This Issue Has Been Used by Atheists and Has Confounded Many Believers
The history of mankind is littered with a trail of evil atrocities and diseases. Many have wondered how could a loving God allow evil. They call this issue “Theodicy.” The Bible states that when Adam rejected God to explore “good and evil” for himself, he was ejected from paradise. Then God told him that he would live in a world of hard knocks apparently, a world of all sorts of evil: violence, disease, disasters. Adam and Eve soon learned about the violence that would erupt as their oldest son killed his younger brother.
Genesis 3:17, “And to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it! The ground is cursed for your sake. In pain shall you eat of it all the days of your life.” (MKJV)
This verse explains some of the “why” involving mankind’s condition, but does not answer the questions of how could a good God allow suffering. However, looking at Adam and Eve, we can say existence of evil in the world is not a God problem, but is our problem. People are evil. It is undeniable.
Philosophers have divided evil into two categories. One category is moral evil, like lying and child molestation. The other category consists of happenings like natural disasters, earthquakes, cancer and storms. Atheists can use this apparently difficult issue as a reason to reject God altogether. Some Atheists have no understanding of actual Christian doctrine concerning the fall of man and are arrogant as well.
Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the eighteenth century philosophers that are foundational to much of our world’s beliefs. Friedrich Nietzsche announced, based on human suffering, that God was dead. He rejected Christianity and God’s Laws because they were counter to man’s true desires.
He also rejected humility as contrary to human nature. He thought that the foremost drive in people should be for power. He realized people needed some order if we no longer had God. He then started to write his own set of laws for man’s behavior. However, at age 40 he went insane and was put in a mental institution for megalomania among other symptoms. Years later Hitler used–or misused–Nietzsche’s theory of the superman to justify his holocaust policies.
Paul stated that the glory we shall receive will more than compensate for our human suffering. We need to appreciate what it means to be in God’s family. It is beyond our ability to imagine or appreciate the glory that will be present in us at the return of Christ.
1 Timothy 6:16, “Who alone has immortality, dwelling in light which cannot be approached, whom no one of men have seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting.”
Romans 8:16-18, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
“And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed in us.”
God is “unapproachable” light–or energy, power–beyond anything we can imagine. God is so glorious that it is beyond us to appreciate it. Paul says our sufferings cannot even compare to what awaits mankind. It is like a woman that suffers normal child birth pangs. She is happy when the child arrives.
Ephesians 1:17-18, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
God would not allow the amount of suffering that exist in this age unless the reward was enormous and for all Eternity. Our reward has to be more powerful than we can imagine.
People do not understand Bible doctrine and therefore are more confused by the presence of evil in the world. The Bible clearly states that the planet earth is under a curse because of Adam and the sons of Adam–us.
Romans 8:19-22, “For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
“For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but because of Him who subjected it on hope;
“That the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
“And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.”
Because the earth is in the hands of man and suffers from the results of sin, it too is in bondage until the second coming of Jesus. The Bible explains that we lost paradise, but Jesus will bring it back to us. This doctrine explains the natural evil we see on earth. People would be less troubled by the presence of evil, as well as a loving God, if they really read and understood the Bible.
If we are truly given free will, then we have the freedom to hurt others and ourselves. This Christian doctrine is challenged by some. They say the suffering is too great. But can one be truly free if you cannot hurt others? If we are not given free will, then we are like cows who do only what is within their instincts or programming. God does not need more cows. He is preparing many sons to glory! Sons who can think and exercise free will prudently.
Many people think about the rape, torture and murders and will not accept the free will doctrine. One teacher gave this powerful example:
He placed his pen up to his eye and said, “I have the free will to stab myself in the eye. But you all know that I will not do it. Why? Because I know it is painful and destructive. But you will not give such a sharp object to a toddler because he is not experienced and educated.”
God is allowing mankind to learn the hard way that actions without God and His laws lead to destruction and pain. In the last day, the period of judgment, mankind will eventually learn the great spiritual lessons. Then, when we enter God’s family we will not be tempted to abuse our free will. We will know better!
Isaiah 30:20-21, “And the LORD gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction; yet your teachers shall not be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers.
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left.”
In the final period of judgment for all those resurrected but not called, there will be reminders of their previous evil ways. They will be told “You cannot do that anymore.” The people will reflect on the suffering seen in the ungodly world and compare it to the paradise of obeying God. The Bible will be opened to their minds. Mankind will learn to avoid evil actions because they are painful and destructive.
Most will learn the invaluable lessons. Those who refuse to learn will not be in the family of God. The lake of fire will erase them from memory. The free will of that person will no longer be able to hurt others or themselves.
It is obvious that no one understands all the decisions made by God. No one can know why God allows some evil events and prevents others. One day, when we are with God, we will understand. One of the reasons given in the Bible for suffering is following bad spiritual leaders who preach that we do not need to repent and follow God. Israel went into captivity and suffering because of following these false leaders!
Lamentations 2:14, “Your prophets have seen false and foolish things for you, and they have not uncovered your iniquity, to turn away your captivity; but they have seen false oracles and seductions for you.”
Lamentations tells of the horrors of Israel’s defeat and captivity. If we are converted, we should allow our suffering to mold us and help us become more like God. People learn more from mistakes and suffering than periods of smooth sailing. Yet even in such suffering there is hope.
Lamentations 3:22-23, “It is by the Lord’s kindnesses that we are not destroyed, because His mercies never fail.
“They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:31-33, “For the Lord will not cast off for ever:
“But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
“For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”
Even in times of darkness and suffering keep hope strong and look for God’s answer and blessings. He is long suffering and very kind. Even in captivity he told the Israelites to not lose hope. We can learn much through our problems and sufferings.
Romans 5:3-5, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
“And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
Believers are told to rejoice in trial because we can learn from God’s discipline. It can help us grow and live happier lives in the long run. Remember, the first death is not the end of the story! All mankind will learn from what we have suffered in this first life.
We are learning that sin is stupid. It is the cause of suffering in the world. Isolation from the true God is disastrous. People will learn what life would be like if we went our own way. Many have years of experience in our lives: human crimes, abusive governments, corruption, and pain of all sorts. We will learn from our judgment by God of the many things we need to repent of having done in the past. People will grow through such a process and the vast majority will be saved by the grace of God.
Romans 14:10, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
Humanity’s ultimate growth and learning through the sufferings of this age are the best explanations for the presence of evil in spite of God’s goodness.
However, atheists shape the question in such a way as to get the answer they want. They say, “If God is good then why does He allow suffering?” The problem is that we are using man’s definition of goodness.
God is both good and just. People assume that our sins should go unpunished. God told Adam from the very beginning that sin was a dangerous and deadly way of life. Christ came to earth in the flesh to deal with the sin. The world is scarred by sin and is separated from the true God. Christ will save us by His grace and His teaching mankind to live and repent.
Isaiah 57:15-16, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
“For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.”