tough questions

Why Does God Actually Allow Evil To Exist?

October 2, 2006.

Gunfire shattered the tranquility of a one-room Amish schoolhouse.

When the tragedy ended, the shooter and 10 little girls ages 6-13 lay dead.

Pure evil.

The kind of evil that’s hard to wrap our brains around.

And that’s true for believers and unbelievers alike.

Today’s blog post in the Tough Questions series will answer the question: “Why does God allow evil to exist?”

Existence of evil

The purpose of this blog series is to give a defense for our Christian faith and answer tough questions. Not so we can prove ourselves right. But so we can combat Satan’s lies with God’s truth and lead others to the Lord.
Many times people who ask these questions have a sincere desire to know the truth.
Sometimes those asking do so to destroy our faith.
Either way, it’s our responsibility to know how to answer (1 Peter 3:15).
If you’ve missed the previous tough questions, you might want to check them out first. (All these are important. But the posts about the validity of the Bible are especially relevant.)

Previous TOUGH QUESTIONS blog series posts:

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Why Does Evil Exist? The Heart of the Problem

The Bible describes God as loving (John 3:161 John 4:8), good (Mark 10:18), righteous (Psalm 7:11), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), sovereign (Daniel 4:25), and all-powerful (Romans 1:20).

If God is all these things, then why doesn’t He do something about evil?
In all truth, He has.
His name is Jesus.
He’s already been victorious over sin and death at the cross (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). One day He’ll defeat evil by defeating the evil one (Satan) and his minions (Romans 16:20Revelation 20:7-15).
But for now, in His infinite wisdom, goodness, and love, the Lord allows evil to exist.

Why Does Evil Exist? Answering Opposition

DW3m-_1VoAA6RGGOpponents of the Christian faith use the problem of evil to claim that:

  • Either God is nonexistent, or
  • He’s not truly a good, loving, and just God.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Evil Actually Proves God’s Existence

The concept of right and wrong is embedded into the fabric of all people. That’s true, regardless of culture, ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, historical era, and more.

C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, calls it the Moral Law.

If we’re honest, we’re aware of this distinction. We realize our inability to always be good and right. A Higher Being outside ourselves must have put that Moral Code in place as the standard by which we should live.
It also stands to reason that the One who created the universe and mankind also created this Moral Law. When we oppose that Moral Law, we’re setting ourselves up as the enemies of the Moral Law Giver.

“It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power  — it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk. When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor.”

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


Opposition to the Moral Law Argument

Don’t expect opponents of the faith to give up easily.
Many will deny the existence of the Moral Law. Their argument? Morality is relative. Individuals determine what is right and wrong for themselves.
A good way to combat this is to ask them if lying is wrong.
More than likely they will agree that it is. Why? Because in all reality, it’s easy to justify our own lies, but if someone lies to us, we get upset.
This proves lying is wrong because it’s part of God’s Moral Law.
The moral relativism of today cannot refute this.
Another example is the general consensus that cheating (in school or in business) is wrong. It’s robbery and abhorrent to the Lord.
Another argument is that morality is cultural. 
Minor cultural differences in morality do exist. But all cultures agree murder, stealing, and lying are wrong. There are also universal virtues that transcend culture.
Those minor differences could be man’s attempts to change God’s Moral Law.

“I’m here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It’s wrong to hate. It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong! It’s wrong in America, it’s wrong in Germany, it’s wrong in Russia, it’s wrong in China. It was wrong in 2000 B.C., and it’s wrong in 1954 A.D. It always has been wrong … Some things in this universe are absolute. The God of the universe has made it so. And so long as we adopt this relative attitude toward right and wrong, we’re revolting against the very laws of God Himself.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Rediscovering Lost Values”


So what about the question of God’s goodness? Keep reading.

