This has been a discussion throughout the ages; something that 'saints and sinners' have wrestled with from the beginning when good and evil were perceived and wondered about, and the struggle ensued in an attempt to reconcile their co-existence.
The term "predicament" may be defined as follows:
"noun 1. an unpleasantly difficult, perplexing, or dangerous situation.
2. a class or category of logical or philosophical predication.
3. Archaic. a particular state, condition, or situation.
Defining evil is a bit more difficult; in similar fashion 'holy' may also pose difficult to define.
The problem of evil as we deal with it daily in the news media as well as our own observations and experiences certainly reveals it to be perplexing and dangerous , to say nothing of it being difficult and unpleasant. But deal with it we must.
I hope that in this article I will present some insights into evil and its nature that will prove encouraging and helpful to the reader. So let us begin . . .
Let's start out with this video from The One Minute Apologist:
The PARASITE THAT IS PERDITION -
From watching this video we begin to understand that evil in and of itself is not something that can exist in its own right. It is parasitical in nature; something that is inherently good must pre-exist it in order for it to be corrupted or infested with something that is not good. Or more accurately perhaps, it is the introduction and influence of evil that deprives something of its goodness and as a result of that privation, it is corrupted.
Putting it another way, a student once asked a teacher a series of questions once the teacher made the proposition that:
"Since God created all that exists,
And evil does exist in this world,
therefore God is the creator of evil."
The student asked the teacher if there is such a thing as cold, to which the teacher answered in the affirmative.
The student then asked the teacher if there is such a thing as darkness, to which the teacher likewise answered in the affirmative.
The student then stated that cold and darkness in themselves really don't exist - not in the same way that we think of heat and light. Cold is merely the absence of heat, and darkness the absence of light.
Evil is not a thing in itself, but simply the absence of good. God created all things good, but when His will was disobeyed by creatures (both angelic and human) that He endowed with free will, that disobedience started an avalanche of the privation of good as well as the commencement of corruption that has grown exponentially ever since Lucifer said "I will . . ." (ISAIAH 14:12-17) and our Initial Parents bit into the forbidden fruit (GEN 2:9,17; 3:5,22).
You can measure the amount of heat something has by the level of caloric energy that it contains; likewise you can measure the amount of light that something has by lumens (or foot candles). But you can't measure cold or darkness - those are merely the absence of heat and light.
And while these are indeed physical properties, scientifically measured, good and evil cannot be so quantified, and this is where the analogy falls short, but it proves useful as a simple analogy to show how a good God, Who can only create that which is good, and evil can both exist in reality and that God is not at all the creator of evil.
Some things we must consider: those of us who believe the Bible to be God's very Word understand that good comes from an eternal, infinite source and so is itself a thing of eternal and infinite properties. Evil comes from a temporal, finite source and so is itself a thing of temporal and finite properties.
What we rightly conclude from this is that evil will be short-lived from an eternal perspective, a parenthetical quality that will no longer exist in the new creation, once God commences that work (REV 21:1). Since it is a thing itself finite, it has finite resources such as finite power, finite knowledge and finite influences. In its battle against good, it fights a hopeless cause. Good 'holds all the cards' as it were - because the Almighty is infinite and eternal in power, knowledge and influences.
There are many that forgo the question of whether or not God can defeat evil; their dilemma revolves around the question of why doesn't God defeat evil? Why does He allow evil to exist? That is the next question we will consider.
WHEREFORE, WHEREFORE ART THOU . . . ?
GOD being Almighty and All-Loving could easily stop evil, and it would seem that a powerful and loving God would be motivated to do so. Here are three possibilities based on an article from GOTQUESTIONS.com:
1) "He could stop evil by changing everyone’s personality so that they cannot sin." We would be pre-programmed 'robots' with no will of our own, but merely conduct ourselves as we were created to do. This would mean that any meaningful relationship with God would be impossible. Free will presupposes that if I love someone, it is because I choose to do so, not because I was programmed.
