You don’t have to look very far to see evil in the world. It can be overwhelming when you think about it: school violence, terrorism, racial struggles, personal tragedies, illness and disease.
So why does God allow evil to run rampant? If God is good, why does He allow evil to exist? Why do bad things happen to people? The Bible gives us some answers to these questions.
How Evil Began
You’ve probably heard the story of Adam and Eve. God created these two humans in His own image. He placed them in a beautiful garden, and He would come and talk with them face to face.
They had a great relationship; He was their Father, and they were His children. And like any good Father, He gave them rules to live by for their own benefit. But God didn’t want “robots” for children; He wanted them to desire a relationship with Him on their own, so He gave them free will to choose.
In the meantime, Lucifer (a former angel in heaven), caused a rebellion in heaven and persuaded one third of the angels to join him. God expelled them from His presence, and they came to earth to cause trouble.
What better way for these renegades to get back at God than to attack those He had created in His image? They (now known as Satan and his demons) tempted the humans to question God and disobey God’s rules.
Unfortunately, Adam and Eve fell for Satan’s deception and chose to disobey God. Because of humanity’s choice, sin, death and evil entered the world.
But the good news is this: God loves His creation, so He formulated a plan to rescue humanity by offering His Son Jesus Christ so that we could be free from sin and death if we accept Him. Despite this great plan, we still have an enemy.
The Fight Isn’t Against People
It’s easy to think that we are fighting against evil people like terrorists, thieves or predators. But Ephesians tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The truth is many times there are unseen spiritual forces at work that are influencing and deceiving people to do evil. Many people believe that there are angels among us who do good and help people; likewise, there are demons (fallen angels) who work evil among us.
Jesus promised his followers that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus overcame death and sin when he willingly offered Himself as the perfect blood sacrifice.
Evil still exists in the world, but when we accept His salvation and choose to follow Jesus, we too can overcome evil. For followers of Christ, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” So even though there is evil and trouble in the world due to Satan’s schemes, Christ living in us is greater yet.
Jesus “appointed twelve [disciples] that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” So it’s not that God permits evil but that Jesus’ followers are called and authorized to be His agents on the earth to combat the plots of the devil.
Overcome Evil with Good
The Bible commands Christians “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” It is clear that believers must fight back against evil by doing good. This is how believers avoid being overcome by evil.
Followers of Christ are also commanded “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” If we want the evil one to leave us alone, then it’s our job to first submit ourselves to God and then resist Satan. Only then will the devil flee from us.
So how do we submit to God? Submit means to lower or to yield to authority. Simply put, we must do things God’s way. He’s the boss, and He makes the rules. Remember, He’s a loving Father who wants what is best for His kids.
And how do we resist the devil? Resist means to defeat an aggressor by exerting force in the opposite direction. So when Satan tempts us to lie, gossip or steal, it’s our job to stand against that enticement and choose God’s ways instead. When we see injustice, violence or suffering, choose to stand against it and promote God’s truth.
Submitting to God and resisting the devil are actions that we are responsible for. If we don’t do these things, then the devil won’t leave us alone, and evil will overcome us.
Followers of God Don’t Need to Fear Evil
One of the benefits for those who are in covenant with God, who have chosen to accept and follow His Son Jesus, is living life free from the fear of evil.
Psalm 91 promises “If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Again, this is a choice on our part. Will we put our trust in money, power and self-effort? Or will we put our trust in God to provide and protect as a good Father? If we will choose to put our confidence in God and draw close to Him, He will guard us from evil.
Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the most famous psalms of King David. It encourages us: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Peter reminds us that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” If we accept what Jesus did for us, we are righteous in God’s eyes, and He hears our prayers.
So the question isn’t “Why does God allow evil and suffering?” The question is: “When will God’s people fully submit to Him, resist the evil one, and overcome evil with good?”
~ Guest post by Jennell Houts
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