Last time, we looked at the presence of evil in the world and the ultimate solution found in Christ Jesus. We will now look at the amount of wickedness and types of disasters that we observe in the world around us.
Critics argue that God commanded or condoned murders and killing, not just of wicked men but also good innocent people, including women and children, and that this is unacceptable by human reasoning. They argue that God is somehow at fault in the eradication and destruction of large populations of people through instantiated wars, natural disasters, and divine action.
The problem is one of perspective. From a human vantage point, how an individual lives and dies is of utmost importance. From a human perspective, there is a big difference between leaving a baby in a dumpster and a 102-year-old man dying of old age.
From God’s perspective, however, no one is innocent (Romans 3:10-12; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). All individuals are already dead spiritually at conception because of sin and destined to die physically in some way. Even if we would somehow live a thousand years, the time that each of us lives on the earth is brief when compared with eternity. James describes our lives as a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:13-15). Then we die. There are no human bodies that are immortal. In choosing the specific details of the manifested earth, God not only chose the place and time that each individual would live but also the length of each person’s life. He orchestrated the trials that each would encounter and how each would die
The Bible teaches that mankind is inherently sinful and, by each individual’s depravity, is deserving of death. The means of death is merely a formality. God has every right, as creator, to determine some for long life and others short, for some lives to be free of trials and others heavy laden. God, having manifested what he has determined as the best possible world, would have been justified in choosing the specific trials that each individual encounters.
An all-knowing God would know each individual intimately enough to know the life circumstances that would provide the greatest opportunity for his or her salvation. He would also know those who would never freely choose Him under any circumstances. If God is loving, and the Bible teaches that He is, it makes sense that He would place an individual who would freely choose Him in the living conditions that maximize that individual’s salvation potential. For any who under no circumstances would ever choose Christ, it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever when, where, or how they live. For such individuals, God would be justified in placing them in history in the location and time that best suits His objectives in saving those who would freely choose Him.
From an eternal perspective, the entire timeline of our universe’s existence is temporary and insignificant. The world is a staging ground to prepare us for an eternal existence outside of time and space. God’s purpose is to bring forth a subset of humanity to live with Him eternally in a new heaven and new earth, one whose members will have freely chosen to humble themselves before an almighty God in honor and glory of Him and to love Him forever.
Given the temporary nature of the physical universe, the amount of suffering and the severity of trials that we see throughout earth history are irrelevant. If God’s purpose was to make life on this planet as easy as possible for as many individuals as possible, he certainly could have done a better job. However, it is only through adversity that one’s true nature emerges. It is through the trials that we experience that we learn who we are and better understand ourselves and God and come to a moment of crisis where we decide our eternal destiny by either accepting or rejecting Christ.
Every individual is different, yet God knows each one intimately. He knows the specific trials and circumstances to which each of us will best respond. He knows how much we can handle and won’t hesitate to push us to a breaking point, where all we can do is humble ourselves and fall upon His grace, crying out for mercy if that is what it will take for us to recognize Him and what he has done for us through Christ Jesus. For some, such trials will serve no purpose than to push them away from God and to develop hard hearts toward God and His purposes, and that is sad. But many others have, and others will respond with an affirmation of God’s glory and grace, of which they have partaken with joy.
So does God condone evil?
God does not act wickedly in the sense that He relishes and approves of the execution of evil acts done by men and women, nor does He delight to wreak havoc with natural disasters and pandemics that kill thousands and cause rampant wickedness and suffering. Human suffering and pain grieve Him just as they do us.
But God does utilize the decisions of individuals and any resulting wickedness. He does employ disaster and suffering as a means of weeding out those who would never seek Him and to draw others to Himself. God desires to save every individual, but in allowing free will, countless individuals reject Him. The presence of evil results from free will. The amount of evil is irrelevant in the temporary context of our physical existence, as God uses every disaster and freely-made decision for His honor and glory to open the hearts and minds of as many as possible to the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ.
I praise God that he has opened my heart to the truth in His Word. If you have never humbled yourself and accepted God’s gift of salvation, take time today to examine your heart and ask God to enter in. His offer is free and available to all. We do not know if we will have another day or even another hour, so set your heart right with God now before it is too late.