By Tim Rowe
God gets such a bad rap, (pardon the slang), in the world today, as He gets blamed for every evil thing that happens. God gets blamed for disasters that kill people such as tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. God gets blamed for sicknesses and diseases that ravage people’s bodies. God gets blamed for nearly every death, as people state that it was God’s will that a person died. God gets blamed for poverty and oppression. God has been blamed for every imaginable form of human suffering. People think and believe that God is the driving force behind evil. Some teach that whatever happens, whether it be good or evil, that God is behind all of it, for He is in control of everything. They think God is the maestro, the director, and the author of all evil as God uses evil for His own purposes. Some think that since God did not prevent an evil act from happening, that somehow He has put his stamp of approval on it. Some people turn away from God for they cannot reconcile a loving God with all the suffering that is occurring in the world. Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, said, “If God is neither willing nor able to prevent evil, then why call Him God.” Some even go so far to say that evil disproves God’s existence.
There is no doubt that unspeakable evil and suffering permeate and saturate every level of our society. All you have to do is to pick up a newspaper or watch the daily news on television, and it sounds like scenes from the worst horror flick. Our senses are bombarded with death, war, famine, murder, accidents, disasters, and destruction. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize there is something dreadfully wrong going on in the world. Horrible things have been going on in the world since the beginning of history. People have no answers or explanation, so God gets repeatedly blamed for this evil.
So what is really going on? Is this evil God-sponsored? Is this the goodness of God with a caveat? If God is truly good, as His Word declares this truth over and over again, can He also be evil? Can evil come from the heart of a good and loving God? Can evil and suffering come from a God who is all good and all love? The answer is no, no, a thousand times no. It is imperative in our study of the goodness of God that you understand that God does not have one drop, one atom, or one sliver of evil in Him. Absolutely no evil dwells in God, and He is not responsible for all the evil and suffering in the world.
How would you feel if you were wrongly accused of committing a heinous act that hurt or killed someone? It would not feel too good, would it? How do you think the heart of God feels when he is blamed for evil, disease, death, and disasters when He had nothing to do with them? Religion, philosophy, and human reasoning have distorted the image of God and the essence of His character. God is far above all evil, and evil is absolutely foreign to God’s nature. Evil cannot mix, pollute, or exist in God as He is not contaminated with any kind of evil.
Let’s go to Psalm 5, which we covered in the beginning of this book.
Psalm 5:4 (New American Standard Bible):
For You are not a God who takes
pleasure in wickedness; No evil
dwells with You.
Young’s Literal Translation:
For not a God desiring wickedness
art Thou. Evil inhabiteth Thee not.
God’s Word to the Nations::
You are not a God who takes pleasure
in wickedness. Evil will never be your
Evil does not dwell, sojourn, or inhabit any part of God’s nature. God does not have a dark side. God does not have a dual personality. God’s wonderful nature of love and goodness does not change or deteriorate. It is interesting that the Hebrew word for “dwell” really is more accurately translated “temporarily visit or briefly sojourn.” It means a tentative and short visitation. Evil doesn’t spend one weekend or one vacation day with God. Evil does not have a temporary stay in the heart of God. Evil does not visit God’s nature as a brief guest. The Message Bible says that “God does not invite evil over as His house guest.” Notably, the NIV Application Commentary on this verse states, “[T]he psalmist’s point is that God is so incompatible with evil that even the most temporary coexistence is utterly impossible.” It is impossible for the goodness of God and any form of evil to coexist in His nature.
In the Hebrew there are different words that are translated “evil” in the Bible that have interesting shades of meaning that deepen our understanding of the Word of God. In Psalm 5:4, the word for “evil” in the Hebrew is ra which means: bad or evil that in its nature attempts to break up all that is good or desirable; it is a wickedness that is injurious to others, and at its root is an intense desire to harm. It conveys the sense of breaking in pieces and also means being broken with badness and so made worthless.” There is nothing in God’s nature that attempts to break up good or intends to injure. There is nothing broken in God. God does not have an intense desire to harm people. Not for one second. God does not actively oppose goodness or attempt to break it into pieces. God mends, heals, repairs, restores, and recovers. This is the goodness of God. There is no badness that lives, abides, or dwells in our loving God.
