Tag Archives: Evil

Are You In the Midst of Despair?

Here we sit on the eve of a New Year.  2017 is about to pass into the annuals of time and 2018 is about to arrive with all of its mystery, and fear, and excitement.  I don’t know what the New Year may hold for you, I don’t even know what the New Year holds for me.  But this is what I do know: GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL.  Praise Him!

I also know that it’s possible the New Year may hold despair for you and those you love.  But if this is the case then I invite you to consider the fact that: GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!

I also invite you to consider the fact that perhaps your despair is not as deep or as life gripping as you might perceive.  Consider this: have you ever walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death?  I mean the actual Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Have you ever found yourself there?  Before you answer that, lets consider where and what the Valley of the Shadow of Death actually is and where we might encounter it in our lives.

King David wrote in the 23 Psalms:

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

The valley here (in verse 4) in not a happy place.  The depiction embodies a place of high mountain walls (that cast deep shadows) that are impossible to climb.  The valley is a place from which there is no escape.  It is a place where you feel trapped and vulnerable.  If you are a soldier, it is a place where your enemies are perched on the high ledges surrounding you waiting to rain down death and destruction upon you.  If you are a sheep, it is a place where the wolves roam the high ledges surrounding you waiting for the moment to pounce.  This makes it a place of fear and trepidation.  A place of never knowing when death and destruction are going to strike next.

There are shadows.  And not just any shadows, we are talking shadows that create a darkness like night.  If you were to look at Psalms 23:4 in the NIV, you would read “even though I walk through the darkest valley“.  Because the word shadows means an intense darkness.  The Englishman’s Concordance calls it “an intense darkness as night itself“.  So it is a valley like night, without any light.  It is a very dark place.  And even though the text does not say this, I would suspect that it is a cold place.  The lack of sunlight, being sheltered by the mountains, being at the bottom of those prepices, it must be cold there.

And finally, there is death.  You are in a valley that smells of death, it reeks of death, it reminds you of it everywhere you look.

The Valley of the Shadow of Death talked about in Psalms 23:4 is a place of fear and a place of NO HOPE.  It should probably have a sign at the entrance to it that reads” “ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE”.

I’ve seen these signs on people’s doors before.  They think they are being funny (and it kind of is, if you think about it).  But they wouldn’t consider it very funny if they really did have to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

It is a place of hopelessness and despair.  Complete hopelessness and despair,  Have you ever been there?  Completely and utterly without hope?  Few of us really have.  Sure, you may have your hard times, your trials and tribulations in life … but completely hopeless?  Probably not.  Most of us, the vast majority of us, always have at least some glimmer of hope in our situations.

This is a place of NO HOPE.  At all.  Whatsoever.  And yet the Psalmist writes: “I will fear no evil“.  The Psalmist IS NOT afraid.  Why?  Because King David had experienced the protection and the awesome power of the Rod and the Staff of the Lord.  And once you have experienced the power of God, not even a hopeless situation can sway you.  Once you understand the awesome power of God, you understand that it really doesn’t matter if he protects you or not.  What you understand is that God has the power to save, and if he chooses not to – HE IS STILL GOD.  That is the what the Psalmist understood and it freed him from the grip of fear.

The good news here is that few of us ever really do walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  I personally believe that it is a place reserved for Prophets to walk through.  I believe God does this on purpose in order to keep the Prophets humble (a very hard task when it comes to Prophets) and to ensure they remain empathetic with the people (a very hard thing for Prophets to do).

So you can probably rest assured today that even in the midst of your pain and suffering, you at least have not yet come to the place of NO HOPE where all is lost.

And if God can take the Prophet through the place of NO HOPE and utter despair, the actual Valley of the Shadow of Death, and the Prophet can walk through without any fear of evil and be comforted at the same time, how much easier is it for God to take you through your own hard times?

How Do You Walk the Line?

In my last post I talked about the judgements we use in our day-to-day lives.  It is clear from Scripture that God intends for us to use good judgement in our lives.  However it is also clear we should not condemn those around us.  The grey area comes when we try to become judge, jury, and executioner with our judgements.  And this might be a much finer tightrope to walk than one might imagine.

So, exactly where do you draw the line and how do you ensure you are walking it?  In the post: Why Did The Tree Have A Name? I stated that the knowledge of good and evil was a dangerous thing.  In this post we are about to find out why I believe that.  But simply put, Satan told Eve that eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would make her “as a god” (and later on, God agreed with that statement).  When we start applying our knowledge of good and evil, when we start judging others, when we start discerning actions around us, quite simply, we have become as gods in our own realm.  And trust me, the last thing we ever want to do in our lives is replace God’s understanding with our own.  Do you want a quick check as to whether or not God (Jesus Christ) is sitting upon the throne of your life?  Look at your judgements.  Check your discernment.  Consider whom you condemn and whom you forgive.

