The doctrine of evil

CREATION
 
Revelations 4:11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive honour and glory and power: for thou has created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
 
Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consists.”
 
John 1:3, “ All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.”
 
Romans 11:33,36, “O the depth of the riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

CREATION AND PROVIDENCE
 
Proverbs 16:4, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”
 
Isaiah 46:9-10, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,”
 
INTRODUCTION
 
In the study of evil, it is paramount to remain faithful to the truthfulness of the above passages of scriptures, that nothing exists that God had not created. Nothing happens independently of the wisdom, power, will and providence of God. Therefore, evil exists and happens because God created it and willed it to happen.
 
It is in this area of theology that the faithless stumble and are unable to believe in the truthfulness of God’s word, which declares His will to be inscrutable, His power to be almighty and that all events, good and evil, happen according to His divine and eternal predestination.

Consequently, faithless questions abound regarding evil. What is the origin of evil? Is it self-existent, independent of God and therefore not created? Why does it exist? Etc. When all the while, God has provided answers to these questions in the bible. It is the only source of truth regarding the doctrine of evil.
 
However, the faithless will not believe in the bible’s teachings about God and evil, because they cannot! They are in darkness. Even this darkness that the faithless are in, is created by God (Isaiah 45:6-7). However, the faithless claim that ‘they have the light’ and in reply to this, Jesus said unto them, “If then the ‘light’ within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:23)
 
For many, there are no answers to these questions regarding evil. For others, the answers that they have are incorrect, confusing, unbiblical and do not glorify God. As a result, there is mass confusion in the world that is corrupted by the exaltation and worship of evil as an equal but opposing power to God’s power.
 
All the evil in the world exist according to God’s perfect wisdom and totally serves His purposes. It is verses such as Proverbs 16:4, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” That speaks soberly to mankind and reveals a wisdom that is Holy and inscrutable, one not belonging to creation, but to its Creator.
 
As we proceed to learn of God’s purposes in creating evil, we must be careful not to tread where it is forbidden. However, it is essential for every Christian’s edification and growth to know and believe as Job did (Job 1:12-22; 2:7-10), that his Saviour is the Almighty Creator, preserver and disposer of not only everything good, but everything evil as well, yet He remains the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 45:6, 7, 11, “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the lord do all these things…..Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.”

THE ORIGIN OF EVIL, ITS CREATION, ITS EXECUTION, ITS PURPOSES AND ITS DESTRUCTION
 
Genesis 2:9, “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

What is the origin of evil? It is the knowledge of it. The knowledge of evil is part of God’s omniscience and known by God from eternity and therefore, before creaturely existence. This knowledge of evil cannot corrupt the mind of God, for God is eternally and immutably Holy (Isaiah 6:3; Hebrews 13:8). In fact, it is an essential part of being God. For God to be God, He must be omniscient and therefore, cannot be deceived.
 
The bible plainly reveals that God knows all things. In Genesis 2:9, He created the tree of knowledge of good and evil as a symbol of His omniscience. No one can ever know more of good and evil than God Himself. All the knowledge that angels, demons and mankind possess, come from Him.
 
No creature can ever perceive of a piece of knowledge of either good or evil that God Himself had not known from eternity. In other words, unlike mankind, who receive their increasing knowledge through the providence of God as time went by; God’s infinite knowledge of everything, including the knowledge of good and evil was part of His being from eternity. He did not learn of new knowledge as time went by. Remember, God is eternal and as such, is outside of the influence and effects of time.

His eternal knowledge of good and evil, together with His execution of it, is the expression of His eternal wisdom through His providence. Therefore, God’s execution of His knowledge of evil through the creation and controlling of it, for His purposes, is part of His unsearchable judgments and ways.
 
Throughout the whole bible, we see the Sovereignty of God over evil. It is on this rock solid foundation of God’s Sovereignty, that God unravels for us three grand Holy purposes for creating evil.
 
The first is God uses it to deal with sin (sin itself will be discussed at the end of the article). The second is to demonstrate before the whole of creation as His witness, His justice and almighty power over evil, by judging over it and destroying it in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10-15). The third, to test the faith of His elect people (Job 1:6-22; 2:1-10; James 1:2-3).
 
The bible plainly declares that evil does not exist independently of God. In fact, one form of evil that God has created is the very instrument that He uses to deal with sin. In the book of Romans 6:23, Paul re-affirms an eternal truth, “For the wages of sin is death,” He reminds us of the exact punishment that God had conceived and created to deal with Adam’s disobedience. For God had said to Adam in Genesis 2:17, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
 
Surely, death is no good thing, but an evil that God has created for the purpose of seeking His revenge upon Adam’s disobedience. Do not be deceived into believing that Satan conceived and created death. He was himself awaiting his own imminent judgment and punishment from his creator, alongside the man and the woman. (Genesis 3:15). In fact, Satan himself is afraid of what the bible calls the second death, for he knows that his time is short (Revelation 12:12). For Satan, it is the second death in the lake of fire, that will utterly destroy him (Revelation 20:10).

