By Femi Aribisala
As a Christian, life becomes a lot easier once we take God at his word. Nevertheless, many find it difficult to do so. One area of great difficulty concerns the origin of evil. Christians find it difficult to believe the God who is love is behind all the evil we see in this world? We would rather be diplomatic and attribute it all to the devil.
However, the devil is merely the servant of God. God says categorically he is the author of evil: “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7). Amos echoes this: “If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? (Amos 3:6).
Nothing good or bad happens outside of the will of God. The devil initiates nothing. He only does what God permits. (Job 1:6-12). “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:37-38). Thus, Job asks his wife: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).
Indeed, God takes issues with those inclined to limit him to one-dimension: “It shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do evil.’” (Zephaniah 1:12).
Counsel of God
The devil did not just happen: God created him. He was not God’s mistake; God cannot make a mistake. God created the devil to be a devil. Jesus says: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit. Offspring of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things?” (Matthew 12:33-34).
Who makes the good tree good and the corrupt tree corrupt? Only God; the creator of all things!
Popular Christian theology says the devil was created good, but he became evil. In short, he diverted from the purpose that God purposed. That is impossible! Nothing deviates from God’s purpose. The counsel of God is immutable. His will is always done. Paul says: God “works all things according to the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11).
God is emphatic: “My purpose will stand.” (Isaiah 46:10). “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.” (Isaiah 14:24). The psalmist says: “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever.” (Psalm 33:11).
So where do Christians get the fallacy of a devil created good who then deviated to evil? The scriptural backing for this error is found in Ezekiel 28:1-19 where a lamentation of the king of Tyre is said mistakenly to be about Satan; and Isaiah 14:12-23, where a proclamation about the king of Babylon is also said incorrectly to be about Satan.
In actual fact, in Ezekiel 28, the king of Tyre is compared to Adam and not to Satan. It was Adam who was in Eden, the garden of God. (Ezekiel 28:13). It was Adam who was perfect in all his ways until iniquity was found in him. (Ezekiel 28:15). It was Adam who was cast out of the mountain of God. (Ezekiel 28:16).
The devil, on the other hand, was never perfect. God created the devil to be devilish. He says: “I have created the waster to destroy.” (Isaiah 54:16). Jesus also says the devil has always been devilish: “He was a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44). So, God did not make a mistake with the devil. The devil and his works are part and parcel of the will of God. As a matter of fact, the role of the devil is crucial in God’s plan of salvation.
Times and seasons
So why did God create the devil, and why does God create evil?
God creates evil that we might know and appreciate the good. If we don’t know darkness, we would not appreciate light. If we don’t know evil we would not appreciate good. If we don’t know sickness, we would not appreciate good health. In short, God creates evil that we may know him: the good, merciful and compassionate God.
For this reason, God creates times and seasons of good and evil. Solomon says: “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pull up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).
Unlike man, God does things in twos: “The LORD makes poor, and makes rich: he brings low, and lifts up.” (Isaiah 2:7). The psalmist says: “God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God. Also to you, O Lord, belongs mercy; for you render to each one according to his work.” (Psalm 62:11-12).
If God speaks once, it is absolutely essential to hear him twice. This is because the first time might be the expression of his power: but the second time will be the expression of his mercy. Remember: God’s mercy ultimately triumphs over God’s judgment. (James 2:13).
“For God does speak- now one way, now another- though man may not perceive it.” (Job 33:14). God’s second often brings his first into sharp relief. While the first might reveal the wrath of God, the second reveals the grace and mercy of God. Accordingly, the first man was Adam the sinner but the second man is Jesus the righteous. God first gave the law through Moses, where the wages of sin is death. Then he revealed his grace through Jesus, where the gift of God is eternal life.
The resurrection and the life
Make no mistake about it, God is a killer: “The Lord sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead.” (1 Chronicles 21:14). Don’t romanticise Jesus out of this either. Listen to his words: “I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death.” (Revelation 2:22-23).
However, unlike man who kills in order to destroy, God kills in order to make alive. Therefore, expect God to redeem life out of death: “The LORD kills, and makes alive: he brings down to the grave, and brings up.” (1 Samuel 2:6). “He bruises, but he binds up; he wounds, but his hands make whole.” (Job 5:17-18).
That is the beauty of our lord Jesus Christ. He creates evil in order to redeem perfectly from it. He kills in order that the redemptive works of God may be revealed. (John 9:3). Now you can understand why Jesus stands in glory as: “the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25).