In I Corinthians 5 we have a seemingly difficult case.  Paul of Tarsus has received a specific report of a specific individual who is not only embroiled in an immoral act, but is actually publically boasting about it at the same time, and apparently receiving the approval of the Church.  And Paul calls for the individual to be handed over to Satan.

Contrast this situation to the adulteress who was brought before Jesus Christ in the Temple as recounted in John Chapter 8.  Here we had another individual embroiled in an immoral act and Jesus Christ offers complete forgiveness, yet we might perceive that Paul of Tarsus calls for condemnation (turn him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh).

The difference between the two situations is that in the one case the immoral act was being committed outside of the Church, I might even argue in secret (except that the scribes and Pharisees obviously knew about it), and no one in the Temple was either bragging about It or boasting of it.  In the other case the people of the Church were not only well aware of what was going on, they were encouraging it with their boasting.

In the case of Jesus Christ, he knew that if sinners outside of the Temple were to find nothing but condemnation, they would never come to the Temple.  Who wants to go to the Temple to be condemned?

In the case of Paul of Tarsus, he knew that if sinners outside of the Church saw the Church as boasting and encouraging immorality, they would see nothing but hypocrites.  And who wants to go to Church with a bunch of hypocrites?

In both cases, in the case where the judgement ends in forgiveness, and in the case were the judgement ends in (seemingly) condemnation, the sanctity and the integrity of the house of God (the Church or the Temple) was being maintained.  And that, is good judgement.

Personally, I like to apply the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego test.  Remember these young men in Daniel Chapter 3?  They were the 3 young men who refused to bow down to the idols the government (the king) had set up for all the people of the land.  Why?  Because they knew that if they did, no one in the land would ever want to bow down before Jehovah God ever again.  Why would they?  If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bow down before idols, why waste time with God?  He must not be any better than these idols the king set up.

So what if we were to apply the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego test to some of the biggest issues of our day?  What do we think that would look like?  In my case it would look like this:

Abortion: I’m sorry, I love you, and I don’t condemn you, but only God is the author of life and to not recognize the sanctity of the life that God gives is to deny him.  The Church must continue to preach and to teach against it.  You will always find forgiveness within the Church, but the Church should never support your so-called “right” to usurp God.  The Church should celebrate life, not death.

Same sex marriage: I’m sorry.  I don’t hate you, nor do I condemn you.  But clearly your actions are against the very design of God and the teachings of the Bible.  You may try to erase those teachings, twist them into something else.  You will fail, and the Church should never have to support you in your sin by being forced to conduct wedding ceremonies for your so-called “rights”.

(So called) Hate Speech: I’m sorry.  But when I proclaim Jesus Christ as the only way to God the Father, it is not me that made the claim, rather it was Jesus Christ himself.  I am simply teaching history.  History you may want to rewrite, but history nonetheless.  And for me to teach anything else is for me to deny my faith and to turn my back on my religion.  It is actually those that try to silence the truth that are intolerant and non accepting.  Not myself.

Where do I draw the line?  I draw it at the feet of Jesus Christ.  And I draw it at the foot of the Cross.  That is the point where I cannot step over the line.  The line that I attempt to walk, is the line that lifts up Jesus Christ and gives him all the Praise, and all the Honor, and all the Glory.

In the beginning God told Adam and Eve, do not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because bad things will happen.  Turns out God was right and bad things did happen (and continue to happen today).  About 4,000 years later, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to earth and basically said, ‘OK, you didn’t listen to me in the beginning and because of that you’re in this huge mess.  But I’m going to give you some advice as to how to get through this predicament you’ve placed yourselves in.  And the secret is in your judgement.  Use it wisely and justly.’


I have a question, the answer to which, is not 42.  The answer, “42”, is an esoteric reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a science fiction work by Douglas Adams.  In Douglas Adams’ fantasy realm, the Earth is actually a Super Computer, named Deep Thought, running a 10 million year-long program to calculate the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything“.  A rather fanciful way of asking “What is the meaning of it all?”  And the answer, “42”, has become a euphemism to state “The answer is too complicated for you to understand”.

In reality, the question asked in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is not too complicated to be understood, as long as one goes to the correct source to research the answers.  And that source is the Book Of Life, the Bible, which is the real guide to the universe that God himself provided to mankind.

Of all the other sources available to us, none provides an exact answer to the questions surrounding good and evil with the clarity and finality that the Bible does.  Not Science, nor Religion, nor Philosophy, nor Politics, nor any other source you may care to name.  The answer to the meaning of it all is found in the Bible.  And at the root of that study is the answer to good and evil.

In Genesis chapters 1 & 2, we have the great creation story.  And within that story we have the Garden of Eden with two main inhabitants, Adam and Eve.  And very early on we are introduced to the concept of good and evil.  In Genesis 2:9 God made the plants to grow in the Garden of Eden, two of which, had a name,  One is the Tree of Life and the other is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  And my question today is: “Why were those trees, specifically, named?”  Of all the plants that must have grown within the garden, two were specifically, and deliberately named.  Why did the tree have a name?

