Why does God allow evil?


Posted in TheScroogeReport.com

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Greg Laurie pastors Harvest Christian Fellowship (one of America’s largest churches) in Riverside, California. Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.

Here’s one of the biggest questions people ask when they wrestle with the claims of Christianity:

If God is so good and loving, why does He allow evil?

Sound familiar?

You’ve probably heard it in a score of versions: Why does He allow babies to be born blind? Why does He allow wars to rage, killing innocent people? How could He stand by and let a little girl be kidnapped, raped and murdered? What about all the horrible injustice in the world? How could He allow this hurricane … this tsunami … this earthquake … this wildfire … this epidemic? If He can prevent such terrible tragedies, why does He allow them to take place?

Here’s the classic statement of the problem: Either God is all powerful but not all good, and therefore He doesn’t stop evil – or He’s all good but not all powerful, and therefore He can’t stop evil. The general tendency, of course, is to blame God for evil and suffering, transferring all responsibility to Him.

So let’s look closer at the core question: If God is so good and loving, why does He allow evil?

Greg Laurie

The first part of this question is based on a false premise. People who express those words are essentially suggesting (or saying outright) that God must meet their own criteria of goodness. But who are they to set standards for God? When did they become the moral center of the universe?

The fact is God doesn’t become “good” just because that’s my opinion of Him, or because I personally agree with His words or actions. God is good because He says He is! Jesus said, “No one is good, except God alone” (Luke 18:19). God is good – whether I believe it or not. He and He alone is the final court of arbitration. As Paul said, “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4, NIV).

What is “good”? Good is whatever God approves. And it’s good because He approves it! There’s no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character – and His approval of whatever’s consistent with that character.

So God is good. Period.

Now let’s come back to the second part of the question. Why does He allow evil?

Remember that mankind was not created evil, but perfect. In their original state, Adam and Eve were innocent, ageless and immortal. But from the very beginning – from the time God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s inanimate form – man has had the ability to choose right or wrong.

And he made his choice.

Had man never sinned, there would have been no resulting curse. But now it’s too late: “When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Romans 5:12, NLT).

The point to keep in mind here is that humanity – not God – is responsible for sin.

So why didn’t God create human beings to be incapable of sin? Because that would make us less than human. God created us in His image, and part of that image within us is a free will – a capacity to choose good or evil, to do right or wrong.

It’s easy to think the world would be a much better and safer place if God hadn’t given us our free will. In many ways, our free will is our worst curse. But it’s also our greatest blessing. If God hadn’t given us a free will, we would merely be puppets on a string, remote-controlled robots that bow before Him at the touch of a button.

God, however, wants to be loved and obeyed by creatures who voluntarily choose to do so. Love cannot be genuine if there’s no other option. You and I can choose to love God. And if we’re realistic, we have every reason in the world to make that choice.

After the 9-11 terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center, there were some who said this was God’s judgment on New York City. And after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, some said this was His judgment on New Orleans. But I don’t agree with that.

In the New Testament, Jesus one day addressed a local tragedy that was a “current news story” at the time. A tower had collapsed in Jerusalem, killing 18 men. Referring to that incident, Jesus asked His listeners this question: “Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?” Then He answered it: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5).

Had those 18 men fallen under some special, targeted judgment from God? No, Jesus was saying. The bottom line is people die. And even worse than the physical death – which happens to us all – is the eternal spiritual death that happens if we don’t repent of our sin.

Tragedies happen. Wars happen. Accidents happens. Illness happens. Cancer happens. We live in a broken, fallen world, and nobody’s exempt from the effects of that. Everybody dies.

This doesn’t mean God is unfair. It doesn’t mean He has singles out anybody for special judgment. If I die, it just means it was my time to leave this earth. And that moment will come to everybody.

The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27, KJV). Each of us has an appointment with death. Each of us has an advance reservation for the journey of leaving this world for an eternal destination. There’s a ticket marked with your name and the time of your departure.

This is not a gloomy, pessimistic view – if you belong to Jesus Christ. If you’re a Christian, the thought of inevitable physical death is flooded with hope! Because you know that when you pass from this life, you’ll step immediately into the majesty and radiance of the Lord’s immediate presence, and you’ll live with Him forever. What’s not to like about that?

