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If God is So Good, Why Does Evil Exist?

One of the most common questions I am challenged with when debating with Atheists is the century old question “If your God is so good why does he allow evil and pain in the world”. This very question is what drove Charles Darwin to further his research in evolution after his daughter Annie died. I mean, surely, if there is a God who knows all things and loves all things he would not allow evil to exist in his world, let alone create it? It is a hard question, but one that of course, can be answered by the Gospel.

The Nature of God

God is love (1 John 4:8), but scripture also teaches that God is wrath (Romans 1:18). This is all very crystal clear in the Old Testament as God is shown having mercy on whom he wishes and bringing destruction on those who already have it coming because of their love for sin. The act of bringing justice through wrath does not make God evil nor a sinner. It is important to understand that God has never brought wrath upon anyone who didn’t deserve it (the one exception being Jesus as a propitiation for our sin. That will come later). Even though God desires that no man should perish (2 Peter 3:9) He above all things, desires to be glorified (Isaiah 48:8-11) and everything, good and evil, blessings and wrath, is being worked out according to his will (Ephesians 1:11) and therefore for his glory.

The Garden

In Genesis 1 God creates, and calls it all good. Since God is all good (1 John 1:5) and created everything good (Genesis 1:31) and evil is not good, he cannot be the author of evil. In the Garden God gives one rule and one rule only, and that is to not eat of a specific tree. Man has yet to know or understand what evil is, or experience the pain that it causes because Total Depravity is not yet present. In Genesis 3:5, the snake tells Eve that the tree of which God told her and Adam not to eat of will show here the difference between good and evil. Up until this point God and man fellowshipped together in bliss and God is merely glorified for breathing life into man and providing him a beautiful place to live. After eating of the tree, man sees all the blessings God was showering and all the pain he was withholding.

It is important to remember that man sinned against God and must be punished because that is what is just. God had made Adam good and holy with imputed capabilities of rebellion against holiness. Although God provided enough rope, man still decided to hang himself. God put the snake in the garden, but man listened to the snake. So it is not with God that evil originates, but with Adam in the Garden. God had put his stamp of approval on creation and Adam by his own evil intentions, corrupted the pure nature that God had given him. By doing this, Adam brought all of humanity down with him into destruction. This is why all mankind is born totally depraved, hating God, kicking and screaming against all that God thinks, feels, and wills. Adam’s rebellion against all that God proclaimed as good is at the core of our evil hearts.

This makes it easy to ask “Why put the snake in the garden at all, or why make objects to defy God?” First and foremost, understand that Adam did not do anything that we would not have done and therefore, we all deserve eternal punishment for our defiance against the holy God. He owes us nothing (Romans 9:14-18). More importantly though, God is absolutely sovereign over all things and is working in and through the evil that we commit (Romans 8:28). He, from eternity past, in his most wise and holy will, ordained all that has and will come to past, including our sin. This does not make him the doer or author of evil, nor does it make man any less guilty for his selfish desires and actions. God is ultimately, purposefully orchestrating the horrible things that we mean for rebellion, and reconciling them back to his holiness. We make the decision to do evil, and God, even though the sin is so vile, has meticulously purposed it to happen for good. This becomes more apparent as we continue…

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)

The Law

Now that we are out of the Garden, Total Depravity exists and man is born wicked, hating God, and out of communion with him. Adam’s sin has cursed mankind and no longer is man set at a crossroads, but from his first heartbeat in the womb causes suffering on others and himself for the wicked choice he makes. When sin is committed, because God is a just God, the playing field must be leveled and for blood there is blood and there is a lot of it early on i.e. the flood. Then, God chooses Abraham out of great mercy to be the father of a new nation in which He has favor on (Genesis 17:5 & 9). God has mercy on the Hebrews, despite them being just as evil as any other people, and gives them the law (Exodus 24:12). Much like what took place in the garden, the law simply gives ground rules for the Hebrews. This proves to be insufficient for man, who is incapable of following the law and must be given a way to atone for the sins through sacrificing animals. This proves insufficient for paying for evil, and still God is not glorified to the fullest extent.

Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 5:24)

The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5)

The Cross

The temple steps run red with blood for years. Man is incapable of following the law and incapable of atoning for his own sins. Then the One who has always been becomes flesh and enters into the time line of man to fulfill the law for the first time and be murdered as if he hadn’t (Matthew 5:17); Jesus is alive. In order for the Cross to do anything at all Christ had to live a life of perfection, not once disagreeing with God’s law. This is because when Christ was nailed to the Cross it could not be for any sin of his own but for other men. If the wages of sin is death, than Christ is the only man to live who did not deserve death. Yet he died anyway, and his death, unjust, allowed for atonement. Him being the son of God makes it a sacrifice carried out by God himself for his creation helplessly caught in the snares of hatred toward him. This brings the MOST glory to God, that he would sacrifice himself for those wallowing in evil with smiles on their faces as they curse and spit at God. Christ is not some trial and error experiment gone right that God pondered over the drawing board about as the he gave the law of the Jews a try. Christ was a plan before creation, and the men atoned for on the cross are part of the plan.

…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined usfor adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (Ephesians 1:3-7)

Death in Adam Life in Christ

The failure of the Garden and of the Law had to take place in order to show the need for the Cross and to show off ultimately God’s glory. As many reformist say, “The people atoned for by Jesus on the Cross show God’s glory to the fullest extent through his abounding Grace, and those not atoned for show God’s glory to the fullest extent through his abounding justice.” So good exist so man can see how holy God is and evil exist so man can see how holy God is. Evil exist so that God could lovingly sacrifice himself for people who love it and hate him, but because of such a sacrifice now praise His name forever and forever, AMEN!

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespassled to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousnessleads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21)