(6 of 9 in a series on “Why do bad things happen to good people?”)
When the pain we experience seems capricious, random, or unexplainable, I believe that rather than blaming God, we need to recognize we have a powerful, dark, and active enemy who hates us. As C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked about a Dark Power in the universe – a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease and sin.”
God is not the author of evil. For too long, in our dogmatism about the sovereign plan of God, we have either inadvertently or deliberately, painted God as the author of evil. With this foundational error, it comes as no surprise that many among us blame God for evil and suffering on both a personal and worldwide scale. Inquiring minds soon see a contradiction between our teaching on God’s love and goodness, and the evil He supposedly prescribes which, to them, becomes untenable and they abandon the faith. Let me say again, God is not the author of evil.
We think we are enhancing God’s reputation by ascribing to Him the authorship of all things. But we are actually harming God’s reputation when we imply the evil that befalls us is part of God’s sovereign plan. I believe the best way to make God’s name famous in all the earth is to point people to Christ as the most complete image of God. When we look into the face of Christ, we see God the Father.
“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (II Cor 4:4,6). Satan, the god of this world, is the one actively working to keep men from seeing the “glory of God in the face of Christ.” Why? Because when we look into the face of Christ, it becomes clear that Christ, the image of God, is not the author of evil. It does not fit the New Testament picture of our Savior.
Satan does this to cover his tracks, because, as the Bible teaches, Satan is the author of evil. Jesus simply called him “the evil one” (Mt 13:19). By his very nature, he is evil, deceptive, and a pathological liar (Jn 8:44). As to his influence, he is “the god of this world” (II Cor 4:4), “the ruler of this world” (Jn 16:11), “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2) and “the whole world lies in the power, or grip, of the evil one” (I Jn 5:19). Satan is the author of evil.
If Satan seeks to do us harm and is one of the three reasons bad things happen to good people, how do we know when he is at work? When bad things happen, how do we know when it is God’s training program or the work of Satan? We will take up this question next time.