Before Christmas I started a few blogs about bible difficulties. I’m continuing that subject this week with a very common argument against Christianity and the existence of God. This is not so much a bible difficulty as a problem that people have with God himself, although the bible gives us plenty of clues as to why evil still exists.
The bible makes it clear in various places that God is good, holy, righteous and all powerful.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory! (Isaiah 6:3)
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11)
The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
It is clear that God, as the creator, has the capability to stop sin and also hates it and desires that it be eradicated completely. This raises the question from opponents that either He is not powerful enough to stop evil or He is powerful enough to stop it but is just not as loving as He says He is and chooses not to stop it. If He is both fully capable of stopping it and genuinely wants it ended, why is it still around and seemingly more prevalent than ever?
The key point in this whole argument is that in His wisdom, God has decided to allow us ‘free will’ we have ability to choose good and follow God or to choose evil and rebel against Him.
He could have made us machines that don’t know right from wrong or ones that have no ability to choose. I don’t know why He didn’t choose either of those two options, but I feel it must be something to do with the joy we experience when we worship Him freely. His giving us the choice must have been the most loving thing He could do for us.
People will still argue why God doesn’t stop the worst evil in the world, but surely, if He is going to stop some, where should He stop? Another option would be to stop all the evilest people, but if they are removed, pretty soon we are the most evilest people on the planet and we should be removed too. The bible makes it clear that we are all sinful, each and every one of us and it’s not just our actions that are evil but our thoughts as well
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
People in every generation have struggled with these very real questions, but thankfully as I said before there are helpful clues in scripture. Let’s consider 7 thoughts to help us through:
(1) Jesus was well aware that there would always be evil around
In John 16:33 He said “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” Nothing takes Him by surprise.
(2) Evil was not created or caused by God
We have already looked at that in the passage in Deuteronomy 32:4
(3) Most suffering is caused by human sin
If you analyse it, everything that goes wrong with people (apart from natural disasters etc) can be boiled down to sin; such as anger, jealousy, greed and pride.
(4) We live in a fallen world
After Adam and Eve sinned the whole creation was corrupted by the curse. The world became distorted and ‘off centre’.
(5) God will ultimately judge all evil
The reason sin is not all judged immediately is because of God’s patience and His desire for people to be given time to repent. But one day, on that final day, everything will be judged and justice will be served.
(6) God suffered too
He is not distant from our suffering, not detached from it. Jesus not only suffered it in his life, but when He died, took on the full weight of mankind’s evil
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
(7) God can bring good out of bad.
Look at the example of Joseph in Genesis where he was sold into slavery, abandoned, forgotten about and thrown into prison, but God turned it all for the good of the whole nation and his family. He was able to forgive his brothers because he recognised God’s plan in and through his ordeal. He said to them:
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
God is so good that even when evil seems to be triumphing, God can still turn it around. The greatest example of course was Jesus who won the ultimate victory in the face of the greatest evil.
In conclusion; In a world of free choices, God’s will is rarely done. Going our own way is much more common. We shouldn’t blame God for the atrocities committed on a daily basis, blame the people who blatantly ignore His commands, put there for our good. We were made for a relationship with God, but He will not force himself upon us. He is all to ready to comfort, guide and direct us, but the choice is ours.