As for Adam and mankind, God proceeded to curse Adam and his posterity, Genesis 3:19, “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” From that moment on, the almighty had created an evil that He called death to punish Adam and his descendants for sinning against Him. Romans 5:12, “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.”
 
God also created all the bacteria and viruses that cause all the sicknesses and diseases we find in the world. The infirmities of mankind. The deterioration of the body itself etc. were all created and designed by God to cause pain, suffering and finally death. These were not created in the first six days of creation. They were created after Adam disobeyed. They are instruments of His Holy wrath and revenge on mankind because of sin.
 
God does not reveal to us the exact constitution of this evil called death that He had created for His Holy purpose in dealing with sin. However, God has revealed that this same evil known as death is also an evil that He has conquered for His people through the resurrection of Christ from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:50-58) and will soon destroy in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14).
 
Therefore, by His inscrutable wisdom and providence, God in creating and controlling an evil known as death, avenges Himself and demonstrates His almighty power over it. Such is the unsearchable judgments and ways of our Almighty God (Revelation 1:18).

OTHER FORMS OF EVIL
 
So far, we have been discussing only one entity of evil, evil in the form of death that God had created. Clearly, other entities of evil also exist. The bible reveals many. The sum total of which is under the control of God and our study focuses on the three grand Holy purposes of God for creating evil. One to deal with sin itself. The second, to demonstrate His power over it, that His name may be proclaimed throughout all the earth. Thirdly, to test the faith and develop patience in the hearts of His elect people, the church, the body of Christ, through persecution and tribulations (John 15:18-25; Matthew 24:9)

PHARAOH - A TYPE OF SATAN
 
In order to understand why God created another entity of evil called Satan the devil, a close look at the life of Pharaoh in the book of Exodus reveals plenty. It is true that before Satan became the devil, God created him as a beautiful Archangel. The Spirit of God called him Lucifer (morning star).
 
However, the process, by which his heart became proud and ambitious and God turning him from being an Archangel of God to become Satan the devil, because of his sin of pride and rebellion, is the secret workings of God Himself in his creature. This is where we must not tread.
 
In other words, God hides it from us and we are forbidden to know, just as He had forbidden Adam to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is godly enough to acknowledge and believe that all of Satan’s power and knowledge of evil comes from God. His very existence absolutely depended upon his Creator’s will, not his. This truth glorifies God and is truly comforting and reassuring to the soul of every Christian. Knowing for sure he is eternally secure in God’s love in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-39).

In the book of Exodus, we read of the account of Pharaoh, Egypt and Israel. In the chapters that follow, God outlines for us His master plan for creating all three entities. Pharaoh is a type of Satan. Egypt is a type of the world fallen into sin and darkness, void of the knowledge of God. Israel is a type of His elect people before salvation, in bondage to Pharaoh (Satan) and in slavery (sin) in Egypt (world fallen into sin and darkness).
 
Moses, God’s prophet demonstrates the power of God over evil in the salvation of Israel by destroying Pharaoh and taking them out of the land of Egypt. This typifies the salvation of the elect from being Satan’s slaves in the world of sin and darkness. In the book of Ephesians, Paul reveals the spiritual fulfillment of this Godly plan and power over evil.
 
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 wherein in times past ye walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God who is rich in mercy and love wherewith He loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace are ye saved. 6 And hath raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
 
Therefore, the devil an evil entity, who God had created and will destroy, fulfills part of God’s majestic eternal plan of salvation. So like Moses and the children of Israel, we who have been saved by God through Christ Jesus, sing with gladness and joy the song of Moses in Exodus 15:1-19,
 
1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. 2 The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. 3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is His name. 4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath He cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. 6 Thy right hand, O Lord is become glorious in power: thy right hand O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.”

THE WICKED FOR THE DAY OF EVIL

Proverbs 16:4, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”
 
Like Lucifer, who God changed into Satan the devil because of his sin, mankind too, became evil (Jeremiah 13:23) after the fall of Adam. How God imputes the sin nature to all Adam’s descendants is a work of God that no one can ever know. It is forbidden knowledge. This again is where we do not tread. It is enough to know and believe that the Holy Proverb quoted above is truthful and brings glory to God.
 
The bible is filled with accounts of God’s dealings with the wicked. A careful study of them would reveal that God has created them for purposes that transcends the natural understanding. The wicked are described by God to be those that He has created to be vessels of dishonour, vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. God will never work in them the special graces of faith and repentance. As a result, they will never be converted to love God and His wrath remains upon them for all eternity (Romans 9:11-23).
 
