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Evil—Part 2: Why Doesn't God Stop Bad Stuff From Happening?
Tuesday, November 7, 2023 by Dr James H Dotson Jr

On my journey through life, I’ve experienced bad stuff. Three questions come to mind for me as I consider my reality and the reality of millions around the world who are living with far worse challenges than I am: 1) Why does bad stuff happen? 2) Why doesn’t God stop bad stuff from happening? 3) How do I live with/in the midst of bad stuff?

Join me as I continue to explore with you the answers to these questions in a 3-part series. I need to let you know up front that my answers will reflect both my lived experiences and biblical perspectives, as I seek to understand and live my life in harmony with the love and truth of God.

This is Evil–Part 2, where I focus on the second question: Why doesn’t God stop bad stuff from happening? But before continuing, let me suggest that you first review Evil–Part 1: Why does bad stuff happen? Then, return and continue reading here.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

There is absolutely no question whatsoever that suffering and pain and injury and disease and death and evil and crimes against humanity are bad.

How I sincerely wish that Adam and Eve, our first human ancestors (Genesis 1:26-31), had rejected the deception of Satan and obeyed God. But they didn’t. They gave ear to Satan and followed his way. And with that decision, bad stuff—sin and evil—became part of our human reality (Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:1-24). 

Another consequence that followed is that we—human beings—began engaging in all manner of evil. We have done and continue doing lots of bad stuff. Here’s how the Bible describes us.

Turning our attention to the daily news and other non-biblical, historical sources, there we’ll find a record of us engaged in WW1, WW2, and ongoing wars around the world; imperialism and colonialism; parents mistreating their children; children dishonoring their parents; murdering; committing adultery; stealing; lying; giving false testimony in court; trafficking other human beings; sexually exploiting other human beings; carjacking; beating up our partners; fraud, identity theft, and cybercrimes; pornography; pimping and prostitution; and I could go on and on with a long list of other crimes and evil that we—human beings—commit.

The premise of the question—Why do bad things happen to good people—is that we are good people and that bad things should not happen to good people. While that’s a heartwarming thought, we are not good people. We are all born sinners, with a sinful nature and tendencies to sin—following our natural, sinful inclinations and yielding to the evil propagated by Satan. 

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

So, in truth, the more appropriate question is to ask is this: Why do good things happen to bad people—people who at their core (thoughts, feelings, speech, and actions) are sinners?

Here’s the deal. While some might consider me a “good” person, the fact is that I am a sinner—I have disobeyed God, I have done bad stuff, and I have contributed to the evil of this world. The wages due for sin is death (Romans 6:23). That being the case, I should be dead. And really, anyone who has sinned—and that would be all of us (Romans 3:23)—should be dead.

While from a human perspective we may consider some to be good, from God’s perspective we are all sinners. 

Yet, God still extends his love to us.

But God goes beyond being kind and compassionate to us. God offers me—and any one else who will accept it—a solution to overcoming the evil in me and the evil in/of this world. Consider this good news:

  • “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4, NLT)
  • “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:1–5, NLT)
  • For more, also consider John 1:12-14, 10:17-18, 14:1–3, 14:6; Acts 10:43; Romans 4:25, 5:8, 5:15-19, 8:110:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:8-9; Colossians 1:13-14, 2:9; 1 Peter 2:22-24; and 1 John 2:2.

While Adam and Eve messed up big time, any person who believes and puts their faith in Jesus Christ may overcome the condemnation of sin, receive the gift of eternal life, and inherit a new me (immortal and incorruptible) together with a new heaven and a new earth (free of bad stuff) at the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

That’s the gospel—the good news—of Jesus Christ available to any person who will believe it and receive it. 

Is God Silent About Evil in/on the Earth?

Okay, so there will be a new heaven and a new earth and a new me at the second coming of Jesus Christ. What about until the second coming of Jesus Christ? Is God silent about evil?

