Apart from Him we can do nothing

Why Does God Allow Evil?

An image of crime scene tape, holding back a crowd lets us know another evil deed has happened. Why does God allow evil? Is God on the hook for evil?

Table of Contents

The question “why does God allow evil” presupposes that God is the author of evil, which He isn’t. We must dig deeper for an answer.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:12-17)

Why does evil exist? Why does it appear to some that God allows evil to exist? Why does God allow evil in the world? Where is God when evil happens? Questions like these can bedevil us. It’s such a conundrum that the very concept has its own corner in religious philosophy. Theodicy is the name for the philosophical attempt to answer the problem of evil in the face of our omniscient, omnipotent God.

Why does God allow evil? Many wise and philosophical people throughout history have wrestled with that question. We may not be philosophers, but it’s important that all followers of Christ wrestle with such questions and be prepared to answer the world’s challenges to the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15-16). If we have a weak answer to someone that asks why does God allow evil in the world, then we unknowingly encourage them in their unbelief.

Again, no philosophy major here. But let’s wrestle with the question “why does God allow evil” for a few minutes and see if we can shed some light on it, for God is light (1 John 1:5).

The Origin of Evil

To get to the root of the question “why does God allow evil”, let’s start by understanding how evil came to be introduced to our world in the first place.

Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?

Stated plainly, God did not set out to create evil. God did not set out to allow evil. But because true love must be reciprocal, God had to allow for the possibility that people could choose to be disobedient and reject Him. Which also means that there were natural consequences if a person made such a choice. God could not be perfectly just and at the same time remove the consequences of our actions.

Had God been only just, and not also been merciful, we would all live in this world, condemned by sin and death, and upon dying, spend eternity paying for the eternal consequences of the choice made by one man – Adam, as referenced in today’s passage. But thankfully, God is extremely merciful, and sent another Adam – Christ.

Evil, sin and death were not the original conditions of this world. We cannot look to God’s original creation to answer why does evil exist. Because before evil entered this world, God created everything good.

God Created Everything Good

We are told multiple times during the creation account in Genesis 1 that God created everything good. And after He was finished creating, He declared everything very good (Genesis 1:31).

Because God did not choose to create mindless robots to serve Him, He allowed for free will to exist. Therefore, as part of God’s good creation, God provided one solitary opportunity out of all creation for an alternate choice. This choice was physically located in one tree, the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17).

Now, before we consider this and say God allows evil to exist, let’s review a few things. First, God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil right next to the tree of life. Everything that was good and glorious about eternal life with God is summed up in the tree of life. It is so important, that a tree of life reappears in the New Heavens and New Earth where believers will spend eternity with God (Revelation 22:1-2). To consider the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you could not escape a reminder of everything it would cost to partake of it.

Second, God made very clear that this was the one thing – the only thing – not permitted to Adam. Third, God also described the consequence should Adam eat from this tree, namely, that Adam would die. God couldn’t have made it more clear what Adam would be choosing if He chose to disobey God.

God did not introduce evil into this world; simply a choice. God did not introduce temptation with the tree; God is not the author of temptation (James 1:13). He introduced a choice because true love requires a choice. One choice out of a million. And yet, Adam and Eve succumbed to that choice and introduced sin into this world.

The Consequences of Evil

We were not originally created for a realm that is marred by sin. The chaos that this universe was thrust into by the introduction of sin was not and is not God’s design. The beauty that we can still see speaks volumes to how wonderful this universe was when it was first created. How is it possible that after the introduction of so much death, hatred, disease, and calamity, we can still look upon God’s creation and see the beauties of His handiwork?

Our choices are to live for ourselves or live for God. Because of Adam and Eve’s choice in the garden, we live in a world scarred by sin. A world where death is inevitable. A world where evil is able to flourish. We see the terrible consequences of that one choice long ago every single day. Some choose to cope with this by asking “why does god allow evil in this world?” But this is actually the wrong question.

Why Does God Allow Evil – the Wrong Question

Our choices have consequences. Sometimes those consequences will be felt for generations. Especially evil choices. If you are asking the question “Why does God allow evil into the world”, it may be because you have had to endure such evil. And you want to know why God didn’t stop it.  You may still continue to deal with the pain from whatever you had to endure.

Evil breaks God’s heart, I can assure you. That’s why He allowed His heart to be broken when He sent His own Son to die an agonizing death and did nothing to stop it, for no other reason than His immense love for every human being on the planet. Because it was the price of the opportunity for each of us to be delivered from the eternal consequences of sin.

Photo of an African-American man looking up at a neon cross in church with a caption that says Jesus Christ chose death so we could choose lifeA “consequences of evil protection bubble” does not exist on Earth, because if it did, God surely would have surrounded His own Son with it. Jesus Christ proved His love for us by refusing to be protected from the evils of this world. He did not deserve the suffering He went through, just like you didn’t if you have suffered because of the evil in this world.

But unlike you or any other person who has lived on this planet, Jesus Christ, the divine one, made the conscious choice to be clothed in the humility of human flesh and to accept being painfully put to death. Because, if Jesus was fully God and fully man, Jesus too would have had free will to say no.

In fact, the Bible records that Jesus wished He did not have to endure the death He did. He asked if there were any other way – but in the end, Jesus submitted to God (Matthew 26:39). Jesus Christ chose death – an agonizing death – so we could choose life.

The question we should be asking ourselves isn’t why does God allow evil. It should be, why does God love us enough to give us another chance?

Why Does God Allow Evil When He Could Just Get Rid of It?