Psalms 5 also states that God does not “take pleasure in wickedness.” The word pleasure means: to delight in, to desire, to have an affection for, and to feel a strong positive attraction for something The word “wicked” in the Hebrew is resha, which means: intense wickedness, ungodliness, injustice, and lawlessness It is a bending or [erversion of what is right; it is to be in a restless, unquiet state fueled by sin; it has the meaning of giving trouble, and an active hostility to the good things of God. It is a state of wickedness, where there is a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, virtue, honor, and goodness. This word coveys a complete rebellion against God, His goodness. and His works. It is an utter and absolute wickedness that causes destruction, misery, injustice, and calamity.
God has no affection for, does not favor, and has no attraction for wickedness. There is not one speck of wickedness in the nature of our wonderful God. God is just and right and never fuels injustice, ungodliness, or unrighteousness. Wickedness is absolutely one hundred per cent opposite to His loving and good nature. If God takes no pleasure in wickedness, how can He be wicked Himself? If God takes no pleasure in injustice, how can He be unjust Himself? If God takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, how can he be unrighteous himself? Religion teaches that God is involved in some degree in using evil and wickedness for His purposes. Religion teaches that God has some innate connection with evil and wickedness, either by His action or inaction in any set of given circumstances. This cannot be true if God is love and God is holy. Holiness and evil cannot coexist in His nature. It is so difficult for the mind of a person to believe that God is love always, in every age and under every circumstance, since the beginning of the heavens and earth.
II Samuel 22:22 (Holman Christian Standard):
For I have kept the ways of the Lord and
have not turned from my God to wickedness.
Psalm 18:21 (New Living Translation):
For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I
have not turned from my God to follow evil.
According to these verses, the ways of the Lord cannot be wickedness or evil. There is a clear distinction made between keeping the ways of the Lord and turning and following wickedness. They are complete opposites. God does not need wickedness or evil, and none is found in the way of the Lord.
Psalm 121:7 (Message Bible):
God guards you from every evil, he guards
your very life.
If God guards us from every evil, how could He be evil Himself? Does he guard us from Himself? It makes no sense. Evil always comes from another source other than God.
Job 34:10,11,13 (Message Bible):
You’re veterans in dealing with these matters;
matters; certainly we are one mind on this.
It’s impossible for God to do anything evil; no
way can the Mighty One do anything wrong.
It’s impossible for God to do anything wicked,
for the Mighty One to subvert justice.
Unfortunately there has been little consensus or agreement on the nature of God concerning evil. The Word of God makes it very clear that it is impossible for God to do anything evil or wicked.
Psalm 145:5-9,17 (English Standard Version):
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and
on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome
deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant
goodness and sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger
and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over
all that he has made.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind
in all his works.
The splendor of God’s majestic nature is abundant goodness, mercy, grace, righteousness, kindness, and steadfast love. The Lord is good, righteous, and merciful in ALL of His ways, not some of His ways. God’s nature does not change from one day to the next. He does not have good days and bad days. All of His awesome deeds are good, righteous, and full of grace originating from His heart of steadfast love. Nothing is more certain or faithful than God’s unchanging nature of love and goodness. Evil and wickedness are absolutely incompatible with God’s nature.
I John 1:5 (Amplified):
And this is the message [the message of promise]
which we have heard from Him and are now
reporting to you: God is light and there is no
darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way].
And there exists this message which we have
heard from Him and at present is ringing in our
ears, and we are bringing back tidings to you,
that God as to His nature is light, and darkness
in Him does not exist, not even one bit.
This, in essence, is the message we heard from
Christ and are passing on to you: God is light,
pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.
Here is the message we learned from him and
announce to you: God is light and in him there is
no darkness, none.
