Foundation of Evil
Up to this point we have covered where and when sin entered into our fallen world, what sin actually is, how sin works, what free will is, who the devil is, the power that he has over us and the power he has in this world. In this article, we are going to take all of this information and use it to explore the idea of how all of these things work together to create the evil of this world. Just so you know, we don’t and can’t know why bad things happen to people. That is for God and God alone to know, but we will look at the foundation of evil. We have a lot of information to cover in this article, but in order to get the full effect then I highly suggest reading the three previous articles from this series. The articles of this series are as follows:
Three Fundamental Truths About Evil
There are few things in this secular world that you could consider fundamental truths. What I mean by this is that there are a very limited number of “things” that you can count on happening, with certainty, in your life. Many of you have probably heard the saying, “the only thing you can count on is death and taxes.” Well, if you live apart from Jesus then that is very close to being true. As believers we know there are a few other things that are true. One thing that I know for sure, without doubt, is that I will go to heaven when my time here on Earth is completed. That, however, is my fundamental truth and not necessarily something that is true for everybody. I can say that because not everybody will accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Something that we can guarantee will happen to each one of us is hardships, trials and/or testing. Jesus tells us this in John 16:33 where He said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” We are going to have tribulation which means we will have great trouble and suffering during our lifetime. Some other fundamental truths were hinted at in the opening paragraph of this article which includes what I consider the three fundamental truths. These are that sin exists in this world, we have been given free will and that this world is controlled by the devil. These three truths lead us to some of the reasons why bad things happen to good people. In the following sections we will cover each one individually and then look at how they work together to form evil.
When it comes to understanding why bad things happen to all people, good or bad, then we have to understand and accept that sin has a part in all of it, but maybe not in the way you may be thinking. If you are thinking, ‘you sin and therefore you are punished,’ then you are wrong. That may have been the way the world worked prior to our current covenant, but that isn’t the way things work today. We currently live under a state of grace which means that Jesus died as a sacrificial lamb for all of our sins; past, present and future. Sin no longer has that kind of power in our lives, but that doesn’t mean sin is safe or blameless when it comes to bad things happening. Sin still plays a part because of what happens when you sin. With every sin committed, you cause separation between yourself and God. We have already discussed in the article, “Where Did Sin Come From?” how Adam and Eve’s original sin caused them to be banished from the garden of Eden and removed from the presence of God. We also discussed in, “What is Sin?” how Cain’s sin also led him to being banished from God’s presence. The point is that when we sin, no matter how big or small, it creates separation between God and ourselves. That separation will remain there until we repent of our sins. When we repent, that separation is removed, but until we repent we are vulnerable to attacks from the devil. Bad things happen to us through the works of the devil, but that doesn’t mean that our sin is necessarily the cause for those bad things happening. Sin just opens the door that allows the devil to work in your life. The good news is that as soon as we realize the devil is working on our lives, we can order him to leave and as long as we are in Christ then he has no choice but to obey.
As a reminder, free will is the ability to make decisions in our lives based on our own wants and desires, separate from what God wants for us. Our free will makes us want to walk away from Christ. It puts in us a desire for anything and everything before Christ. God has the power to make us do whatever He wants us to do, but that isn’t what God wants. If God wanted that kind of control over us then He never would have given us free will to begin with. I’m not necessarily saying that free will is evil, but the fact that we have free will gives us the option to choose evil over good. Free will can be applied to this question of why bad things happen because of its very nature. Scripture tells us that God knew us before we were even formed in our mother’s wombs, and many believe that He even knows the exact moment when we die before we are even born. How is this even possible? It comes from the concept of God’s omnipresence and omniscience. These two combined can be explained as God having the ability to see each and every day of your life as if it were the present. This means that He can look at our past as if it were the present, and the same can be done for our future. He has the ability to see our entire lives at one time. This is true because God doesn’t live by the earthly laws that govern us. A thousand years for us is like a second for Him.
I’m not saying that God knows every decision that we will ever make in our lives before we make them, but there are some that do believe this. This belief is referred to as predestination. I personally believe that we do have the ability to make our own decisions, but our future will change based on each decision we make. God knew us before we were even conceived, so I’m pretty sure He can make a fairly accurate guess to what our decisions may be. If you make a decision that somehow surprises Him, He is going to know how that decision affects your future instantly. At that point, He could change other things in and around your life to try and bump you back on the path that He has designed for you. We will cover this more in depth in our next article. C. S. Lewis used an example of a mother who constantly told her children to clean their rooms. She eventually decided that she was tired of constantly telling them to clean their rooms so instead tells her children that she wants them to keep their rooms clean and that it was on them to make sure that happened. She didn’t say that it had to be clean every night, just that it was on them to keep it clean. She laid out her expectations and her children accepted the terms. Then, one evening, she goes up to their rooms and sees that it is a total mess. Well, this is still within her will for her children because her will has multiple levels. On one level, she wants her children to keep their room clean. On another level, she wants them to do it without being told. Their messy room still fulfills her will for them because it is one step in the process of learning. They will eventually learn that having a clean room is better than having a dirty room and develop a system to keep it clean. This same concept applies to how God looks at and treats us. He has an ultimate will for our lives, but the path that we take to get there may not be straight or even easy because we have the free will to say no. Bad things are going to happen, but they may be required to bump us back into God’s ultimate will for us.
The devil is a single, centralized, evil character that we can point to and say, ‘he is the reason why bad things happen to good people.’ This isn’t exactly wrong, but I do believe that we give the devil a lot more credit for evil than he deserves. The true root of evil is sin, but the devil is the active part of evil. Let me explain, if you remember from our article, “What is Sin?,” we discussed that sin dwells within each one of us and crouches with anticipation to attack whenever we make a mistake. That sin comes from our hearts, but the devil, who exists outside of our bodies, has room to move in whenever we create separation between God and ourselves through sin. The devil can then use lies and deceit in order to cause you to doubt God’s plans and purpose for you. It is that doubt that lures you away from Christ and into sin. Jesus said Himself in John 8:44 that, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus also said in John 10:10 that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” From this we see that the devil is a liar, thief, murder and wants to destroy us. In our last article, “Who is the Devil?,” we looked at the devil in the book of Job. We see in that story that the devil has the power, if granted by God, to inflict serious harm in our lives. This means that the devil plays a major part in why bad things happen to us. Even with that said, the devil can’t be blamed for every reason why bad things happen.
We have looked at the three truths about evil which are sin, free will and the devil. These three together are what make up the foundation for evil in this world. They work together to draw us away from God and His good and perfect will for our lives. We also looked at a few reasons why something bad may happen to you or somebody that you love, but the real answer to why is that we don’t know. We can speculate, which is what I have been doing, but the short answer is we don’t know. It could be for one of the reasons listed in this article or maybe a completely different reason. What we do know, and the reason I chose to write about the foundation of evil, is to highlight that all three can and will work together in order to bring pain and suffering into your life. I do truly believe this, but it isn’t the only reason why something bad may happen to you. You may have noticed it in a few places in this article, but that reason is God Himself. This idea, however, deserves an article all to itself. I only mention it now so you know that I didn’t completely overlook that topic. Even though God may have a hand in the reason why bad things may happen, He is a good and perfect God. It is this foundation of evil that actually causes the pain and suffering in this world. To conclude, let’s remember the words of Moses from Deuteronomy 31:6 which says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”