DEFINED BY THE BIBLE
According to the word of God, to do GOOD is “to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments” (Deuteronomy 30:16). A man commits EVIL when he turns his heart away from God, will not hear him, and walks in a rebellious way: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Such a rebellious man will be “drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them” (Deuteronomy 30:16-17; James 1:14). The prophet wrote: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
THE EXCEEDING GREAT LOVE OF GOD
DEMONSTRATED ONCE AT THE CROSS—Around two thousand years ago the “living and true God” (1Thessalonians 1:9) “commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8; 1Corinthians 15:3-4). But contrary to the argument of some nonbelievers [see below], the God of the Bible is NOT ‘all-loving.’ The scriptures make it very clear that ONE TIME in the past, God “so LOVED the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God’s love for the world was demonstrated only one time by the gospel of Jesus Christ, when “once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). And then the Lord Jesus, “after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). At the cross God made his Son to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2Corinthians 5:21). At the cross God executed his just judgment against our sins in the body of his Son (1Peter 2:24; Romans 8:2). “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him” (Isaiah 53:10). “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). The glorious gospel is, “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Corinthians 15:3-4). Believers “are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10) To the believers in the church at Ephesus the apostle Paul wrote: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us [demonstrated at the cross], Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)
OFFERED TO ALL MEN—“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3:9) Therefore God “now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30), and “That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1John 3:23) According to God’s mercy “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Eternal life may only be received by sinners who acknowledge the truth of the gospel (2Timothy 2:25-26; Galatians 2:5; Colossians 1:5), turn [repent] from their sin of unbelief (John 16:7-9) to receive and believe in their hearts on the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive him by faith as their personal Saviour and God (Romans 6:23; Luke 13:3, 5; John 1:12-13; Romans 10:9-13). Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) At that time “the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39), “is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)
THE WRATH OF GOD
The true God—While it is certainly and thankfully true that “God is love” (1John 4:8, 16), it is also certainly and fearfully true that “our God is a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29) whose anger “shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” (Deuteronomy 32:22)! The scripture speaks both of “the goodness of God” (Romans 2:4) that leads men to repentance and salvation, and of the “terror of the Lord” (1Corinthians 5:11) which will condemn all unbelievers to eternal torment (Revelation 14:10-11) in the “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41; 18:8)!
A fabricated god—Atheists and humanists argue: ‘If God is all-loving, He would have prevented evil from entering the universe; if God is all powerful, He could have prevented evil; evil exists, therefore there is no such God.’ This ridiculous argument reveals natural man’s gross misunderstanding of God and their complete ignorance of God’s eternal plan and purpose.
A dangerous unbiblical declaration—Universalism is a false ‘theological doctrine that all human beings will eventually be saved’ (Merriam-Webster.com). Many evangelical Christians today mistakenly tell the unbelieving, ‘God loves you.’ This is a very dangerous declaration which appears to be akin to the false doctrine of universalism. As we will see below unbelievers are condemned already to eternal suffering; God is angry with them every day and his wrath abides on them; God hates them; and they are an abomination to him! God’s gift of his Son to die for sinners only benefits those sinners who, of their own free will, repent and believe when they are called by the gospel. To put it bluntly and briefly, God loves innocent children and all those who receive his Son Jesus Christ, but he hates all those who reject his Son!
The true Biblical declaration—In 1975 Steve Strang wrote an article for the first edition of Charisma Magazine about the American Great Awakening in the 1700’s, and about Jonathan Edwards’ powerful message, ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,’ which he preached in 1741. Strang wrote: ‘History records that sinners repented by the hundreds. Taverns closed as whole towns repented. Often people were so moved by conviction they trembled and shrieked and fell to the ground moaning and begging God to forgive their sins…Thousands of newly converted people were forced by their churches to leave because their new convictions about the importance of salvation often threatened the existing ecclesiastical power structure. This fostered the growth of new churches like the Methodists and toppled any hope of one denomination becoming dominant and becoming the American state church.’
Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and other preachers during the 1700’s declared to sinners the word of God which “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). The word of God is plainly opposed to the dangerous declaration that God loves [present tense] sinners: The Holy Bible declares that “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11); and, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18); and “the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36) “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing [liars]: the LORD will abhor [hate extremely] the bloody and deceitful man.” (Psalm 5:5-6); “The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.” (Psalm 11:5) “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination [extremely hated] to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5) All “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) The Bible makes it clear that God does not love “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4)! The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (2Corinthians 5:11) The word of God also commands believers: “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)
No hope without Christ—The gospel is a saving declaration of what God did in the past (John 3:16) at the cross when once “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Before “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1Peter 1:23; John 3:3-8) all sinners are “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” (Ephesians 2:12)! If you are now a Christian, you were not born again until you “first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:12-14)
THREE KINDS OF MORAL CREATURES
According to the scriptures, God only created three kinds of creatures with moral consciences and gave them the power to freely choose between good and evil. These creatures commit moral evil when they wilfully choose to disobey the commandments of God:
CHERUBIM: the beasts that surround the throne of God in heaven (Ezekiel 10:1; 2Samuel 6:2; Revelation 4:6). Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12), “the anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14), became Satan when he brought evil into the universe from out of his own prideful heart (Ezekiel 28:15-17).
