“Why do you call me good?” (Luke 18:19a)

and

“No one is good–except God alone.” (Luke 18:19c)

Sadly, the important ruler totally missed out on what the Son of God was telling him.

Here’s how it went down:

A certain ruler asked him [Jesus], “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. (Luke 18:18-23, NIV)

Had the ruler understood what Jesus said about good, he would not have completely missed the boat on what Jesus was teaching.

Jesus did not, and does not, want a casual label of “good” on His teaching.  He wants a wholehearted commitment to the logical acceptance that if He is good, then He is God.

And if the ruler had really been listening, he would have heard that there was no way he had been keeping the commandments since he was a boy.  After all, the ruler wasn’t claiming to be God.  And if he wasn’t God, then he was not good.

The Bible gives us a different definition of good than one that pairs with words like “weather” and “luck”.  The Bible says,

Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 53:3, NIV)

At creation, man and woman were good.  The Bible tells us after God created Adam and Eve:

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31a, NIV)

So how did we get to where we are now?

We chose not to be good.

We can laugh at that concept, we can scoff, we can be offended, we can glower, we can despair . . but the truth is still there:

there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 53:3b, NIV)

If the ruler had understood, he wouldn’t have started bragging about what he thought he’d done.  He would have realized that everything we do is utterly spoiled by our motives, our thoughts, and our hearts.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:10, NLT)

There is an answer to this question: Jesus.

Jesus knows how bad the human heart is, not because when He became a man His heart was ever bad, but because He became a man to die to save the hearts of the desperately wicked.

He came to save us not through our boastful claims about commandments we’ve kept, but by His real keeping of the Commandments.  He came to save us from deceiving ourselves into walking straight into Hell.

I want to stop sticking my label of “good” on everything I like.  Because me liking something and its holiness in God’s eyes are not the same thing.  I want to start going by God’s good.

Because God’s good saves me from my sins.  God’s good brings Him to a willingness to die on a cross for a world that scorns him, curses him, lies about him, and pretends to commit to Him in the same manner as the wealthy ruler who went to see Jesus to get his own ego boosted and reassurance that he was a good person.

Jesus is never going to tell us we are good by our own works.  Because we are simply, clearly, and unmistakably not.

I don’t want people to call me good.  I want people to meet the Person who really is good: the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me.” (from Jesus’ prayer, John 17:25, NLT)

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17, NIV)

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)

Does God make mistakes?

If  I assert that God makes mistakes . . . then where do I plan on spending eternity?

I think in our heart of hearts we all know God does not make mistakes, because, if this was possible, our universe would be nothing more than a crumpled wad of paper.  Even with the infliction of our sin on our universe, we still have an unspoken sense of the deep beauty poured into its foundations.

More than that, though . . . we know of ourselves . . . we were not created to be sinners.  Our longing for a utopia is no coincidence; we fumble through the dark corridors of corruption, hoping to find the door that opens perfection back up to us.  And yet, at the same time, we know that door is locked forever from sinners.

Our only choice, then, is to place our hope in our Creator, who can make right what we have made wrong . . . or to blame Him for the mess we have made and live forever in the never-ending cellars of consequence.

For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,

‘The stone that you builders rejected

has now become the cornerstone.’

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12, NLT)

___________________________________________________________________________

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

If God didn’t ever allow us to suffer

Sometimes I have something called, Aw, that’s not really gonna happen psychosis.  You know what I’m talking about?

As a kid I kept a radio in my bathroom to listen to music while I showered.  I guess there were waterproof radios at this time, but I just had a cheapie regular one.  The radio would get condensation on it and sometimes water drips, but it seemed to be doing all right.  Electrocution, smlectrocution.

And then came the day when I went over to mess with the radio, my hands soaking wet, and a current of electricity volted through my body.

The circuit breaker in that bathroom may have saved my life.  After about three excruciating seconds of electrocution, I heard a loud pop and the GFI circuit breaker kicked in, shutting off the electricity.

I stood there in a daze.

You know, if that hadn’t happened, I probably would have gotten more and more careless with electricity, and I might have found myself somewhere without a circuit breaker and in deep trouble.  Truth be told, even with that happening, I can still be reckless about electricity and water, so can you imagine how I would have been without this experience?

When Adam and Eve sinned, God placed the world under a curse, and that might seem mean, but it really wasn’t.  If God had left the world the way it was, the consequences of sin would probably have been seen much more slowly, and, by the time people realized how bad off they were, they would have eaten from the Tree of Life and made themselves a permanent inhabitant of a broken world.

