If God is, why is there evil? But if God is not, why is there good? ~ Augustine
Evil is not an illusion but a reality. In the Bible, evil is a corruption of the good gifts of creation; whereas, for many religions evil is an eternal principle. Humans, created in God’s image, wanted to become like God and so fell from their good and righteous state, plunging the world into moral and natural disaster. This is the plight of evil we see and experience all around us.
We can only talk about evil because we know that good exists and that things are not the way they should be. There are not two eternal principles of good and evil—a yin and yang.
Only if we first assume the God of Scripture exists can evil be a problem at all. If evil exists, it presumes an original goodness and liberty that makes an evil choice evil. Evil as a choice that has real consequences cannot be accounted for without this particular God who has given us such freedom.
According to Scripture, there is one creator God who bends all things to his good purpose. So, how then do we deal with the problem of evil?
- We must understand that evil is a corruption of the good world God has created (1 John 1:5; Gen. 1:31, 3:1–19; Rom. 5).
- We must believe that God will not let evil go unpunished but will bring all things to his good purpose (Rom. 8:18ff).
- We must trust that God has dealt evil a deathblow in raising his Son from the dead for our salvation (Rom. 3:23–26; Heb. 1:14–18).
- We must wait with patience for the redemption of our bodies, when all evil will be made right and goodness and love will once again cover the earth (Rom. 8:18–20).
Evil is a real problem, but we cannot explain evil away by simply getting rid of God. That only makes the problem worse. The answer only comes to us when we first come to the end of ourselves and our attempts to control our lives.
Jesus Christ is the one who answers this problem by reconciling the world to himself on Good Friday and being raised to life three days later. Evil is overcome. Death cannot reign in us, because God has and will rescue us from this plight of evil.
To learn more about how the Bible deals with the problem of evil, check out Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story by Michael Horton.