ANGELS: ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14). An unknown number of “the angels that sinned” (2Peter 2:4) took them wives of the daughters of men who “bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” (Genesis 6:1-4) God “cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2Peter 2:4)
MEN:the only creatures made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). The first man and woman,
Adam and Eve, committed the first evil among mankind, when they disobeyed God and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was because of Adam’s disobedience that God’s curse of death has passed to all men (Romans 5:12).
Amoral creatures—God created all other kinds of creatures, of the so called “animal kingdom,” with the instinctual knowledge and ability to perform their God given functions. However they do not possess conscience or the power to make moral choices between good and evil.
THREE KINDS OF EVIL
MORAL EVIL is that evil which is committed by moral creatures when they transgress the commandments of God.
DESTRUCTIVE EVIL is that evil which is created by God (Isaiah 45:7). It includes sickness, pestilence, war, natural disasters, and other things which God brings upon mankind to chasten and to punish man for his moral evil (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 28:58-61; 2Kings 21:12-15; 2Chronicles 21:12-19; Romans 1:20- 27).
CORRUPTIVE EVIL is that evil which came upon all the material creation by God’s curse upon the creation because of sin. It includes decay, rust, and rottenness (Jeremiah 24:1-3). For example evil figs are figs that are not good to eat. They are not morally or destructively evil, but evil to the taste (Jeremiah 29:11-17). Evil is always bad. Evil is never good, although the effects of God’s punishment can work together for the good of man (Psalm 107:10-14; Romans 8:28).
THE ANOINTED CHERUB
God did not create moral evil—The scriptures plainly establish two facts about God’s creation: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11), and at the end of the sixth day: “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God created three kinds of moral creatures [see above] and gave each of them a free will to choose between good and evil. Even Lucifer, “the anointed cherub that covereth” (Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:14) was perfect in his ways from the day that he was created (Ezekiel 28:15) and was declared to be very good. However some short time after the creation of Adam and Eve, when Lucifer’s heart was lifted up in pride because of his beauty, he corrupted his wisdom by reason of his brightness (Ezekiel 28:17), and began to say in his heart, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). According to the scriptures, God did not create Lucifer as a morally evil creature, but as a beautiful, bright, powerful, and wise cherub, endowed with the ability to exercise free will to choose between good and evil. Lucifer had the choice to be satisfied and content with his God given position in the creation or to rebel against his Creator. With foolish pride Lucifer chose to rebel! God did not create moral evil, but moral evil originated in the prideful heart of Lucifer, which was his “condemnation” (1Timothy 3:6).
MAN’S FIRST EVIL ACT
Adam and Eve had a choice—God made both “the tree of life” and “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” to grow out of the ground in the midst of the garden in Eden (Genesis 2:9). God then commanded Adam: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
Later the Bible records that both Eve and Adam, “her husband with her,” committed evil and ate of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not evil in itself. It was not in the tree to do good or to do evil. Neither was the tree corruptible, for before Adam committed evil against God there was no curse upon God’s perfect creation. The LORD placed both trees in the midst of the garden to give Adam and Eve the opportunity to choose to do good or to do evil. They could choose to do GOOD by obeying God’s commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree whose fruit was forbidden, or they could commit EVIL by disobeying God’s commandment (Genesis 2:16- 17).
Death by sin—When Adam ate the forbidden fruit he sinned and transgressed God’s law (1John 3:4). According to God’s word, Adam and Eve both died spiritually on the very day that they sinned against God. Adam’s act of disobedience was EVIL, and by Adam “sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12)
Seeing that God knows all things (1John 3:20; Acts 15:18), he already knew what Adam and Eve would do. As the LORD proved the children of Israel (Exodus 16:4), God was proving Adam and Eve whether they would walk in his law or no. Adam and Eve freely chose to do evil. After eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Adam and Eve found out very quickly about evil and sin and the terrible consequences that follow rebellion against God (Genesis 3:6-24)!
Material things themselves are not evil, but they can be used in evil ways. Idols are said to be evil, because they are made for men to bow down and worship them as gods. But the idols themselves cannot speak, nor see, nor hear, nor smell (Psalm 115:4-7). Speaking of the idols of the heathen, God said, “Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do EVIL, neither also is it in them to do GOOD” (Jeremiah 10:2-5). Everything in this world that man uses for evil purposes is a good thing that has been corrupted by man as a result of his evil inventions (Ecclesiastes 7:29).
