A perplexing question for theologians is “How can evil exist in a world created by an all-good, all-loving, all-powerful God?”

If God created only good, from where does evil come and why doesn’t God prevent it?

In the beginning there was not evil. The book of Genesis, in the Bible, describes “the beginning” when only God existed until, with the simple command, “Let there be….”, God created the heavens, the earth and all that is in them. What had not existed came into being and all was created good: things visible and invisible, things living and non-living, angelic pure spirits and human beings made in the image and likeness of God. When everything acted according to its nature as God intended, all creation existed in peace and harmony and gave honor and praise to God. There was no evil in the world. The world was by its very existence a prayer of praise to God as is expressed in the following: “Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. You heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Nights and days, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Lightenings and clouds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. Mountains and hills, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Everything growing on earth, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. All you mortals, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.” Dan. (3:57-59, 62-63, 71, 73-76, 80-82)

Evil entered the world through angels and men who abused their special gifts of intellect and free will. Intellect allowed them to understand, to discern, to know, good and bad. Free will allowed them to choose to do good or bad, to freely respond to God’s love with love and praise, or to reject what was good, to abuse what was good and if to choose what was not good. Intellect and free will made angels and humans capable of sinning and through sin to bring evil into the world. With regard to angels, Scripture tells us that God created nine choirs of angels: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels and angels, that exist in a hierarchical relationship to one another and have different powers and responsibilities in relationship to God. Archangels are the most frequently mentioned in the Bible and have a unique role as God’s messengers to people at critical times in history and salvation, as in the Annunciation and Apocalypse. All the angels were created to give honor and glory to God and to serve God in their particular ways.

Angels were among the first to sin. Satan, probably the greatest of all the angels (Ezekiel 28:l2-I8), due to pride, chose to rebel against God in order to seek to become his own god. Satan (Lucifer) did not want to worship or obey God; he wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:12-14). Revelation 12:4 is understood to be a figurative description of one third of the angels choosing to follow Satan in his rebellion and becoming the fallen angels (demons). Unlike humanity, the choice the angels had, to follow Satan or to remain faithful to God, was an eternal choice with no opportunity for the fallen angels to repent and be forgiven. The hatred of these angels toward humanity, whom God created in His own image and likeness, made them true enemies of mankind. Evil first came into existence through these fallen angels.

Evil entered into the lives of humans through the original sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Before their sin they lived in perfect harmony with God in the Garden of Eden. Everything was created good, with a specific purpose according to the nature each thing had been given by God. God warned Adam and Eve that there were some good things in the garden that could be harmful to them and that they must avoid. Tempted by one of the fallen angels (Satan) to disobey God, Adam and Eve ignored God’s command and ate the fruit of a forbidden tree in the garden. With that free choice to sin evil entered into their lives and made it necessary for God to remove them from the Garden of Eden.

Thus evil does exist and continues to enter the world, through the abuse of the gift of intellect and free will by Angels and humans who chose to abuse what God created good. Every good thing that God created can be abused if not used as God intends. Nature is abused when we waste natural resources and disfigure nature unnecessarily. Humanity is abused when we ignore others in need, when unfair wages are paid for work people do, when people are used as objects rather than with respect for their special human dignity. Love is abused when lust is substituted for it. Evil is the rejection of, or abuse of, what is good, by angels and humans when they abuse their gifts of intellect and free will to disobey and disrespect God.

Those who accept and follow God need not fear evil. For evil to enter into ones life one must freely open a door to it Such things as Ouija boards, fortunetellers, and choosing to live undisciplined lives open doors for evil to enter into individual lives. Those who choose to live separately from God do have reason to fear evil; their weaknesses will be preyed upon by Satan just as the weaknesses of Adam and Eve were preyed upon by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. But those who choose to live prayerfully in the presence of God can pray without fear with the psalmist of psalm 23:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.” (Ps 23: 1-6.)

Evil is not uncomfortable in the presence of God, in the presence of sacred places dedicated to God and in the presence of sacred images that show one’s respect for God and his saints and good angels. Daily prayer and sacred images in ones home makes Satan and demons aware that they are not welcome there. A home in which God is truly welcomed each day, Satan knows he is not.

May God protect you rom all evil, keep you safe from all harm and bless all your efforts to serve Him.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

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