Thoughts to Ponder

Why does God allow evil to continue?

I am sure most of you have heard the same things I have. People ask you how your God can be a loving God if He allows people to suffer. Or they may word it something to the affect that evil people get away with all kinds of things and good people suffer and if God is in charge that should not happen.

There are hundreds of variations of this idea. You may have even asked that question yourself. That is normal, because our sense of right and wrong makes us think that God should immediately put a stop to all the evil in the world.

The problem is not with God it is with us and how we view things. We are physical and we view things from a physical stand point. In other words we view things in the here and now, but God views them from a very different perspective.

It is not that He is incapable of stopping the evil in our world. He could stop it in the blink of an eye. It is not that He does not care about the injustices taking place all around us. It is not that He is busy or other wise distracted or removed from our plight.

The bottom line is simple but it is also one of the hardest answers to convey to someone who does not know God. The reason God allows evil to continue is that He loves us; all of us. Lest we forget that we all came from the same vile stock: Romans 3:22-24 (NIV) {22} This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, {23} for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, {24} and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Not one of us deserves to live, yet God loves us and sent His only Son to die in our place. He did that out of His love and mercy.

We need to understand a little bit about God and His character before we go on. God is holy: Leviticus 11:44 (NIV) I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. We also know that God demands death for our sins: Romans 6:23 (NIV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. There are also consequences for our sins: Genesis 9:1-6 (NIV) {1} Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. {2} The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. {3} Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. {4} "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. {5} And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. {6} "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."

God is just in His judgments: Ezekiel 18:4 (NIV) For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die. He is merciful: Nehemiah 9:31 (NIV) But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. And again we see God's love and mercy: Romans 5:8 (NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So we know that God is holy, just, merciful and loves us, but what does that have to do with Him allowing sin to continue? It has everything to do with why. We see it in this passage: 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God wants everyone to come to repentance. Unlike us, God loves everyone, including those we think are unlovable. In the past week the Sheriff's Department that I worked for had two Deputies killed in the line of duty. They answered a domestic disturbance call and were shot dead. As I prayed for these men's families and the other officers God laid it on my heart to pray for their killer. I struggled with it because I did not want to pray for him. He is unlovable in my natural (human) heart, but God reminded me that He loves this man. I find myself much like Jonah, I know God is merciful and I know that if this man truly repents and asks for forgiveness God will forgive him. I struggle with that. My heart tells me that he deserves to be punished for eternity for what he did.

I am right of course, he does deserve to spend eternity in hell for killing those two Deputies, but I am blinded to my own just as deserved condemnation. Yes I have been washed by the blood of the Lamb and therefore no longer merit hell, but only because God has credited my account with Christ's righteousness.

As we saw God is holy and can't abide sin, His holy nature demands payment for sin. In His mercy He has postponed that payment until our physical death so that while we are alive we have the choice to repent and be saved or to rebel and ultimately pay for our sins in eternal torment. There is no "little" punishment for "little" sins; death, spiritual death is always the punishment for all sins.

That is important because if God were to stop evil in its tracks today, His holy nature would demand that those who sinned be punished. So those people who sinned would be put immediately into eternal torment. Since we have all sinned, only those who have repented and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior would be left. There would be no chance for the rest to repent. Think about this, if God put people in hell the moment they sinned, who of us would be here? None. Adam and Eve would have had no children. But even if they did, which one of us would still be here? Which one of us can say that we never sinned and therefore never would have been sent immediately to hell? None of us and that is the point.

Yes God could stop evil and sin today but because He loves us (mankind) He is patient and allows the evil to continue so that more people will come to know Him. I praise God that He did not destroy everyone who sinned while I was a sinner, how about you?

Bad things do happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, but again we look at things with human eyes. Who are the good people? Jesus said that only God was good. God will one day stop all evil and demand an accounting but in the mean time He is showing His love for us by allowing things to continue. God could rapture out of this world every person as soon as they repent and take Jesus Christ as their Savior, but He doesn't and again it is for the same reason. He loves the sinner and wants them to repent. Romans 10:14-15 (NIV) {14} How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? {15} And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

I won't go so far as to say that we should praise God every time we see evil in this world, but instead of questioning God's character we should understand that the very presence of evil shows God's great love and patience. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For those who do not know God, the fact that He allows evil to continue because of His great love is foolishness, but to those of us who have been saved there is no sweeter message.

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These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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January 2002