The first tree, the Tree of Life, is interesting in and of itself.  It’s purpose is found in Genesis 3:22.  Eat of the Tree of Life, and you live forever.  Pretty straight forward.  Perhaps I’ll come back and revisit the Tree of Life someday, but for now, the tree I’d like to contemplate is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This tree brought death.  At least the taking of the fruit did (Genesis 2:17).  God specifically said that the day Adam ate of this tree, he would surely die.  This is an interesting statement to me because at that time the world did not know death.  Neither Adam nor Eve had any basis for understanding death.  And yet they clearly understood that there were consequences associated with eating of the fruit of this tree.

However, eating of the tree also brought something else.  It brought with it knowledge.  Specifically knowledge of what was good and what was evil.  This is interesting to me because the tree brought knowledge of, not the substance of.  And knowledge is gained by learning, by being taught of something, or by discovery.  Clearly the concept of, and the very existence of, both good and evil existed before the Garden of Eden.  Otherwise there would not have been a tree that provided knowledge of them.

It is also clear who the teacher of the knowledge was (and who held the knowledge prior to the planting of the tree).  In Genesis 3:4-5 the Serpent told Eve that  God knew her eyes would be opened, as gods, knowing good and evil.  Obviously for God to know this, he had to have prior knowledge of good and evil.  And this is not a situation of God possessing all knowledge (epignosis) as the Serpent was aware as well, prior to either Adam or Eve eating of the fruit.

No, God did not simply know the future, that Eve, and then Adam would eat of the fruit of the tree and that evil would suddenly enter into the world.  Evil was a concept that already existed and could be taught.

I also note that the Serpent was partially accurate in what he relayed to Eve.  The tree really did bring knowledge of good and evil.  And more to the point, that knowledge made Adam and Eve (and by extension all of human kind) as gods (Genesis 3:22).  God acknowledges that Adam and Eve had become like Him (the phrase “as one of us” is in reference to the triune God in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to know good and evil.  That is, by eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they had learned of good and evil.  And human kind has known of good and evil ever since.

The sin, for Adam and Eve, was disobeying God and eating of the fruit.  The consequences that it brought into the world is knowledgeKnowledge that humans did not know how to deal with then, and still don’t know how to deal with today.  Dangerous knowledge that God had intentionally protected with  a commandment that Adam and Eve not eat of the fruit of the tree.  God did not warn Adam and Eve of the knowledge they would gain or the consequences thereof.  The Serpent did that.  And he did it rather convincingly since Eve understood that the fruit of the tree would make one wise (Genesis 3:6).

It is interesting to me that the definition for the word wise contains the words power, discernment, and judgement.  Because that is exactly what most of us think of ourselves as.  Powerful, discerning, and judges of right and wrong.  We have become as gods, all because of knowledge of good and evil.  Knowledge that is dangerous in our hands.  Is it any wonder that Christ warned us not to judge (Matthew 7:1-5)?  Because though we may be as gods, we are not The God, who judges rightly and perfectly in every case.

Another thing that knowledge of good and evil does to us is to make us believe we are self-sufficient.  We have power (knowledge), and discernment (to chart our own course), and judgment (to rightly align those around us).  Nothing is further from the truth.  It is the greatest deception of all time.  Those are exactly the things we should be crying out to God for and relying solely on Him to provide in our lives.  But because we have not, we stand in our own understanding and then wonder why we have conflict and struggle in the world.

So you see, there is a reason as to why the tree had a name.  The question is, are we going to understand the reason and apply it to our lives?

Are You Good Enough To Get Into Heaven?

A question that I have asked a few times in the past on this blog deals with exploring why there is evil in the world.  I’ve asked this question both from the standpoint of why God allows bad things to happen to good people and why God allows evil in the world if he is indeed a good and gracious God.

However, a question that is seldom explored, and one that I have rarely, if ever, heard espoused from a theological standpoint is Can an evil person commit good acts?  Most purveyors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ seek to point out mankind’s sin.  That we are fallen creatures.  And that we are separated from a Just and Holy God.

The Bible explains that we cannot have any hope of eternal life save from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  And the entire reason that sacrifice was (and is) necessary is because we are a fallen creation.  That is, all of humankind is sinful.  We have violated God’s law, and are worthy of death, which is an eternity in Hell.

And thus evangelists, those that seek to spread the Good News that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the hope of winning souls (changing lives) for His Kingdom and His Glory, are apt to explain the state of mankind.  And that state is a separated, sinful state.  But the Good News is that we need not suffer the penalty of that state because the price has already been paid for us.  By God himself.  As only he could.

I’ll return to that in a moment.  But before I do, perhaps you are one of the many who has wondered what in the world you have ever done to deserve God’s wrath.  Perhaps you have wondered, if indeed the Bible is true (and I assure you it is), why God’s standard is so high as to condemn all who have lived, who live, or who ever will live.

