God, Free will, and Evil (Genesis 2:15–3:7)

How is evil possible if God is all-knowing and all-powerful?

Why does evil exist at all? Free will seems neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for evil. So why does it exist?

I. GOD AND GOODNESS

Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Job 40:1-8 Then the Lord said to Job, 2 “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.” 3 Then Job answered the Lord and said, 4 “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more.” 6 Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said, 7 “Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me. 8 “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?

Job 42:1-4 Then Job answered the Lord and said, 2 “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” 4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’

A. God is goodness (existence)

Habakkuk 1:3a Your eyes are too pure to approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor.

B. Everything God created has goodness

Gen. 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

C. God created humans to be morally good

Genesis 1:27-28 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

Ecclesiastes 7:29 “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”

II. FREE WILL AND EVIL

Philemon 14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.

A. Moral evil is possible because of a good power (free will)

Acts 17:26-28a and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist,

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned

B. Natural evil (evil suffered) is the result of moral evil

Genesis 4:8b And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

Isaiah 45:7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.

Isaiah 45:7 (KJV) I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

III. GOD USES EVIL FOR GOOD ENDS

Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

Acts 2:23-24 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

Romans 5:3-5 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

A. God permits evil to manifest His Glory

Hebrews 1:3a And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,

Luke 24:26-27 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Romans 9:22-23 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

B. God permits evil so we can freely love Him

Romans 5:20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more

Luke 7:47 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

C. God permits moral evil to prove it wrong and defeat it

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.

1 Peter 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Hebrews 12:2  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

D. Evil is necessary to produce the best world achievable

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