2) "God could compensate for people’s evil actions through supernatural intervention 100 percent of the time." But this would infringe on our desire to commit acts that, to us, would not at all seem sinful or bad, but would be so to God. We would want God to stop rape, but not our own sexual lusts for adultery. We would want God to stop murder, but not our own predilection of pummeling someone who in our own eyes, deserves it.
Plus if God intervened in preventing the consequences for our sinful acts, we would never learn the deadly destructiveness of sin's terrible power.
3) "Another choice would be for God to judge and remove those who choose to commit evil acts." But once again, just as we come to understand any given effect by its cause, we would never learn of the corrupt fruit that stems from the sin that we commit. Once more, were God to remove all of us who truly committed truly evil acts - no one would exist in this world, for we are all prone to sin, and of corrupt and wicked hearts due to our sin nature.
"Instead of these options, God has chosen to create a 'real' world in which real choices have real consequences. In this real world of ours, our actions affect others. Because of Adam’s choice to sin, the world now lives under the curse, and we are all born with a sin nature (ROMANS 5:12). There will one day come a time when God will judge the sin in this world and make all things new, but He is purposely 'delaying' in order to allow more time for people to repent so that He will not need to condemn them (2 PETER 3:9). Until then, He IS concerned about evil. When He created the Old Testament laws, the goal was to discourage and punish evil. He judges nations and rulers who disregard justice and pursue evil. Likewise, in the New Testament, God states that it is the government’s responsibility to provide justice in order to protect the innocent from evil (ROMANS 13). He also promises severe consequences for those who commit evil acts, especially against the 'innocent' (MARK 9:36-42)."
To read more about this see the GOTQUESTIONS.com article below:
Why does God allow evil?
Something that the LORD reminded me of as I was reading about the Great White Throne Judgment (REV 20:11), that "there is no such thing as eternal injustice". God, the Righteous Judge will scour every passage of time, in every era of mankind's history, searching deeply for the wicked deeds of evil men (and angels throughout their own history!), and not just their deeds, but their thoughts and intents (JER 17:9-10; HEB 4:12) and will measure out exactingly perfect portions of judgment upon every soul that stands resolutely outside of His saving grace through Christ.
END OF DAYS - OF EVIL
As wicked as our present days are, the Bible indicates that wickedness will become even more heinous (MATT 24:12) and terrible. Mankind's penchant for perdition, lawlessness and rebellion, at its heart, is all about disobedience to the will of God; this has been the case ever since (and even before) the Tower of Babel (GEN 11:4). In the verse quoted above in Matthew, it states that because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many will grow cold. This is true in a general sense, but also in a very specific one:
"The Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul" (PSALM 19:7) - the WORD of God is awesome in it's ability to transform the repentant sinner into a righteous saint; it requires yielding to God's will, and this is something rebellious man is dead-set against.
It is because lawless and rebellious disobedience against the will of God is increasing, that any love for His WORD will decrease and grow cold. The apostasy as we see it today, is in full gear and revving its engine for the final laps in this ruinous race towards destruction. As love for God's will diminishes, " . . . the water of the Word" is evaporating from the hearts and minds of those who are merely religious hearers of the Word (MATT 7:26; JAMES 1:22) that God would have come to genuine repentance. It is that evil evaporation that is causing hearts to grow cold and indifferent towards the LORD Who would have all to be saved (2 PETER 3:9).
There is the religious but false spirituality that indeed mimics that which is godly, but is truly denying the very power of godliness (2 TIM 3:5), which is the Spirit of God indwelling us, transforming and conforming us to Christ. This is the essence of the spirit of anti-Christ which proclaims deity for those who are damned, and demands allegiance of this world who will eventually come to knowingly worship Satan!
