“Our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God. Another way to put it is, Would we truly understand the righteousness of God if we didn’t understand UNrighteousness?”
A terrorist group bombs innocent civilians…where was God?
A tsunami wipes out thousands….where was God?
Tornados and flooding kill thousands….where was God?
And now, a tragedy that occurred right here in our home town, Aurora, CO, has sparked national media coverage, gun ban talks from the U.N. and government, and outcry from gun-toting Americans declaring second amendment rights must not be compromised, especially due to recent events.
If God is such a Good God, how can He possibly allow such tragedies to happen in this world and allow bad things to happen to good people?
This thought is much like the plot behind the Tom Cruise movie, “Minority Report,”
If a “good” person knows in advance that a crime is going to be committed, they would do everything possible to stop that evil from transpiring. Assuming God is perfect and holy and all-knowing, it would only make sense that He would stop natural disasters and heinous crimes from happening and thus save millions of lives.
There are two conclusions here that are popular among those who have not placed their faith in God…
either God does care about our situations here, but is not all-powerful, OR God IS in fact all-powerful, but He just simply doesn’t care about people.
Fortunately, scripture does gives us a clear response. Our hope today is that we can help reaffirm a biblical theodicy for mature believers and help new believers to understand and affirm their faith in our always faithful God, who never leaves us nor forsakes us.
We can all agree that Evil exists. There is evil in the world. That much is undeniable. As we observe this planet and Scripture, we can see Four types of evil:
1. Natural Evil
With each passing day, it is rare that one goes by when we don’t hear of people or animals, somewhere, dying in some kind of natural disaster, plague, or an outbreak of epidemic proportions. You should recall the horrific tsunami of Japan recently and of course, right here in Colorado, the Waldo Wildfires.
2. Moral Evil
Natural evil is impersonal. Moral evil on the other hand is definitely equipped with crosshairs…it’s vindictive and personal. This evil is spiritual and internal as well. It is a wicked attitude and it is a course of thought and speech and conduct that dominates the human race so much so that the holy spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write
“All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
God Himself said the thoughts and hearts of man are continually evil…
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Sin is the problem.
3. Supernatural Evil
This is the evil that is conducted by demons. When Satan was cast from heaven, he took a third of the angels with him…demons.
2 Corinthians 4:4 talks about “the god of this world” that has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel.
If satan is the god of this world and God has given him dominion over the lost, doesn’t it make sense that the wicked who are blinded by the devil would carry on to reveal the fullest extent of their own depravity and ultimately that of all humanity? Better yet, 1 John 5:19b reiterates who exactly has power over the WHOLE world… “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
God kicked satan’s butt once already in the heavenlies, then again at the cross when He rose to shame the throes of death, and will finish him off in the last and final battle, so it’s safe to say, the devil is no match for our God. Isaiah gives us an image of people casting their eyes upon the devil and asking
“Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms?” (Isaiah 14:16)
If satan cannot harm God, whats the next best thing?
Harm His kids.
Satan walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We know that demon possession is a real thing and vessels created for destruction will no doubt be used for wicked purposes. However, we who know God and therefore, know love, since God is love, are protected from the evil one.
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
Jesus prayed for believers…
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
The demon’s leader, satan, who commands them for this time, is given temporary authority over the world system. He has a temporary and delegated sovereignty in this world so that even as believers, we are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against spiritual darkness. The spiritual battle going on in this world is massive and is directly effected by demons. They have the power to seduce and deceive humanity against God and against the gospel so as to draw people deeper and deeper and into immorality and iniquity.
4. Eternal Evil
In a word, hell. Hell is eternal…forever. “The worm will not die. The fire will not be quenched.” Jesus spoke more of hell than He ever did of heaven because if people don’t know they are stuck in a burning car wreck, about to fall over a cliff at any moment, they don’t know they need to be pulled out of that situation and saved.
Therefore with a resounding YES, there is evil in the world. It’s everywhere. We cannot escape it.
In contrast though, God exists. He is the true, one and only God, written about in the bible. He is exactly the God that Scripture declares Him to be. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, He is loving, and He is absolutely holy. He controls governs everything. The Bible tells us that God exists and that nothing exists or occurs that He does not ordain. There are numerous verses that declare this truth…1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Psalm 1115:2-3, Daniel 4:35, and Scripture repeatedly affirms the sovereignty of God over everything: 1 Timothy 6:15, Exodus 4:11, 2 Kings 17:25, . Specifically though, Proverbs 16:4 is what stands out most to me…
” The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”
and Isaiah 45:7 – I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.
Scripture is clear then…God is behind what we would classify as being good and what we would classify as evil or bad…He has ordained them both. What we have to understand though is, while God wills evil to exist, He NEVER commits evil. Otherwise he would not be holy as scripture tells us He is.
The world wants to blame God for evil and believers cannot possibly believe God is responsible for any evil. But neither of those ideas help us to have a biblical theodicy. Why then would God create creatures who would be responsible for evil knowing full well what they would do? This is merely man-centered thinking…not God-centered thinking.
“Where did evil come from?”
You might say… “Oh it came from Adam and Eve.”
Really? How was it introduced to Adam and Eve?
“Well… it came from the snake.”
Ok, so how did the snake get to a place where he could be embodied by Satan and how did Satan get to be Satan in which he was tempting people to do evil? He came from heaven, didn’t he? So where did evil originate? In heaven. Yes, evil originated in heaven in an angelic rebellion right in front of God. When it all went down though, do you think God was like…”whoa WHOA WHOA!! WHAT IS GOING ON!?” No. No matter how you attempt to reconcile it, if you affirm biblical doctrine, God becomes ultimately responsible for the existence of evil. He never commits evil though.
We simply cannot acknowledge that God is the eternal God the bible says He is, but attempt to hold Him accountable to our understanding of justice. This is the kind of thinking that suggests the cause of evil is the abuse of free will. That is to say, God could have prevented evil, but He wanted free will to exist and when He allowed free will to exist, some of His creation chose evil. The God we just read about in the Scripture, however, does not value our free will above His sovereign will.
So just to recap:
- Evil exists.
- God exists.
- God wills evil to exist.
- He did not create it.
- But He did not prevent it.
- He ordained it.
Lastly, watch out here…if your man-centered thinking hasn’t been challenged yet…it’s about to be.
God ordains evil because He has a purpose for it. What is that purpose that God had for evil? Let me give you an easy question…
Is God more glorious because of sin existing or less glorious? Pretty easy question to answer, right? That really is the ultimate question. Throughout all of eternity, will God receive more glory from His creatures because sin existed, or less?
Lets close it up shall we? Check out Romans 3:5a “But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say?”
THATS IT! RIGHT THERE! Our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God. Another way to put it is, Would we truly understand the righteousness of God if we didn’t understand UNrighteousness?
Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We simply would not understand love without sin. How could we understand the love of God in Christ to us if we did not understand how sinful and undeserving we are? Again, if you’re trapped in a burning vehicle, about to fall off a cliff into a pit of everlasting torment, but you have no idea you’re in a train wreck, someone coming to you and telling you that you need saving seems like complete lunacy.
So whenever you’re met with the question, “why do bad things happen to ‘good’ people…” you can firmly answer back, “Because God has willed evil to exist in the world so that in our unrighteousness, we might appreciate the sharp contrast of His holy, perfect, righteousness, by which He gave His only son for us and made THE way for us to accept eternal life.”
why do good things happen to bad people?