If our "picture" of God is a stern, judgmental Father, then we are not likely to seek or experience intimacy with Him. Conversely, if we see Him as only Loving and full of Grace and Mercy, then we probably aren't willing to conceive of His Wrath and Judgment. And both views of Him are Biblically correct ... Love, Mercy, Grace, Wrath and Judgment are all parts of His Nature. But conflict over the full and complete Nature of God can lead to confusion and, frankly, to an incorrect understanding of who He is. Our denominational doctrines and personal theologies and Biblical worldviews also add to our flawed understanding.
One of the biggest issues we run into during an Inner Healing session [or discussion on the Kingdom of God] is the matter of "God's control". People either believe God is in control of everything or He is not. And I want to differentiate "control" from "sovereignty". There is no question that God is Sovereign, and I define His Sovereignty as His authority to govern Himself and His creation; His ability to set the rules of His government [on earth and in Heaven]; "His absolute right to do all things according to His own good pleasure" (Easton Bible Dictionary).
But control is another matter and certainly affects how we view God and how we feel about Him. If we believe that God controls everything in our lives, then when an innocent child dies, or we get fired from our job, or find ourselves physically violated, our automatic response is, "God, why did You allow this to happen?", and God can be seen as distant, detached, or unsympathetic. On the other hand, if we believe that the devil's goal is to kill, steal, and destroy our relationship with our Father, then we may see his handiwork in these events in our life, and need to come to the truth of Scripture that says it is inevitable that we will face trials and troubles in this life, but we can trust that our Lord will be there to walk with us and comfort us through them.
As I have contemplated how to approach this conflict in our Christian belief systems, there is a deeper question that has piqued my interest. It is most likely one that many of you have asked yourselves, but may have been reticent to bring into a conversation without having an adequate answer. So, I'm going to take a leap of faith and ask it on behalf of all of us and then share the path I am following [in Scripture] to try to find my answer. Here's the question: Did God create Evil? If so, Why? First of all, what is your belief on that supposition? Do you believe He is the creator of Evil... or not?
I began my quest for an answer in Genesis 2:9, For out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree pleasant to the sight, and good for meat: the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and of evil. From this verse, it appears that God created two trees: one of life, which is received from God, and one of the knowledge of good and evil. Why, if we know that God is good [and Jesus states that "No one is good except God alone" in Mark 10:18], would He create a tree in the midst of the Garden of Eden that offered knowledge of both good and evil?
But don't we have to consider God's timeline in all of His creation? And do we really understand it from His perspective? Genesis, Chapter One records the creation of the heavens and the earth, and verse 31 tells us that on the Sixth Day, "God saw every thing that He had made, and behold, it was very good." Some versions actually say, "And it was all good". It goes on to tell us at the beginning of Chapter Two that He rested on the Seventh Day "from all His work which He had created and made".
But God doesn't create man until Genesis 2:7 and these trees in the Garden until verse 9. And if the serpent [or Satan, if you will] was in the Garden of Eden, then he had already rebelled against God and been kicked out of Heaven, correct? Now, then the serpent appears in verse one of Genesis, Chapter Three. So, do we really know the span of time that existed between the Sixth Day and Seventh Day of Creation until the creation of man? And from the creation of Adam and Eve until their temptation to rebel against God in the Garden? No! The Bible doesn't make it clear, but how many of us have assumed these events followed each other in a rapid manner just because they appear sequentially and in order in the Bible? Remember, the original Scriptures did not have Chapter and verse breaks. Scribes added them for the sake of convenience, but they can lead to problems in our understanding.
Obviously, Satan is in the Garden of Eden. So, how do we reconcile that with "everything God had made was good"? Here's how I settle that question .... God created Lucifer, who was originally good, but he rebelled against God because of his pride and was expelled from Heaven. In fact, a website called harvest.org explains it as I understand it ... "When God created the world, we are told that God examined it and declared that it was good (Genesis 1:31). This means that even the angelic world did not have evil angels or demons in it at that time. But by the time of Genesis chapter three, we find that Satan, in the form of a serpent, was tempting Eve to sin. Therefore, sometime between the events of Genesis chapter one and Genesis chapter three, there must have been a rebellion in the angelic world, with many angels turning against God and becoming evil. This rebellion was led by Satan himself." So, in my mind, this makes it clear that God did not create Evil, but it was a consequence of rebellion against Him, otherwise known as Sin. Can we agree that this is at least a possibility?
But there still remains the question ... Why create a tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Surely, He knew what a great risk that was! And in Genesis 3:22, when He discovers that Adam and Eve have disobeyed Him, He says, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”. It was imperative that God protect the way to the tree of life, so He banished Adam and Eve from the Garden [which served to separate them from the intimate relationship they had with God. They no longer had direct access to Him, nor were able to be in His presence].
So, now I'm faced with two frames of reference --- not only do I see that God didn't control the situation [by stepping into His sovereignty and stopping Adam and Eve], but now there is the knowledge of good and evil in the world. What good could possibly come from these two facts? I think I have found one possible answer in Isaiah, Chapter Seven. And, not surprisingly, the Lord shows us the way.
The prophet Isaiah is sent by the Lord to speak to King Ahaz, the king of Judah, who is besieged by his enemies. God gives him a sign of the deliverance of the House of David: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted" (Isaiah 7:14-16).
Of course, this is a prophecy of the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, who comes to model how we are to live our lives in obedience to our Father. It is evident that God's principle of Free Will is at play here. As a child, Jesus has the option to refuse the evil and choose the good. And throughout His life, He chooses to do the Father's will, even to the point of choosing to go to the Cross. That choice to do good is something at which Lucifer and Adam and Eve failed. And what was the result of the Son of God's crucifixion? It glorified the Father! Jesus expresses this in His humanity in John 12:27-31, Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
Here we see both the promise of God's glory and His judgment. Jesus, knowing what His fate would be, could have, at any time, chosen to abandon His purpose. But He chose to offer His life to the Father so that the Father might be glorified in His coming Resurrection. God didn't control the situation. Jesus chose to be obedient, bringing judgment upon all those who choose to follow the Evil One and his ways. You see, Free Will is at the heart of people choosing to know evil. There can't be a judgment against Evil [by God] if He controls everything and causes it to happen. There has to be a choice made .... whether to know [and do] good, or to choose to know [and do] evil.
So, at this point in my search of Scripture, here's where I stand: I do not believe God created Evil. But I also do not believe He controls everything and "allows" Evil to exist. I believe that one of the principles of God's creation is the choice of His created ones to choose Him. He didn't create us to be robots, with no capacity to decide for ourselves that we would follow Him. Wouldn't that be God glorifying Himself? Instead, I believe that He made us to be in relationship with Him, while giving us the choice to show our love by being obedient and sharing in His goodness -- or reaping the misery of a life lived in disobedience and rebellion. When we choose Him, that is what glorifies Him, exalts Him, pleases Him, and honors Him.
Do I think that my conclusion is the only correct one? Absolutely not! But I hope the questions I've pondered will lead you to search out your own answers and bring you into a greater intimacy with the One who has all the answers! Whether we end up agreeing on these questions is not my goal. It's my hope that your journey will bring you into a greater intimacy and knowledge of He who loved you enough to send His Son as a sacrifice for you. That relationship is what matters and what will ultimately defeat Evil and return the earth to its original state.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him,