Where Does Evil Come From?

I have a two-year-old son. At times, I give him a job to do. I say, “Son, it’s time to clean up your toys.” I’d be lying if I said he listened every time. Very often he doesn’t. But there are times when he hears the command of the father he knows loves him, and he gladly and willingly obeys. When he does, my heart fills with joy. He did that for me. He must really love me. “Thank you, son.”

I also have a garage door opener. At times, I give it a job to do as well. I press a button. My garage door opens or closes. The garage door opener gets it right much more often than my son. Every time, in fact. Without fail. And yet, when the garage door opener gets it right, there is no joy. There is no “thank you.” Why is that?

People often wonder where evil comes from. Sometimes they hear an explanation that goes something like this: When God created the universe, everything was good. There was no evil. But then a good angel chose to do evil. That angel, the devil, then tempted good human beings to do evil. And they did. They disobeyed God and ate the fruit he had told them not to eat.

That explanation, true as it is, usually leads to other questions. Why would God allow that good angel the freedom to do evil? Why would he allow him to tempt Adam and Eve? Why would he allow Adam and Eve the freedom to do evil? And if God knew all of this was going to happen ahead of time (which he did), why would he have created the universe in the first place?

Those are great questions. When God created the world, he made certain things that work like garage door openers. They do what God wants by the sheer force of his will. The planets follow their orbits. The sun rises and sets. The rain falls. Plants grow. They have no choice.

But God also created people. And he made them moral creatures, not machines. He gave them the freedom to choose between right and wrong. He wanted to love them into loving him back. And did he ever love them!

That brings me to the question that really matters. Not, “Where does evil come from?” Instead, “Where does evil end up?” The evil that Adam and Eve brought into the world remains to this day. Things like murder, rape, theft, and terrorism are a part of our world. These are blatant sins that we see every day. But also included in the realm of evil are the sins of our hearts, our secret sins, our “hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12).

Fortunately, God loves us so much that he took all of the evil that has ever taken place and will ever take place and gave it a single destination: his one and only Son. Instead of giving evil people the evil they deserve, he gave his good Son the evil he didn’t deserve: death on a cross. In exchange, evil people receive the good that they don’t deserve: forgiveness, the perfect holiness of Christ, and eternal life in heaven.

God surely does love us!

And so the truly amazing thing is not that the world has evil, but that an evil world full of evil people has so much good in it. God continues to love us into loving him back. “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

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