What is God Like?
Why Does God Allow Evil?
“Grandpa,” inquired John, “the last time we talked together you said we would have to consider, sometime, the problem of wickedness in this world. Just why does a perfect, holy and omnipotent God permit evil?”
“That,” replied grandpa, “has challenged the minds of great theologians, Bible students, from very early times. Your question really requires the answer to another problem, that is the fact of evil and how it originated. For it did not originate with man. Non-Christian philosophers and founders of other religions have tried to answer this question without considering the Bible or the God of the Bible.”
“What was their answer to the problem of the origin of evil?” queried John.
“Long before the advent of Christ on earth,” responded grandpa, “an ancient Persian religious reformer, called Zoroaster, declared that there were two gods from the beginning of time, one that stood for all that was perfect and good and one that opposed good and supported evil. Each god commanded his own army, angels comprising the forces of the good god and demons, the troops of the evil god. This teaching has its supporters even today in certain Satan worshippers found in some of our modern cities. But this is contrary to the teaching of the Bible.”
“What then does the Bible say about the origin of sin?” questioned John.
“I believe,” grandpa answered, “we have the Biblical explanation in chapter fourteen, verses twelve to fourteen of the prophecy of Isaiah where it says, ‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,… how art thou cut down to the ground… for thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.’ Lucifer or Satan, as we more commonly call him, was so lifted up by his own pride that he aspired to a position above God. He opposed his will to the will of God and thus introduced sin into the universe.”
“How did God treat this defiance?” asked John.
“The next verse in Isaiah says, ‘Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell,’” continued grandpa. “And Jesus confirms this for He says, in the eighteenth verse of the tenth chapter of Luke, ‘I beheld Satan, as lightning fall from heaven.’ In reality it was Satan’s pride and covetousness that was responsible for the introduction of sin into the universe but sin entered the world in Eden.”
“Is that the Genesis story?” John wanted to know.
“Yes,” agreed grandpa, “God created man sinless and free from evil. He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and provided them with everything they needed for their well-being. He did, however, make one demand. They must not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was at this point that Satan, in the form of a serpent entered the scene and persuaded Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Then she persuaded Adam to eat it too. They both disobeyed God; they were no longer sinless but knew good and evil. Romans, chapter five and verse twelve, says, ‘Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world’ and verse nineteen says, ‘by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.’ “
“But,” protested John, “since God is omnipotent He could have stopped them from disobeying.”
“That,” admitted grandpa, “is the crux of your original question, ‘Why does God allow evil?’ From time immemorial men have sought to reconcile the existence of evil with a creator Who is omnipotent and good. Some have tried to dismiss the problem by suggesting that evil doesn’t really exist. It is because of our limited knowledge we think something is evil. They give the illustration of the fly who thinks it is evil for us to kill it but we with our wider knowledge think it is good to kill a fly because they help to spread disease.”
“Is that a Christian or a non-Christian explanation?” John asked.
“There are some who claim to be Christian who are satisfied with that explanation,” confessed grandpa. “Then there are others who are convinced that we should not question God’s will in this matter and quote Romans, nine and twenty in support of this, ‘Nay but O man who art thou that repliest against God. Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus?’ They also refer to a similar illustration in the potter and the pot in Jeremiah chapter eighteen.”
“Well,” enjoined John, “that should settle it.”
“I don’t think we should question what God does or why,” agreed grandpa. “But I do think that there is a simple explanation as to why evil exists despite God’s hatred of it.” “What is the explanation?” inquired John.
“What makes you happier,” interjected grandpa, “playing hockey which you like or making your bed which you are told to do?”
“Playing hockey, of course,” cried John.
“Do you prefer to have a choice in what you do or would you rather be told everything you must do with no choice of your own?” continued grandpa.
“It would be awful,” affirmed John. “We would be just like a machine and not human beings at all.”
“Well,” explained grandpa, “God is sovereign and has the right to make everyone do exactly as He ordered but as you say such creatures would be robots and not humans. Therefore God made man in His own image, with a will to do as he chooses. For a while man chose only what was right but when tempted by the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he chose to disobey God and sin entered into the world. This was because man with his free will chose to disobey.”
“How sad!” exclaimed John. “But if man had a free will he was bound to choose the wrong thing sooner or later.”
“However,” grandpa hastened to answer, “God knew this would happen and so He provided for this. He sent His Son into this world to die for man’s sin. Man still has a choice. He can choose Christ as his Saviour and be saved from the punishment he rightly deserves or he can refuse God’s offer of mercy and find himself separated from God for ever and doomed to spend eternity in hell which God has prepared for the devil and his angels. The choice is still man’s and no one can make the choice for him.”
Passages to read: Genesis 3:1-24; Isaiah 14:12-15; Luke 10:18; Romans 1:18-32; 3:23; 5:6, 12-21; Ephesians 2:1-10.