Jan 022015
 

Why would a good God allow evil to existBefore 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.

 January 2, 2015  Posted by at 12:00 pm Goodness No Responses »
Oct 172014
 

Fruit of the spirit goodness“Good” is a bit of a weak word in the English language isn’t it? It is a mundane word like “nice”. “Did you have a good day today darling?” “Yes it was good”. What does that mean? It sounds sort of average; not a “wonderful” day, just good.

If we look outside of the bible, the word “good” is a very relative term. Most people would think they were good. The ISIS terrorists in Iraq think they are doing good by wiping out infidels in the name of Allah!

As it is such a subjective term we need to find a constant, never- changing definition of what “good” is and what it looks like.

“Good” is the essence of God’s nature. Absolutely everything He does is “good”. The bible makes it clear that in our natural state before trusting in Him, we were far from good. Absolutely no-one is good apart from Him. Jesus confirmed this when the rich young ruler addressed Him as “good teacher”, replying: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone”. (Luke 18:19). The bible confirms this in a number of other places such as Romans 3:23: “….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The temptation is to compare ourselves with others who are not as “good” as we are, but the comparison is with God and not with others. There is a tiny crack between us and others and a huge chasm between us and God.

Therefore when the bible talks about goodness, it must be referring to perfection, or the absence of sin. So being good is far from being simply “nice”. Goodness is only achievable as we put our trust and faith in Jesus. When we do this, the wonderful fruit of goodness, God’s goodness, is added to our nature as part of God’s wonderful salvation package. Our goodness comes from our identity; we are ‘in Christ’. It’s not what we do that determines who we are (doing good deeds). Who we are determines what we do.

It is almost impossible to think of goodness in the abstract. In scripture goodness always refers to particular ways of behaving. You can’t really be good by just thinking good thoughts; it involves action. God’s plan for us involves action and that is why He has pre-ordained ‘good works’ for us to do: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

There are various aspects to these ‘good works’, such as doing good to everyone, even those who persecute us: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

This is why it is impossible to be good if we are not children of God and filled with His Spirit. This kind of goodness, humanly speaking, is impossible. Outside of God’s economy, why on earth would we want to do good to our enemies? But it is this very action which demonstrates how we take after our father who showed His goodness to us while we were His enemies. Doing good to someone who simply returns the favour is not pure goodness; it is little more than two people exchanging favours (which can even be quite selfish).

Goodness involves not only right behaviour, but also the avoidance of its opposite: evil. The choice between good and evil has been before humankind since the garden of Eden, the moment when Adam and Eve ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). Since then God’s curse has fallen on “those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter“. (Isaiah 5:20)

God knows though that the true goodness He requires takes real effort in a sin-sick world; it’s far from easy. The apostle Paul said things like: “… And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)

We can be so busy trying to be good to others that we forget about our brothers and sisters in Christ. I am reminded of that old song which says that “they will know we are Christians by our love.” There is something very compelling about a community who are good to one another and together take that goodness and love to a hurting world. This is why the Psalmist said: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). He then goes on to say: “…For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore.” What a wonderful promise from a very good God.

 October 17, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Fruit of the spirit, Goodness No Responses »