In mercy the LORD God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden to prevent them from eating of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22- 24), lest Adam should live forever in a fallen and separated condition. God had better plans for Adam and his offspring: his redemption and future eternal life in a new and glorified and sinless body (Philippians 3:21-22)!
EVIL SERVES GOD’S ETERNAL PLAN
Evil is only temporary—The Lord Jesus Christ, who is God manifest in the flesh (John 1:1, 14; 1Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:8), has all power in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18)! He has the power to do whatsoever he pleases (Isaiah 46:10; Psalm 135:6; 115:3). Therefore he is fully capable to expel all evil from the universe whenever and however he chooses. God allowed evil to enter into his creation, because evil serves a necessary part in his eternal plan and purpose for those that love him. Evil is serving God’s purpose here in “time.” He will completely rid his eternal kingdom of evil when eternity begins, when there will be “time no longer” (Revelation 10:6). At the end of this present evil world (Galatians 1:4), God will for ever banish evil from his eternal and glorious kingdom. Satan, the angels that followed him, and all wicked men will be cast into the lake of fire, where “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” (Revelation 14:11; 20:10, 14-15; 21:8). God has reserved “the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13) for all wicked and evil men. Only righteousness will dwell (2Peter 3:13) in the new heavens and new earth.
God planned for evil—Evil could not have entered the creation apart from God’s eternal plan, because God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). Therefore evil is a necessary part of God’s eternal plan. Evil entered into the creation because God planned it, and not because his creatures were able to overthrow his eternal plan. Even though Lucifer is the source of evil, and Adam was the first man to commit sin, and thus commit evil against God, by the word of God we understand that the entrance of evil into the creation was ordained of God from before the foundation of the world. We can know this, because: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18), and because the Lord Jesus Christ was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” to redeem sinners with his precious blood (1Peter 1:18-20)!
GOD ALLOWED EVIL
To fulfill his eternal purpose—Evil exists to give moral man, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), a choice between GOOD and EVIL. Obviously, God did not want to populate his eternal kingdom with animal-like, instinct driven brute beasts, without the capacity to love him of their own free will choice. God’s eternal purpose will be fulfilled when new Jerusalem and the new heavens and earth are populated with redeemed and glorified men: men who have freely chosen to fear and to love him. These men will be in his kingdom, because when God called them by the gospel (2Thessalonians 2:13-14; Romans 1:16; 1Corinthians 15:3-4) during their earthly lives, they had a love of the truth that they might be saved. Therefore they acknowledged the truth and repented of their rebellion against God (2Timothy 2:24-26). They gladly received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour (John 1:12-13), and they were saved by grace through faith, and not by any good works which they had done (Ephesians 2:8- 9; Titus 3:5). All men, who do not love the truth, and who reject God’s Son Jesus Christ, will be cast out into outer darkness where they will suffer the vengeance of God in the eternal lake of fire for ever and ever (2Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 21:8; 14:11).
God meant it for good—The greatest EVIL ever committed by men was the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only GOOD [righteous] man who ever walked the face of the earth. And yet that most evil of all deeds was foreordained by God before the foundation of the world for the greatest GOOD of all people (Luke 2:10)! The wicked men who crucified the Son of God did so according to “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). The LORD said that Jesus “was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isaiah 53:8). At the cross God used wicked men as a sword in his hand (Psalm 17:13; Jeremiah 6:12; 12:12; 47:1-7) against his own Son. Evil men meant the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for EVIL against the Son of God, but God meant it for the greatest GOOD “for every man” (Hebrews 2:9), to save them from the eternal penalty for their sins (John 3:16-17). Every man who will repent (Luke 13:1-5; 2Peter 3:9) and receive Jesus Christ by faith as his personal Saviour will receive God’s forgiveness in answer to Jesus Christ’s prayer (John 17:20-21; Luke 23:34). They will receive from God the greatest GOOD that can be imagined. They will receive “the gift of God [which is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) But to those men who reject his Son, after he calls them by “the gospel of the grace of God” (2Thessalonians 2:13-14; Acts 20:24), God will return to them the greatest EVIL that could ever be imagined. Because they commit the greatest EVIL possible in this present time, they will suffer eternally for their sins in the lake of fire, which is the second death (Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8; 14:11).
Examine yourself (2Corinthians 13:5)—Are you one of the “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26) or are you a lost sinner? If you are a sinner, will you receive or reject Jesus Christ (John 1:12-13; 12:48)? Where will you be when Jesus Christ puts evil away for ever? Will you be among those who suffer the vengeance of God’s wrath for ever in the lake of fire? Or will you be among the blessed who will enjoy the LORD’S “pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11)? God invites you to come (Revelation 22:17) “now” (2Corinthians 6:2).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).