If you are a Christian sooner or later someone will ask you this question:
If God is good, why does he allow evil?
This often leads to another question – where did evil come from in the first place? The Christian quickly answers – “Not from God. Evil originated with Satan.” OK then, fine. But if God is all-powerful, surely He had jurisdiction over that. He could have prevented it in the first place.
That’s right. He could have. But He didn’t.
So now we are in a deeper pickle. Why not? I must admit, even as a pastor, my answers to individuals have not been as robust as they could have been. One route is to quote Deut. 29:29 (especially the first half): “The secret things belong to the Lord our God. It’s one of those things that belongs to the mystery of God’s will. He hasn’t revealed this to us in His Word so we are not meant to know the answer.”
Hmmmm. Not very satisfying is it? We can actually do better than that. If we look at the whole counsel of God, there is a very good reason why evil exists and why God allowed it: to magnify God’s glory and increase our joy. Yep – sounds like a line right out of John Piper’s book doesn’t it? That’s because it is. But it’s also found in God’s book. Think about it: if there was no Satan and no evil there would be no need for a Saviour, no need for the cross, no need for grace and mercy and no human experience of being delivered from darkness, having our sins forgiven or or running to the arms of our heavenly Father as newly adopted sons and daughters of God. Jesus would not be returning to take his bride home, there would be no restoration of things in the new heavens and new earth, and we would not be looking forward to anything exceedingly better to come.
So let me ask the question again: “If God is good, why does he allow evil?” I think the answer is pretty obvious.
I like the way Bob Bevington put it in a recent article he wrote for Desiring God:
“Light is all the more glorious in contrast to darkness. Freedom is enhanced by the experience of captivity. Holiness is more beautiful when we have been shocked by the gargoyle face of evil.
Remembering how our Divine Rescuer irreversibly saved us from the jaws of the enemy maximizes our delight, admiration, and reverence for him. Thus the very existence of Satan ultimately magnifies the glory of Christ. And this type of glory would not be possible were Satan not allowed to range throughout the earth”
You might be thinking, “Look – the average unbeliever isn’t going to get that.” Perhaps not. But the important thing is you will. And if you are confident in your understanding of how all these things fit together you will be much better equipped at conversing with people you live and work with each day.
AND it will help make some sense of the mess we all live in.