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The Adversary

Sin and Evil

One cannot begin to chart the depths of God’s word without venturing into the cold waters of the existence of evil.  If all things that exist in this universe exist because God willed them to be, then why did God allow evil?  Why did God create Satan and why did He allow the fallen angels to exist and why sin?  How can God determine all things and control all things without being ultimately responsible for evil?  If God is a God of love, then why did He allow even the possibility of evil? These are questions that have been asked throughout history. They have probably plagued every believer that has attempted to know God’s word. In my opinion, the answer is to be found somewhere within this truth penned by Moses in this passage.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29)

But if God created all things in order to reveal the riches of His glory, did He create Satan with the possibility that Satan would one day prevent Him from accomplishing His goal?  No!  Did God create Satan with even a small chance that Satan would one day destroy Him and His purpose?  Obviously not! And how could God have already put into the Bible the demise of Satan and all of his followers if He did not have an eternal plan in mind.

“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev. 20:10)

Did Satan’s sin and fall catch God by surprise? Did the adversary somehow escape to a realm outside of the domain of God?  Can Satan run amuck as he pleases outside of God’s control?  I think not!

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13)

The thought that there could be a created being somewhere that escaped the sovereign control of the creator’s hand is scary! This idea seems to contradict the words of an arrogant earthly king who recognized God’s absolute control over all of creation.

“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth. And no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35)

God is in sovereign control of all of His creation.  The host of heaven includes Satan and all of his fallen angels. The inhabitants of earth include all of God’s earthy creation.

“Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word.” (Psa. 103:20)

God is Not the Author of Evil

“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You.” (Psa. 5:4)

The Scripture says that God hates sin (Psa. 5:5). The Scripture also says that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13), and that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8-10).  There is no greater expression of God’s love than the cross (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:8-10; 1 Jn. 2:2). But there is no doubt that God permitted evil and that He will use it to bring about His ultimate glory.  The issue is this! Is God big enough and wise enough to not be the author of sin and yet at the same time use sin and sinners in order to reveal the riches of His glory? Yes He is!

Job’s Illustration

Satan is the creature, but God is the Creator.  Satan is not eternal, or all knowing, or all-powerful. Satan will eventually be terminated forever (Rev. 20:10). As mentioned already, his is doom has already been determined. He, the anti-Christ, and the false prophet and all of the fallen angels will be banished to hell forever because God has foreordained it”  (Rev. 19:20; 20:10).

Job was a very godly man who was greatly blessed by God.  Satan along with other angels approached God. Note the conversation!

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’ The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job?’ For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:7-8)

Jehovah God, not the evil one, brought up the subject of Job. God focused Satan’s attention on Job’s righteousness.

“Then Satan answered the LORD, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” (Job 1:9-10)

Satan, the accuser, reminded God of the obvious! God had blessed Job!  But notice Satan’s suggestion.

“But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” (Job 1:11)

Satan challenged God to quit blessing Job and, if God would, Satan said that Job would curse God. God gave Satan permission to bring affliction upon Job.  Who is in control here, Satan or God?  Satan is only allowed to do that which God permits him to do!

“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.’  So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:12)

God relinquished everything that Job had into Satan’s power, but it was by permission. Satan did not have the freedom to run amuck unchecked. God permitted Satan to take what Job had but not to touch Job. Later God gave Satan permission to touch him, but still God is in control. That God is ruler over this evil angel cannot be denied. Satan is the puppet on the end of the string, and God is the puppeteer. God used the adversary in Job’s life to test him and to ultimately strengthen Job.

Joseph’s Words

Joseph was torn from his family and sold by his brothers into the hands of the Midianites.  He became the slave of Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard (Gen. 37:18-36).  He was falsely accused and placed into prison but eventually ended up as the Prime Minister of Egypt, second in command only to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:38-57).  Through all of these events, God fed the Jews while their homeland was in a famine. God eventually brought Jacob’s entire family down into Egypt in order for them to grow into a great nation in the land of Goshen (Gen. 46:1-27).

Observe Joseph’s words as he explained to his brothers the reason that all of the “bad things” had happened to him.

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come closer to me.’ And they came closer. And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.  God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Gen. 45:4-8)

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen. 50:20)

Joseph said that God used the evil of his brothers for good. Are we ever instructed in God’s word to do evil that good may come? No! Only God has the power to turn evil into good.

Jesus’ Words

“So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it.’” (Jn. 18:11)

Christ instructed Peter not to fight. Why?  Because it was the Father who had given the Son into the hands of His enemies. The Father gave the Son the cup to drink, meaning that Christ’s suffering was a part of God’s ultimate plan.

Rahab’s Testimony

God used a Gentile woman from Jericho named Rahab. Jewish spies had been sent into Jericho in order to spy it out. They would have been captured had it not been for a Gentile prostitute named Rahab.

“Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. It was told the king of Jericho, saying, ‘Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.’ And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.’ But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.’” (Josh. 2:1-4)

Rahab said that she did not know where the men were when, in fact, she did. God used her lie to preserve life and to fulfill a promise to His people.  Are we ever instructed in the Bible to lie?  Of course not! But God turned her lie into the greater good.

Moses’ Words

“But Sihon king of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land; for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today. The LORD said to me, ‘See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to occupy, that you may possess his land.’” (Deut. 2:30-32)

The only way that a reader can change exactly what this passage says is to “spin it” in a different direction. To this writer it is much better just to believe what it says and admit that we don’t understand it. It simply says that God is in control.

Joshua’s Words

“Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.” (Judges 9:23)

All of creation does the bidding of the Creator. This is how Joshua saw it, and it is how we should understand God.

Isaiah’s Words

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” (Isa 45:6b-7)

Pilate’s Words

“Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, ‘JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.’” (Jn. 19:19)

When Pilate had these words inscribed upon the cross in three different languages, he did so to mock the Jews. He meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

Peter’s Words

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 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.” (Acts 2:22-23)

Godless and wicked men put our Lord to death and yet Peter says that Christ was delivered up by the predetermined plan of God. It was God who had planned the death of His Son.

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” (Acts 4:27-28)

Peter’s words mean that the evil priests, the pagan rulers, and the unbelieving Jews and the Romans who put Jesus Christ to death on the cross all did it by the predetermined council of God.

Words of Solomon

“The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Prov. 16:4)

God is the ultimate genius and maybe someday He will reveal to us the reason for evil. But even if He never does He will remain the eternal God and He will reveal the riches of His glory upon His vessels of mercy.

“Why sin?” is one of those secret things that God did not care to reveal to us.   Maybe God allowed sin in order to magnify His grace. Maybe it was God’s plan for the light of His grace to come out of the darkness in order to intensify the light. One small candle burning in a huge dark cavern gives substantial light.  But again, God did not will His own defeat or even the possibility of defeat from the hands of Satan or any other created being. God alone is God, and God is never out of control over His creation, not even for an instant.

Maybe God permitted sin so He could destroy it forever in order that it would never have the potential to mar His eternal kingdom. We cannot speak factually when the Bible is silent!

“So it will happen in that day, that the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high, and the kings of the earth on earth.” (Isa. 24:21)

If God tells us “He will cause all things to work together for good” then God has the capacity to cause all things to work together for good (Rom. 8:28).  I assume that “all things”mean all things.