The message and promise that God wants ringing in our ears is that God is light and there is not one trace of darkness in Him. In Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Wuest states:
The word “light” (phos) in the Greek text is
without the article. The rule of Greek grammar
is that the absence of the definite article shows
quality, nature or essence. What the inspired
apostle said was, “God as to His essence, nature,
character, is light.”
The essence of God’s nature is not darkness or evil, but it is light. God is pure, brilliant, absolute light that is holy and unspotted by any evil or darkness.
Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament further elaborates,
God is light…A statement of the absolute nature
of God. Not a light, nor the light, with reference to
created beings, as the light of men, the light of the
world, but simply and absolutely God is light, in
His very nature…The expression is not a metaphor…
Light is immaterial, diffusive, pure and glorious.
It is the condition of life. Physically, it represents
glory; intellectually, truth; morally, holiness. As
immaterial it corresponds to God as spirit; as
diffusive, to God as love; as the condition of life,
to God as life; as pure and illuminating, to God as
holiness and truth…Radiating from Him, it is
diffused through the universe as the principle of life.
God is light- radiant physical and spiritual energy that is glorious, holy, pure. and full of life and truth. There is no darkness, wickedness, or evil in God’s true light. The second part of verse five confirms this by emphasizing that there is no darkness in God- not a trace, not one bit, and not in any way. God uses a wonderful figure of speech in this verse to bring this point home in no uncertain terms. Figures of speech in the Bible are the Holy Spirit’s marking to add force to the truth conveyed and to emphasize the depth of its meaning. Figures of speech increase the power of a word and the force of its expression. The figure of speech used in this verse is called pleonasm in Greek, or “redundancy” in English. E.W. Bullinger, in his great work Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, explains this figure:
The figure is used to set forth the subject more
fully by repeating it in other, sometimes in
opposite, terms. What is first expressed affirmatively
is sometimes repeated negatively, and vice versa.
It is also used for the purpose of marking the
emphasis; or for intensifying the feeling; or for
enhancing in some way what has been already said…
We have reserved the term pleonasm for this latter
class, where what is said is immediately after put in
another or opposite way to make it impossible for
the sense to be missed; and thus to emphasize it.
God uses this figure of speech because He does not want you to miss what He is saying. He marks this verse with this figure for intense emphasis, so it makes it impossible, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear, to miss the sense of this great truth in His Word. First, the truth is established that God is light. Secondly, God says this truth in opposite terms, namely, in God there is no darkness. Then for the final emphasis, a double negative is used in the Greek to say emphatically that there is not even one bit or trace of darkness. This establishes beyond any shadow of a doubt that absolutely no darkness is found in the nature of God.
Can it be any clearer? God is not responsible for the evil in this world. God is not the source of all the calamity and darkness of this world. God wants us never to forget this important truth from His Word-that He is light and in Him resides no evil, no darkness, no wickedness, and no iniquity in any way, shape, or form. God is pure. God is holy. God is just. God is righteous. God is good. God is love. God is not contaminated with evil. Most of the world does not believe this fact, but this is the true message of His Word about the goodness of God.
Isaiah 5:20 (NIV):
Woe to those who call evil good and good
evil, who put darkness for light and light for
darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet
This verse could be a fifty word essay on the history of civilization or even more appropriately, the history of religion. Every day, God, who is good, is blamed for evil. God, who is light, is blamed for darkness. God, who is sweet, is made into something that tastes bitter. God warns us not to engage in such behavior.
Galatians 1:3-5 (English Standard Version):
Grace to you and peace from God our
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Who gave himself for our sins to deliver
us from this present evil age, according
to the will of God our Father.
To whom be the glory forever and ever.
So I greet you with the great words grace
We know the meaning of those words
because Jesus Christ rescued us from this
evil world we’re in by offering himself as
a sacrifice for sins. God’s plan is that we
all experience that rescue.
Glory to God forever! Oh, yes!