In other words, why would God’s grand design be one in which we cannot win?

The genesis of this question, whether we recognize it or not, comes from putting ourselves (humankind) at the center of the equation and not God.  We want to consider things from our point of view and not His.  But the creation should never try and explain the rules to the Creator.  Rather we should seek to understand Him and His purpose, His plan, and His grand design.  We can never understand it apart from Him because He is the one who put it all into motion.  Not us.

And when we consider things from our point of view we begin to reason that yes, perhaps I have lied, but they were only little white lies.  No one got hurt by them.  They were not some atrocious acts of evil that altered the world.  After all, the vast majority of us who have ever lived can honestly say that we have not murdered anyone.  And therefore we are mostly good and only a little bad, and thus we are not really deserving of Hell, and if there is a God (and I assure you there is) He will look favorably on us because we tried really hard and did more good than we ever did bad.

In doing so, we fail to consider things from God’s point of view.  God never, ever, once (that I am aware of) asked if we had told an egregious lie, only if we had lied.  Whatever that lie may have been.  And God never, ever, once applied some scale of good and evil to our state of sin.  Only whether we had, or had not sinned.  And the Bible clearly states that ALL have sinned (and thus come short of the Glory of God).

This then creates what many may think is a paradox.  How is it, that humankind, who is sinful in nature, can do so much good in the world?  If I am so bad, why is it I am so good?  Can one who is evil in nature, find it in their heart to do good in the world?

The Bible, not surprisingly, has an answer to that question.  No one would disagree that there is good in the world.  Of course there is.  But to place ourselves at the center of that good is a fallacy and leads us down a very dangerous path.

Paul of Tarsus explained it this way in Romans 8:18-24:  We are told that it is God who shows mercy and lifts up those who falter.  Even when we sin against God himself, God works His plan for good: Genesis 50:20.  Paul further asks the question:

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?  22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,  24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:21-24, KJV).

Paul, after telling us in Romans chapter 8 that we are all sinners who have fallen short of the Glory of God, tells us in Romans chapter 9 that we cannot even lay claim to the good that is in the world as it is God, and God alone, that shows His mercy in us by allowing His good works to be wrought in us.

So are we good enough to get into Heaven?  Most decidedly No.  Not when perceived from God’s point of view.  But are we without hope, being placed in a no-win situation by the very Creator who set His great plan into motion in the first place?  Of course not.  You, and I, and everyone else, have been given the free choice of belief.  We simply need to believe in Him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the great work he did upon the Cross in order to redeem us from our sin.

Why?  Because it is all about Him, and not about us.  It is for His Honor, and His Glory, and for Him to receive Praise.

We simply need to stop making it about ourselves, and start making it all about Him.

Does God Want Bad Things For You?

A question that I have pontificated upon before, but nonetheless a difficult question in life is: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  The basic premise is: If God is such a loving and kind God why is there pain and suffering in the world?  It is a concept that even the brightest minds and strongest of faith amongst us struggle with.  It is also a rather foolish argument that some use to reject faith, especially Christianity.

I have considered these topics in several postings in the past, but always with reasoning as to why God would allow pain and suffering in our lives.  But the question still remains: Does God intend for bad things to happen in our lives?

This question surfaced recently when I was asked the question “Did God intend for me to have cancer?”  I didn’t answer the question at the time it was posed because the question came from a close family member and it would not have been respectful to do so.

However I know that many people have the exact same question in their lives.  They cry out “Why me?” and “What did I do to deserve this?

But have we considered the question from God’s perspective?  I have provided logic and reasoning in the past as to why we may expect a world of good and evil from mankind’s perspective, but does God really and truly design bad things for people’s lives?

I think this is an extremely important question to answer because it goes directly to the question of God being in control.  If God is God, then is he really in control?  And if he is in control, then why do these things happen?

I’d like to share with you my view by answering the question with a question.  “Did God intend for Job to lose everything he had?”  Remember the story of Job?  Job was the greatest man in the East – Job 1:3.  He was greatly blessed by God.  And yet in a single moment Job lost his donkeys, his oxen, his sheep, his camels, his servants, and even his sons and daughters – Job 1:13-19.  The question is: “Did God INTEND for Job to lose everything?”  We all know from the story that it was Satan who took these things from Job’s life, but consider the whole host of errors that God had to commit in order to get to that point:

This first error God would have had to commit was to bring up Job in the first place: Job 1:6-8.  Notice that it was God who brought up Job in the first place, asking whether or not Satan had considered him.  Did God really and truly believe that bringing up Job to Satan would not, or could not possibly result in bad things?  Of course God knew that pointing Job out to Satan was going to result in Satan showing an interest in the subject.  Do you really believe that God is that bad of a Chess player?  Of course not, God knew full well what he was doing and what the outcome would be.

