What I really enjoy about Sunday evening gatherings is the interactive nature of our meetings. Several months ago we began a new format which encourages every member to ask questions of the text. We normally will focus on the preached text from the morning service, but often times we end up somewhere else altogether.

This brings me to this week’s discussion time. The morning text was Ephesians 5:25-33, and was centered on the biblical command for husbands to love their wives. In order to reinforce the text we took a closer look at the morning scripture reading, which came from Genesis 3:1-9 and describes the fall of man.

My reason for choosing this text for a supporting scripture of the Ephesians text, was to establish that even though Eve often gets the blame for the fall, we find that God calls first upon Adam to give an account of their actions.

A reading of the Genesis 3 text led us to an extended discussion on the fall and God’s reasons for allowing the entrance of sin into the world. Of course the fall of Satan and his angels actually predates the entrance of sin into the heart of man in the garden. So as we discussed the entrance of sin into the world, we backtracked to Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 which describes the fall of Satan. We then discussed that both were marked by the foundational sin of pride and ultimately the desire to be like God, or to be God.

The discussion then turned to God’s sovereignty and the free will of man. This question was asked, “Why did God allow Adam and Eve to sin in the first place?” The questions soon became, “what was God’s purpose in allowing evil to enter into the heart of humanity?” and, “if God had the sovereign power to prevent the fall, why did he permit it?”

After affirming God’s goodness and the fact that he is not the inventor of evil, cannot be blamed for evil, and does not tempt man to sin, we were all left to deal with that one word question, that can never seemingly be satisfied, why?

Why? – For what purpose did God allow sin to enter the world?

Why? – Why has God so ordered the present state of our world to include the fall and subsequent redemption?

Why? – Why does the state of the next life include the possibility of eternal life in heaven, but also the possibility of eternal torment in hell?

Why? – If God knew Adam and Eve would fall why did He allow them to be tempted?The question was even asked; “why does hell have to be so awful?”

Overall it was a great discussion. Some great insight was offered. Possible reasons for the fall were discussed. It was mentioned that God at times uses our pain and struggles to teach and grow us. Likewise it was noted that the mercy of God can only be fully realized through the redemption of hopelessly fallen and sinful man. Another point was, that without evil there would be no objective reality of what is good.

From my perspective I did my best to answer the “why” concerning God’s decision to permit evil. To summarize here are a couple of points I think are preliminary thoughts for our consideration.First we must not conclude that the entrance of evil into the world, both by the fall of Satan, and then by the fall of man, in some way took God by surprise. Therefore the cross of redemption was not an afterthought for God. Jesus was not plan B for a plan that had gone horribly wrong.

Second, I think we must affirm that though God always had full knowledge of evil, for he knows all things. Yet his knowledge of evil does not necessitate causation. Therefore simply because God has foreknowledge of evil does not make him the inventor or creator of evil.

So we must affirm his omniscience and omnipotence. Nothing happens apart from God having full knowledge of it and actually permits it to happen. With that said we must acknowledge that full sovereignty includes God’s ability at any time to restrain or stop evil. Therefore, we conclude that God did allow evil to enter the world and God allows evil to continue to exist, at least in the present age we live in.

As to my best answer as to why God allows the possibility for evil to exist and for man to sin and disobey God, I believe it is out of His desire to place within the heart of man the capacity and possibility for true love. That may first strike you as odd but let me do my best to explain.

It is my belief that the only kind of true love that exists, is love that comes from free will choice. So therefore, I think the only possible way for true love to exist in this world, was for God to create free will beings that are given the capacity to choose, and by default that includes the possibility to make the choice to reject and disobey God.

I am very reformed in my theology. I do think because of the fall, the heart of man is depraved and desperately wicked. I believe that the heart of man is in bondage to sin. I do affirm that only the Holy Spirits calling on the unbeliever is effective to move man toward God in salvation. And I always think it safer to make much of God’s part and little of our choice in our salvation. It is by God’s act of grace on our behalf, and not simply by our choice of Him that we are indeed saved. Yet I also believe we are called to make a choice, and I believe it is a real choice.

Yes – I do believe that the heart of man is given the capacity to make a real choice to accept or reject God, and that free will choice in no way is contradictory to God’s sovereign and predestined plan. Can I fully explain how that works? Nope. It is somewhat wrapped up in the mystery of God and his divine nature.

God is fully sufficient in Himself alone. Yet he has chosen to create man for his good pleasure. The chief end of man is to bring glory to God. He has created us to glorify and worship him, and he seeks true worshippers who worship him in spirit and in truth. He seeks true worshippers, who truly love him.

John 4:23–24 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

That is my best attempt to understand God’s reason for permitting evil or even the possibility for man to choose evil. But the truth of the matter is, as much as we would like to have a complete understanding of it all – in humility we must admit we cannot. We seek to know why God allowed the fall, and exactly how a good and merciful God could permit evil to exist, or how men are left to perish in eternal torment as judgment for their sin, but God does not provide all we would like to know. Rather he provides all that we need to know.

In God’s sovereign and infinite wisdom he simply chose not to explain himself. For example, though we are given a description of the fall of man in Genesis 3, we are not given an explanation of God’s purposes in allowing it. The great pastor and theologian John MacArthur from Grace Community Church has this to say concerning the subject of evil and why God allowed it,“… all I know is what the Bible says. And really I’m very content to know that and not need to know anything else. Scripture never assumes that God owes man, even his children, an explanation for what he does or why he does it. You need to understand that at the very beginning. As Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “the secret things belong to the Lord.” God is not bound to explain to us anything about what he does or why he does it.

Now we might wish we knew more than just the simple account that I read to you. We might wish there was more than the 3rd Chapter of Genesis to tell us about how evil entered the world, but really knowing more was not God’s will. And God does not feel pressed to justify himself or to explain himself to his fallen creatures. Even the noblest of them who identify him as their God. What we know is what God has chosen to tell us. And what he’s chosen to tell us is in the Bible. That’s all we know and that’s all he wants us to know and with that we should be satisfied.”

Therefore we must be content to accept that the answers for many of our questions are wrapped up in the secret things of God, they are to be understood only in the infinite mind of God and are simply unknowable to finite man.

Let me conclude with this thought. The question is sometimes asked, “if God is good and he did not invent evil, but he has the capacity to do something about it, why doesn’t he do anything about it?” The answer to that one is simple to me, “HE HAS”. He has defeated evil, Satan, hell, and the grave.John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”


-Scott Reeder preaches  for the Borden (IN) Church of Christ