Truth, Understanding, Insight

Good & Evil

1st March 2008, mgh


2) The Sources of Evil

Apart from death, which all experience and evil in nature due to the curse, what else might be considered evil? Wars, famines, poverty, murders, crime, inequity, injustice, accidents and natural disaster. In this list the majority of evil is due to human actions, except for natural disaster. Sometimes these are called "an act of God". However much of the damage in so called 'natural disasters' may be due to lack of human fore thought. In addition in day to day lives people may suffer from other's anger, pride, malice, neglect, unkindness, ill treatment, due to excesses and hatred. The Bible gives a way to live that eliminates as much as possible this evil. The apostle John says there is a simple explanation for evil in the world, saying,

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:16-17)

John says that this evil that humans do is due to their lust and is not of God, the Father. Those that do the will of God do not do evil and will live forever and the evil of the world will pass away.

The apostle James says God does not make poeple do evil. They do evil when they lust. After they lust they sin. And the evil that results leads sooner or later to the death of people.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)

Why does God allow Evil?

If God is powerful and can eliminate evil, why does he allow evil? The Bible indicates it is so humans must make a choice.

Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good. (Job 34:4)
Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.(Isaiah 7:15)

Jesus in a parable says God 'sows' good but humans (the enemy of God) 'sow' evil.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from where then has it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:24-30)

Here God allows the consequnces of evil to exist lest, in removing the evil, the good is harmed.

The prophet Habbakuk asks why evil is allowed when it is ordained for judgment.

"O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore do you look upon them that deal treacherously, and hold your tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? (Habbakuk 1:12-13)

An answer is given by God to Habbakuk, that he must wait, but the judgment of evil will surely come,

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it delay, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay. (Habbakuk 2:3)
(For more detail see Evil versus God.)

God has determined a time for judgement, or to bring evil on those who do evil.

God brings Evil

The Bible presents God as as the source of bringing the evil of judgement to a city.

Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (Amos 3:6)

The scriptures speak of the God of Israel bringing plague, drought and war to those who are evil and deliberatly refuse to serve him.

Yahweh will make the pestilence cling to you, until he has consumed you from off the land, where you go in to possess it. Yahweh will strike you... with fever, and with inflammation, and with fiery heat, and with the sword, and with blight, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until you perish. Your sky that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron. Yahweh will make the rain of your land powder and dust: from the sky shall it come down on you..(Deuteronomy 28:21-24)

Whether humans like it or not, if such a powerful God exists, humans should respect and fear such a God. For a person to turn their back on such a God, is about as effective as turning the back on a neighbour when they play their stereo too loud. Ignoring them won't prevent them from impacting on your life.

A Choice

The Bible presents a choice. Humans can respect and fear God and seek to do good or they can ignore God and experience the consequnces of evil. If they seek good the effect of the evil of their world in their lives will be reduced. Certianly their goodness will make the world better than otherwise.