Why does a good God allow evil to exist?
This is one of the hardest questions Christians must answer. Quite often non-believers argue that if God is both all-powerful and all-loving, he would have dealt with evil. In fact, for many people, in order for God to be good and all-powerful, evil could not exist at all. Therefore, from their perspective, there can be only three possible explanations for the existence of evil:
1. There is no God to deal with evil.
2. God is good, but is not all-powerful and cannot remove evil.
3. God is all-powerful but is not good and will not deal with evil.
Christians realize that such arguments are insufficient. From the Bible, we know that God is dealing with evil, but he is doing so in a manner that will redeem some from the inevitable judgment that awaits the entire planet. God is dealing with evil in a manner that does justice both to his goodness and his power. Evil will be judged once and for all and death will “die” in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14)
God’s original creation was very good. The evil that entered history was a result of both angelic rebellion (Revelation 12:7-9) and human complicity against God’s rule (Genesis 3, Isaiah 24:1-6). This is an important point in the debate regarding the problem of evil. We are a big part of the problem. As sinners, humans are part of the evil rebellion that God must judge. No one is excused (Romans 3:23, 6:23). So when we complain that God does not deal with the evil in the world, perhaps it is to save us from our own deserved destruction (2 Peter 3:9).
But there is another question to ponder. Why did God create this universe with the possibility that evil could exist? Why make evil possible if God’s original creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31)?
The possibility that evil could exist lies in the necessity of free will for love to exist. God is interested in a certain kind of goodness; a goodness that can only be produced if humans are free and the possibility for wrong choice exists. God created morally free creatures. Without the freedom to choose between good and evil, there really is no relationship, no love, no intimacy with God. Humans would be mere automatons, robots, dolls - beings incapable of relating to God by choice and in love. Obviously, God created humans as free moral agents, with the capacity to enjoy his love but also with the potential for choosing to live contrary to his standards.
With the freedom to choose, the possibility for evil to occur within a perfect relational creation was inherent at the start. Adam and Eve were unique creatures, stamped with the image of the Creator, with clear parameters to guide their actions. Their disobedience defiled a privileged relationship, and they became blameworthy for joining the serpent’s (Satan’s) rebellion.
Despite the presence of evil in the world, God will bring it to a decisive end. The entire biblical story centers on how God is dealing with evil. God’s anger against evil is real, as revealed through various judgments recorded in Scripture, e.g., the universal flood during the time of Noah (Genesis 6-9). However, God not only establishes the standards of conduct for human beings, he also provides the means by which rebellious humanity can be “bought back” or redeemed. It is in the working out of this redemption plan that reveals God’s patience, mercy and grace as he allows a rebellious cursed world to continue while He calls a people for Himself and makes provision for their redemption. However, the final judgment on Satan and his rebellion is guaranteed. When the final judgment is completed, God will make a New Heaven and a New Earth where all evil will be eliminated and God’s perfect rule over his free creatures is sealed for eternity.