The second error God would have had to commit was to taunt Satan with Job’s record – Job 1:8-10.  Note the second half of verse 8, God refers to Job as a perfect, and an upright man.

I think it important to note here Satan’s reasoning for why Job was a perfect and an upright man – Job 1:10.  Satan places Job’s condition squarely at the feet of God.  God placed the hedge of protection about him.  God blessed his life and all that he had.  Satan basically said “God, you are the one who made him perfect and upright, of course he fears you.”  We need to consider this when accounting for the blessings in our lives.  If Satan himself acknowledges God as the source of all good things, maybe we should as well.

At any rate, do you really believe that God did not consider the turn for the worse that things would take if he were to flaunt Job’s record in front of Satan?  Did God not believe that Satan would challenge him on that?  Of course not!  Once again God knew perfectly well what he was doing and what the course of events would be.

But the third error God would have had to commit was to lower the shield of protection that he had placed around Job – Job 1:11-12.  Do you really and truly believe that God did not know that bad things would happen if he lowered his protection from Job and placed all that he had in the power of Satan?  Perhaps you would like to believe that this was a test for Satan and God was hoping that Satan would do the right thing?  But Job 2 implies a different story.  God knew what he was doing, and God knew perfectly well what the outcome would be.  God even told Satan that he had moved against him and that he sought to destroy him without cause.

The answer to the question as to whether God wanted bad things to happen to Job?  Well I think God made 3 egregious errors that need not have been made if he truly intended to protect Job and all that he had.  And since I do not believe that God, being God, is capable of making mistakes, I am left with the alternative that Yes, God fully intended to allow bad things to happen to Job.

And if God could have stopped all of the disastrous events in Job’s life, I know he could stop the cancer in the bodies of those around us today.  But he chooses not to.  Does God intend, really and truly, for us to experience bad things?  Well, let me say that God is completely, 100% in control all the time and that nothing happens that he does not want to happen and that nothing catches him by surprise.

Why?  Consider the blind man in John 9:1-3.  Jesus answered his disciples that neither the man nor his parents had sinned, but that the man had been blind from birth simply for the glory of God.  And that is the answer for everything in our lives.  Whether it be great blessings or incredible hardships, or happiness, or sadness.  It is all for His Honor, and His Glory, and His Pleasure.  Praise be to my Lord Jesus Christ.

Further Considerations of Hell

Yesterday I left you with my belief that God, The God, The One True God, Jehovah God, created Sin. and that he actually allowed evil to come into existence by design.  I also stated that I believe he did this by creating Satan (the Angel Lucifer) as a vessel of dishonor for the purpose of bringing evil into existence.

This thought probably does not sit well with most non Christians and quite a few Christians as well.  But let me ask you a couple more questions.  Did God create the Angel Lucifer (Satan)?  Of course he did.  We know from Scripture that God and God alone is the only being outside of time and space (meaning he just IS and always HAS BEEN).  And did God know that Satan was going to rebel (Sin) against him and take one-third of the Heavenly host with him at the time (at the exact moment) He created him?  Of course He did.  He absolutely knew what would occur.  To think that God did not know what Satan’s actions would be in advance of his creation would be to limit God.  And if you limit God against his nature, he would no longer be God.  In other words, God is either omniscient (all-knowing) or else he is not God.  You can not have it both ways.  If an attribute of God is that he is all-knowing (and this is a base characteristic of God for me), then he has to have full knowledge of the actions and their consequences that He is taking.  And by-the-way, if you want to bring a god to the table that is somehow only partially omniscient, I’ll tell you that is not my God or else your understanding of my God is incomplete.  My God is in full control, including in control of all of the evil in the world today, or that ever has been in the world, or ever will be in the world.

If you are with me up to this point, we are at the shocking (for some) realization that God carried through with a certain set of plans knowing that those plans were going to result in evil and Sin (that which is against the nature of God).  And that he did so with intent and that it is part of his great plan.

I believe the next question most reasonable people ask at this point is: Why?  Why would God allow evil, and pain, and suffering, and hurt, and Sin to come into the world?  Why would he do that?  And some might even ask (or state): Doesn’t that make Him a bad God?  Paul addressed this in Romans Chapter 9.  He asks this very question in Romans 9:14.  I hope you take time to read the whole chapter very carefully, but here Paul acknowledges that some would come to the conclusion that there is unrighteousness in God.  And if I may paraphrase his answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I have on many occasions mentioned Dr. Ravi Zacharias here.  I sincerely hope you take some time to follow this man’s ministry.  I can only hope to say this as eloquently as he would, but consider this:

Without evil how would you ever know good?  Without pain how would you know sorrow?  Without sadness how would you know happiness?  Without loss how would you ever know gain?  Without lows how would you ever know highs?  Without unrighteousness how would you ever know righteousness?  Without God’s great plan how would you ever, ever know of His great mercy and love?

