Why does evil exist?

Written by John Benza

faith_evilexistsIf God exists, why is there evil in the world? You know, this is a difficult stumbling block and question for many people. The simplest way to look at this question is to examine God’s nature and his desire for mankind. Look at the logic. God loves us and wants us to love him back. And how could we love him back unless we have the freedom to not love?

God could have made us like robots who do nothing more than say, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” But we’d be forced to do that and that wouldn’t be real love. Love is a choice. And if you have a choice you have to be able to choose not to love and that in itself is the nature of evil. Evil is choosing not to love. So when God gave us the freedom to choose, he gave us not only our greatest blessing, but he also gave us our greatest curse because we can choose to do right or choose to do wrong.

The reason there’s evil in the world is not because of God, but because God gave us the freedom to choose. Now the potential for love outweighs the existence of evil, because you see, evil is only going to exist for a short time, but love is going to go on forever. And all of the suffering and all of the death that we see in the world today are the result because man has chosen to make wrong choices.

God could have taken our freedom, but He didn’t. I hope you’ll use your freedom to choose God. God is very real. He loves us very much and the events that break our hearts break his heart. When God created the world it was perfect and beautiful. He created man and woman and gave them free will. Our choices brought sin into the world. The perfect world he created was ruined, but God didn’t abandon us to our choices. He sent redemption in the form of his Son. He sent a savior to bring us hope.

There is reason to hope, even now. The Bible tells us that God promises he will never leave us (Heb 13:5). He can make something beautiful out of ugly circumstances. He can bring good out of what others meant for evil (Gen 50:20). He still offers hope and peace to each of us today.

You can know peace tonight.

There is a line in an old hymn that says “Let there be peace in the world and let it begin with me.” Whether that means peace on a worldwide scale or peace in your own heart, it can begin with you right now. John 3:16 tells us that God loves the world so much that He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for us so that everyone who believes in Him can have everlasting life.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord, I need you now more than ever. I want your peace of mind. In the midst of my broken heart and my pain, I turn to you. Jesus, I ask you to forgive my sins and to give me your peace and comfort. I open the door of my life and put my trust in you.

If you sincerely expressed that prayer to God, you can know that you have a personal relationship with Him. He will be your comfort in these troubled times. God promises us “peace that passes understanding” in other words peace in a world that doesn’t make sense. You can know peace even while the world is in turmoil. God does not change. Ever.

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22 Responses to “Why does evil exist?”

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Dian, I am so glad to hear that you have been chosen by God to follow Jesus. What a wonderful gift to know that we have been chosen by God in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). But that predestination does not negate our free-will. That is a tension that is clearly presented By God in the whole Bible. Adam and Eve were chosen to be the first humans and to bear the Image of God. But they were given a choice to follow God or not and they chose to follow their own path. Thus we all inherit that choice and are born with rebellious spirit towards God. Abraham was chosen to be the recipient of God’s covenant blessing but He was given the choice to follow God. He was declared righteous not because of God’s choosing Him but because of his faith in God’s promise (Genesis 15:6) The people of Israel were God’s chosen nation as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but when they were brought to the Promised Land of Canaan Moses challenged them, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) That reality of being chosen by God but given the freedom to choose is presented again and again throughout the Bible. Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live.” (John 11:26) Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) The Revelation of Jesus Christ ends with these words, “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17) The offer of salvation is given to any who will choose to receive it.

    We must hold both of these truths in balance because to take away either one is to misrepresent the plan of God for humanity. Dr. Ironside gave this great illustration in his Ephesians commentary:

    “Here is a vast host of people hurrying down the broad road with their minds fixed upon their sins, and one stands calling attention to yonder door, the entrance into the narrow way that leads to life eternal. One it is plainly depicted the text, “Whosoever will, let him come.” Every man is invited and no one need hesitate in coming to Jesus. No one needs to say, “Well, I am not sure that I am the elect, so it would be useless for me to come, for the door will not open for me.” Friends, God’s invitation is for whosoever and it is sincere and honest invitation. “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Like Moody said, “The whosoever wills are the elect and the whosoever won’t are the non-elect!” As he listens to the Spirit of God and becomes saved, he says, “I am going inside. I will accept the invitation; I will enter that door,” and he presses his way in and shuts it behind him. As he turns about he finds written on the inside of the door the words, “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.”

