Deliver Us From Evil
Vol: 140 Issue: 21 Tuesday, May 21, 2013
When His disciples asked Him, ”Teach us to pray?”, the Lord Jesus outlined the perfect prayer;
“And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” (Luke 11:2-4)
This is a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, protection, provision and hope, fully expressed in a mere fifty-eight words.
Of interest to this morning’s OL is the phrase, ‘deliver us from evil.’
What is “evil” exactly? Where did it come from? Who created it and why does it exist?
Briefly stated, ‘evil’ is the absence of ‘good’. It was born out of sin, but evil is not a creation, exactly. It is the other half of ‘good’. Without evil, ‘good’ would be impossible for us to distinguish.
God created the universe in a balance. In order for there to be darkness, there must first be light. Darkness is a measure of the absence of light. Without the prior existence of light, darkness could not exist.
In order for there to be cold, there must first be heat. Cold is a measure of the absence of heat. Without heat, cold could not exist. Evil is a measure of the absence of good. Without good, evil could not exist.
Evil is not a creation of God, since it cannot exist outside of the creation of good. But it does exist, because good exists.
Think of it like a battery. It takes both the positive and negative poles to create power. Good would have no power to effect change without evil, just as evil has no existence without good.
How could one choose good if there were no evil against which to measure it?
In His creation, God never pronounced the universe ‘perfect’ — He found some of His creation to be ‘good’ some of it to be ‘very good’ and even some of it that He pronounced, ‘not good’.
“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
Both the Bible and science tell us this present universe was designed to be temporary.
Science looks to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which proves there is not enough matter in the universe to cause it to contract. That means the universe will continue to expand indefinitely and all the stars will eventually burn out.
Once that happens, life cannot be possible for the entire rest of the history of the universe. Science proves the universe was designed to wear out.
The Bible also says the universe was designed to be temporary, and it will eventually be replaced by a perfect universe that will be permanent.
Why would God create a temporary universe instead of creating a perfect, permanent one in the first place?
God created the universe as it exists for the express purpose of allowing free will spiritual beings the opportunity to choose to have fellowship with Him, or to reject Him.
Those who choose to have fellowship with Him will do so in some future, perfect creation.
And if His purpose is to have free-will fellowship in some future creation, then there must also exist some means by which these spiritual beings can make a choice whether or not to enter into this relationship with Him.
God not only understands the nature of evil, He understands our propensity for it.
“. . . I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Genesis 8:21)
The Apostle Paul offers God’s assessment of mankind thusly:
“There is none righteous; none that understand; none that seek after God; none that doeth good; we are deceitful, bitter, swift to shed blood, are the source of destruction and misery, and have no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
Paul goes on to point out that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (3:23) but that there is an offer extended to us to be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (3:24)
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (3:27-28)
According to the Bible’s outline, then, God permits evil to exist in order for free will to exist.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
The Scriptures tell us that God is the Creator and the source of all good, and it reveals that, during this present dispensation, Satan is the god of this world and the source of all evil:
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2nd Corinthians 4:4)
Much of the suffering that exists in this world is a direct result of evil choices made by free-will human beings that impact others.
Natural disasters — tornadoes, volcanoes, etc., are part of the power cycle required by this imperfect universe in order for it to exist in balance.
In the new creation, there will be some limits on our free will, since the new creation will not contain evil. We exist in this life to give us a chance to agree to give up some of that free will in the next.
That is what it means to turn one’s life and will over to Jesus Christ. It is a choice to surrender our will to God.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Those who refuse the opportunity in this life will not be forced to in the next life, but will instead exist separately from the new creation, and apart from God.
The place set aside for those who reject God is the place originally prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)
Bad things happen in this universe, because that is how it is designed. No human being has in himself ever been righteous. Even Adam was not righteous: he was innocent–not knowing good and evil.
Ultimately, there is not an answer to these questions that we can fully comprehend. We, as finite human beings, can never fully understand an infinite God (Romans 11:33-34).
Sometimes we think we understand why God is doing something, only to find out later that it was for a different purpose than we originally thought. We look at things from an earthly perspective.
God looks at things from an eternal perspective;
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
Second, we must realize that God is not responsible for the wicked acts of evil men.
God had to allow the possibility of evil for us to have a true choice of whether to worship God or not. If we never had to suffer and experience evil, would we know how wonderful heaven is?
Bad things happen because they HAVE to happen in order for there to be a way of measuring what is good. It is through bad things that God reveals Himself to man.
Sinners don’t come to Christ because they are satisfied with themselves — they come to Christ because they recognize the absence of God in their lives.
Winning the lottery seldom brings sinners to their knees — losing everything does. If you want to find God, you’ll find Him in prisons and hospitals, much more so than in mansions and fitness clubs.
Bad things happen to good people because God knows what He is doing, even when we don’t. When we pray for what we believe is a good thing and don’t get it, we wonder where God is or if He is listening.
Unfortunately, we don’t know good from evil — we only know right from wrong.
‘Good and evil’, as we understand the terms, are not actions, they are outcomes. Only God can measure the outcome of what we believe is an evil thing.
Bad things happen to good people for reasons beyond our comprehension because God is in charge of outcomes.
Bad things prove the existence of God, because they only happen where men are involved.
Remove mankind from the equation, and the moon continues to orbit the earth, the earth continues to orbit the sun, and the universe remains in perfect harmony.
Evil exists so that man can seek good, and, in so doing, find its Author.
Because ALL things work together for good where God’s people are concerned.
That is why the Psalmist exhorts us to;
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thy own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Because, in the final analysis, we understand evil all too well. It’s the concept of ‘good’ that gives us trouble.
Note: This brief, originally published February 2, 2008 may not give comfort to those who lost one of the 91 souls the Oklahoma tornado took yesterday but it does give an explanation as to why bad things happen to the good and the innocent. Let’s pray for those waking up this morning to a continuing nightmare.
Today’s Featured Commentary: All Agog