The culmination of corruption - the pinnacle of spiritual perversion will be known when the Spirit of the LORD is taken out of the way (2 THESS 2:6-8) and He allows His presence to be diminished to a all time low and the spirit of lawlessness will know its paramount reign through the Beast of Revelation, the anti-Christ. God will allow, just this once, for Satan to have his way: the LORD will provide the opportunity for the power of evil to have full sway.
The lines shall be drawn once and for all, as God will yet by His Spirit call out to the souls of men, much as Moses did in his day:
Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me.
The polarization of these diametrically opposed allegiances souls will have for either God or Satan, that began since man was driven from the Garden of Eden, and is happening in our day, will know its climax during those seven years of tribulation. God, in allowing evil its full reign shall witness with His Holy eyes the drawing of rebels who will flock towards the power of Satan, openly worshiping him (REV. 13:4) and will justly judge them for it.
The blight of evil endowed in the human race, will 'come to a head' as it were, and that is when evil as a power will be excised, when once the Judge of all the Earth shall arrive, bringing vengeance against His unrepentant creatures who would desire to overthrow His righteous right to reign (2 THESS 1:7-9; PSALM 2:1-3; 9:19-20).
WE ARE AMBASSADOR-WARRIORS FOR CHRIST
We must have clear vision in the face of evil today; we are called to be ambassadors for Christ to this fallen world of sinners, who God loves and seeks to save (2 COR 5:20) and we are also beckoned to be battle-hardened warriors (1 TIM 1:17-18; EPH 6:10-18) against all the principalities and powers in Satan's dark angelic domain.
We are to pray for deliverance from evil (or "the evil one") MATT 6:13; we are not to resist evil in the sense of 'pay back' (MATT 5:39) but rather endure any wrong doing done to us (1 PETER 2:18-20) and bless those who curse us and would treat us evilly (ROM 12:21; MATT 5:44). We are certainly to expose evil in society, and especially as it seeks entrance into the church (EPH 5:11). We as saints wrestle against the evil of our own sinful nature (ROM 7:19-21) but through Christ we may overcome
In both capacities as ambassadors and warriors, we seek reconciliation of lost sinners to God Who desires their salvation and we also wage war against the spiritual forces arrayed against the holy Kingdom of God as His warriors armed with the Sword of the Spirit of Truth and all the holy armor granted to us respectively.
Let's keep our vision clear and focused, making certain that we keep these two roles as Christians distinct - the reason why the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God is because our true enemy is not carnal (physical) but spiritual in nature (2 COR 10:4). I have seen a lot of seeming hatred by Christians of late towards particular people groups who are adamantly opposed to the Gospel and Jesus Christ.
We must acknowledge that Jesus died for their sins as well; these souls, while they say and do things that may truly incite righteous anger from the church which is a lover and heralder of the truth, are likewise victims of Satan's deception and are trapped within the wicked walls of the kingdom of darkness. Remember, Saul of Tarsus was once among these ranks, and yet look what God did with him!
Finally, take heart saints: while we witness the hour of profound darkness approaching, and see even now how the night of evil is casting its shadow over this fallen world, we understand that what is already happening across this globe; Christians continue to be beheaded and crucified in Islamic lands, incarcerated and tortured in prisons in North Korea and China, and elsewhere persecuted with ever increasing intensity to a fever pitch. We see the signs in our own nation as well.
As stated earlier, evil is parenthetical in nature, temporary and injustices suffered will know absolute judgment at God's eternal throne. Let us continue in the faith and be the light that we are called to be, facing the violence of evil and the heinous power of sin with the grace and righteousness of Christ, whereby we are His able ambassadors and warriors!
2 TIM 2:2-4
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
For more on this strange predicament of evil, read the following excellent article by J. Warner Wallance of COLD CASE CHRISTIANITY:
HOW WE DEFINE THE NATURE OF GOD DETERMINES HOW WE DEFINE THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
The PROBLEM Of PAIN By C.S. LEWIS
The GREAT DIVORCE also by C.S. LEWIS