This question is timeless. It’s one that we’ve all heard many times, and it’s one that will continue to be asked until Jesus returns and puts an end to it. But how do we, as Christians answer this question? Rather than offering a simple answer, I want to break down the question itself and go from there.
The Fact of Evil in the World
When we’re trying to answer the question Why does God allow evil? the first thing we ought to recognize and point out is that God is not the source of the evil. We could mention that He simply permits the existence of evil in the world, but behind even that is an often overlooked truth that evil is simply a part of the world at large.
The Source of Evil
Understanding that evil is a part of our world, we can move on to identifying the source of the evil. Some would say that it’s satan, others would say humanity, and yet others would say money. The truth is yes, but indirectly and to a degree. It’s true that mankind has been responsible for great evil and that satan is the evil one. It’s also true that Bible says that the love of money is root of all evil. But what about the source? The simple answer is sin. It is our own unbridled sin which we indulge and sometimes even celebrate that has allowed the proliferation of evil in this world.
Answering the Question
Understanding that sin is the source of the evil in this world allows us to answer the question of why God allows it in a biblical way. 2 Peter speaks of the “delay” in Jesus’ return and the statement he makes is applicable to our question here.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
“…[God] is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
That may not seem like it really answers the question so allow me to explain my thought here.
- We have all sinned (Romans 3:23) which as we’ve already established is the reason there is evil in the world.
- The penalty of our sin is both physical and spiritual death (Romans 6:23) meaning that the only way for God to remove sin from the world is to purge the earth as he did in the days of Noah (Genesis 6-8).
- God permits evil in the world, not because He likes it, but because He loves us so much that Jesus came to die in our place to save us (John 3:16-17) from the effects of sin and death.
- The only way to rid the world of death is to kill death (1 Corinthians 15:26) and to do that the sinners causing death must also be dealt with (again, see Noah).
- Rather than destroy the earth and kill every sinful person on the planet God has chosen to be patient so that as many as possible will come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
In closing, I must conclude (as morbid as it may sound), Why does God allow evil? Because He loves us and wants as many of us as possible to come back to Him. The continued existence of evil in this world, as horrible as it is, in some ways testifies to the goodness and love of God toward humanity. If people want to end the evil in the world, then the only option is repentance and the choice to live in obedience to the God of the Bible… all other options will fail in the end as they always have.