Every scientific discipline I know of in the world today creates baselines of study.  In other words they collect data to establish what is normal.  They then conduct their experiments with-respect-to that baseline.  Looking for good deviations and bad deviations.  Without establishing the baseline first, the results are meaningless.  I need the baseline in order to determine what my data actually means.

Could God have created a perfect utopia without sin or pain?  Sure, he could have.  But then you and I would have not had any reference point when God told us about the suffering he had kept us from.  We would have existed without a baseline, without a reference point, and would have never, ever known God’s Mercy or his Love.

With this line of reasoning, Paul of Tarsus has brought us to the realization of two things.  One is that God is completely in control.  There is nothing more freeing (in my experience) than the understanding that Satan, Sin, Evil cannot (and will not) win.  This world can throw all the pain and hurt and sadness it possibly can at me and it simply does not matter.  In the end, God wins and I am his child.  The second is that God has established for us a baseline.  We can now know His Mercy, His Righteousness, His Love, His Grace, and we can know it experientially because he has shown us the unmerciful, the unrighteous, the hateful and the scornful.  We now KNOW what God means when He says He Loves us.  We understand His Mercy and His Grace.  We can fully praise Him for His Righteousness because we were unrighteous and He made us Righteous before Him.

But now that God has created the baseline, the contrast, the experiential part of this creation what do we think he will do with it?  Is it going to go away?  I believe the answer to that is No.  Humanity is a fickle set of creatures.  We need to constantly refer to our baselines and update our reference points.  No, I believe God is going to keep the Sin and the Unrighteousness around.

And He has a place for the Sin and the Unrighteous.  And that place is HellHell is where he will lock away Sin for all of eternity.  A constant contrast and an ever-present reminder of His Mercy and His Grace.

And now, from that perspective, Hell suddenly becomes a very real place.  Hell: Fantasy or Reality?  I assure you, very, very REAL.

Hell: Fantasy or Finality?

A while back I had a post here in which I mentioned Hell.  In that post I based arguments on some assumptions that were given’s up front in my discussion and I purposely did not offer a definition or an explanation of Hell for the stated reason that I wanted to revisit the subject of Hell in more depth one day.  Let’s make that day today.

But before I get to the actual subject of Hell itself, which I may actually have to address in several separate posts,   Please allow me to lay some groundwork with a short examination of why I believe we have both good and evil in the world.

I had a friend of mine (my friend is a lawyer and is quite intelligent.  He passed the Florida Bar the first time he took it.) once tell me that he believed people were born in a neutral state.  That is a person comes into this world without any disposition towards good or evil.  As time goes on, a person is then influenced by good and evil forces within their lives and they are pushed and pulled towards one side or the other.  Kind of like Star Wars.  You either choose the light side of the force or the dark side of the force.  It is amazing to me the number of people in the world (I would guess the vast majority, although I have no definitive statics on this) that have this exact same philosophy.  There is one religion in the world that does not teach this, and that religion is Christianity.  And thus it is even more amazing to me the number of Christians that seem to hold this basic belief.

There are a couple of fundamental problems I believe you should have with this thinking.  The first is “Where did the first evil person get their influence from?”  For that matter where did the first good person get their influence from?  If we indeed started out neutral, and are still born that way today, how did good and evil come to exist to begin with?  And who was it that first defined what was good and what was evil?  I’ve addressed this conundrum of morals in this previous post.

The second problem I believe you should have with this philosophy is that you should ask yourself the question “Which side is winning?  Good or evil?”  Is there more good in the world today or is there more evil in the world, and why?

People want to believe that both forces have existed from the beginning of time (they have, from humanity’s standpoint) and that the great struggle is for humankind and we are caught in the balance waiting to see who will win, the forces of good or the forces of evil.

Christianity however teaches that people are born into sin.  That is they are alienated from God.  Having a propensity towards evil and that there is no good in them.  Paul of Tarsus made this argument rather eloquently in Romans and every Christian should be familiar with it.

But were good and evil always present?  Meaning did they both exist equally before the beginning of time?

Let’s see if we can ask some theological questions that will help us with this question.  The first question I would like to ask is: Where did God come from?  A Christian’s answer should be God has always been and always will be.  He had no beginning and He has no end.  God Is.  My second question would be: Is God good, or is God evil?  And once again, a Christian’s answer should be God is good.  My third question would be: Is there any scenario ever where God’s will is not fulfilled?  Now before you answer that, think about it very carefully. Is there anything (anything at all) that God does not know is going to happen or exactly how it is going to happen?  Is there any scenario where God could ever lose a battle?  Is there anything that could ever surprise God or catch him off guard?  Is there anything that God could not change should he so desire?  By definition, God is in absolute control.  It is His show.  It is His creation.  He is preeminent.  He, and He alone is supreme.  Therefore, your answer should be No.  God’s will is always fulfilled.

