I have heard opponents of Christianity and Biblical authority claim that they cannot love a god who condones or commands such things as murder, slavery, genocide, infanticide, patricide, rape, and pillaging, as they say is taught in the Bible. Others, in defense of Christianity, state that the aforementioned atrocities occurred in the Old Testament and that Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament changed all that. But in reality, neither of these positions accurately describes what the Bible and Christianity is all about.
While Scripture contains stories of war, injustice, and all kinds of wickedness, the Bible does not teach or command any of those things. It is also not a contrast between the Old Testament and the New Testament, but a single unified story of God’s redemption of mankind. In one sense, the Bible is a history book portraying the world through various stages of its development. It is also a book of prophecy looking ahead at future events to create a complete picture of all time, beginning with the origination of our present universe and ending with the creation of a new heaven and earth following the final eradication of sin and death.
It is also a love letter from God, telling us about Himself and His interaction with His creation. Through it, we can come to know him personally.
While all sorts of wicked and detestable things have been done and are recorded in the pages of scripture, they are things that God allowed as part of a bigger agenda, giving mankind freedom of choice to love Him or to act on one’s own wicked desires. The wickedness comes from the hearts of men and women, beginning with the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan and continuing to the present day.
When sin darkened the hearts of mankind, the result was death and corruption entering into what was God’s perfectly good creation. God could have justifiably turned his back on humanity and consigned every human being to hell because of sin. But God allowed life to progress; for Adam and Eve to procreate and to fill the earth.
Right from the beginning, however, God had a plan to redeem mankind and provide a savior who would bridge the gap between God and man. The result of sin is death, the punishment due to each of us. God is a moral God and justice requires that wrongdoing be dealt with. But He is also a loving God, and not wanting to see any individual punished by an eternity of suffering in hell, sacrificed His own son (John 3:16). He Himself entered into humanity to become a suitable substitute to provide a means of salvation for all who would believe and place his or her faith and trust in Him.
There is no way for any individual to save his or herself. Because the entire human race descended from Adam, every individual inherits a sin nature, and no individual is personally righteous. Because each one is in need of his or her salvation, no one can save even one other, much less the entire human race. Only an infinite God could provide an infinite sacrifice capable of rescuing every human. He did this by personally by supernaturally entering the womb of Mary to be born as a human outside the line of Adam and with a perfect fully-human, fully-divine nature.
Jesus did not have any sin of His own separating Himself from God the father. On the cross, out of love for us, He accepted the full weight of all the sin of the world and experienced the Father turning His back on His Son. Only Jesus could provide a suitable sacrifice to reconcile mankind to God. He had to be fully human, because He had to die (Hebrews 9:22). He had to be fully god in order to fulfill the requirements of the law and live a perfect life. On the cross, His human body died, but because His nature was also fully-God, He resurrected His body after the prophesied three days in the tomb and defeated the power of sin and death once and for all (Hebrews 10:14). It is only by the sacrificial death of Jesus and His resurrection that we can be saved.
All the wickedness and evil in our world is a direct result of the entrance of sin into God’s creation. God is responsible for allowing and manifesting the wicked plans emanating from the human heart. But for us to be free moral beings capable of loving Him and choosing to live our lives for Him, we had to be capable of freely choosing to reject Him and act on our wicked desires. In a world with free will, the presence of evil is unavoidable. God’s plan not only accounts for the entrance of sin into the world, however, but also the solution. Christ died so that we might live. Next time we will look at why the amount of the evil in our world is largely irrelevant from an eternal perspective.