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul once wrote these words from prison: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He said more about what was good about continuing his life in this world, but he also added that “to depart and be with Christ … is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23). Paul’s attitude wasn’t one of resignation: “Well, if I’ve got to die, I’ve got to die. Not much I can do about it.” No, to Paul, dying meant coming out ahead in the game. It meant stepping forward into the best existence imaginable. For Paul, entering the presence of the Lord Jesus wasn’t just “better”; it was “far better”!

The simple truth about our planet is that tragedies have wracked humanity ever since Adam and Eve were pushed out of the Garden of Eden, and tragedies will continue to touch our lives as long as we walk this earth.

But be aware of the even greater tragedy – of failing to repent of your sins and to come to Jesus Christ for His forgiveness and His gift of eternal life. To fail in that is to be locked into tragedy forever.


Greg Laurie’s ministry information and more can be found at Harvest Online.


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8 thoughts on “Why does God allow evil?

  1. Faith in scripture is paramount here in your attempt to answer the question, but it will not inspire those who were never inclined or taught to believe in God. The problem then is the division among those who have Faith in scripture and those who place there Faith elsewhere.

    I have found that everything can be better explained from a perspective that sees all human failures and transgressions as the result of incomplete knowledge. Everyone is seeking answers to something or another. The answers, although undiscovered, already exist.

    In the absolute sense, we are told that God is omniscient and therefore omnipotent. Here, Absolute Power can be seen as a direct effect of Absolute Knowledge. Mankind’s struggles dating back to prerecorded history is really the effect of our failures created by our incomplete knowledge. These struggles invoked the curiosity to understand the supernatural (or unexplainable), which at the dawn of thought, included everything. Today’s progress is the cumulative effect of the power gained by the aggregate knowledge of human history.

    Faith is merely an invocation to action. It is the power of undiscovered knowledge. Actions inspired by our Faith invokes events both good and unpleasant in an effort to bring us closer to the answers we seek. It’s important to note that all events, whether individual or collective, are the result of our Faith and are directly proportional in size to the degree of difference between the Truth and the error that needs to be corrected.

    Human suffering is, the result of our failures to know the Absolute. Constant query and reasoning (the scientific process) will eventually answer every question and manifest our relationship to the Divine. Until then, mankind will continue on in its learning experience complete with happiness and sadness, good and evil, pain and pleasure etc.


  2. One further note that is well worth mentioning regarding the principle of Jesus Christ. I think that we have lost sight of Jesus as a person first. It always seems so hard to try and explain how he was both God and Man.

    In my previous post, I showed how our failure to know the Absolute Truth is what causes our transgressions. So, sin is really the failure to know all Truth and the cause of our demise.

    I have found that there was only one difference between Jesus and every other person born on the face of the earth. He wasn’t Divine at birth, which is what most people believe. It was his Faith in what his mother TOLD him that separated him from everyone else. In his youth, he had to believe first that he was to be the Saviour of the World.

    Most likely, as he got older he said something like, “Mom, do you want to tell me this again? I’m here for what? Are you really a virgin mother of me? I am having a difficult time trying to sort all of this out.” Eventually he finally accepted his mother’s words as fact and he had to act on his Faith in her words.

    That wasn’t an easy task. He had to study all religions and scriptures of that time period to try and find his place in this whole thing. He became a Master like the many Masters of the day. Unlike them, Jesus was not satisfied upon reaching Master status, which in and of itself is a very elite status. He knew that if he was to be a saviour, something had to separate him from all of the other Masters, who were few and far between to begin with. In his own mind, he was still a sinner, because he didn’t know all truth yet.

    Now before you go and say that Jesus was not a sinner, let me explain that if there is to be redemption, there has to be someone who could transcend the binds of sin in order to save those who aren’t able to do so. In this case, Jesus is the only Son of God and the only one who transcended sin.

    He admitted his sin by acting on his Faith during his Master status and going to the River Jordan to be baptized. Most people by this time were amazed that a Master was going to get baptized, but Jesus really needed to do it. His action brought the first miracle in his life: the sound that came from heaven saying, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” Remember, all events are the result of Faith and are directly proportional in size to the degree of difference between the Truth and the error that needs to be corrected. Jesus was aware at that point that he wasn’t a sinner any longer–despite his belief that he was.

