Evil and the Purposes of God

Here is an interesting article by pastor Joey Newton from Newtown, Connecticut.  The orginal version of this article can be found at the Cripplegate Website.

A question that has troubled people throughout the centuries is how can a good and sovereign God allow such evil in the world? If He were sovereign (in control) and good wouldn’t He simply keep evil from happening? The answer seems obvious, “Yes.” However, evil exists. Therefore, the only conclusion must be that He is either not sovereign, or not good. Both of these are horrible thoughts and, thankfully, light years away from the God who is and who is revealed in Scripture.

Preliminary matters. Before answering the why question, it is important to address a couple of items up front. First, we must come to grips with the fact that God is God and we are not. He doesn’t fit into our boxes. Simply put, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:8-9). The fact is, we just can’t see everything from God’s perfect and eternal perspective. He alone “declares the end from the beginning,” and knows the best way to get to there. It took Job a lot of pain to reach the point he could rest there (Job 42:1-6). We would do well to learn from him and start there at the beginning.

Second, how we frame the question has everything to do with how we answer it. We must be sure not to put God on the witness stand to man (Rom. 3:4). God does not exist for us, we exist for Him as His image bearers. In other words, the question is not, “How can God allow evil?” Rather, it is “How can a holy God do good to us who are evil?” Evil entered through the world through human sin, not God’s: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin” (Rom. 5:12). The problem is that we are a sinful people and deserve God’s judgement. It is amazing He withholds evil as much as He does and does us so much good (Acts 14:17).

But Why? Some may still say, “But that doesn’t explain why God allowed evil to enter into the world and then let it remain?” Here we must remember the first point: God’s wisdom exceeds our own. It is impossible to answer all the why questions, especially in specific cases of suffering. We just don’t know, but our good God does. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us” (Deut. 29:29). It is important we don’t get caught up in what we can’t answer and instead focus on what God has revealed.

God’s primary purpose in creation, in the universe, is His own glory (Ps. 19:1; Is. 43:7). This is hard for some to stomach, but it sets the foundation to understand the answer to why. If evil exists, then He must intend, somehow, to glorify Himself by it.

God ordains evil as a means to display His own glory and character. For example, God displays His holy justice when He punishes sin. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that He could multiply His wonders and His glory (Ex. 7:3) and magnify His Name before the Egyptians and His people: “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be Continue reading