    So Dian, there is indeed a God who has chosen before the foundation of the world and our salvation is the result of that choice of His. But we also have chosen to receive that free gift and everyone in the world has been given that choice. If they choose to accept Jesus’ offer of salvation they will be saved, but if they reject it they will continue down the path to destruction because that is the path that they have chosen.

  • Dian says:

    Jamie, I am a believer of Jesus Christ. I was not born Christians, but by God’s grace I was chosen to be one. I have nothing against God’s love. And yes indeed it will be useless to try to get to the shore by our own strength. But Free will is something that us human love to exaggerate. There’s no free will, other wise, man would not be sent down to earth and cursed because eating the forbidden fruit. There’s no free will, because the descendants of the 1st Adam, has no choice but to be born in sin. What exist is the law of the universe, in which God Himself has to follow, not that He can not change the law, it’s just that He put it there, and He follow through. That is why He has to come down as Jesus to save us, by following all the law that He, Himself made. There is no free will, because if there is, He would not have to save us from our self. There is no free will, because He is the one who makes all the options with all the consequences. Again, this is just my opinion, I have no theologian background, I don’t talk talk face to face with God, no, I am just a curious mind trying to understand.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Dian, the proof that free will is not an illusion is the reality that so many people still reject Christ. Jesus does not stand over us with a gun and threaten us with death. That perspective ignores the fact that we are already on a path of destruction. We made our choice to rebel against God and the consequences of that choice is eternal separation from Him and all the goodness that He provides. That choice was made by the human race and we are now all born into a path that leads to death. The beauty of Jesus is that even though we continue to rebel against Him and say we want nothing to do with Him, He still pursues us and has launched a rescue effort to save us from ourselves.

    A better picture is a ship wreck in the middle of the Atlantic. We are already in the water and are going to drown. Jesus launches the life boat to come and rescue us and bring us to safety but there are people who don’t like to think that they need anybody’s help. In their minds they would like to make it to shore on their own. So they choose to refuse His help and continue swimming the hundreds of miles to shore in sub-zero temperatures. Jesus cannot force them into the boat but can only continue to follow along and give them further opportunities to realize the futility of their efforts and make the choice to allow Him to save them.

    All of our good works, generosity, religious fervor, moral codes, meditations, spiritual enlightenment are all efforts to swim to shore on our own. Even though it is clear that none of those things can deal with the sin in our lives still people refuse to accept their only hope for salvation which is Jesus’ lifeboat. It is only when we give up our own efforts to save ourselves and accept His offer of rescue that we are able to avoid the path of destruction that we are on.

    The reason that God has allowed evil to continue is because people are still trying to rescue themselves and He does not want to see them be destroyed. To end all evil would mean ending all those people’s hopes of rescue. That day will come, but in His mercy He has put that off so that you can choose to be rescued and then help point other people to the lifeboat of Jesus and help them to give up their own tragic attempt to swim ashore and accept Jesus free gift of salvation. When Jesus does come again, that will signal the end of anyone’s hope for rescue and the beginning of the rescued ones celebration.

    So have you ended your attempts to swim to shore and allowed Jesus to pull you into His lifeboat? Or are you still thrashing trying to keep yourself afloat?

  • Dian says:

    Just my opinion, I think free will is just an illusion, there’s no free will. Its not choices when you told to choose live or death, it’s a threat. It’s just like a person who being held hostage and told to choose to become Moslem and save or choose to proclaim Jesus and being killed. I’m still pondering on why God still let evil exist even after Jesus? So what is the reason for Jesus to come again?

  • Leon says:

    “Christian,” remind yourself that ‘There is no good and evil’ when your car is next stolen or a friend is badly beaten. True love has ?nothing? to do with selfishness.

    The doctrine of universalism is utterly useless: we are not all the same. If we literally became one, you would be the same as the worst rapist, murderer or vandal. The lowest common denominator is unhuman.

    We have differences, & the key to success is putting those differences to good use, rather than pretending that they don’t exist or by rating one as better or worse than another.

  • Leon says:

    The fact that Joseph was not the genetic father of Christ is important, as God had placed a blood-curse on his ancestors.

    If you reckon that his human nature was too good, consider that Ruth is in his maternal blood-line… & Ruth’s mother-in-law was…?

