Bible Truth Examiner

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STUDY 7: GOD’S PERMISSION OF EVIL

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

EVIL is that which produces unhappiness; anything which either directly or remotely causes

suffering of any kind – Webster Dictionary. Our subject not only questions the purpose regarding

human ailments, sorrows, pains, weaknesses and death, but goes back to their root cause – sin –

and its remedy. Since sin is the cause of evil, its removal is the only method of permanently

curing the affliction.

 

One may ask, Why did God permit the reign of evil? Why did He create our first parents perfect

and upright, and then permit Satan to tempt them? Why did God place the forbidden tree among

the good? In summary, Could not God have prevented all possibility of man’s fall?

 

Undoubtedly, God could have prevented the entrance of sin, but that He did not, means that its

present permission is designed ultimately to work out some greater good. Indeed, His purpose is

to manifest the perfection, majesty and righteous authority of His law, and prove to men and

angels the evil consequences resulting from its violation. God can do no wrong, so He could

only choose the wisest plan for His creatures, even though we might temporarily fail to see the

depths of His infinite wisdom.

 

Evil Permitted for a Wise Purpose

 

The Scriptures declare that all things were created for the Lord’s pleasure (Revelation 4: 11), the

pleasure of dispensing blessings and of exercising His glorious attributes of character. Though

He permits evil and evildoers to play a part for a time does not mean that He has any sympathy

with evil, but His wisdom sees that it may be made a lasting and valuable lesson to His creatures.

 

Every right principle has a corresponding wrong principle, for example: truth and falsity, love

and hatred, justice and injustice. We distinguish these opposite principles as right and wrong by

their effects when put in action. When the results are beneficial and produce order, harmony and

happiness, we call it a right principle; and the opposite, which produces discord, unhappiness

and destruction, we call a wrong principle. The results of these principles in action we call good

and evil; and the one capable of discerning the right principle from the wrong, and choosing to

live by the one or the other, we call virtuous or sinful.

 

The Creator has granted human beings the intellectual ability to discern between right and wrong

principles, called the moral sense, or conscience. By it we recognize God and His righteousness

as good. By it Adam discerned unrighteousness to be evil, even before he knew all its

consequences. Over six thousand years of degradation by sin has erased much of the original

likeness, so man is now more or less bound by sin. The lower animals, although possessing some

intelligence, lack this moral sense.

 

Knowledge of Good and Evil gained by Experience

 

God could have made mankind with only the ability to do right, but he would have been merely

a living robot, not a mental image of His Creator. Instead, He first acquainted His creatures with

good in Eden. Afterward, as a penalty for disobedience, they received a severe knowledge of

evil, that they might forever know the exceeding sinfulness of sin. The descendants of our

original parents first obtain their knowledge of evil, and will not fully realize what good is until

they experience it in the Millennium.

 

God could have impressed upon Adam’s mind the evil results of sin, to have deterred him from

it, but He foresaw that an actual experience with evil would be the best and most lasting lesson.

God desired an intelligent creature in His own likeness, whose loyalty and righteousness would

be based upon an appreciation of right and wrong.

The principles of right and wrong have, and always will exist. All intelligent creatures in God’s

likeness must be free to choose either, although only the right principle will forever continue

active. When the evil principle has served its purpose, it will forever cease to be active, and all

submitting to its control shall forever cease to exist (1 Corinthians 15: 25, 26) (Hebrews 2: 14).

The final results will be greater love for God, and the firm establishment in everlasting

righteousness of all that shall profit by the lessons God is now teaching through the permission

of sin and its evils.

 

God not the Author of Sin

 

Let us distinguish between God’s permission of sin, and the blasphemous charge that He is its

author and instigator. The latter contradicts the Scriptures, for if true, it would strip away man’s

liberty of will or choice, an important feature of his likeness to his Creator.

 

God seeks the worship and love of only such as do so in spirit and in truth, which is why He has

given man a liberty of will like His own, and desires him to choose righteousness. God foresaw

man’s course, but did not hinder him from tasting sin and its bitter results. However, He began at

once to provide a means for his recovery from his first transgression by providing a Redeemer,

able to save to the uttermost all who would return unto God through Him. To this end – that man

might have a free will and yet be enabled to profit by his first failure, his disobedience – God has

provided not only a ransom for all, but that all will be given the knowledge and the opportunity

to become reconciled to Him (1 Timothy 2: 3-6).

 

Although the penalty for sin is severe, it is the natural result of its indulgence. Though God can

sustain life as long as He sees fit, it would be morally impossible for Him to grant everlasting

life to a sinner. Such a life could only become a source of unhappiness to itself and to others.

Life is a favor from God, and only the obedient will maintain it everlastingly.

