Who’s Responsible For Evil? (Part 3)

By Canon Dr. Alson Percival

After the two articles we have looked at relating to God and evil, and God’s providential use of evil through the actions of those who make the choice of pursuing such path, I now give a brief analysis.

The supreme makes use of His creation to fulfil His purposes. Whatever He uses is always to bring glory and honour to Him, and is always ultimately for one’s good. Grudem using Paul’s language, says, “When evil comes into our lives to trouble us, we can have from the doctrine of providence a deeper assurance that ‘God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose’” (Romans 8:28 NASB).

Based upon what Paul says in the verse quoted above, we better understand why Joseph said to his brothers, “You meant evil in your actions against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20) and Job is recorded to say “I was born with nothing and I will die with nothing, the Lord gave and now he has taken away. May His name be praised!” (Job 1:21).

I should also make the point that God is glorified when evil is punished. The wise man Solomon announced to his people, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble (Proverbs 16:4), and the Psalmist affirms, “Surely the wrath of men shall praise you” (Psalm 76:10).

God does not do evil and He is never to be blamed for it. Jesus Christ combines God’s predestination of the crucifixion with moral blame on those who carry it out. He said, “For the son of man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed.” The synoptic accounts of the Gospel agree on this point (Luke 22:22; Matthew 26:24 and Mark 14:21). In general sense, Jesus also said, “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes” (Matthew 18:7).

James in his epistle sounded a note of warning to all and sundry, not to blame God for the evil that men do. He wrote, “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted with evil and He himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:13-14). Note that James did not say God does not cause evil. His point is that we should never think of God as the “personal agent” who is tempting us, or who is to be held responsible for the temptation.

Again I want to reiterate that even Isaiah who says that God “created evil” never said that God Himself does evil. Rather, Isaiah said that God ordained evil, that evil would come about through the willing choices of His creatures.

I want all readers of this article to note that human beings, angels, and demons are real. These entities do cause evil and are responsible for it. Yes! God ordained that it would come about both specifically and generally, yet God is removed from actually doing evil, and though evil comes through “secondary causes” this does not in any way dispute the truth of His holiness or render Him worthy of the blame.