    God is well able to include an immense amount of important detail in a very few words.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Ah ha Tony! You are identifying some of the complexities of the “simple Good News of Jesus Christ”. Trying to understand how Jesus could be fully human so that He could represent all of humanity, and at the same time be fully God to sacrifice Himself in our place, is no easy task. We can say the words and believe it with all of our heart but there is no way our limited minds can comprehend how that all is possible. The Immaculate Conception equally is beyond our grasp. But let me point out that Mary was willing to be used by God as the mother of Jesus; she did say “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” (Luke 1:38)

    The forgiveness of humanity is a little more complex than God saying, “I forgive you.” There is still the penalty to be paid for our rebellion against Him. The natural consequences of our rebellion against God is spiritual death; in other words, never being able to enter into His presence. It is like a blob of darkness hanging in the middle of a fully lit room. It is impossible! So when Jesus died (and he did actually die!) on the cross He was there representing all of humanity. Now He had never rebelled against God and so He did not have to die spiritually. But He willingly allowed all of our rebellion to be charged to Him. Just imagine: all of the evil acts and thoughts that have ever existed in the human race were suddenly transferred to Jesus. Only God could have stood up to that kind of weight of evil. And when He paid the consequences for our rebellion we were then given His perfection. So now we are able to exist as the light of God in His presence. Jesus proved that He had set us free from the spiritual death we were all destined for by coming back to life. Now anybody who wants to experience the amazing gift of living forever in the presence of God only has to accept that Jesus died in their place and paid the penalty for their rebellion against God and make the commitment to follow Jesus. Unfortunately so many people choose not to accept this amazing gift. They want to continue to live life on their terms and trust in their own attempts to pay for their rebellion, which in reality is just more rebellion right?! Since Jesus said “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to God except through me” (John 14:6) any way that someone tries that isn’t Jesus is rebelling against God’s way. So even though Jesus has already paid the penalty for people’s rebellion, they turn their back on it and go their own way. It is such a tragic waste!

    Now Tony I know you think all of this was unnecessary, that you could have come up with a much simpler solution. To be fair, Jesus’ life was more than just about paying the penalty for our rebellion (as wonderful and as huge of a task as that was). He was also here in Earth to reveal God to us in a very personal and intimate way. He showed us a perfect example of how to live in relationship with God. I am sure you could have suggested some other ways He could have accomplished those tasks as well, but I am going to trust that as God, He knew what He was doing and did it in the best way possible. If you ever become God over your own universe than you can do things your way :) (sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Frank. Thanks for joining in the conversation and sharing your perspective. I think there are a lot of people who would agree with the points that you have posted here. And yet I find the idea that Good and Evil being subject to the whims of a changing society less than satisfying intellectually and experientially. What you are saying is that theoretically a society could evolve to consider the random taking of another’s life as Good and acceptable; a place where the weak and defenseless like children could be killed at the whim of a stronger person without any consequence or reprisal but instead be praised for their “Goodness”. While I agree that a society could choose to allow that, I don’t agree that we could still call that “a Good society”. The fact that whenever a human life is taken in any society there needs to be a justification for it points to an inherent awareness of the preciousness of human life. The examples you gave of justified killings (capital punishment, war, terrorism, genocidal extermination, etc) all demanded a justification on the part of the ones directing the killing (a court of law’s sentence, a declaration of the need for war, a cause, or an accusation of why a people group are less than human). If there were no inherent sense of right and wrong within humanity there would be no need for a justification for these killings. Beyond that I think everyone recognizes within themselves the value of human life. So our sense of what is Good and what is Evil goes beyond what our society decides is morally acceptable.

    As far as God being a fabrication of the human mind I again don’t think that satisfactorily explains the universal desire within humanity for purpose, hope and connection; the desire to be a part of something bigger and better than ourselves. Even Carl Sagan’s description of humanity’s connection to the universe through our being made of ‘star stuff’ reveals a desire to be a part of something beyond one’s mere existence. Erwin McManus talks about the three universal cravings of the soul, meaning, destiny, and belonging, which God has placed within the human heart so that we would seek those things which can only be fully satisfied through relationship with Him.

    Have you experienced that desire for meaning in your life; that there is a hope that things will be better; that you would find love and acceptance?

  • Tony says:

    “because He loves us so much that He gave His life so that we might live”

    Only, because he was in fact god, he was not in fact dead at all, because god can’t die…so not much of a sacrifice really.
    Then again whey didn’t he just forgive us, why did he have to go through all the rigmarole of impregnating a virgin against her will (is rape evil?), so she could give birth to him so that 32 years later he could be nailed to a piece of wood in order that he could then die, comeback to life (though he hadn’t really died)and forgive us for things that we hadn’t actually done, but what are fathers had done…I mean he made these stupid rules up surly there was a simpler way to have forgiven us, I forgive people all the time it’s really not that complicated.
    For someone who created the heavens and the earth in 6 days that’s pretty long winded.

