2006-09-27 - Theodocy
John 8:44, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is not truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies."
I know the topic heading for today sounds like the title to the next Stephen Spielberg thriller, but it is really a doctrinal term that has to do with the problem of evil. I am going to put the excuses series on hold for another week and look into this, in what I hope will be a practical manner.
The issue here is that if God is good, loving, and sovereign, then why does evil exist? Why do pain, and sorrow, and suffering, and death exist, when the Creator of the world is shown to us in the Scriptures to be a loving, merciful Lord? One response is to admit that we don't know everything. Not everything has, in the wisdom of God, been revealed to us, and we defend the view that God is loving and merciful in the midst of our pain and difficulties, by humble submission to His will and in the end, by silence. "Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?" (Romans 9:20)
However, this is far from intellectually satisfying. If, as Augustine, we equate God with that which is good, then where did evil come from? Again there is no perfect answer, but the answer probably lies within what we would call God's permissive will. While God is not the author or maker of evil, He has allowed evil to exist. God may permit something to exist and is not bound to hinder it. Sin itself is not properly something that exists, but is rather the absence of goodness and uprightness.
Sin is an ataxy, or a disorder that is the result of the fall of man and was introduced into the world by Satan, who told Eve that she would not die, but rather in eating the fruit would become like God, knowing good and evil, and in our nature by Adam, who as our representative disobeyed God in eating the forbidden fruit. Sin and evil are not a part of the God's creation of the world. God pronounced the creation "very good" (Genesis 1:31), but that was before the fall into sin through the deception of Satan (John 8:44, Matthew 15:19).
God has no hand in acting and approving of sin (Romans 3:5, 9:14). We can attribute a permissive, restrictive, and even disposing relation of sin to God, but this does not make Him the author of sin. For example, the disposing will of God can be seen in His using the evil and injustice of Joseph's brothers to save many people, Genesis 45:8.
To use an example that may or may not be helpful, consider a halting horse. The rider on the horse is not the cause of its halting, but of its going. The rider does not work the motion of the horse to halt when he wishes it to go. So God is not the cause of our sin, or halting from righteousness. He may permit sin to exist and flourish, but he is not the cause of it.
The indwelling sin in the believer and the evil in the world should deepen the sinner's dependence on God, and aid in his/her efforts to purge both themselves of sin, and the world of injustice. Christians do endure the sufferings that evil brings, but they are to use it toward their sanctification and growth in their dependence upon God. In God, we find righteousness, holiness, purity, mercy, faithfulness, kindness, and love. That is the hope of the Christian, and we long for that day when sin, and evil, and wickedness will one day be no more - and God will restore order to His creation. (Revelation 7:14-17, 21:1)
Soli Deo Gloria,