Today I want to talk about the existence of evil in the world. One of the most common arguments against the existence of God is the fact that evil exists. This is always followed up with the same question, if God exists, then how could evil exist? If God is all good, then why would He create evil?
These are some interesting questions to ponder and at first glance it is easy to jump to conclusions. However, if you seek to understand the true person that is God, then it becomes easier to understand why evil would exist, and why it should exist for God to exist.
The first part of our research must come from getting a deeper understanding of the original plan. As we all know from creation and from John’s account, all that existed before the universe was the trinity in a vast empty space. John 1:1-5, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
So, in this passage we learn a few things. First, we start to see who is in this picture. The Word, which we all know as Jesus, God, who we know as the Father. Then a key passage in verse 3 teaches as that God made everything that was made. We also learn that now God was the light, there was no sun, God was the light, and darkness already existed. From this passage, we can see that light and darkness, or good and evil already were at play before God started creating the universe.
Then God starts the creation week, He makes a perfect island-type paradise where all the animals lived in harmony and they all ate the plants and fruits to survive. Then we see the creation of Adam and eventually Eve. God gave them dominion over everything. This is where we already see the fatherly attribute of God taking place. He gives Adam his first set of freedom and tells him that he can do whatever he wants and we will live in this paradise together. However, interestingly God does something that at first glance we miss.
If we look back in Genesis 2:9 we start to see something that is generally overlooked. It says, The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then in verses 16 and 17 he says, And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
If we look back on what was just said we come to some interesting questions and conclusions. Firstly, God intentionally planted two trees in the middle of the land and specifically let us know this before he made Adam aware. Then he tells Adam that he is responsible for cultivating the land, and that he can do anything he wants except eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If we take a step back, we can ask ourselves, why did God put the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil right next to each other? Also, why were they placed directly in the middle of the garden? Then, why would he tell Adam that this is the only thing you are forbidden to do?
With these questions, we start to understand how meticulous the creation plan was. With these verses we can start to understand and see the plan develop right before our eyes. We can start to see that God intentionally placed those trees next to each other and specifically wanted Adam to see them to tempt him every single day. This was done this way to force Adam to make a choice every day.
So, for us to understand what God was doing here, let’s put ourselves in Adam’s shoes for a second. He had power to do whatever he wanted, he had no guidelines, except for to cultivate the land. However, God throws him a curve ball by saying that he does have power to do whatever he wanted, but he just can’t eat from that one tree. Can we stop for a second and just think about that? Now I know myself and I know if someone tells me not to do something, especially when I was a kid, I want to do it even more, because someone told me I shouldn’t do it. I bet Adam wanted that fruit more than anything and was obsessed by it, because it was the only thing that he couldn’t have. He had to stare at it every day knowing that was the only thing he couldn’t have. That must have been agonizing for him to fight that urge every day.
With understanding this, we can start to understand the what God was planning here. He was showing us the purpose of our creation. It was partly to live with Him and God have a relationship with Him, like Adam and Eve were, however, it was also to test us. See, God could have created us to follow certain rules and guidelines that we had to obey. He could have forced us into submission, just like a communist leader would do. However, we all know that God is not like that. Instead God did something that only he could do. He gave us the greatest power in the universe, and that is the power to choose, the power of free will.
With this power, great countries have been formed, great cities and amazing inventions have developed, and so much more. We see this in our everyday lives, as everyone has been granted this same gift. He didn’t want us to be an obedient lap dog. Instead He wanted us to be free, He wanted to see us grow and to see us do something that is beyond ourselves. That is why He gave us this power. This power that was granted to Adam, is granted to all of us.
The reason God planted those trees right next to each other and specifically told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is because he wanted to make Adam aware that he had a choice. He wanted Adam to decide for himself whether he wanted to obey God or not. He allowed Adam to decide for himself who he would serve. We are no different than Adam, all of us have that unique opportunity to choose God or to choose the world.
The example that God gave us with Adam shows us why God allows evil to exist. Without evil there would be no choice to be made and free will would be inconsequential. We would all have to choose God, because he would be the only option. However, God wanted more than us to worship and love him because we had to. He wanted us to willingly choose to love him when we did not have to. It is just like any romantic relationship, you choose the person that you want to spend your life with and you’re not forced to be with someone that you do not want. God wanted us to willingly choose him, so he confronts us with these choices, by purposefully putting them right in front of us, just like he did with Adam.
God created us knowing that we would be tempted by this evil. Yet, He created us anyway, because He knew that there would be people that would take that power that He granted us to change the world. He knew that there would be a remnant that would recognize this power and use it for his glory. He knew that the majority would abuse the power for their own gain, but He wanted to see the remnant grow and make a little light in a dark world.
Even though evil exists, we see that good never seems to vanish completely. Even in this fallen world we see that a glimmer of hope never dies. During a hurricane or an earthquake or any other sort of devastation, there always seems to be a time of hope and community that overtakes the darkness. Now, we know that evil exists, and that God uses evil to turn people back to Him, but that will only last so long. The beginning of his master plan was to introduce us with free will and allow us to shape the world based on our choices. However, one day God will say enough is enough and He will destroy that evil all in one fell swoop.
The reason that He hasn’t is because He is still giving us a chance. Allowing us to use the power that He granted us to change the world around us. He wants us to show that hope and love with the rest of the world. While we remain, we still have a chance to save those that need to be saved. We can use the power to save this broken world one soul at a time.
What will you do with the power that he gave you?