Some say, yes. I say, no, and here are three reasons why.

First, God is ensuring that the good news—the gospel of Jesus Christ—is shared with all so that we have opportunity to choose eternal life. God is not silent. He’s giving us time to get ready for the end. 

  • “Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4–14, NLT)
  • “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, NLT)

Second, God has promised that at the end of the age—God’s timetable, not ours—he will remove evil from the Earth. God will bring an end to Satan and any who choose to follow after Satan. 

  • “When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7–10, NLT)
  • “And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11–15, NLT)

God has a plan that he’s been working—and still is working—since the “fall” of Adam and Eve to redeem us from the sin and evil and death that is part of the human condition as a consequence of the deception and disobedience of Adam and Eve. The Bible lays out that plan: the continuous and continuing story of God working on behalf of us—humanity. God is not silent. He’s moving us closer and closer to the time when evil will be no more.

Finally, while it may appear to some that God lets bad stuff happen unchecked, biblical history and modern history will not support that assumption. In fact, from the first book of the Bible (Genesis) to the last book of the Bible (Revelation), we will find many accounts of where God held people accountable for their sins and evil.

Space does not allow here a comprehensive review of all such accounts. But consider just these three examples. 

  • The Flood: Earlier in human history, sin and wickedness reached the point when God sent a flood and destroyed all but eight persons on the Earth and then started over (Genesis 6:1—Genesis 8:22
  • Ananias and Sapphira: This married couple conspired to lie about a commitment they made. They voluntarily and publicly offered to sell property they had and donate the money to the church to help those in need. Then, privately they decided they would keep back a portion of what they said they would give but declared that what they donated was the full amount of what they said they would give. Peter called them out on their lie, and both dropped dead on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:1-11)
  • Saul: On his way to Damascus to continue his vigorous persecution of the early Christian church, Saul of Tarsus was knocked off the animal he was riding and made temporarily blind as he was asked by Jesus “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:1-19)

“The LORD is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. …” (Nahum 1:3, NLT) … “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NLT)

No human being is God, and so no human being can know all of what God is doing about evil on the Earth. We’ve got to swallow a generous dose of humility to recognize and accept this reality. God is the Sovereign King, not any one of us, and he made that perfectly clear to Job when he was going through horrific times in his life (Job 38:1—Job 42:6). 

God is not silent about evil. History confirms it, and I can testify to it in my own life. 

But the who, what, why, when, where, and how God deals with evil are up to God, not us. Sometimes we will see it, know it, and understand it. And sometimes we will not. 

But, What’s The Answer to the Question???

But, you say, you still haven’t answered the question: Why doesn’t God just stop bad stuff from happening—now?

God could do that by removing our freedom of choice and forcing us to do exactly what he wants us to do—essentially making us robots or subjects of an autocrat or dictator. But that’s not the kind of relationship God wants with us. He wants a loving relationship with us.

Or God could zap us dead whenever any one of us commits a sin. If God did that, there would be no human beings left on planet Earth! Instead, God loves us so much that he has been, is now, and will continue working his plan to save us from our sins. 

There WILL BE!!! a final end of sin and evil and death and Satan and any one who follows after Satan. But before that happens, our longsuffering God wants to give us all the opportunity to make a choice. The choice is straightforward: accept God’s gifts of salvation and the inheritance of a new heaven, new earth, and new me OR reject God’s gifts and face the consequences—condemnation and eternal destruction for our sins. (Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 2:6-8; Revelation 20:1—Revelation 21:8.) God gave us—humanity—freedom of choice. So, each one of us gets to choose. 

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Comments

C Bogans From DC Metro Area At 11/15/2023 6:36:58 AM

Thank you for this blog!! When we truly understand who God really is and what he has done for us. We understand that God has already planned to deal with evil.

Reply by: Training for Transformation, Inc.

God most certainly has!!! And knowing that gives me the hope I need to keep living in the midst of it.

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