This is a question that we get often from both Christians and those who do not believe but are seeking answers, and it is probably a question that everyone who is thinking about such matters asks at some point. It seems to be coming up more often these days which I think is encouraging on one hand since people are indeed thinking which is good, however I am also discouraged at how many Christians simply do not have a cogent answer. In an age of so called “Enlightenment” it is more important than ever for Christians to be able to defend their beliefs logically and coherently to those who are seeking answers.
So where does evil or sin come from? It is very simple for us to follow the line of logic that says God created everything, God created evil, God must be evil or at least have the ability to do or force evil, God can’t exist. This seems logical on its face, but if we look at what the Bible says we can come to a clear understanding of how God and evil exist in the world.
Most of us will admit that evil (or sin) does indeed exist. Just a cursory look at the world would seem to attest to this fact, and I always say that explanations of the world need to pass the sniff test and this certainly does. So how does God fit into the picture? To understand this completely lets go to the beginning and work our way forward.
Sin, which we will refer to as evil from here on out, was in the world before man. We see this in the Bible where it explains the angels fall before the fall of man in the garden. There is no mention of another force or being equal to God from eternity and the Bible is clear that there is only one God and he created all things so we can rule out any ideas of dualism in this regard.
Working our way forward we see that the Bible is clear that we should not blame God directly for the sin of man. In James the Bible says “God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one”. However there are many verses, too many to post, where God is clearly shown as the one who ordains evil both generally and in specific situations. After all, God did ordain the death of Christ, which was the most tragic event in all of history when the sins of everyone were put on him and God poured out his full wrath so we could avoid it. We also see how God ordained sin in the world as a means for his ultimate purpose that is always good.
All of this being considered what are we to make of it? The logical conclusion is that although God ordained evil from the foundations of the world he did not create it, in fact, there is nothing that says God created evil at all. When God finished with creation he called it all good because everything that he had made could only be good. Evil is not a substance or being and it does not eminate from God, rather good eminates from God and evil is any rejection of that good. Therefore we can say that God allowed for the rejection of his grace and goodness which is sin or evil, and that rejection of goodness and grace is the complete responsibility of the creature that carries it out.
What we can say further about this is that God is indeed in control of these evil actions and even planned for them from all eternity, because if he did not then there would be potential for evil to have an outcome that is not good. Was it possible for the death of Christ to have any other outcome then the one God intended which was to save the world from God’s ultimate wrath? Obviously this is not the case and this works with the argument against dualism since evil is not equal with good because evil is ultimately controlled by God which is good.