Thoughts on Evil and God

In the wake of the evil in Newtown, CT

This is the outline of what I shared at my church, Summit Foursquare Church, in Longmont, CO. I wrote this down after reading several great articles on evil and God as well as my own pondering and prayer. I’ll be honest: when I first heard the news my first reaction was not one of love or grace, but anger. I have a 6-year old son (and a soon-to-be 9 year-old son along with a 4-year old daughter) and I realized I wanted to hurt the person responsible. That’s the truth of it. But I believe, God is good. Even in light of this tragedy…

The question is there as to how this could happen?

  • And if we’re so bold, how can God let this happen?
  • In this state (Colorado), there is the memory of Columbine and very recently Aurora


We can try and explain it sociologically

  • He was a troubled genius with mild autism
  • His parents divorce caused deep hurt
  • Some other reason that may emerge as the investigation continues…

But none of these can really explain why a 20 year old man would walk into an elementary school with forethought and intent and wantonly murder nearly 30 people mostly 6 and 7 year olds.

I believe when faced with these events we have to face a truth that we rarely deal with in our modern, supposedly enlightened culture: evil      

  • Evil is the end-result of sin and separation from a good and loving Creator
  • Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that there is a battle, and that battle isn’t with ourselves, it isn’t a battle of poverty, or angst, or a battle against a troubled childhood, it isn’t a battle of the mind or a battle of our emotions
  • It is a battle with evil, quite plainly, but perhaps not quite simply
  • There is God who is good and only good, and there is Satan who is evil and only evil, and mankind has given Satan a foothold in this world through our sin and rebellion against the Good God
  • That foothold leads to acts of pure evil as we witnessed this past week
  • It is a moral evil that is the result of a man’s decision

How can a good God allow this?

This isn’t God’s desire

  • Some may use this as an argument that God is either non-existent or that He is not truly good

But God’s original plan of Creation has been broken by the choices of His greatest Creation: us

In Genesis 3 we read that Adam and Eve walked side by side with God in intimate relationship

  • Everything was good
  • Just as God had created
  • Just as God had intended

But God in His love and goodness did something else: He gave His greatest Creation an incredible gift

  • The freedom to make decisions
  • We are not mind-numbed automatons that God created for His fancy as playthings
  • We have a spirit and a soul and choice
  • God is love, and desires for His creation to love Him
    • To love is to make a choice

With that choice comes options

  • Adam and Eve had everything they could possibly want
  • But Satan came into that Garden and began to exert his purely evil influence to destroy this peace God had created
  • He taunted Eve and then Adam with a choice to defy God
  • So through Satanic influence, but human choice, evil came into our reality

Because God is good, and man became not good, we were separated from direct relationship with God until Jesus came to pay the price for our evil

But evil still exists

Why doesn’t God obliterate evil…

I don’t know

But I know that we as humans value freedom over slavery

With that freedom comes the ability to do great good, but also the ability to make evil decisions

The best example we have is watching children grow up

  • I want to control my children’s every decision
  • But I don’t-and sometimes they do some really stupid things
  • But true joy as a parent is when we see our children freely make good decisions
  • I believe it is the same for God

He has chosen to let us choose…

Why doesn’t God intervene?

I don’t know…

But we’re in good company

Writers of the bible asked this question too without receiving good answers

  • Jeremiah
  • Habakkuk
  • Job in Job 40, God specifically tells Job he cannot understand the ways of God
  • In Luke 18 Jesus predicts his torture and death and the disciples did not understand why, the meaning was hidden from them
    • Imagine them: Jesus has done amazing works and claimed to be God, why in the world would He need to die, to be tortured…from their perspective it made no sense….
    • But in this God showed He is ultimately good

God does not always answer “why” but He does show himself good

God, in His goodness, is with us in our suffering

Additionally, this is a God who came down to live as a man so he could share in our suffering and then be fully able to comfort us in our suffering

His cousin Lazarus died and Jesus wept, he grieved

This is not some aloof god hidden on some cloud swept lofty peak

  • This is the God Incarnate who lived and suffered and died for us and then rose from the dead to now comfort us in our suffering, because He knows suffering first-hand

…for good

Romans 8:28

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus would have to be tortured and killed

God’s original plan at Creation was not for His son to have to die as the penalty for mankind’s sin

But we know that Jesus’ death worked for the good of all mankind

God can make this tragedy turn out for some kind of good

We may not see it, or understand it, but it is what I choose to hold on to in the midst of this uncertain world

Philip Yancey, the author, says, “…it seems that the only alternative to disappointment with God is disappointment without him.”

  • What he means is this: we must acknowledge disappointment will happen in this life
  • We can choose to walk through it alone and hopeless without God
  • Or we can choose to walk through it holding on to the eternal plan and love with a God who intimately knows our pain and suffering having experienced it for himself

This is perhaps not a fully satisfying response, but I can tell you, it is for me

In John 6 Jesus has chased away many of his followers with talk of life and death and he turns to his disciples:

“Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. “

 I choose to hold on to the eternal promise of Jesus

  • He’s done too much in my life
  • He’s done too much good for me to walk away
  • He’s forgiven too much sin in my life
  • The cross is too real to me and is enough to overcome the evil actions of mankind
  • I choose to trust Him and His love
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One thought on “Thoughts on Evil and God

  1. Doris Eige says:

    Benjamin, thank you for bringing truth into this horribly sad situation. As unspeakable as it is we have the one true loving God always there to comfort, hold and heal. But one of the wonderful aspects of our Lord, that many do not understand, is the great gift of choice. He cannot break that promise with us or He would not be who He is. May the Lord hold close the families of the lost and those children who may have been traumatized by what they heard or saw.

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