  • Frank says:

    Good and Evil do not exists as entity’s, they are entirely man made constructs as is God, they are not immutable absolutes as some would like to think,
    They are merely the words we use to describe what we as a society find morally acceptable and morally unacceptable.
    It is a view of the world that is completely relative and one which can both change over time as our society evolves and be viewed differently depending on how beneficial or otherwise that being described is to a particular faction.
    For example the taking of human life is considered evil when perpetrated in an unlawful manner, however state sanctioned murder such as executions and wars are considered perfectly OK…thought those killed on the opposing side may consider it an evil act.
    Thousandths were killed in 9/11 surly an evil act? millions where killed
    during the Nazi Holocaust, surly a very evil act? can you conceive of how utterly evil a race of people must be who would commit murder numbering in the tens of millions? what a godless despicable lot they must be huh?

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Ejes, there was once a great and powerful king. He was wealthy beyond measure, he was unrivaled in power and military might, and his fame spread through all the land. This king was out riding through his kingdom and saw a young milk maid caring for her cattle in the fields. Instantly his heart was pierced by Cupid’s arrow and he knew that this was the woman who would become his queen. But how should he win her love? If he were to approach her as this great wealthy king with banners waving and trumpets blasting she would be overwhelmed. Likely she would agree to his proposal but how could he be sure that she was responding in love and not greed or duty as his subject? He realized that if he were to actually win her love he would have to remove the trappings of his royal office and come to her as just a man. To woo her as would any farm hand would. Allow her to get to know his true character and discover the depth of his love for her. He knew that true love could never be forced on someone, or purchased, or demanded. True love could only be given if love could also equally be rejected.

    That is God’s heart for you as well. He wants your love. He created you so that you and He could enjoy the intimacy of that shared love. But for your love to be true He also had to give you the option not to love Him. He could not force or buy or conjure your true love. You have to give it willingly.

    And as we have seen through the history of the world, many have chosen not to give their love to God. Instead they have rebelled against the purpose for which He has created them. That rebellion has resulted in the evil we now see in the world. It is not that God has created evil. It is our rebellion against His love that has created the evil of this world.

    The good news is that there will come a day when evil will be dealt with once and for all. Everyone will have been given their opportunity to choose to either love God or rebel against Him. Those that have chosen to love God will be received into His presence to live forever in His love. The Bible talks about this as the Great Wedding Feast. His Bride has given her love to Him and like all great stories, they will live happily ever after. But those who have rejected Him and chosen to love themselves, to trust in their own ability to create a ‘happily ever after’ will be given what they have asked for: an eternity separated from God. The Bible describes that as a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth”; a place of eternal torment.

    I have chosen to give God my love and I can tell you it is true. Being in a relationship with God makes every day have meaning and purpose. His love is complete in every way. That’s why I spend time telling other people about it because I know that if they choose to receive God’s love and to give their love to Him they will experience life as it was meant to be. And they will have the hope of living in His love for all of eternity.

    If you want to know more about God’s love and how you can receive it for yourself go to http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/discoverpurpose You will never regret it!

  • ejes says:

    I read your little blurb there; but it doesn’t make sense. If god is truly all powerful then creation without evil, but with the choice to love him or not, is not beyond his power – so, why would god create evil?
    If (as someone else stated) evil is actually absence of god, this is STILL admission of some limitation on gods part!! why couldn’t god (all powerful and without any limitations) create a world where absence of god is not evil but something else, I don’t claim to know what that is but i am not all powerful either, in fact, why would there have to be anything that isn’t absent of god?

    To me, it seems like the problem of evil proves that; either god doesn’t exist, isn’t all powerful, isn’t all knowing, or isn’t loving… for why worship something who cannot stop, doesn’t want to stop, or is unaware of the terrible things happening to his creation?

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Chayambuka munyaradzi. Michael Horner has a good discussion about evil and God http://powertochange.com/students/suffering1/?section_id=10 I think the best way to describe evil is, “that which opposes God or is opposite of God” From a Christian point of view, God is the picture of goodness. His nature is good and anything that is good is measured to His character. Therefore it makes sense then to say that evil would be those things that are opposite of God.

