So often do we hear this…why is there evil in the world? Why does God condemn people if He is love? Why is there hate, and darkness, and bad people and sin? we then see manipulations and mental gymnastics to try and explain things away. All too complicated, if you ask me.
The answer is right there, staring us in the face, right at the beginning of the Bible.
How do we know love, except in the context of love versus hate? Or salvation, except if it is contrasted with damnation? Or how about goodness, if not set against the bad? If the negative does not exist, we have no possible way of grasping the positive, and vice versa.
That is why we read:
Gen 2:9 The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The very object that describes life, the “tree of life” was there, right next to the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil“. The contrast is right there, from the beginning of creation, as a part of life. So when we become mortal, and exist in a state of sin in the fallen creation, this is as a result of: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Is there any possibility that Adam and Eve did not already know that God was good? Clearly they were in a state of moral innocence, since they did not know the difference between good and evil. If they did, then maybe they would have been able to resist the temptation. Instead, we read “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise…”, they went ahead and succumbed, because they desired to be wise, to know the contrasts inherent in creation and morality. And just as we inherited that original sin, we also inherited the ability to see both good and evil.
Did evil exist before then? Yes, it did, since the temptation came from a fallen angel that had already done the ultimate evil, namely rebel against God, which we are reminded later is the unforgivable sin. So this was not the start of evil, but the start of our ability to see the contrast between good and evil.
As we read on, we see “Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.“. Mankind could at that point see and understand the full counsel of God and His otherworldly creatures, and had no more excuse, and no more reason to not come into judgment, as Satan and the other fallen angels had. Since we understood now, and that understanding came from being disobedient, we entered into judgment.
To this day we retain the ability to distinguish between good and evil. But as we have seen, that wisdom came at a price, and not only that, good has no meaning if we don’t also recognize evil. As a result, God judges all of us because we understand good and evil, and we know not to do evil. God is just, but He is also loving. He knows that if all of us are adjudged guilty, we are all damned as fair punishment for knowing good from evil, and doing evil. By His grace and love He then delivered His children by sending the second Adam to negate the punishment.
That sacrifice, that negation, is meaningless if not seen against the alternative, the judgment and deserved punishment.
2Th 1:8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
2Th 1:9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
That is also why we read God uses both good and evil to accomplish His purpose, for how are we to understand His mercy, grace, love and glory if not graphically contrasted against judgment, our fallen nature and sin, God’s anger and the humiliation of Christ on the cross? We would simply have no concept, and be like Adam and Eve, desiring to be wise but not have that wisdom. We simply would have no understanding of the magnitude of Gods love and power, we would remain ignorant of His greatest characteristics. God’s creation would not know God. God would not be glorified.
That is why God is glorified in all that happens, as it all points to God and His character. Therefore, don’t be confused or alarmed about what happens in this temporal state of existence regarding evil, it is all to God’s glory.