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Answering Evil

Two questions demonstrate the difference between how people view the world and God. The first goes something like this: “How can a God of love watch the violence and evil in the world and not put a stop to it?” The second asks, “How can a perfectly holy God allow any man to live for another minute given the evil in mankind and the misery it brings?”

The first question comes from the idea that man knows best, that God is a weak and helpless onlooker, and that there probably really is no God, at least not the God of the Bible. The second comes from a more Biblical perspective that acknowledges the sinful nature of man and the holiness of God.

Both questions, it should be noted, recognize that evil exists and that it produces great suffering in the world. Those who ask the first question often come from a non-believing perspective and likely subscribe to an evolutionary world view. It seems to me that they must answer a basic question. At what point did evil emerge in the evolution of things? Why is there even a concept of evil, or good, for that matter? That evil exists and is ubiquitous can hardly be denied. And it is no good to talk of evolving humanity away from evil.

The second question also presupposes evil. In fact, the Bible tells us where it started on earth and describes it in great detail. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 8:12). The New England Primer said it like this: “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” Despite the Calvinistic overtones in the primer’s statement, the point is well taken that all men come into the world with an evil bent.

Evil is revealed in scripture sometimes as overtly wicked. And it resides in the heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).
It is a dead end for people who ask the first question above to try to remedy injustice and evil in the world before they address the wickedness of their own hearts.

It was at Ohio State University that I was having a discussion with a group of marxists. They were holding forth that injustice and wrongs could be righted by changing institutions and governments. They were promoting a revolution. I responded that no matter in what environment you placed a greedy man, he would still be greedy.
“Your revolution is not revolutionary enough,” I said. “The real solution is to change the heart of the greedy. That takes the power and grace of God. Only Jesus has the right kind of revolution.”

They had no effective rejoinder. The change that is essential is to transform the hearts of men. Unless the greed is purged from the heart, men will continue to take advantage of others. Unless purity replaces lust, men will continue to have “eyes full of adultery that cannot cease from sin” and will go on “beguiling unstable souls” (2 Pet. 2:14a). The hideous practice of human trafficking will continue. Where there is a demand there will be a supply. Unless love replaces hatred in the heart, murders will continue.

Jesus said that evil comes from the heart. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mk. 7:21-23).

The Bible also describes evil as treacherously deceitful. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:14, 15).

I was sitting on a stone wall with a Bible in hand when a stranger stopped and said, “That’s my favorite book!” Something about his demeanor made me suspicious. I knew that some representatives of the cult The Way International had come to town. I tested my instincts. “You know why I like this Book?” I asked. “Because it tells about Jesus and how He is the Son of God and worthy to be worshipped.”

The friendliness left the stranger’s face. He became animated in his denunciation of Jesus as divine. I continued to press the great claims of Christ. Suddenly the man could take it no longer. He began to curse.

“Do you know what you need?” I asked. “You need to go to your room, get down on your knees, and ask God to forgive you of your sins.” He had no more to say and wandered off. How like an angel of light for someone to claim to love the Bible yet deny the Christ that the Bible declares.

God has answered evil. But not how some would imagine. He does not stop every evil act or He would have destroyed mankind long ago, for all have sinned. If we want to see His answer to evil we must go to the cross. It was there that Christ died for our sins. He had no sin of His own. “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” He asked. None could answer, for Jesus is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Heb. 7:26b).

There on the cross the pure Son of God took our sins so that we could be forgiven and be given new hearts. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). The responsibility lies with men.

Who is puny man to ask why God does nothing about evil while refusing to deal with the evil that lurks within his own breast? God has done His great work to answer evil by sending Christ to the cross. Man in his stubbornness too often refuses to accept his own need of a heart change. Instead of blaming God for doing nothing about the evil in the world, man should look in the mirror.

The lyrics to the old song It’s In Your Hands say it well.

Where’s the spear that pierced his side when my Lord was crucified?
If you’re not serving him, it’s in your hands.
Where are the nails that nailed him there as he died in deep despair?
If you’re not serving him, it’s in your hands.

Where’s the hammer that drove the nails,
If His will now you’ve failed,
If you’re not serving him, it’s in your hands.

If Jesus is not Lord of your life, you must face up to your own evil. Look to Christ who both died and rose again. You can die to your old life by trusting Jesus to save you, and you can rise with Him to walk in new life.

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