God does not eliminate evil from this world, because to do so, since God is just, He would have to eliminate the world! He cannot tolerate sin, but God loves us so much He wants as much of His creation as possible to commune with Him for eternity. God’s love and justice are not incongruent, they are connected.

But why does God allow evil? Why does God continue to put up with it? shouldn’t God put a bubble of protection around us once we follow Him, so that sin and evil can no longer touch us?

If He did that, how many people would follow Christ only to dodge the consequences of living in an evil world – in other words, for their own comfort, with no intent of surrendering their life to Christ? That would not be a sincere faith. It would only be another form or wanting our own way. As believers, it’s the opposite; we often find ourselves sacrificing our comfort to follow Christ, because we are called to lay down everything to follow Him.

To protect us from this world, God would have to remove us from this world as soon as we became heirs to salvation. But if He did that, how would others hear about His incredible gift of salvation? Perhaps that would be merciful to us individually, but it would be cruel to the world. In no time, there wouldn’t be anyone left to share the Good News, and uncountable billions of people would never be exposed to the Gospel.

This just reinforces that Jesus is the only way of salvation for us all. The just alternative would be to destroy us in our sin. This is a lesson we learn from the account of Noah and the flood. That even as evil as the world gets, God cannot bring Himself to completely cut us off from a hope of salvation.

The flood was a time when the world embraced evil to an extent that God could only find 8 people who lived for Him to preserve humanity. There will be a time in the future when this world is judged for sin, where very few will survive – those who called upon the name of Jesus. And then there will be a final judgement when every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, friend and foe alike (Philippians 2:9-11).

God Provided the Answer to Evil – If We Will Only Accept It

God loved us so much that He gave us a second chance to make the right choice. Again, God is offering humankind a beautiful eternal existence, if we but choose Him. And it is clear that the consequences for not choosing Him are terrible and terrifying.

We can either accept Christ as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, surrendering our lives to Him and being about His glorious mission, enjoying many blessings of being part of His family now, and spending eternity with Him in a beautiful place of peace, or we can choose to do what we want with our own lives for this lifetime, and then suffer eternal consequences in Hell for not choosing Him.

Such is the power of free will influenced by sin and death that some people willingly choose to reject Christ. So many ways people will convince themselves that making a choice about Jesus Christ is not necessary. Or they will just choose to ignore the choice entirely.

The Stumbling Block of Evil to the Unbeliever

We have a right to be outraged by all the evil in the world. But by asking why does God allow evil in this world, it reveals our desire to continue to rule over ourselves and blame God for such atrocities, rather than blame the perpetrators, who like us, are born into sin. We say we want God to do something about the evil in this world, but we don’t want to subjugate ourselves to what He has already done.

What God will do in the face of evil is comfort us if we will let Him. But the truth is, if we give up our righteous indignation, that doesn’t feel just to us. It is God’s desire for us to let go of retribution and leave revenge in His hands. Because all wrongs will be avenged one day. Unless the evildoer turns from wrath.

Unbelievers who have not chosen to follow Christ are understandably upset by such a prospect – that God could possibly forgive someone of their evil atrocities. The kind of comfort God can provide can only be accepted by the person whose sins have been forgiven. A person who hasn’t experienced forgiveness will not be able to forgive or understand the kind of forgiveness Christ requires of His followers.

And if this describes you because you had something evil happen to you, because you were simply a target of an evil person, there is no excuse or justification for it happening. It was evil, it was wrong, it was sin, it shouldn’t have happened to you. It was all part of the terrible consequence of being in a realm ruled by death. But God is not the author of evil, or the evil act that was perpetuated against you. That was the evil choice by the person who did it. It breaks God’s heart.

Christians Must Endure the Evil of This World

God’s protection is for the eternal. He promises those who follow Him to be able to live in a place where there are no more tears. In the meantime, we remain in this evil world, not as punishment, but because God wants to see as many people come to know Him as possible, and we are Christ’s ambassadors.

God sent His one and only Son to die for our sins so that we might have an opportunity to spend eternity with Him, free from all this evil and death. But the full benefits of eternity come after we move on from this life. Christians are called to endure their time in this world, a time which is oh so brief in the light of eternity. God protects our future. God guides our present.

Sometimes, submitting to God results in enduring evil purely for the sake of our witness. Jesus warned us that would be the case (John 15:20).

Nobody asks to endure evil. But the Christian accepts that enduring evil may come as a result of their submission to Christ, because this world hates Jesus Christ. The number of Christians who have been put to prison, torture, or death for centuries around the world for their faith attests to that.

That’s also why it’s so important to live our lives boldly for Christ if we’re going to follow Him. Because we have to be willing to take the risk of rejection, humiliation, hatred, and worse for the sake of sharing the gospel. Our reward is that we will be storing wonderful treasures in Heaven by doing so.  In the meantime, we can expect to inherit the ire of the world because the world is a treacherous, sinful, death-infested place, currently ruled by the invisible enemies of God.

God Hates Evil

Why does God allow evil to exist? The truth is, God hates evil. But he loves each and every one of us. So much so that Jesus Christ suffered death on a cross so that our sins may be forgiven and we could spend eternity with Him. Just as Adam chose wrongly, God gives us the opportunity to choose rightly. If you have not considered Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation, please do so today.

More Bible verses about why does God allow evil;

Proverbs 8:13; Isaiah 5:20; John 16:33; Romans 8:18; Ephesians 2:1-7; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 21:4

All Biblical reference links courtesy of Bible Gateway, a searchable online Bible tool hosting more than 200 versions of the Bible in over 70 languages.

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