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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

How Can God Allow Evil?

People who wonder how a loving God could allow people to go to hell often pose this question as well. But the very act of asking it defeats the argument, for the first question assumes that God judges too harshly, the other that He does not judge harshly enough!

Where Evil Grows

Evil does not float around unattached, like a big black cloud over the earth. Rather, evil originates in men’s hearts and is committed by men. Sin and death came into the world when Adam disobeyed God in Eden. God could have destroyed mankind then, but He chose to redeem us instead.

Two Possible Outcomes

Those who put their faith in Christ have been cleansed from their sins, made right with God and will never be judged: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death”.

But those who willfully reject God’s free gift of salvation from their sins will have to face His judgment instead: “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace”. 

What if God Judged Evil Now?

God could judge all mankind right now if He chose; indeed He could have done so long ago. Some mock at God’s promise to come and judge the earth. Peter writes, “They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For … all things are continuing as they were from the beginning’ ”. But God is not slow in keeping His promise; He is “patient toward [us], not wishing that any should perish”, giving us all a fair chance to learn of Him and put our trust in Him. Someday, however, He will come suddenly and unexpectedly, “like a thief” and the wickedness of men will be judged. 

Nature and Evil

But what of the bad things that happen in the world which are not due to the acts of men? What about earthquakes, disease, and famine? The question of suffering is a complex one, and we cannot presume to guess all God’s reasons for allowing natural disasters to trouble or even to take the lives of individuals. But we can be sure of the ultimate source of these upheavals in nature. The Bible tells us that these things are the natural consequences of man’s sin. All creation was warped when Adam sinned, and throughout history the whole creation has been “groaning”, waiting for deliverance. Creation will not be put right until God has first fully judged the sin that caused its distortion. He has promised to do so, but only He knows the day or the hour at which that judgement will begin. 

If God were to remove all the evil in the world right away, he would have to include you and me. When we realize this, perhaps we will be a little less strident in our calls for a righteous God to judge the earth.

RJA

Republished by permission of the author

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