Since God gave His precious Son as a sacrifice for our sins to deliver and rescue us from this present evil age, then how can God be the cause of the evil in society? Did God send Jesus Christ to deliver us from Himself? No, just the opposite, as Jesus Christ brought us to our Heavenly Father. Obviously, this verse makes it clear that God is the deliverer from evil, not the reason for it. There is a distinction between the deliverance that God made available in Jesus Christ and the evil and wickedness that resides in the world. God wants every man, woman, and child to choose Christ and experience the magnificent deliverance and freedom from bondage of this evil age.
The word “age” is the Greek word aionos, and in Synonyms of the New Testament, Trench elaborates on its meaning:
Aion …comes presently to signify all which
exists in the world under conditions of time…
and then, more ethically, the course and
current of this world’s affairs…All that floating
mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations,
hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations at anytime
current in the world, which it may be impossible
to seize and accurately define, but which constitute
a most real and effective power, being the moral,
or immoral, atmosphere which at every moment
of our lives we inhale, again to inevitably exhale.
What an awesome definition of aion. This word is not simply a span or period of time, but rather emphasizes the characteristics, culture, and heartbeat of the age. It is the signs of the times. “Atmosphere” is a great word to describe it. It reminds me of when I owned a Sicilian restaurant a number of years ago. I can vividly remember the smell of homemade sausage and meatballs, the quaint picturesque dining room, the wonderful music of Pavarotti and Mario Lanza that filled the restaurant, and Mama Sigreto coming out from behind the kitchen to mingle with the customers. This was the atmosphere of a down to earth Sicilian restaurant. This paints a picture for you of what this Greek word means.
The Greek word for evil is “poneros” which is more than just evil, wickedness, or badness. It is the active, deliberate will to corrupt and inflict injury. At its core is the desire to harm and inflict evil on others. Its root means to exert an effort and pain. It emphasizes a concerted effort to inflict pain, badness, evil, and injury upon others. This evil is actively opposed to all goodness and attempts to hinder and obstruct all good things. There is a harassing and pressing nature to this evil, as it attempts to draw others into it. Trench, in his Synonyms of the New Testament, states:
The kakos (another Greek word for evil) may be
content to perish in his own corruption, but the
poneros is not content unless he is corrupting
others as well, and drawing them into the same
destruction with himself.
Poneros is not passive, but there is a thinking, scheming, plotting, and active nature to this kind of evil. This evil is direct opposition to God and tries to undermine and obstruct His purposes. The main objective of this evil is to actively attack the goodness of God in anyway possible. This evil seduces and deceives people into lifestyles that promise fun, happiness, excitement, fame, and fortune, but in the end only deliver destruction, bondage, and death. Throughout every period of history, this poneros evil has been intertwined in the defining characteristics of the age and has been the active force in stealing, killing, and destroying peoples lives. This poneros evil has been active in religion, politics, wars, philosophy, education, music, art, economics, and every level of society. This evil attempts to control the thoughts, opinions, maxims, aspirations, hopes, and dreams of an age by infusing the atmosphere and culture with evil. Ultimately the goal is to keep people away from Christ and the truth of the good news of the gospel. This is because it is only through Christ that an individual can be delivered from this destructive evil and be set free in both mind and body.
II Corinthians 4:4 (NIV):
The god of this age has blinded the minds
of unbelievers, so they cannot see the light
of the gospel of Christ, who is the image of
II Corinthians 4:3,4 (Message Bible):
If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not
because we are holding back in any way.
No its because these other people are looking
or going the wrong way and refuse to give it
serious attention. All they have eyes for is the
fashionable god of darkness. They think he
can give them what they want, and they won’t
have to bother believing a truth they cannot
see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring
brightness of the Message that shines with
Christ, who gives us the best picture of God
we will ever get.