So my next question would be: Where did evil come from?  Well if it existed before time, wouldn’t God have been aware of it?  He should have been.  And would not God have been able to erase it?  Why wouldn’t He?  He is, after all God.  It does not theologically follow that evil existed either prior to or current with God’s own existence.  Evil has not just always existed without beginning or end.  Evil came into existence just like anything else in creation with God’s full knowledge and approval.

So the real wonderment then becomes the understanding that it was created along with the everything else.  Now I personally don’t believe that God, in a single act just brought Sin into existence.  What I believe he did is, he created the avenue for Sin to come into existence knowing full well that it would fulfil the course he set it on.  This is explained in Romans Chapter 9.  In Romans 9:21 Paul asks the question as to whether God has the power and the wherewithal to make both good and bad vessels.  Paul concludes that he does.  I believe God created Satan for the express purpose of bringing Sin into existence.  He created him as a vessel of dishonor.  Why would God do such a thing?  Paul answers this question in Romans 9:17 and in Romans 9:22-24.  God allowed Sin to come into existence through a vessel of dishonor that he created in order to show his great purpose.

And what of HellHell is God’s containment vessel for that Sin.  Hell is the holding place where he is going to keep it locked up for eternityHell is the prison that will separate the unrighteous from the righteous for ever and ever.

And from that consideration – Hell is very much a finality and not fantasy.  Next – Further Considerations of Hell.

I Am Chief Amongst Sinners

Let me just be brutally honest with the rest of the world here for a brief moment in time.  I am the worst person I know.  By this I mean that I AM THE FOREMOST SINNER IN THE WORLD.

And let me be clear as to exactly what I am saying here.  Dictionary.com defines sin as: “transgression of divine law“, which is a fair definition.  Merriam-Webster eventually gets to that in their definition here (see 2a).  A slightly better definition might be Sin: anything that offends God.  A slightly more refined definition might be: Sin: that which is against the nature of God.

Whereas Evil is defined as: morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked.  Evil IS sin, however in the humankind preponderance of things, Sin is not necessarily Evil.

That is to say a Sin is telling a lie.  Telling a lie is a transgression of God’s law.  However, depending on the lie, most people do not think of a lie, in and of itself, as evil.  A serial killer such as Ted Bundy is thought of as Evil, and usually (by most) as a sinner.  Ergo humans have a tendency to separate Evil and Sin, usually equating Sin with Evil, but not necessarily Evil with Sin.  But I’ll get back to this in just a minute.

To further clarify, just let me say that in order to Sin you must transgress God’s law or offend the nature of God.  And THE God I am referring to here is NOT Buddha, or Allah, or any of the gods of Hinduism, or Gaia, or any of the Greek gods, or any other god, but rather Jehovah God, the God of Abraham and Isaac.  The God of Israel.  The God of the Bible, the Word of God.  The God I refer to here is the great I AM, the one true God known to the world as a triune being in the parts of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The Creator, the Alpha and the Omega, the One that was, and Who is, and Who is to come.

Now I realize that you may have a different god, or no god at all, or perhaps just not agree with my definition or identity of God.  And I need you to understand that I respect that, I really do.  However I need to be perfectly clear here in order for you to understand exactly what I mean when I say I AM CHIEF AMONGST SINNERS.  Because I mean specifically, not generally, and I mean I am a transgressor of God’s law.  THE God’s law.  Because when it comes right down to it, if your God is just a god, or some god, and not THE God, then what does it matter if you’ve sinned against him or not?  After all, eventually it is THE God that matters, not any other god in between.

So, as I keep saying, I AM CHIEF AMONGST SINNERS.  A violator of God’s law.  And God’s law, when you are referring to Jehovah God, would be the Ten Commandments.  In this context I would be found to be an Idolater, a Liar, a Thief, a Coveter, basically one who has violated all the laws of God.  I am the person on the face of the Earth who has grieved the heart of God more than any other.

And I constantly have some people who know me tell me “No you’re not.  There are EVIL people in the world.  There are much worse people in the world than you“.  But are there really?  From God’s perspective we are all sinners (Romans 5:11-13) and (from God’s perspective) Sin is Wicked (i.e. Evil) (2 Chronicles 7:13-15).  Note that in 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says that if his people shall turn from their WICKED ways … he will forgive their SIN.  God equates Sin to Wickedness (and recall that our definition of Evil was those that are wicked).  God goes as far as to declare that even though we speak righteousness, we harbor wickedness within our hearts (Psalm 58:1-3).  From God’s perspective, we have all sinned and come short of the Glory of God, and we are all wicked in our hearts.

OK, but what makes me the most sinful of all the sinners who have ever walked the face of the Earth or who ever will walk the face of the Earth?  Well some two thousand years ago another man, Paul of Tarsus, said that he was chief amongst sinners (I Timothy 1:14-16).  Look at verse 16 there.  The Apostle Paul says: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering …“.  The Apostle Paul said “in me first“.  And he said this because he knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that redemption must, by necessity, start with him FIRST.