 

God was under no obligation to bring us into existence, and was not bound to grant us a trial, or

to bless us with everlasting life. Even our present dying life is a favor, even if there were no

hereafter.

 

Death, not Eternal Torment, the Penalty for Sin

 

Many believe that eternal torture is the penalty for sin, however, God’s Word indicates that the

blessing of God to His obedient children is everlasting life in perfection, and the penalty for

disobedience is the opposite of life – death. Only a few statements in the New Testament appear

to teach it, yet those statements are either symbolic or among the dark sayings and parables of

our Lord, not understood by the hearers (Luke 8: 10). The Scriptures, however, abound with

literal statements that death, absence of life, is sin’s penalty:

 

Romans 6: 23: “The wages of sin is death.”

 

Ezekiel 18: 4: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

 

Some suppose that God was unjust in allowing Adam’s posterity to share in his condemnation,

but that all should have been granted an individual trial for life. But God’s Word indicates that

His procedure was the best and most favorable for the human family.

 

The key is that as all in Adam shared in the curse of death, so all in Christ will share the blessing

of restitution; the Church being an exception (Romans 5: 12, 18, 19). Instead of Adam, Jesus will

be the new head, father or life-giver for the race, and He offers to adopt all of Adam’s children

who will accept the terms of His New Covenant, that they may by faith and obedience come into

God’s family and gain everlasting life.

 

The Church has been on trial for life during the present Gospel dispensation, but being

imperfect, the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to her by faith; so she has been judged,

not by actual works, but by intentions. When the world will come on trial for life during the

Millennial dispensation, perfect obedience will be expected, but not until physical perfection is

reached (by the close of that Age). Then absolute moral perfection will be expected.

 

But would this not be giving some of the race a second chance to gain everlasting life? The first

chance was lost by Adam and all of his race, even though unborn. So it will mean a second

individual chance for Adam, but a first individual opportunity for his descendants.

 

God’s Wisdom shown in the Ransom

 

God’s infinite wisdom in not testing each member of the human race separately is demonstrated

in the procedure He has chosen. Had the first trial been an individual trial and one-half of the

race had sinned and been individually condemned, it would have required the sacrifice of a

redeemer for each condemned individual. One unforfeited life could redeem one forfeited life,

but no more. The one perfect man, Christ Jesus, who redeems the one fallen Adam (and

ourselves in him), could not have been “a ransom [a corresponding price] for ALL” under any

circumstances than those of the plan which God chose.

 

Suppose one hundred billion human beings have lived since Adam, and one-half of these had

sinned. It would require all fifty billion of obedient, perfect men, to die in order to give a ransom

[corresponding price] for all the fifty billion transgressors. By this plan, death would also pass

upon all.

 

Another objection to that plan is that God could not ask such a sacrifice from the fifty billion

obedient sons, without offering them some special reward. And if the same reward were given

them that was given to our Lord Jesus, namely, to partake of the divine nature, it would mean an

immense number on the divine plane, which the wisdom of God did not approve. Furthermore,

these fifty billion would all be on an equality, and none of them chief or head, while the plan

God has adopted calls for only one Redeemer, and then a “little flock” to share His name, honor,

glory and nature, even as the wife shares with the husband.

 

Those appreciating this feature of God’s plan, which, by condemning all in one representative,

opened the way for the ransom and restitution of all by one Redeemer, find in it the solution to

many perplexities. Evil will forever be extinguished when God’s purpose in permitting it shall

have been accomplished. And eventually all the obedient will gain a full appreciation of the

sinfulness of sin and the nature of its penalty, death; the importance and value of the ransom

which our Lord Jesus gave; and restoration of the individual to favorable conditions under which

he will have a full and generous trial, before being judged worthy of the reward (lasting life), or

of the penalty (lasting death).

 

Blessings resulting from the Permission of Evil

 

Surely great blessings will result through the permission of evil, which probably could not have

been otherwise realized. Men will be benefitted to all eternity by the experience gained, angels

will be benefitted by their observation of man’s experiences, and all will gain a fuller

appreciation of God’s character of wisdom, power, justice and love, as manifested in His plan.

 

During the Gospel Age, sin and its evils have been “used” for the discipline and preparation of

the Church. Had sin not been permitted, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and His Church, and their

reward of the divine nature, would have been impossible.

 

The law of God must ultimately govern all of His intelligent creatures, and that law can be

summed up in one word, Love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all

thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself”

(Luke 10: 27). When all of God’s purposes have been accomplished, His glorious character will

be recognized by all of His intelligent creatures, including His wisdom in the temporary

permission of evil. Though this is now seen only by the eye of faith, soon the restitution of all

things will become a reality.

 

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