The Problem of Evil

The problem of evil is a universal question, haunting our steps. Throughout history, a trail of destruction is found in its wake. Until our modern time, the moral definition of evil was a fundamental given. What we are seeing in society now, particularly in the West, is a redefining of evil and morality. A major shift in thinking has taken place.

In terms of personal behavior, the term evil is no longer used. Such a view is considered too constricting for human freedom. However, in one sense we are absorbed with the issue more than ever. It seems strange that on the one hand we want to remove this actuality and live as we please, but on the other we have become obsessed with it. It comes down to where our focus is.

In our day, evil is understood in terms of “the other”. We see offense in other people, other groups, other societies, other mindsets or views. We are quick to point out the other person as wrong. This is true in almost any way that exists of objectively or subjectively viewing others. As we do so, we assume in ourselves that we are among those who are good. The extreme behavior of the tolerance movement is driven by this energy, but no one is immune. It is a human heart matter.

A sliding scale of our own human perception, with others as a comparison, is our view of evil. We feel “at least I (or we) are not as bad as they”. The most often repeated words concerning personal behavior are “do not judge me”, championing freedom as the new moral banner, yet we are preoccupied with “the other” and what judgment they deserve. The wrongs of "the other" are condemned as vile. If our own are acknowledged at all, they are buried in victimhood causation.  

God does not have a limited or reduced view of good. The Bible says “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Here Scripture describes the bottom line human condition. This truth is hard to admit in ourselves. It makes us uncomfortable. We run away from this idea or strive to live up to a code or philosophy in order to try to cover it.  If the good somehow outweighs the bad, we assume we will be OK. Here is the common notion we are not so bad, which fails to understand what true good is. True good is in relation to the source of its reality, which is God. This is not relative. Words such as holy, pure, and righteous define true goodness.

Deep within, we know we do wrong. We know we are imperfect, hurt others, disappoint our own selves, and fall short of good. When we are truthful with ourselves and look within as we stand before a holy God, we are confronted with the fact that denial or redefining moral reality only adds more emptiness to our sad state. Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the human mind pushes awareness away. We deny with all our energy.

Why does any of this matter? God has condemned and judges evil. The term in the Bible most often used to define evil is sin. It is its source and driving energy. Sin is not defined as solely in the other, but in each and every one of us, separating us from God and affecting those around us in uncounted ways. Thankfully, though the judge’s gavel has been brought down on depravity, the sentence does not have to be despair. We can find joy, release, and true freedom. The verdict against our wrong does not have to be an ending; it can lead to us to the love of God.

As we are confronted with our own sin, we are invited to fall to our knees and receive Jesus Christ. In the purest unfathomable love, He paid for it in full on the cross. He lived the perfect life we cannot, the flawless sacrifice for us. Christ rose in victory over sin and death, bringing us true life. Great is the love God has for us, that though we are sinners, He gave His only Son.

Where once there was enmity and separation from a holy God in our sin, we can find tender mercy and connection. Where there was hopelessness and darkness, we find rejoicing in beautiful unmerited grace. God, who at the same time as being utterly and awesomely holy, receives us with open arms in the gift of His Son. What is more, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to us. Thus, we find we who are sinful are now clothed in the goodness of Christ.

What wonderful love. Whatever our regrets and failures are this very moment, there can be a new day in God’s undeserved love in the Savior.

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