WHEN EVIL SEEMS TO ECLIPSE OUR VIEW OF GOD, BELIEVERS WILL DO WELL TO REALISE THEIR PLACE IN SPIRITUAL WAR AND THEIR VICTORY IN JESUS CHRIST, SAYS KURUVILLA CHANDY

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here’s the English saying, “God’s in his heaven; all’s right with the world”. They are actually lines from a drama in verse that Robert Browning (1812-89) wrote. The play was entitled Pippa Passes. A young girl wanders innocently through a village, attributing kindness and virtue to the people she passes. She sings as she goes, her song influencing others to do good.

If God is in His heaven, why has our world gone bad? After every act of creation God looked at what He had made and expressed satisfaction that it was good (Gen. 1:4-25). How do we explain the existence of evil in the world God created good? As the Roman statesman and philosopher Boethius (AD 480-525) said, “If there is a God, whence proceed so many evils? If there is no God, whence cometh any good?”

FREE TO FALL

The biblical answer to the question as to how evil came into God’s good world is that the Fall took place (Gen. 3:1-24). In the Fall, the one earthly creature who was to image God went against God, and opened the floodgates of all the evil that has come upon the world. In the biblical view all evil is consequential, the outcome of rejecting God’s created order.

God didn’t stop the Fall from happening because it was the creature in His image and likeness who was revolting against Him. That’s why God would not prevent it. God had made humans to image Him in being able to choose for themselves. God wouldn’t take back what He had given, even though the creature was using the gift of God to revolt against God who had given the gift. And so, the Fall happened. The good that God had created was cast aside.

The biblical thesis is that evil (both physical/environmental and moral) occurred as a consequence of humans breaking away from God. Disasters, disease, pain and death are as much the outcome of the evil choice made at the beginning, as the injustice, exploitation, oppression, and tyranny. Our first parents, the representative forerunners of the human race, broke covenant with God.

It is humanity’s broken relationship with God that has caused all the evil that we see everywhere. Evil is a moral and spiritual issue.

THE IDOLATROUS CONNECTION

When the dots are all connected, the only conclusion is that evil is essentially whatever is against God. That is why so many times people are described as doing “evil in the eyes of the Lord” (Deut. 4:25; 17:2; and several passages in Judges, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles). In all these passages the Bible is talking about as “evil in the eyes of the Lord”.

Idolatry is the essence of sin. Idolaters set God aside by making their own gods. The Bible clearly teaches that idols of things that are mortal cannot represent God, who is immortal (Rom. 1:21-23).

According to the Bible, all human depravity can be traced back to the fact that God let idolatry run its course. God let people have what they had chosen:

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…God gave them over to shameful lusts…exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones… abandoned natural relations…inflamed with lust for one another…since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity…they invent ways of doing evil…they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Rom. 1:24-32).