Why Does a Loving and All-powerful God Allow Evil to Exist?
In truth, this is one of the toughest questions a Christian will ever have to answer. If God is all good and loving, why does He not want to eliminate evil? The Bible tells us that we serve both an all-loving and all-powerful God who desires to and has the power to eliminate evil. So why doesn’t He?
There are two practical ways to look at God’s possible responses.
1) God could take away our free will and prevent us from sinning and as a result remove all the evil from the world. However, in doing that, God would have to remove all free will and all freedom to choose from each of us, and we would be nothing more than robots that have been previously programmed to do good and only good. The outcome of that option is that we would not enjoy the privilege of choosing right from wrong, and at the same time God would not have free worshippers that choose to follow His will. Instead, God created Adam and Eve sinless and gave them the ability to choose good or evil. They could have chosen not to sin, but they did not; instead they chose to disobey God and sin. The result of that sin is evil. (Romans 5:12)
2) God could intervene at the last moment every time evil is about to happen. In other worlds, when something bad is about to happen or a sin was about to be committed, God could step in and stop it. While this initially sounds attractive because this would prevent major tragedies, it still does not ultimately solve the problem of evil because in this scenario God would let the ‘small’ sins and ‘little’ evils continue in the world and only prevent the big ones. In the same way, when people suggest that God step in and restrain someone from doing some large evil, we are most often talking about someone else who we deem as more sinful or more evil than us. However, this is a completely self-serving response because we would choose the little sins that please our own flesh but then expect God to protect us from all consequences. As a result, we are still sinners who would eventually die-just without the terrible consequences.
God did not choose either of the above choices. God did not choose to make us robots; instead He gave us free will to choose, and we all choose to sin. God did not choose to remove all the harsh sins because we are still sinners. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) But, God chose a different way—He chose to create people with a free will. People chose to disobey Him and sin, and as a result, we live in a world with all the pain, suffering and evil.
However, God loved us so much that He sent his one and only son to die on the cross for us. (John 3:16) In dying on the cross, Jesus did pay the ultimate price for our sins so that we can be forgiven.
The Apostle Peter put it this way, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:21-24
Those words, “by His wounds you have been healed” speak of spiritual healing. Sin broke our relationship with God, but Jesus’ death on the cross provided a way of salvation and forgiveness for all the evil we commit.
So what about the evil in the world? Will it ever be removed? Yes, the Bible tells us there is coming a day when God will in fact remove all death, crying and pain from the earth.
The Bible says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:3-4
Truthfully, we all want that to happen and we want it to happen soon. However, the moment God returns and removes all sin from the world, the opportunity for freely sinning humans to receive His son will be over. Part of God allowing sin to linger in the world is that God wants sinful people to be saved.
That is why Peter reminded us, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
So, how do we live in the meantime? We must realize that God’s activity in the world does restrain evil from being much worse. At the same time, God has given each of us the ability to choose between right and wrong and good and evil. God says the same thing to each of us that He said to the children of Israel before they entered into a Promised Land that was filled with good and evil.
He said, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the LORD is your life.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
If you find yourself in the midst of pain and suffering and are struggling to go on or figure it out, remember Jesus offered these words of comfort by saying,“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30