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What Does the Bible Say About...Why There Is Evil?

If God created everything, then why did he create the devil? Why is there evil? I understand the Adam and Eve story, and they basically screwed everything up, but why does he take it out on all of us? That seems a little short-tempered for someone who should be forgiving of mistakes. Why would Lucifer want to revolt if there was no evil?


These are all very good questions. The problem of evil in particular is the subject of most of three books of the Bible and part of a fourth. (Those are Job, Habakkuk, the Revelation, and part of the Psalms.) The problem has resulted in many lengthy books, but I will try to give the scriptural basics here.

Why did God create the devil? Why did God create you or me? God said of his creation, including man, that is was very good (Gen 1:31). If man (or the devil) was created good, then what went wrong? The devil, man, angels all were created, apparently, with free will. This is understandable. Suppose you programmed your computer so that every time you started working on it it would tell you, "You look great today. You are such a wonderful person." How long would it be before you stopped paying attention to the praise? We are created to show God's works (John 9:3). For that to have meaning to God, we must have free will. Unfortunately, that also means that we or the devil may choose not to glorify God. It's wonderful not to have been created a robot, but sometimes the responsibility is very heavy.

You ask why Lucifer would want to revolt if there is no evil? Again there is the matter of free will. Evil is not the opposite of good. It is the choice not to do good. When Satan made that choice, evil came into being. It was not created by God, but God allowed the possibility of its existence in His creation. As to why would "Lucifer want to revolt," that is not a biblical concept. The only mention of Lucifer in scripture is Isaiah 14:12-16, and that is talking about the king of Babylon, not about Satan. There is no record in scripture of a "revolt," unless every choice not to obey God can be classed as a revolt.

Now to the matter of the sin of Adam and Eve and whether God does "take it out on all of us." That sin, all sin, has certain consequences (Gen 3:14-19). Those consequences sometimes go beyond the person sinning. Thus a woman who is a crack addict may give birth to a baby who is also a crack addict. The child has no sin, but suffers the consequence of someone else's sin. The same is true of all those sober people who have been killed by drunk drivers. God has built in certain consequences to sin, and sometimes they affect other people. It's not that He personally takes it out on all of us. The fact is, we all sin and must suffer certain consequences.

That may, at least in part, answer the question of evil, but it doesn't fully answer the question of suffering-why bad things happen. Surely not everything can be called the result of somebody's sin. In John 9:3 Jesus indicates that a man born blind was not that way because of anybody's sin. Why, then, was he the way he was? The scripture says it was "that the works of God might be revealed in him." Perhaps one aspect of this is what John Clayton says in an article on The Problem of Human Suffering, so that we can relate to others who may suffer, sometimes because of sin. If I experience the death of a parent I can relate better to one who experiences that. If I have a retarded child, I can relate to parents of retarded children, and show them how God can still be glorified in that situation. Because Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, there is suffering for everybody. But God can work even that suffering for good for His children.

I hope this response has been, at least in part, an answer to your question. God is good and does not wish any of His creation to suffer. But God is also just, and must punish sin. He must also show sin to be sinful, and sometimes that must be seen through the results of that sin.