PSALM34 08 evil VT shooting
Why Does God Allow Evil?
Psalm 34:8 B 4-22-07
On the occasion of VT mass murders and Local Teacher killing Live-in & her 4 y.o. son
The university professor challenged his students with this question. "Did God create everything that exists?"
A student bravely replied, "Yes he did!"
"God created everything?" The professor asked.
"Yes sir", the student replied.
The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil."
The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.
Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question, professor?"
"Of course," replied the professor.
The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"
"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?"
The students snickered at the young man's question. The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (‑460 F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat."
The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does."
The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."
Finally the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?"
Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.
To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."
The professor sat down. The young man's name ‑‑ Albert Einstein
If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? Why do we have war and murder, atrocity after atrocity, famine after famine?
Why do innocent children die at the hands of cruel men? Why do the ravages of war tear families apart in death and imprisonment?
Why did a someone choose to set a bomb off last week that killed over 200 people in a market place, . . ..Why did a young man only 23 years of age senselessly take the lives of 32 innocent people and why did a young teacher in our school system take the life of a young woman and the life of a 4 year old? Why, why, why?
Most, if not all of us have asked this question when faced with pain, suffering, or tragedy.
And while I don=t pretend to know everything there is to know about this, I do intend to at least attempt to give us some direction in our thinking about this very important issue.
And I hope that we will leave here today with a clearer perspective not only about the problem of evil and suffering, but more importantly, a clearer perspective of the sovereignty of God.
There is a line of questioning that goes like this:
! A good God would destroy evil.
! An all‑powerful God could destroy evil.
! Evil is not destroyed.
! Therefore, there cannot possibly be such a good and powerful God.
And on the surface, to someone not grounded in Scripture who has experienced some form of tragedy, this would seem logical. After all, if God were good and all‑powerful, wouldn=t it stand to reason that He would destroy the evil that plagues our world?
Then why doesn=t He? Could it be that He is not really a good God?
Let me read Psalm 34:8:
‑Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.‑
Many other verses tell of the goodness of God. In fact, the whole Bible is an outline of God=s goodness in His dealings with man.
Could it be that He is not all‑powerful? I don=t think so. Listen to Isaiah 40:25‑26:
‑ATo whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal?@ says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.‑
I would venture to say that the Creator of the Universe is plenty powerful, wouldn=t you?
BUT, did you know there are some things God CANNOT do?
Wait just a minute, Preacher! Didn=t you just get done saying God is all‑powerful?
Yes, but hang on. Let me list a few things God cannot do, and you will see where we are going in a bit.
First, God cannot lie, according to Numbers 23:19. And James tells us that God cannot be tempted, nor can he tempt people to sin.
In other words, God cannot do anything out of His character. The reason God cannot lie is because He is truth. He cannot sin or tempt to sin because He is pure.
He also can=t undo the past, create a square triangle, or make what is false, true.
So what do we make of all this? God is good and He is all‑powerful to perform any and all things within His character, and yet we have evil. Why?
LISTEN CLOSELY TO THIS NEXT SENTENCE, BECAUSE IT FORMS THE BASIS OF THE ANSWER, AND I WILL EXPLAIN IT IN MORE DETAIL AS WE CONTINUE. THIS IS GOING TO BE A LITTLE ON THE THEOLOGICAL SIDE OF THINGS, SO PLEASE TRY TO TRACK WITH ME.
GOD COULD NOT ELIMINATE EVIL WITHOUT ELIMINATING THE POSSIBILITY OF ACCOMPLISHING OTHER GOALS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO HIM.
GOD CREATED HUMANS IN HIS OWN IMAGE, CAPABLE OF HAVING AND SUSTAINING A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. BUT TO REALLY BE IN HIS IMAGE, THEY HAVE TO BE CAPABLE OF FREELY LOVING HIM AND FOLLOWING HIS WILL WITHOUT BEING FORCED.
BUT, CREATURES WHO ARE FREE TO LOVE GOD MUST ALSO BE FREE TO HATE OR IGNORE HIM. AND WHEN PEOPLE ACT IN WAYS OUTSIDE THE WILL OF GOD, GREAT EVIL AND SUFFERING IS THE ULTIMATE RESULT.
GOD IS CAPABLE OF DESTROYING EVIL B BUT NOT WITHOUT DESTROYING HUMAN FREEDOM.