At the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, Kentucky, these two lambs represent the first death after the fall. Adam and Eve needed covering for their sin. Animal skin could only temporarily cover them. God was foreshadowing the once-and-for-all-time covering Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, would freely give.

God immediately enforces the consequences of sin, slaughtering animals to clothe Adam and Eve, because He doesn’t want them to think that what they’ve done is okay, or that we can go our own way without losing our soul.  He also shows by clothing them that He has a plan for their salvation: one day, Jesus will clothe anyone who believes in Him with His righteousness.

As the animal is removed of its protection in order to clothe Adam and Eve, so Christ was removed from the protection of God when He chose to die for us by His choice.  When Peter tries to kill the people who are arresting Jesus, Jesus says,

Don’t you think that I could call on my Father, and he would send me more than twelve legions of angels now? (Matthew 25:53, ISV)

As a skinned animal is hardly recognizable to what it once was, even more so Christ was not recognizable as He gave His life up for us.

his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness (from Isaiah 52:14, NIV)

If we never suffered the consequences for our sin, we would have no idea the kind of Sacrifice required for our redemption.  Even as we suffer, we only get a tiny taste of the agony which Christ underwent for us.  Allowing us to suffer is an act of mercy from the One Who Suffered Most, because it lets us know our world isn’t right, our actions aren’t leading to happiness, and our time on earth is dwindling down.

Like that circuit breaker broke the electrical current circuiting through my body, so Jesus broke the power of sin, suffering, and death when He gave His body to be broken.

Listen to the reason why God is allowing this suffering world to continue for longer before He returns:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9, ESV)

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Personal photo.

Can God be good if He allows evil?

This issue troubled my soul for so many years, and I came to realize that, at the heart of it, was my heart.  Do I believe God has morally good reasons for allow evil?

I do.

And I believe at the very core is the righteous endowment of God of choice on His creatures.  God allows us to choose–not only us, but angels as well.  Even animals have a certain autonomy of what they can choose to do.

When I see suffering, I feel outrage and grief. But who is responsible for this? It is me. The sin of mankind's choice has placed this world under the power of evil.

As human beings, we love our right to choose, but we hate the consequences of our evil choices.  But we can’t have it both ways.  We freely chose to be evil when we had no evil within us, and now–and until the end of the world–choice will always include temptation towards evil.

The Bible says,

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13, NIV)

In fact, God warns us against sin throughout the Bible, like when Cain rebels against Him:

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7, NIV)

God is good, so why in the world would God want people to do bad things?  We can’t and shouldn’t be fooled with this nonsense.  God did not create Lucifer so he would turn into Satan.  God does not create people to send to Hell.  And God does not ‘hope’ bad will happen so He can show how good He is.

God does not need or want bad things.  He could have lived for all eternity without a single conflict and have still been totally fulfilled.  There is no “yen and yang” to God. God doesn’t need evil to show how good He is.  His goodness can stand alone; He can also withstand any warfare with evil.

God does not try to get people to become evil.  Ever.  Some people seem to think that God ‘makes’ people do bad things.  But God’s Word proves this is not true (see Genesis 1, Exodus 15:11, Job 37:22-23, Psalms 99:3, Isaiah 6:3, Ezekiel 33:11, Romans 11:33, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 1:5, 1 John 3:5, 1 John 4:7-9, 1 John 4:16, James 1:17, Revelation 4:11, etc.).

Then, Why does God allow bad things to happen, if He would have rather they never happened?

There’s a two-word answer:  us.

God loved people so much that He was willing to create us with choice, even knowing we would mess up.  He created us because He wants us to experience Heaven with Him.  Isn’t this awesome?  God could have decided not to create a single human being, knowing what would happen, knowing all the suffering that the world would undergo before its completion, but that would mean the people He already loved would never come into existence.

Instead, God creates an amazing plan around humanity’s fall.  He will send Himself into the world in mortal form to die in their place!   What an unbelievable plan!  What an amazing rescue!   What a marvelous escape!

In fact, Peter gives an astonishing reason for why the world continues in its painful state:

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”  (2 Peter 3:9, NLT)

Can God be good if He allows evil?  Yes.  We are in that evil, and were He to destroy all evil immediately, He would destroy us!  Yet God is patient, giving us a chance to call upon Him for salvation.

How can we really ask God if He can be good to allow evil . . . when we are evil unless and until we cry out to Jesus for forgiveness?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

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