Back to Course

Wondering What to Believe?

  1. Does Nature Give Proof of God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  2. Can I Hear God's Voice?
    8 Digging Deeper
  3. Who is God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  4. Who Wrote the Bible?
    8 Digging Deeper
  5. Can I Trust the Bible?
    7 Digging Deeper
  6. Is there a Right and Wrong?
    7 Digging Deeper
  7. Why Does God Allow Evil?
    9 Digging Deeper
  8. Who Am I?
    7 Digging Deeper
  9. What is the Meaning of Life?
    7 Digging Deeper
  10. Does God Love Me?
    5 Digging Deeper

You may have thought of moral evils like murder, hatred, lying, thievery, greed, drunkenness, lust or sexual abuse. Perhaps you thought that events like hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions are “evils.” Whatever you thought of, they probably involve pain, injury and hurt, and maybe even death to human beings.

Perhaps we need to define what we mean by “evil.” A web site like “” defines “evil” as both an adjective and a noun. As an adjective it means “morally wrong or bad,” “immoral,” or “wicked.” It also means “harmful, injurious.” A third definition is “characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering”; “unfortunate”; “disastrous.” As a noun, “evil” means that which causes these results or the state of being such.

Biblically speaking, moral “evil” is that which is opposed to God, that which is the opposite of God, and that which is contrary to God. Evil does not exist as a separate entity except in its relationship to God or good. All goodness originates in God and is from God. Anything that opposes God is evil. Evil denies that God exists or contradicts or perverts what God says.

Moral evil is disobeying God and the results of disobeying God. Jesus spoke of “the evil one” (Matt. 6:13) indicating that there is a spiritual person who is the mastermind and driving force behind all moral evil. That person is named Satan and is called “the devil,” as in the temptations of Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11). This is the one who brought destruction on the family of the righteous man Job and who inflicted pain and misery on him (Job, chapters 1 and 2). Evidently, before creation of the heavens and the earth an angel rebelled against God’s leadership and led a cadre of other angels with him in opposing God’s will. These evil personalities are referred to when the Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus Christ is seated in the heavenly places “far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given” (Eph. 1:21). Paul wrote that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens” (Eph. 6:12). The apostle Peter wrote that Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him” (I Pet. 3:22). This evil personality is our adversary who “is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (I Pet. 5:8). Eventually, he and all his evil cohorts will be destroyed by God (Rev. 21:10).

God is not the author of evil. He cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone to do evil (Jas. 1:13). Satan is the ultimate origin of all moral evil. Jesus called him “a murderer from the beginning” and “the father of all liars” (John 8:44). Where does evil within us or by us originate? James gives us the answer: “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (Jas. 1:14-15). Sin is disobedience to God. It is doing acts, speaking words or thinking thoughts contrary to the will of God.

A different situation exists with what some call “evil” that they see in natural and historical events. When God says, “I create evil” (Isa. 45:7, KJV), he is not referring to moral evil (Jas. 1:13-15) but to the destruction under his control in nature or in history. Instead of the word “evil,” the NKJV and the ESV read “calamity.” The NASB reads “disaster” and the NRSV reads “woe.” There is only one God and everything is completely under his control. He created nature and natural forces and the way they operate (Gen. 1). The laws of nature are the laws of God. He created heat and cold and when they collide storms, hurricanes and tornadoes result. Some call these things “bad” or “evil” because they destroy life and property. However, they are in a different category than moral evil. By birth, life and death we are part of the created order. Jesus referred to the sun rising on the evil and the good and the rain falling on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt. 5:45). The forces of nature affect everyone. The disciples of Jesus experienced this on the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 14:23-33) and the Apostle Paul did, too, in the storm in the Mediterranean Sea (Acts 27). Either through miracles or nature, God controls the universe. The miracles performed by Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus and his Apostles give plenty of evidence of this.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we live on a blighted planet (Gen. 3:1-24; Rom. 5:12-21). All of us, and nature as well, are subject to decay and bondage until Jesus returns (Rom. 8:19-23). At that time, he will defeat Satan and all the forces of evil (Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:7-10). He will bring in a new dwelling place called “the new heavens and the new earth” where “death, decay and passing away” will be no more (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-8).