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.