The Nature and Origin of Evil
In the first article, I introduced a teaching that adds healing and financial blessing to the atonement. (This is in addition to salvation.) In the second article, I provided a primary reason why I think that this teaching is dangerous. In the third, fourth and fifth articles, I examined Isaiah 53:5, John 10:10 and 1 John 3:8 which are passages cited for this doctrine.
So far, we have seen that work of Jesus atoning on the cross was for the sins of His children. As noted in 1 John 3:8, He has destroyed the works of the devil which is the mastery of sin. Those who abide in Christ, who are no longer children of the devil, will stop practicing sin. This is the work of the atonement, the destruction of sin’s mastery over us. John argued that we are unable to practice sin if we are children of God.
If we argue that sickness and poverty was also atoned for, then we equate sickness and poverty with sin. Thus, it would be right to warn a poor or sick person that he is not saved. Paul would be wrong to tell Timothy to drink some wine for his sick stomach and frequent ailments (1 Tim. 5:23). He would also need to question his sonship in Christ since “the thorn in the flesh” was never removed – even after consistent prayer (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
No, these ideas are absurd. Timothy wasn’t living in sin. Paul wasn’t a child of the devil. Moreover, the blind beggar of John 9 was only healed of his blindness, not his poorness. Jesus had no home or finances to afford one (Lk. 9:58) nor did he have money to pay His taxes (Matt. 17:24-27). This idea is so absurd that it puts the entire Bible into question. What else could we say to all of the disciples who were martyred or left without anything but rocks?
Not only are these ideas absurdities, they are also premised on a faulty foundation – the nature and origin of evil. They suppose that all evils are from Satan and therefore, sin. But the Bible says something far different.
The proponents of this idea pose the question: Who should we blame for all of the evils in the world according to Genesis 3? They are expecting the answer to be Satan since since Adam sinned after the temptation of Satan and there is a law of cause and effect.
So begin there. Let’s look at what happens in Eden. There are only four characters to consider as the story unfolds. And we must blame at least one for the evils that we suffer today. There is God, Satan (appearing as a serpent), Adam and Eve. Since God holds Adam responsible for Eve’s actions, we will reduce the count to three (less Eve).
The question is, “Who do we blame for the evils we see today?” First, God created Satan and Adam. Then tells Adam to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16). Second, Satan appears and bears the mark of sin (he is deceitful). So, at some point before now and after he was created, he sinned against God. However, his sin has not effected the rest of creation (there is no curse on creation). Adam was not suffering any evils, except the temptation of Satan.
It is worth our effort to ask ourselves at this point, if the serpent is bringing evil into the garden, a land upheld by God for man, then God had to have allowed it. In other words, the very fact that Satan is tempting Eve means that God permitted and, since He is Sovereign and Omniscient, preordained it to happen. So, the first evil is seen in Satan as part of God’s ordained plan. This evil is of Satan’s doing and God’s ordination. We blame Satan first, then (due to the cause and effect) we blame God (not for doing evil, but for making a being who could do evil and then allowing the being to be evil).
Third, Satan tempts Eve and Adam stands by passively witnessing it (which is arguably an evil thing to do since he was her protector and accountability). He then submits to her by taking the fruit after she eats (another evil thing to do since it is a distortion of God’s design). And Adam eats and breaks the command of God.
Knowing this, God comes down to the garden and asks what happened (but, not because He didn’t know). He asks Adam since he was holding Adam accountable. Adam blames Eve. Eve blames Satan. And so do the believers of the “adding to the atonement” teaching.
Now, at this point, and in my opinion, if we blame Satan, we are no more smarter than Eve. If we blame Eve, we are no more smarter than Adam. Both of them were trying to escape the wrath of God and not thinking godly. I would suggest that if you do the same, you are guilty of the same. This is sinful reasoning.
So, God curses Satan because he tempted Eve (Gen. 3:14-15). He curses Eve because she disobeyed God and didn’t submit to Adam (Gen. 3:16). He curses Adam (and all the Earth) because he disobeyed God and submitted to Eve (Gen. 3:17-19).
