One of the most often repeated questions about God concerns the existence of evil. Why does evil exist if the God described in the Bible is real? The Greek philosopher Epicurus raised this issue two-thousand years ago. His argument has been summarized in this way: “If God is unable to prevent evil, then He is not all-powerful. If God is not willing to prevent evil, then He is not all good. If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?”
The Bible clearly says that God is all-powerful and is perfectly good. Jeremiah 32:17 says of God, “There is nothing too hard for Thee.” Job 42 says that God can do everything. The goodness of God is proclaimed throughout the Bible, especially in the Psalms. “Good and upright is the Lord.” (Psalm 25:8) “The Lord is good to all.” (Psalm 145:9) The goodness of God must be understood in light of His holiness. All He does is righteous. He hates evil. God has no part in evil and does not promote it in any way. Since God hates all evil and He is able to destroy evil at any time He chooses, why is the world filled with so much sin and sorrow?
What is the Biblical explanation for evil? Sin and suffering do not originate with God. They originate with His creatures. God created beings with a capacity to obey or disobey Him. When God’s creatures rebelled against Him they did evil. The inevitable result of rebellion is punishment and suffering. The world is filled with sin because made refused to obey His creator.
This question goes deeper than the origin of suffering. This question wants to know why God let it happen. God could have prevented Satan from sinning, but He didn’t. God could have prevented Adam and Eve from sinning, but He didn’t. Why would God allow sin when He knew the terrible consequences that would come from it?
Many philosophical and logical answers have been offered to this question, but the Bible does not provide a single, simple answer. No verse or passage concisely explains God’s purposes in allowing evil. However, the Biblical record of the actions of man and God give some insight into the purposes and plan of God regarding evil.
The book of Job teaches that “why?” is the wrong question. God never explained to Job why he suffered. God simply told Job who was in charge. Romans 9 and Isaiah both challenge the person who would question God’s works. What right has the creation to demand the Creator explain His actions? Can a clay pot demand the potter justify his work? The Creator has every right to do as He wills with His creation. Creation has the obligation to submit to His will and to trust His good plan. This is not an emotionally satisfying answer, but it is the right one. God’s wisdom and understanding are far beyond our understanding. He rules all things. We do not have the right to question His work.
God does not reveal why He allowed evil, but the Biblical narrative gives some insight into what those reasons might be. God is working to exalt His name. Everything God did and is doing in the world is for His glory. From the calling of Abraham, to punishment of Israel, to the death of Jesus, to the salvation of Christians, to the judgment of the whole world, all of God’s actions are for His glory. The inevitable conclusion is that the entrance of sin brings God the greatest glory. This claim is hard to swallow, but it aligns perfectly with all the Bible teaches about God.
Because sin exists men understand better the grace of God. The angels who never sinned struggle to comprehend the grace of God in saving sinners. (1 Peter 1:12) Because God allowed men to sin all who have been forgiven of their sin understand God’s grace. The saved worship God in a way the angels cannot. The angels proclaim God’s praise, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God Almighty.” (Revelation 4:8) The saved in heaven sing a different song. “Thou art worthy . . . for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” (Revelation 5:9). The entrance of sin into the world added another verse into the eternal hymn of praise to God.
God’s seeking His glory should cause any one to conclude God is selfish. His glory is the greatest good for the entire universe. The rejection of God buried the universe in agony. The exaltation of God’s glory will deliver the universe from its misery. (Revelation 21:3-4) To accomplish the extermination of evil on earth God Himself entered into our suffering. God the Son took humanity’s sin and all its anguish on Himself. None dare accuse God of selfishness or disinterest. He is not unconcerned. He is not malicious. He is involved. He suffered under sin to set men free from sin. One day He will bring all evil to an end.