In the same passage in Romans 9:18-23, God reveals one of the purposes why He has created the wicked and patiently leaves them unconverted, faithless and unrepentant in their ways. It is to make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory. In other words, the vessels of mercy will realize with Holy fear that if the Sovereign Lord did not work in them the saving graces of faith and repentance, they too will likewise perish. It is this doctrine of unconditional election of God’s sovereign grace that transcends all human wisdom and understanding.
 
It is here also that we do not tread and probe for answers that God has not revealed in His Word. It is enough for us to know that, “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth but of God who sheweth mercy.” (Romans 9:15-16).

The wicked for the day of evil, here are some examples of vessels of dishonour, vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21; 9:15-16). Pharaoh the most powerful human monarch of his time was created by God to represent Satan (prince of the world), the epitome of godlessness and rebellion so that God may destroy him and God’s name be proclaimed throughout all the earth. Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:16-20; John 13:18 ; 17:12 ; Psalms 109:8). Judas Iscariot was created by God to betray Christ and receive his eternal punishment.
 
The parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-43). In this parable, Jesus reveals that God His Father has divided mankind into two categories. One group (Christ’s sheep) belongs to Jesus and the other belongs to their father the devil (Satan). The righteous that we read in verse 43 are those that belong to Christ. They are righteous not because of themselves, but because of God’s Grace creating in them the gift of Faith to believe in Christ and thereby receiving His Divine Righteousness (Faith is the spiritual arm that receives the Divine righteousness of God in Christ – Romans 1:16-17; Romans 4:1-5) in order to be justified by God to enter the Kingdom of heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9).
 
In other words, no sinner can offer his human righteousness to be the basis for justifying his owns sins before God on judgment day (Romans 10:1-4). It is not acceptable to God because it is human and not Divine, it is not obtained by Faith in Christ, but by works and therefore it can never please Him. (Romans 4:1-5; Hebrews 11:6). Only the Divine Righteousness of Christ is acceptable to God and received only through the gift of Faith and not by works, therefore it pleases God (Romans 1:16-17; Romans10:1-4; Hebrews 11:6).

GOD AND SIN

Sin is not created, it is committed. It is a willful act contrary to God’s Holy Law. The act contradicts God. Sin is therefore, the very contradiction of God Himself. For example, when God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, lest he shall surely die, the devil contradicted God with his lie, that the man shall not surely die.The devil therefore committed a sin when he willfully contradicted God’s Truth with his lie.

Consequently, Adam disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and thereby willfully acted in contrary to God’s Holy commandment. In his act of contradicting God by his actions, he committed a sin. Therefore, sin is not created, but committed.
 
We know that the first sin committed was by Lucifer, a rebellion in the heavens against God. For certain, The Lord was not surprised, for the knowledge of the Lord is such that He cannot be deceived; and besides, it clearly follows that it is by the wisdom of God, that Lucifer should commit this sin and be cast down to the earth by God and become Satan the devil (Revelation 12:7-9).
 
God predestines all things and events in heaven and on earth without exception. God has predestined even the sinful acts of men from eternity (Acts 4:26-28).
 
God, who is Holy, predestined and willed that His creatures would commit sin, in order that He may redeem elect sinners from its corruption (1 Peter 1:18-20). In doing so, God demonstrates His eternal powers over sin (Romans 8:1-3) and His unconditional love (Romans 5:8) for those whom He has elected before the foundations of the world to receive His great salvation (Ephesians 1:3-11).
 
In conclusion, God is gracious to reveal to us by His spirit and through His Word, some of the reasons and purposes for creating evil and predestinating His creatures to commit sin. We will never know the whole mind of God, for He is eternal and infinite, whilst we are not. That which He proclaims to us and teaches us for our edification, we receive with thanks and gratefulness. May God continue to speak to you and teach you His Word.

 

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear:

ISAIAH 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

JOB 1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. 13 And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: 14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: 15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: 19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

JOB 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. 9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

ISAIAH 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

HEBREWS 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

REVELATION 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

JAMES 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience

GENESIS 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

REVELATION 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

REVELATION 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

REVELATION 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

REVELATION 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

MATTHEW 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.

ROMANS 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

JEREMIAH 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

EXODUS 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

EXODUS 9:15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

ACTS 1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

JOHN 13:18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.

JOHN 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

PSALM 108:8 Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

ROMANS 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

ROMANS 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

EPHESIANS 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

ROMANS 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

HEBREWS 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

REVELATION 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

ACTS 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

1 PETER 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

ROMANS 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

ROMANS 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

     
"For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." Romans 9:17