Do you ever read anything written by atheists, skeptics and those who actively oppose Christianity? I do. And one of the most common arguments they use against our faith is the existence of evil. They say if God is good and all powerful, why doesn’t He just do away with evil? Why doesn’t He just wipe it off the earth, completely eradicate it? God must not exist, because if He did, then evil would not be allowed to exist. That’s what they say.
So…what about it? What do you think? Should God just sovereignly, completely and immediately rid the world of all evil? BLAM! By divine decree all sin, crime, violence, war, abuse, and wrongdoing are done away with. They’re gone.
Seems like a good idea, doesn’t it. It seems like a pretty nifty solution. Well, at least at first glance. But there are some real problems with this approach. Let’s consider a few things.
First of all, God is all-knowing and all-wise. He sees all things. And because God sees all things, He knows all things. And in His sovereign wisdom (and grace) He sees how He can use anything/everything to accomplish His plans and purposes. He can even turn evil into something that ultimately results in good. It doesn’t mean that evil is not truly evil. But He is big enough and wise enough to convert even wrong into something with good results. Indeed, God often uses evil things to actually benefit us, to help us to grow, and to advance His kingdom. Have you ever learned from being mistreated, suffering, going through pain or hardship? Often hardship, evils in our lives, are training tools in the hands of God.
There is a second consideration. Suppose God were to just get rid of evil? The “BLAM” I mentioned earlier. He just speaks, and evil ceases to exist at all. Now think about this. God is holy and righteous. As an absolutely just and perfect Being, if He acted simply in His righteousness and justice, without exercising His mercy, He would have to do eradicate evil completely. He would have to get rid of all evil. His holiness would demand a complete job. He could not do it halfway. Without His mercy in place, the justice of God (in this proposed scenario) would do away with all evil at one “whack.” But moral evil is not detached with human beings. WE are the ones who commit evil deeds, have evil thoughts, exhibit evil intent. To rid the world of evil would mean that God would have to get rid of evil people. Let me ask you… have you lied? Stolen? Cheated? Been unkind? Been selfish? Treated someone meanly? Have you ever done evil? If God were to eradicate all evil right now, He would have to get rid of every human being. Every one of us. Not just the leaders of ISIS or Kim Jong Un. Not just the Hitlers and Jack the Rippers, but also the Mother Teresas and Billy Grahams. Everyone! You would not be here anymore—neither would I! We should remember that Lamentations 3:22 says that it is because of His “mercies that we are not consumed.” Good point.
One final thought, because God sees the big picture He also sees what will happen with evil individuals in the future. He knows the futures of every individual on earth. Perhaps one reason He shouldn’t just get rid of evil people is that He sees what is going to happen to those people in the future. You see, God is still in the life-transforming business. He still takes evil people—terrorists, murderers, thieves, rapists, drug addicts, drug dealers, wife-beaters and child molesters—and turns these individuals into Christians, children of God, good men and women. He changes hearts and redirects lives. I know. I have seen Him do it.
Think about it…
Persecution is an evil. But if God just did away with persecution, with persecutors…. There would never have been an Apostle Paul
Suppose God prohibited all human-trafficking and all slavery… then he would have had to destroy all traffickers and slave traders… and there would never have been a John Newton, and we would not have “Amazing Grace.”
Is Islam an evil system? Definitely. Does God hate evil? Certainly. But supposed God removed from the earth of all mullahs and imams, all Sharia jurists, all defenders of Islam, all jihadists… then He would have had to destroy many great men of God before they ever came to know Him. At ANM we are privileged to work with indigenous missionaries who came from Muslim backgrounds. Some were trained as imams. Some were experts in Sharia law. Some were violent fighters for Islam, even belonging to terrorist organizations. But now? Now through God’s grace and the transforming power of the Gospel they are firebrands for the Kingdom of God. This would not be the case if many years back God had just wiped out all violent and wicked followers of Islam.
Is violence, fighting, drug dealing, and gang warfare evil? Certainly. But if God did away with all gang members and all drug addicts… then we at ANM would never have had the privilege of knowing a man like David Yone Mo. David was a very wicked man. Yet God delivered him from gangs and crime and drugs. God turned him into a powerful minister of the Gospel. Through David’s ministry, Myanmar Young Crusaders, tens of thousands of people have come to Christ. Through his work many hundreds of drug addicts have been delivered and become productive citizens. There are so many children—orphans, abandoned children, children of lepers—who have been fed, educated, and discipled because of David. David has gone home to be with the Lord Jesus now. But he has left behind a powerful Christian legacy—that would never have come into existence if God had simply erased all drug addicts and gang leaders off the earth.
Do you understand? God allows evil to exist because the only way to get rid of moral evil is to get rid of evil people. Therefore, God allows evil to exist because He is merciful! In addition, God allows evil to exist because as wicked, hurtful and bad as it all is, the Lord is mighty enough to work greater things out of the wrongs of this world, including evil itself. God does not approve of sin, nor does He cause it. But He can turn it to good, for His glory and the benefit of people.
P.S. Consider the following Scriptures regarding this issue: Genesis 50:18-20, Romans 8:28, Isaiah 46:9-10, Ephesians 1:11, Romans 9:22-23.
P.P.P.S. I just put this here because I like postscripts. They’re sorta fun!