Professor Norman Geisler has an interesting take on this, that I like. He says that the free choice of humans is the source of evil. He used the analogy of rust. Rust does not exist on its own B it is part of the metal. The same is true with evil. It does not exist on its own B it is part of our makeup as a result of the fall.
So, the reason God doesn=t destroy evil is because He would have to destroy US as well.
B. Our Response.
Well, that=s all fine and dandy. So God doesn=t want to destroy us by destroying evil. I think I can track with that.
But why is there so MUCH evil? Why do we live in a world in which we can=t even let our kids listen to the evening news because of the horrible events taking place around the world?
HERE=S MY ANSWER. AND I WANT YOU TO PAY CLOSE ATTENTION, BECAUSE THIS IS GOING TO GET A BIT TECHNICAL AND I DON=T WANT TO LOSE ANYBODY. READY?
I DON=T KNOW. How=s that? I DON=T KNOW.
But while I may not be able to pin‑point reasons for the why there is so much evil, that doesn=t mean reasons don=t exist.
Please allow me to read Isaiah 55:9:
‑AAs the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.@‑
Our children don=t always understand the reasons behind what we allow or don=t allow them to do. It would be unrealistic for us to expect to understand all of God=s reasons for allowing all that HE does.
SO HOW DO WE RESPOND TO WHAT WE SEE ALL AROUND US? I CAN THINK OF SEVERAL.
First, we can reflect on what we just discussed. God has His reasons for allowing what goes on.
Second, we can allow ourselves to experience the emotional pain involved and express it.
The book of Psalms records numerous instances where the writer is crying out to God about his suffering, and the injustices he sees. In fact, there are almost as many psalms of laments as there are psalms of praise and thanksgiving.
And it is interesting to note that sometimes sadness and praise are mixed into the same psalm.
We are encouraged to pour out our hearts to God. And we can be sure that He hears and He understands. Remember, He knows what it is like to experience grief and suffering, including the loss of a loved one.
A third response is to focus on one of the greatest truths in Scripture: that even in severe trials God is working.
Looked at Rom. 8:28 please;
‑And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who Love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.‑
This does not mean that evil is somehow good, but that even in suffering, God is at work to bring about His good purposes in our lives.
What are some of these purposes you may ask? Great question!
For one, suffering can provide an opportunity for God to display His glory; to make evident His mercy, faithfulness, power and love in the midst of painful circumstances.
Suffering can also allow us to give proof of the genuineness of our faith, and even serve to purify our faith.
Severe trials also provide an opportunity for believers to demonstrate their love for each other as members of the Body of Christ who Abear one another=s burdens@ as mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:26.
These are just some purposes in suffering, but there are others.
A fourth response could be to look at all instances of pain and suffering as some sort of cosmic conspiracy against you. This is not a healthy response.
Another unhealthy response is to react with cynicism and bitterness toward God, rejecting Him and His sovereignty in the affairs of men.
C. God=s Ultimate Triumph
We’ve seen that God has not destroyed evil because He would have to destroy us. WE HAVE LOOKED AT SOME RESPONSES TO EVIL AND SUFFERING. BUT THERE IS ANOTHER ASPECT TO ALL THIS. THERE IS ANOTHER RESPONSE. AND THAT RESPONSE IS TO LOOK AHEAD.
You see, even though God won=t DESTROY evil, He will ultimately DEFEAT evil. And what a glorious day that will be, amen?
I’ve read the end of the book! Satan and his deceptions will be done away with forever, and we will no longer be at the mercy of a world gone mad, because we will be in the presence of God forever!
The problem of evil is, indeed, a problem, and not one to be taken lightly. But it doesn’t have to leave us in defeat and bitterness.
We can take it with the understanding that our good and allCpowerful God is also all loving.
He has our best interests at heart. And He sees the bigger picture.
There=s the story of the man flying his plane above a mountain road. He looked down to see a car trying to pass a semi truck. However, the man in the car could not see around the truck to pass due to the dips and curves in the road.
The pilot could see that there were no other vehicles in the area, and that the car would be in no danger in passing the truck.
All he could do was sit up there and reflect on the fact that from his vantage point he could see what the man in the car could not see. Because he had a bigger picture.
IT IS THE SAME WITH GOD. HE SEES THE BIG PICTURE.
Trust Him in the present and look forward to the future. If you have not trusted Him with your future I encourage you to do so. If you have trials in your own life I encourage you to bring them to the Altar. God sees the big Picture and He is in control.