We have seen that God is supreme over all things and this includes the world of sin and evil. It is a great mystery why a good and all-powerful God would allow sin and evil to have a place in His world. Since He is God and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9), it stands to reason that there will be many things about God that we cannot understand. As created beings, we simply need to accept the fact that God in His sovereign power has allowed sin and evil to be present in the world.
We do know that God is not the source of evil (James 1:13). It is also clear that God is supreme in the world and that Satan and his evil plans are limited to what God allows him to do (I John 4:4; Job 1:12). It is incorrect to think of the world as a gigantic struggle between two powers of good and evil. God is supreme and cannot be thwarted by evil powers. If this were not so, Satan would destroy all of God’s people, but he cannot because of God’s protecting hand. From a purely natural or humanistic point of view, evil has an advantage over good. The person who lies and cheats can take advantage of the person who is honest and truthful. We try to deny this by making up little sayings like “Honesty is the best policy” or “Crime does not pay.” It does not take much research to find that many criminals are making crime pay very handsomely. If we teach these human sayings, our children soon discover that the only time crime does not pay is when the criminal gets caught. The other saying also gets twisted around to mean that we should be honest when it is obviously the best policy, but otherwise it may be best to cheat just a little.
The truth is that we should be honest because God has told us to be honest (II Corinthians 8:21). God is honest and, as His images, we are to be like Him. God takes care of His own and so we do not need to lie and cheat in order to get along in this world. It is very important that we understand and teach our children that God is supreme over sin and evil and that we need to put our trust in God rather than in our own ability to maneuver people. The book of Esther is a good example of this principle in practice. Haman had all the advantages of government and human powers, and yet God providentially protected His people and destroyed their enemies. He is doing the same thing today and this is the only reason the Church and Christianity survive.
God has not seen fit to explain to us why He allowed sin to enter the world but men have suggested two reasons. One is that after sin has run its course and been completely judged by God, our eternal state can be completely free from sin and evil with no possibility that it can re-enter the scene. An eternal knowledge that we have been saved from sin and the terrible ravages of sin can only make our eternal state more ecstatic (Rev. 21:4).
The other reason sometimes given is that God wants to reveal His true nature to men. There are some attributes of God that we could not know or appreciate unless we see them with a backdrop of sin and evil. These are His attributes of grace, mercy, and longsuffering as well as His attributes of judgment and justice. More space is given over in Scripture to extolling the grace of God than any other attribute. The fact that God is “gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great loving kindness” is repeated over and over in the Bible (Ex. 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 103:8, 145:8; Joel 2:13;
God in His sovereign power is even able to take the evil acts of men and Satan and reveal His power and glory through them. We read, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Psalm 76:10). We see this truth illustrated in the story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Later, when they found him in
“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me here; for God did send me before you to preserve life... So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God...” (Gen. 45:5,8).
Later he said, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Gen. 50:20).
In the teachings of Christ, there are repeated references to things that men would see as evil or harmful but that, instead, God used to His glory. When the man who was born blind was brought to the attention of the disciples, some asked the Lord whose sin had brought about the blindness. This idea that disease, sickness, and other evils are brought about by our sin is very common in the thinking of men. This was the belief of Job’s friends and they were very irritated with Job when he would not confess to sin. This view tends to creep into our thinking today and when something bad happens to us we begin to search our soul for what we have done wrong. The Lord immediately corrected the disciples by telling them, “Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3). The Lord then proceeded to heal the blind man and this miracle, indeed, showed everyone the “works of God.”
When Lazarus became sick and died it seemed like a terrible thing to his sisters and friends. In discussing the matter with the disciples, the Lord said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (John 11:4). When Jesus arrived at the graveside, He prayed to the Father and called Lazarus forth from the grave, thus manifesting the “glory of God.” As a result of this miracle, we read: “Many of the Jews who came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him” (John 11:45).
The Lord turned many apparently evil things, as a storm at sea, a hungry multitude with no food, a demon-possessed man who deliberately hurt himself and others, and many other things into opportunities to show the glory of God. We need to learn, and to teach our children, that the Lord is still doing this, and that bad times should simply draw us closer to Him.
God in His sovereign wisdom has allowed sin and evil to come into the world, but He is supreme over it. We Christians need not fear the evil of the world, or the devices of Satan, or the lusts of our own human hearts, for God is supreme over all.
Excerpted from Chapter 4 of An Introduction to the