From then until now, suffering has been a reality in this world. The question is not who did Adam blame or who did Eve blame, but who did God blame? The answer is simple, the immediate blame rests on those who did wrong. God cursed all of them for what they did individually. Then cursed the whole of creation for what Adam did individually.
But this doesn’t answer the question of evil’s origin. We first noticed evil in Satan. Then we noticed it in Adam. Then we noticed it in Eve. Then the Fall occurred. When I was taught the teaching of adding sickness and poverty to the atonement, I was told to consider the cause and effect relationship in the story of the Fall. In other words, what caused Adam to sin? What caused Eve to sin?
Not to get too complex, but the issue of evil existing does not depend on the issue of Fallenness. We notice evil before the Fall of Adam. Moreover, evil is not necessarily sin, the breaking of God’s command as we just discovered.
We saw evil when the serpent questioned God’s command and was being deceitful. We saw evil when Even questioned God’s command. We also saw evil when Adam passively watched his wife be deceived, tempted, and sin. But the law of God was broken when Adam took the forbidden fruit from the hands of his wife and ate it. This is what God commanded him not to do.
So, whether you disbelieve God’s divine design of man and woman and their roles or not, you must reconcile the fact that evil was in the world before the sin of Adam. Moreover, the curse of creation did not come until God judged Adam. So there is a time lapse between sin and the suffering that the world sees even today. In other words, God cursed the whole of creation, not Adam.
Still, to resolve the issue of blame, let’s see how God answers the question. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, argued that Adam is to blame for the sins of mankind. “For as in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22). That is to say that we are all represented in Adam. We are being held responsible for what Adam has done because Adam was our representative.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned … Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” (Rom. 5:12-14)
We are all sinners and we will all be judged just as Eve was judged for her sin. We can blame Adam for his sin that made us all sinners. However, we are not removed from our own sin. We sin because we are sinners. And we will be punished for our sin. We are all guilty.
However, if you want to force the blame to one cause, then you must blame God. For it was God who created all things and created all things in a way to function. God is not evil, but He made man (and angels) with the ability to do evil.
Notice that in the Romans passage above, Jesus is the second Adam (as far as our timeline is concerned), but the first Adam is called a “type” which is a shadow of the real thing. In actuality, Jesus was first and before the existence of man. Adam was made in order to shadow Jesus. In other words, God ordained the atoning work of Christ and then ordained Adam to bring it about because a shadow does not appear until the object of the shadow does.
The origin of evil is not the origin of sin. The question of who brought evil into the world is not the question of who brought sin into the world. Isaiah 45:7 reads, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” Amos seems to agree, “Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?”
Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” And finally, Lamentations 3:37-38, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” The word “calamity” is the word for evil (as translated in the King James Version).
Apparently, some evil is the immediate work of God. This is natural evil. Another evil is moral evil. This is a the desire and action of doing contrary to God’s law. Another word for this kind of evil is sin. Sickness and poverty are not categorically called moral evils. They are natural evils.
There is more to be said, but the point is this: Evils are not all from the devil nor man, some are from God. The final cause of all things, however, belongs to the Lord. He has preordained that all these things happen in order that we understand and know God as the one who “practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth” (Jer. 9:24). Ultimately, things that are good or bad, will bring God glory because this is the reason that they were made. It may show His justice or it may show is mercy, but either way, it will show Him.
So, to answer the question stated at the beginning, “Who should we blame for all of the evils in the world?” If we pointing blame to the first cause, then we blame God. If we are blaming the immediate cause, we blame man. The devil was all apart of the divine plan. We can only blame him for being an agent to help bring things about.
In closing, sickness and poverty are a result of the curse God placed on His creation. We are all cursed because of Adam. We sin because we are sinners because of Adam. We are held guilty before God because of our sins and our association with Adam.
For this, we need the perfect Adam. We need the one who Adam shadowed. We need Christ. So Christ, atoned for our sins. If we believe, we then adopted into Christ and out of Adam. We are then in association with Christ.
Still, here we are in this cursed land and in our cursed bodies. The curse remains. But our association has changed. So we live and die here with sickness and poverty and other natural evils because God has permitted it and ordained it to happen for His glory.