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June 22 Today’s Reading: Psalm 74-78
The Problem of Evil
“Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” (Psalm 76:10)
The question is often raised, “How did sin and evil arise in God’s creation?” If God is absolutely sovereign, absolutely holy, and absolutely good, if he created all things good, how is it that pride was found in Lucifer’s heart? How were the fallen angels led to rebel against his throne? How was Adam seduced to sin?
Augustus Toplady wrote, “The origin of evil, whether among angels (with whom evil seems, strictly, to have originated), or among men, is the most difficult question, perhaps, and the most mysterious part of the divine conduct that ever presented itself to human investigation. Clouds and darkness are the seat of its residence; though wisdom, goodness, and justice, were certainly (in a manner unknown to us) the motives to its permission.”
Yet, the existence of evil is a problem which vexes our minds continually. We must, whenever considering such a subject, at once, as Toplady put it, “clip the wings of curiosity.” Knowing that God is not the author of sin, and that he never tempts any to evil (James 1:13-17), knowing that nothing comes to pass without his all-wise decree, the matter cannot be resolved in a more God honoring way than to use the words of our Lord Jesus as the expression of submissive faith, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
We bow before God in reverent submission, and confess, “O Lord God, we are darkness. You alone are Light. We bow to you, to your infinite wisdom and perfect goodness.” Before him of whom are all things, we acknowledge our utter ignorance. We must be content to wait until our souls are freed from the influence of evil in the world above to know the mind and purpose of God in ordaining and permitting the evil which yet engulfs our minds. Still, two things we know by divine revelation.
Everything God does, or permits others to do is to show forth the greatness of his glory (Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:11-12; Revelation 5:13). It appears, then, that the perfections of God could not have been so gloriously revealed, as they now are in Christ, had evil never been permitted to enter the universe. God all-wise ordained and permits sin and evil that he may use it and overrule it to his own praise. Clearly that is the declaration of God the Spirit in Psalm 76:10. Had sin never been permitted, how could the justice of God be known in punishing it? Had evil never existed, how could the wisdom of God be seen overruling it? Had sin never entered the world, how could the goodness of God be made manifest in pardoning and forgiving it? Had there never been any wickedness in God’s creation, how could the power of God be revealed in subduing it?
Without question, all evil in the world is included in the “all things” which work together for the everlasting good of God’s elect (Romans 8:28-30). The fall of our father Adam, and the entrance of sin into the world by him, was one of the countless links of providence essential to Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion for the redemption of his people. To suggest, as many ignorantly do, that the fall was not purposed by God is to assert that the incarnation, birth, life, death, resurrection, and glory of Christ, and the salvation of his people by virtue of his obedience as our Substitute is all, from beginning to end, the result of chance, luck, or blind fate.
We know better. All who are taught of God know that God’s purpose is always accomplished, his will is always done. We rejoice to bow before you, our great God, and rejoice to know, our heavenly Father, that of you, through you, and to you are all things. To you, O great God, our God, be all honor and glory forever and ever! — “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain!” Amen.