You see, if I am championing YOUR redemption, if I am constantly judging YOU to be the biggest sinner, but I have not been redeemed myself, then all is lost for I have not only failed you, but I have also failed in and of myself.  When it comes to recognizing your need for redemption, it must start with you and nowhere else.

And thus, from my perspective, I AM CHIEF AMONGST SINNERS.  Because the one thing I do know, is that I NEED God’s redemption.  And it begins with me, and nowhere else.

One other thing about understanding your standing with God and the rest of the world.  And this goes to the heart of something I believe we have lost in today’s world.  And that is understanding the songwriter William R. Newell when he wrote “Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!  Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!  Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span At Calvary!“, because the greater the understanding of my sinfulness, the greater that mighty gulf that God did span At Calvary.

However, here is the word of encouragement for YOU:  If God would span that gulf At Calvary for one who is Chief Amongst Sinners, as I am, then how much more would God be willing to go for YOURSELF?  I believe the answer is: ALL THE WAY.  I challenge you to check it out and see if I am right.

Life Changes

Have you ever felt like you are at the gambling table of life when you suddenly get dealt the worst possible hand imaginable?  No matter how well you plan, or what kind of in-roads you think you may be making, you wake up one morning and suddenly find yourself facing seemingly dire circumstances.

It probably happens to most of us in some way, shape, or form.  For some of us it may seem more ominous and more devastating than it does for others.  At times you may even feel trapped and unable to see a way out.  You may wonder why your world is crashing down around you.  Or you may shrink in fear of the unknown or lose hope in all you know or those you love.

It is at times like these that your world view can make all the difference.  It is also at times like these that an understanding of Faith can help you in your wisdom and understanding of the world around you.

A friend of mine once wrote:

“If my logic thus far hasn’t persuaded you, let me try out a moral argument that will attempt to discredit miracles as proof of God’s existence.  By claiming to have experienced a miracle, such as a miraculously healed broken bone, or a complete remission of cancer, people are placing themselves into a precarious moral position.  I would suggest that it is folly to imply that God has intervened to mend a broken body when He doesn’t provide the same service for all broken bodies, or for that matter, to intervene and prevent the break in the first place (you knew I’d have to bring the omnipotence issue again).  Furthermore, to take this position to its most disgusting extreme, it is absolutely the height of arrogance to assume that God has intervened in the above circumstances when child abusers go unpunished every day.”

(The Word of God – A Logical and Moral Dilemma  pg. 161)

Yet my friend once told me that he had a lot of faith (little “f”) but not much Faith (big “f”).  Meaning his faith was in human kind (people) but not in God.

The argument is that if God were consistent (which, by-the-way, He is) there would be no (so-called) inconsistency with those that experience miracles and those that do not.

The failure in this line of reasoning is that it assumes that God somehow made a mistake along the way and that he suddenly needs to intervene in his creation to “set things back on their proper course“.

And yet it was the Founding Father’s of America themselves that determined:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Yet many of life’s circumstances are thrust upon us by the actions of others in our lives.  Here we are, trying to “pursue happiness” when we find our path blocked by those around us who are pursuing their own happiness.

When we find ourselves in these situations it can sometimes be extremely frustrating and we lose faith in humanity around us.  It is easy to have faith when things are going our way and the stars seem aligned along our path.  But it is difficult to have Faith when we seemingly hold a losing hand and there is little rhyme or reason as to the situation we find ourselves in.

It is at these times when the Christian world view can proclaim:

“Have faith in God, He’s on His throne,
Have faith in God, He watches over His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail,
Have faith in God, Have faith in God.”

Because it is the Christian world view that understands that God is always in control, even when you do not believe he is.  God is in control when those around you are blessed and you are seemingly cursed.  God is in control when things go your way, or even when they do not.  God is always on His Throne.

My friend ought to have asked a more poignant question rather than why God does not perform miracles for all broken bodies.  He should have asked why some child abusers are even punished in the first place.  That is he should have asked what makes a particular wrong a wrong.

We do not necessarily understand all of the impacts of good and evil in our world.  We do not even understand why we are faced with seemingly impossible situations in our lives.  What the Christian world view does understand is that God is God, and he is always on His Throne.  And understanding that, having Faith in God, leads us to believe that no matter what the injustice, no matter what the heartache, no matter what the sorrows or trials within our lives, there is a bigger picture beyond us.  There is a God and his plan is perfect even when we cannot see it.

The Christian world view understands that we are experiencing the vastness of God’s plan and we are experiencing Him with each and every breath we take.

And if your world view contains no God, what do you have then?  Cosmic Chaos?  Just the matter of the Universe bumping around forcing all of the other matter around it along a particular course?  Even if that course seemingly contradicts the path that one might take in the “pursuit of happiness“?

I’ll go with God’s plan.  After all, if I’m wrong there isn’t a whole lot of meaning to what happens anyway.  And if your world view states that their is no God, then the “pursuit of happiness” is a vain effort in and of itself.