    God did not create evil but just as darkness is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat, so evil is the absence of God. God did create humanity with free-will which presupposes the ability to choose evil rather than good. If God were to take away all evil He would be removing humanity’s ability to choose. So it is not that God is overpowered by evil but that humanity continues to choose evil or chooses that which is opposite to God.

  • chayambuka munyaradzi says:

    the first issue is to define[1] what evil is? does god create evil if so why? is god overpowered by evil? if he is not why he leave them survive

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    1 Timothy 4: 1-2 Now the Holy Spirit tells us in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings from demons. 2 These people are hypocrites and there consciences are dead. I won’t even bother responding to Mark and Greg’s comments as if you can’t back up your claims without evidence it just shows that you have not taken the time or effort to back your claims. One hundred years from now when none of will be on this earth we will be in one of two places heaven or hell and when you stand before God you will never be able to say I never knew about you. I have shared the love of Christ as he does love you and will forgive you if you ask him for forgiveness as I don’t have hate towards your misguided views and I hope one day you will find peace. God Bless

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    These comments are directed towards Mark,Greg,and Steve. I was watching some of the memorial services on September 11 and the tragedy that occurred. I was thinking why would God allow such terrible tragedy. I read your comments and it has become crystal clear to me why God did not protect the innocent people and allowed Bin Laden to take the lives of thousands of innocent people and shake the United States to its very core. It is quite simply when a nations people like yourselves looses respect for God he will leave the nation. Bin Laden wanted people to loose faith in God and his objective was for people to turn away from Christ and by reading your comments he achieved this objective.

    I challenge the three of you to go to Saudi Arabia,Egypt,Jordon, or any of the safe middle eastern countries and defaecate the Koran on a Muslim website. My friend who immigrated from S Saudi Arabia informed me he never went to the parks on the day they beheaded the Muslims for speaking evil about the Koran. I highly doubt you would have the courage as when your life would be taken for mocking the Koran then you wish you would have studied the book a little deeper and not been as perverted as you are towards the Bible and Christ. You can choose to believe whatever you wish to believe however to mock someones faith shows how shows an incredible amount of disrespect you have for the millions of soldiers who have protected your rights so you can spew your bigotry. The millions who died to save our free doom and many of them believed in the God you mock probably would wonder if there sacrifice was in vain.

    Steve perhaps you should study the Bible a little deeper as the verse you quoted is in the Old Testament which was before Christ came to earth as when Christ died and rose again the Old Covenant which was part of the Old Testament became null and void. In response to your quotation of the Bible their is another passage that predicts people like you which is found in

  • Mark says:

    Apparently we’re all God’s children, so I guess Jesus isn’t that special lol

  • greg says:

    jesus ate tons of babies when he was president, it says so in the bible, its a good thing that dumb book is fiction…

  • Steve says:

    I also heard god just loves children when they make fun of bald people lol 2 Kings 2: 23-24 lmao! Here so you guys dont have to go look for it: “And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them”
    god really sounds like the good guy in this passage lmao

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    I LOVE the Lord with all of my heart and am glad that i can make the right choices that God give me to do. If i make a mistake He is right with me to help me out. I love Him so very much and do not want to make an error. Yes! I am not perfect and that way I get to know what is right and wrong. My earthly parents taught me that too. When I did wrong they disaplined me to do it right the next time I came accross that situation.

  • Ellie says:

    There will always be people like Christian who challenge God with their own consciousness, not realizing that It is this very consciousness which Chooses to separate them from their Creator, our God. Lose yourself and you shall find yourself….. Or as said in Proverbs, “lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths..”. We did not create ourselves, therefore we do not belong to ourselves. We are created,”creatures”, owing our every breath to our one Creator, who in His wisdom, has chosen to give us the eternal life we ourselves are incapable of attaining. And this is why He IS Jesus incarnate—because He loves us so much that He gave His life so that we might live–eternally with Him. But even this must be chosen by us.
    The article speaks the truth.

  • Christian says:

    This is all wrong! There is no write and wrong… There is no good and evil. Evil exists because humans exists in a divided world! True love is love for oneself. True love is seeing oneself in another. True love is the unity of the whole world. This page is just another one of those things that keep us from realizing this truth. The truth is…we all need to unite and become one…one consciousness…this is the truth!

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