"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die,” [Genesis 2:15-17]
“Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman you put here with me -- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate,” [Genesis 3:11-13]
“He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD,” [2 Chronicles 12:14]
“The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain,” [Genesis 6:5-6]
“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;,” [Psalm 34:14-19]
An age-old question sometimes perplexes Christians and it goes something like this: “If God is such a good and loving God, then why is there so much evil in the world?” The question is usually expressed by someone who has experienced evil on a significant level and can’t live with the persistent memories. Others use it as an excuse to pursue an irresponsible, selfish lifestyle (if there is no God, then anything goes, right?). Christians especially grapple with answering this question when someone sincerely doesn’t understand why so much evil exists. I remember being in a Sunday school class in St. Louis at Harvester Christian Church once, and a man expressed that his friend had been a fighter pilot in World War 2. Apparently he had been in a dog fight with Japanese fighters when the pilot of one of the Japanese planes had somehow fallen out of his plane and fell right on the cockpit of this man, face to face, before he fell off. And this war veteran expressed, “How can there be a God?…” Many have suffered evil –some have undergone incredible evil— and yet the responses to it are as varied as the situations themselves. Some turn to God because of evil while others run from Him. Some harbor bitterness against God while others run to Him for refuge. The ultimate question concerning evil is, “Is God responsible for evil?”
God did in fact put a test before man to choose life or death, obedience or rebellion, to love God or to reject Him. It was the results of this test that brought evil into the world, so some have reasoned, “Isn’t God responsible for evil in the world? What kind of a god is that?” So why did God create that tree?
God gave us an incredibly precious gift: Free will. It would be impossible for us to love God the way that we can, in wonderful fellowship, unless there was an alternative to God. In other words, love isn’t love unless it’s real. How could we choose God if there was no other choice besides God? God did this because His Perfect Nature demanded a choice. So God empowered Adam and Eve to choose Him or reject Him. Unfortunately, they rejected Him. But God already had a back-up plan to enable fellowship again, even if our inclination is to reject Him: Jesus. God, in His perfect wisdom, had this all figured out. While it may be tempting to say that evil is God’s fault, but the truth is, it’s our fault. We make choices every day that are evil. It is the nature of people to make evil choices, and some people perpetuate evil and even encourage it because of selfishness nature. Romans 1:28-32 says:
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Evil is contagious if pursued with selfish ambition. God gives people over to a depraved mind if they resist Him and the life He offers –but that is their choice. And why would God give people over to evil? He does so because He loves them, hoping that the consequences of evil decisions will lead them to an inescapable conclusion: God is good, His ways are good, and with Him there is life. All decisions that we make contrary to God’s will are evil. And when people are caught in evil, He still reaches out to us –even when He gives us over to what we think we want. Unfortunately, some pass a point of no return –while others in desperation, turn to Him and find life.
Is God responsible for evil? No. Evil is the RESULT of rejecting Him. But here is the good news: Although Adam and Eve rejected God’s will and inadvertently gave dominion of this world to Satan, God intends to reestablish a world that is completely good –with no evil in it. So, for the skeptic, the short answer to the question of evil is this: “There is a lot of evil in the world because people reject God –but God is not the cause of evil –we are. If we want our world to be good and if we want evil to be eliminated, then we had better invite God to come and be God on this earth –starting with your life…”
God is Good,