    Now at this point, witnesses were very satisfied with Jesus’ stature as the Son of God. Unfortunately, Jesus was still unaware of his purpose and mandates. In a very master-like way, he was confused. What does it all mean? What am I here for? I have done everything that a man can do and I am the Son, but what do I do?

    He walked into the desert without food and water, testing his trained ability to overcome the need for sustenance because of his heightened spirituality, which he had gained over the years. He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew that he wasn’t coming back unless he found out what his purpose and duties were to be–even if it meant the death of him.

    This brings us to the Final Temptations and what really took place during his venture. After days of wandering through the desert he became hungry as his Spiritual abilites weakened. In his own mind he asked, “If I’m God, why can’t I turn these stones to bread?” The devil wasn’t standing there, it was Jesus’ own doubt about His Divinity and purpose. He hadn’t been able to do anything supernatural up to this point, but if there were ever a time in his life when he needed it, now would be the time. He was really hard pressed.

    Suddenly, a thought arose from a scripture he remembered, “Man does not live by bread alone, but of the word.” Jesus didn’t say “yeah that’s true, but I’m hungry.” Instead, he gathered his thoughts about his life, his mother’s words and his reason for his journey into the desert and proclaimed, ” that’s right–man doesn’t live by bread but by the word.” And he walked on without a trace of doubt–like a true Master.

    The action of His Faith was to move forward without question and in doing so, suddenly he HAD the power to turn the stones to bread. He KNEW it. And that brings us to the second temptation. He was being filled with the power that uniting Spirit or the essence of all Truth and Power to our consciousness brings. He realized in a thought, “I could jump off this cliff and the angels will save me.”

    Once again, he was admonished by his memory of scripture: “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” He realized his initial thought was ego motivated, something he had overcome in Mastership, but a quick awakening occured when his power increased exponentially. Now he was realizing the Power he had acquired and it lead to the Final Temptation.

    As Jesus stood on the mountaintop looking down upon the city, he realized that he had the Power to come down off the mountain and elevate everyone’s consciousness to his level of understanding and power. He could rule the world and be a King of Kings among a new and powerful race of people.

    Suddenly, he realized his purpose. In order to transcend the sin of Adam, he had to do what Adam couldn’t do: subdue the power and allow it to work through him–not by him. “Your will be done–not mine.” He realized that if he were to give everyone the power he had received then everyone would choose to utilize it for their own selfish reasons. Ego would rule and that wasn’t right.

    That’s when Jesus probably said for the first time, “My God why have you forsaken me?” He realized that nobody would understand Him. He knew he would eventually suffer and die and during his suffering he would HAVE to subdue the power. He had to be totally accepting of everyone who mocked him, spat at him and hurt him because they were not privvy to the Knowledge and Power he had acquired. Upon his death, absolute humility and a perfect sacrifice would be the result.

    In this context, all sinners are saved by the grace of Jesus’ death. All we must do is accept others for the transgressions we perceive them to have and to withold judgment on anyone. Love is not an emotion. It is a behavior of forgiving, understanding and acceptance–no matter what. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did?

  3. Dear Pastor Greg,
    I just finish reading this increatable report. This report is simplified and easy to understand. A cave man should be able to understand it(smile)! Just kidding here. All kidding a side, this report is one of the best reports I have read in reference to how bad things happen in this world along with the good ones or people. Pastor Greg keep on writting and explaining the word as you do so profoundly! Thanks you man!

    Brother Najonnie
    Love you in Christ,

  4. A great post. I agree 100%. I have made the same statements in one way or the other, but still it is hard to make a blind man see. That’s what God is for. Still, I think it’s also important to point out that God does not have to prove Himself in order to be more God. The dissenters try to disprove God by disproving who He is, but they have to conceded who He is in order to ‘disprove’ Him. Yet at the point they conceded who He is, they should not be looking for more proof of God. Cause as we concede who each of us are, we do not have to do anything more to show that we are.

  5. dear sir,
    why did god mention the forbidden fruit tree to adam and eve? was he insecure of their behaviour? was it a test? if he didn´t command to adam “not” to eat from the tree – the whole story would have continued under great fortune and paradise would never have dimnished / were never lost.
    we humans know: tell what to do – not what to do not.
    we need time travelers to undo the sin 🙂

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