“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].” (Isaiah 45:7)
“[Thou art] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:…” (Habakkuk 1:13)
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” (James 1:13)
In above set of Scriptures, we find one of the supposedly contradictory texts of the Scriptures. On one hand, from the lips of the Lord Himself, He clearly states that “I create evil”. Then later in the Scriptures we find Habakkuk, as he speaks concerning the Lord, says “[Thou art] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:” then, to add confusion to our subject, James states clearly that God “cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:”
In this series of lessons, we will be looking into two basic questions, first, “What Is God’s Role In The Existence of Evil ?” and, secondly, “What Is The Purpose Behind The Existence Of Evil ?”
As we come to a conclusion of our studies, I would like us to look at a few additional verses that can greatly benefit our understanding of this very difficult and controversial subject… “Why Does Evil Exist?”
In Romans 9:17-24, we find the Apostle Paul addressing the subject of our studies…
In the context of this text, we find Paul discussing the sovereign control over the salvation of His people and the events that He uses to bring that salvation to them. For this discussion, he refers back to the Ten Plagues of Egypt as an example of God’s usage of the evil things of this world to reveal Himself to all mankind and the need of salvation to the lost…
“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:17-24)
(Please refer back to lesson #5, for an in depth look at the Lord’s allowance of Pharaoh’s rebellion and His bringing of the ten plagues to display His glory and position as Only God over All)
The Lord chose to allow Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened, due to Pharaoh’s own sinful condition, which allowed His glory to be displayed through His workings of the ten plagues. Solomon understood this principle as well when he makes the statement…. “The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. “ (Proverbs 16:4). The Lord, many times, allows wicked men to rise up, so that they can be used for His glory, when He metes out the harmful results of their actions upon them (on the day of evil).
Paul is pointing out that the Lord’s choice to use the hardened Pharaoh as the cause for the performance of the plagues was an act that was fitting and proper based upon God’s attributes of love, grace, and mercy; as well as His attributes of justice, wrath and holiness.
The usage of Pharaoh was an act of love, grace and mercy towards both the nations of Israel and Egypt as well as all the nations that would hear of this great event. For those who observed or heard of this event, the True God was being revealed to them as they were given the opportunity to exercise faith in Him, as He patiently waited for them. He would use this event to call out His elect from both Israel and the Gentile nations. One example of this is the Gentile prostitute Rahab which attributes her faith in God to hearing about the great display of His glory in the Jews deliverance from Egypt. (Josh 2:10)
In a very special way, the elect within these nations received maximum benefit from this loving, merciful, gracious event, as it brought many to salvation and for those already saved, it helped them to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.
On the other hand, the Lord’s usage of Pharaoh, whose hardening was based upon his own sinful acts of rebellion and the working of Satan in his heart, was an act of holiness, wrath and justice. Pharaoh, due to his lost condition and repeated sinful rebellion against the Lord, had made himself a public display of those who are habitually rebellious and hardhearted against God. The wrath that fell upon Pharaoh was deserved by him based upon his wicked condition and deeds. It was a display of a Holy, Just, God meting punishment upon the guilty and deserving. Pharaoh, just like all mankind, deserved the wrath of God falling upon him. This should be a warning to all of us of the fruits that are born from rebellion against the Holy, Just God of the Universe.
In Paul’s text, he points out that God’s usage of Pharaoh, and the performance of the plagues, dare not be questioned by mortal, fallen, sinful man. Based upon our studies, we have seen that what appears to be acts of cruelty and hatred on the part of the Lord, are in actuality acts of kindness, grace and mercy toward sinful mankind.
Because we cannot see “the end from the beginning” we cannot expect to come to a full understanding of God’s workings among man. Although we cannot understand all things, it is imperative that the Christian, by faith, accept the teachings of His Word on this subject. For us to deny He was and is in control of the harmful results of sin, or to question His holiness or justice is totally out of the question for the Christian. It is like Paul says “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?”
This principle is much like the truths of the Word that teach to us that we will be receiving glorified bodies and spending eternity with Him. NONE of us totally understand what glorified bodies will be like, nor do we understand all of the facets of eternity with Him. But we still must believe what the Bible teaches us about these things and trust Him with the details. So too, with His allowance and usage of evil in this world…. we need to believe what the Scriptures clearly tell us and trust Him with the details that are yet unknown to us.
To close our study, I would like us to stop for just a moment and think about the greatest lesson we can learn from the existence of sin in the world….
(Ephesians 1:3-14) –“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
“In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Folks, if these was no such thing as sin in this world, we would not be able to being to understand our Lord’s love and grace to us. In the above verses, here are all the displays of God’s great love for us that we would knowing nothing about if sin was not in this world….
1. who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:
2. he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world
3. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,
4. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,
5. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,
6. he might gather together in one all things in Christ,
7. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance,
8. being predestinated according to the purpose of him
9. after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:
10. ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
11. the redemption of the purchased possession,
Every one of these marvelous acts performed by our Lord to reveal His glory to us, and are acts of love and grace that were performed EXCLUSIVELY in response to sin and its effects in our lives. Without sin in the world we would know nothing of these.
Without the existence of sin, we would know very little about His love for us… nothing of His forgiveness, nor of His grace… nothing of His patience nor His merciful kindness.
But most importantly, nothing of His sacrificial love for us….
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:8-9)
Without sin, He would not have chosen us although we were His sinful creation that rebelled and rejected Him. Without sin, He would not have given His Son to come to the earth as man. Without sin, Christ, God Himself, would not have gone to the cross, bore those same sins for us, allowing us to escape the punishment we deserved, and be accepted by His Holy Father.
Without sin, we could not begin to understand …
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
To God be the Glory….
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:
In this study we have come to understand:
1. When the Bible speaks of “evil” is can speak of either of sin, its direct results, or its indirect results upon mankind.
2. Our God is in absolute control of evil either through allowance or performance.
3. Our God is perfectly holy and, although He allowed sin to enter the world, cannot be held responsible for it.
4. Our God either allows, or many times causes the effects of sin to take place in the world, this is done to reveal Himself to mankind, bringing glory and honor to Himself.
5. Our God either allows, or many times causes the effects of sin to take place in the world, as acts of love, mercy and grace as well as holiness, justice and deserved wrath.
6. As Christians, who are a part of fallen mankind, we must recognize that none of us can come to a complete, absolute understanding of the above great truths of God’s Word. We must, by faith, trust that these things are true, understanding what we can and leaving all the rest in the hands of God.
Based upon the above, as Christians what are we to do during the “evil times” of our lives? We are to recognize He is in control and has allowed this into our life for two great purposes… our good and His glory:
1. Since it is for our good, we are to seek His face asking Him to bring to our understanding a heart-felt recognition of His person and workings.
2. Since it is for His glory, we are to be seeking opportunities to show Him to others, through our actions and words as these difficult times come upon us.
As the result of this study, may we all recognize His greatness, praise Him for it and come to the conclusion….
“He hath done all things well”
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May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”