“The god of this age” is not just some figurative term of language or some label or slogan. It describes a real, spiritual being who has the authority and control of this age. It is not an earthly ruler, or some man or woman reigning as a king or queen. It is a wicked spirit being who is the supreme head and ruler of the kingdom of darkness. The god of this age is the devil, and he is responsible for all the evil that permeates our society. Don’t be fooled. The devil is as a real as the hand in front of your face, and he is the sworn enemy of the goodness of God. The devil hates God and everything associated with Him, and sets up the systems of evil in every age of history to oppose God and His good purposes. This god of this age seems so fashionable, so cool, and so hip, but he blinds the minds of millions from the light of the good news of Christ. He distorts the good image and name of God and deceives people into believing that it is the true God who is really evil and causing all the darkness in the world. It is a masterful deception, as the devil does not want you to know or understand anything about the goodness of God.
I John 5:19: (NIV):
We know that we are the children of God
and that the whole world is under the control
of the evil one.
We know positively that we are of God, and
the whole world around us is under the power
of the evil one.
New King James Version:
We know that we are of God, and the whole
world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
The whole world is under the control and authority of the evil one, the devil. The devil is called the evil (poneros) one in the Scripture, as he is the embodiment of everything evil. He is the one who actively seeks to harm, injure, and destroy and deliberately seeks the destruction of every man, woman, and child on Earth. He is the arch-enemy of God and desires for people to worship him. His systems of evil are diametrically opposed to God and His goodness. He has authority and dominion on the earth, and has set up an entire kingdom of wicked spirit beings to wreak havoc against God in every nation and every culture. There is an intense spiritual war going on between the forces of God and the forces of the devil. It is the classic battle of the goodness of God against the evil of the devil. It is being waged every second of the day in every city, every country, and every continent. The goodness of God is under vicious attack daily from the forces of the evil one.
The Greek word for “world” is kosmos and in this verse means: the satanic system of world order with its seductive evil system of values, priorities, and beliefs that excludes and actively opposes God. This world system is set up to subtly attract one’s affection, participation, and loyalty away from the true God and His goodness. It is interesting that the word kosmos also has the meaning of an ornament, decoration, or dress, as at its root is the word meaning “to polish, to cut or to carve into a perfect arrangement.” The devil’s world system of evil is very ornate and polished and looks so perfect to the human eye. Its polished presentation can be mesmerizing. This is part of the subtle attraction that deceives people and pulls them into its snare. But if you peel away the layers, this system is dark, empty, evil and totally devoid of the goodness of God. Wuest, in his Word Studies of the Greek New Testament, defines kosmos as follows:
The word kosmos is used to refer to the world
system, wicked and alienated from God, yet
cultured, educated, powerful, outwardly moral
at times, the system of which Satan is the head,
the fallen angels and the demons are his servants,
and all mankind other than the saved, are his
subjects. This includes those people, pursuits,
pleasures, purposes, and places where God is
This world system of evil continually attempts to squeeze people into its mold of godlessness so they will live and act in accordance with it. Preceptaustin’s Greek Word Studies states: “The unsaved either consciously or unconsciously are controlled by the values and attitudes of this world system and behave according.” Without Christ and the deliverance in the new birth, the entire world lies helplessly subject to this system and its arrangement of evil. The devil has the authority, dominion, command, and power of this world system over the entire earth. He has the control of the world for now.
So how did this happen? How did the devil get such authority? How do we overcome it? This is a very important study if we are going to fully understand the goodness of God. We see from the beginning books of the Bible that the devil’s initial deception concerned the goodness of God. The devil still orchestrates his kingdom and its schemes to attack and hinder the goodness of God. He wants to confuse people regarding the true nature of God and cause them to doubt His love, grace and mercy. He wants people to believe that God is not good, but an uncaring God, who does not have the best interests of people at heart. It’s all subterfuge, confusion, and deception and it goes back to the beginning of time. Its time to stop blaming God for all the evil and suffering in the world and place the blame where it belongs. The Word of God will thrill your soul as your understanding deepens regarding the wonderful goodness of God and the absolute destructive evil of the devil. I pray the eyes of your understanding are enlightened as we delve into the foundations of this battle of good and evil as set forth in God’s Word. We begin our journey in the next article.