Why Does Evil Exist? Let’s Keep This In Mind…

Free Will

God could have created people with the inability to commit evil. But in doing so, He would also remove their free will, leaving a pre-programmed people forced to love and obey Him. We’d all agree that without a person’s right to choose, it isn’t truly love and obedience.
As Sovereign God, He instead created Adam and Eve with the ability to choose — even if that meant they could (and would!) make wrong choices.
To some it may not seem like such a big deal for them to eat the forbidden fruit. I mean, it’s just a little food, right?
No.
That particular fruit was from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God gave them a direct command to stay away.
With the very first bite, they gave into the serpent’s lies and evil.

“Man is the one who messed up, and we’ve been blaming God for it ever since.”

Mama Beth (matriarch of the Miller’s Creek novels), TEXAS ROADS

God Could Intervene, But…

As all-powerful God, He could intervene in our world and put a stop to evil.

If God intervened in school shootings, genocide, and human trafficking who would object?
Ravi Zacharias addresses the topic of God’s intervention in this excellent video:

God is just and righteous in all He does. So His direct intervention to stop evil would also put a stop to each of our “little” sins as well.

The Bible is very clear about the utter depravity of mankind. We’re all guilty by His standard.


For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23


Why Evil Exists? A Bigger Plan

Here’s the truth.
Evil and its impact on human lives does concern God.
As mentioned above, He’s already done something about evil in the person of Jesus. And He will defeat it forever as foretold by the book of Revelation.
All it takes is a look at the Bible and human history to see God consistently battle against evil.

He:

  • gave the commandments for the good of people (Exodus 20:1-17).
  • judges sin (Revelation 21:8).
  • warns about the danger and invasive nature of sin (Genesis 4:7; Galatians 5:9)
  • allows us to experience the consequences of our sin to turn our hearts toward Him (Hebrews 3:7-19).
  • delivers His people from slavery to evil (Exodus 14:21-28).
  • alone decides whether to act against evil or allow it and is the only One qualified to do so.

God’s thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). So we can trust that He has a good reason for allowing evil to exist.

As a fiction writer, I know a book without bad guys makes for a lousy story.
Characters can’t grow because there’s no struggle to precipitate that growth.

I’ve heard artists make similar comparisons. Light and bright colors stand out better when contrasted against a dark background.

Honestly, it comes down to this. He’s God and we’re not. For us to tell Him what is fair or unfair is the height of human arrogance. He’s not answerable to us! (See Romans 9:20.)


Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear Me and keep all My commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

Deuteronomy 5:29


Why Evil Exists? Our Best Response

So our best response to the existence of evil is to:

  • Acknowledge Him as our Lord God. His plan is bigger than simply prohibiting evil.
  • Recognize that we live in enemy territory in the largest civil war ever.
    • Satan, in His pride, mounted an insurrection against God to usurp God’s rightful place (Isaiah 14:12-17) His intent is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).
    • When we commit evil or take a rebellious stance against God, we contribute to the cause of the enemy.

Why Evil Exists? Wrap-Up

Here’s a summary:

  1. Opponents claim that since evil exists, God must not. But evil actually proves our Divine Creator wired us with a Moral Code.
  2. Some may claim that morality is relative and determined by individuals. Counteract this by asking if lying is wrong.
  3. Another argument suggests that one’s culture determines morality. Minor cultural differences exist. But all cultures agree on basic tenets of right and wrong.
  4. Some claim that God must not be loving, good, kind, righteous, just, etc. since evil exists. Actually since God is all these things and more, He is beyond human comprehension. So man’s description of God doesn’t diminish or change who He is.
  5. God could have created man with the inability to do wrong. He could also intervene to stop evil. Both would destroy man’s free will, rendering people as little more than puppets or robots.
  6. Instead God allows evil to exist. But Bible history proves He battles against evil and encourages mankind to do right.
  7. Our best response is to acknowledge Him as God and live accordingly. We also need to realize this universal spiritual battle between perfect good and pure evil. Evil loses to good when Jesus returns!

Along with today’s question about why God allows evil, we get a whole host of other questions.

One of my favorite online resources in GotQuestions.org. Below you’ll find several related questions answered on that site.


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