The Origin of Evil

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, October 7, 2014 1 comments

by Bill Seng

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” ~Psalm 136:1

If God is good, why does evil persist? If God created all things, where did evil come from? Theologians and skeptics alike ponder these questions. The theologian searches Scripture and philosophy to understand how evil can originate in a good universe. The skeptic will often dismiss the possibility that a “good” God exists. Is the skeptic right to do so, or is there something mysterious about the existence of evil? Is it possible that understanding where evil came from would help us to understand a little more about ourselves, and even God himself?

According to the creation account, mankind had no knowledge of good and evil. It was not until they sinned against God that they acquired this knowledge (Genesis 3:4-7). Without knowledge, I think it can be safely said there can be no choice in one’s actions. Having been created good and not having the knowledge of evil, Adam and Eve would not have known how to kill, steal, lie, or covet. Their lack of knowledge of those activities eliminated them as options from their daily lives. Knowledge of good and evil ultimately originates with God.

God is the ultimate standard. Everything he created was to reflect his glory and character (Colossians 1:16, Romans 1:20). The difficulty with this issue is that we know that God was not responsible for sin. In fact, he cannot be responsible for sin. Sin is something that is contrary to God’s nature, and God cannot act outside of his nature. So he cannot sin, cause people to sin, or tempt people to sin (James 1:13). If this is true, where did sin come from?

We now look to the angels who are, by nature, ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14). They have always possessed the knowledge of good and evil, which is implied by their role as ministers. In order to minister, one must be able to discern between good and evil. Granted, this creates more questions, but for now let us stick to what we know. Satan is the angel who made sin possible for mankind. He admired his own beauty and became obsessed with his own splendor. As a result he rebelled against God. Although Adam and Eve are held responsible for bringing sin into the world, it probably would not have happened had it not been for Satan’s involvement.

Nonetheless, it was mankind’s free will that allowed Adam and Eve the opportunity to sin. The angels also, apparently, possessed free will but had the knowledge of good and evil as well. Such responsibility proved too much for some of the angels, seeing how Satan was not the only angel to fall away from God. It is ironic to think that the knowledge of good and evil is what led to sin, was granted as a result of sin, and is also instrumental in repentance from sin.

There is much more to this topic than what I can cover in such a small space. Let it suffice that the “problem of evil” is really not a problem from a truly Biblical perspective. It is clear that God was not responsible for sin and that it was the abuse of the knowledge of good and evil that led to sin. Once again, despite the wickedness of the first sin, God made a way for the first sin to also lead to repentance.


Charlie said...

Something I would add to this, if God stopped every crime, every starvation going on out there, he would also have to stop you from every sin you would do too. A little white lie, a lustful thought, every consumption of something beyond moderation (gluttony), etc. Also, God is long-suffering. He is patient beyond what we can imagine. I easily picture him doing everything he can to hold back his judgement to give as many people as he can the chance to get saved and escape his coming judgment. If you want God to deal with the evil in this world, are you ready for him to deal with the sin that is in you? If not, you are part of the problem.