Tag Archive: justice

Are God’s Judgments Evil?

God wiped out the peoples of Canaan, He imposes eternal punishment in hell for unbelievers, and He will destroy the world in the end times for its disobedience. Would a good, loving God judge like this?

Canaan: Justice or Genocide?

Was God committing genocide by commanding Israel to destroy Canaanite peoples? No, for the Canaanites were wicked: They sacrificed their children to idols (Psalm 106:34-39). This and other evils permeated their society to the deepest levels. God wouldn’t be good if He didn’t lay down justice on them. God even restrained His judgment upon one group, the Amorites, for hundreds of years until their evil became too great – He gave time to repent (Genesis 15:16).

Revelation: World Atrocity or Wicked World?

What about the world destruction prophesied in Revelation, where many will die in the end time judgment? Yet God didn’t initiate this carnage – it’s started by evil men, particularly one man, the Antichrist. His evil forces kill a fourth of the world (Revelation 6). These martyrs are God’s people (Revelation 6:9-10), who cry:

  • “‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’”

Thus, God is not yet judging if His people are calling for justice. The Antichrist and his followers are the ones killing a fourth of the earth. The Antichrist is worse than Hitler, yet skeptics claim God is unjust for not punishing Hitler and his SS. Yet Revelation reveals God’s justice, for God finally crushes the worst Hitler.

On one hand, when God is merciful to men, waiting for them to repent, skeptics claim God is unjust for not punishing evil. Then when God enacts justice, skeptics claim He is too harsh. Yet God alone knows when to be merciful and when to be just.

Hell: Deserved or Undeserved?

Why would God send so many people to Hell if He loved them? Actually, He didn’t have to love anyone – we don’t deserve it. Just think: In our short life of both good and bad deeds, do we truly deserve Heaven’s eternal happiness? Our good deeds are not enough for an infinite reward. Yet do we deserve Hell? Consider this: God is our Creator, Sustainer, and Blesser. We owe Him everything, because everything came from Him; while He owes us nothing. Yet we forget Him and hardly give Him thanks, but have rebelled against Him by disrespecting Him and our fellowmen created in the image of God (Genesis 9:6). Because He created all value, He has all value and is infinitely worthy. What is the punishment for willful and continual rebellion against a One of infinite value? It is eternal punishment – so we all deserve hell.

But Isn’t Man Good at Heart?

Every newspaper and news channel in the world reveals that man is not good but evil at heart. Robbery, extortion, cheating, lying, murder. From the smallest to the greatest. Even good deeds are tainted with selfishness – are we really donating that $10 because we’re kind or because we want to look better than others?

Look at dictators. They are windows to the soul, because their absolute control gives them every freedom to do either good or bad. If the human heart is good, then they should be the best people of all! Yet their reputations are the worst of humanity: Stalin, Mao, Hitler. Without social or legal restraints, they show their true hearts. We all have the potential to be as bad as they, but we are constrained from fully revealing our evil nature. If we lie, we get caught. If we steal, we go to jail. We often treat people good only to get our desires. Our heart is “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). That’s why we never tell our fantasies to grandma – we don’t titillate over charity to the poor.

This truth is hard to accept. A criminal always thinks the verdict is unjust and the judge, unfair. We are the same. Rather than objective truth seekers, we are guilty and want to hide it. So we claim that our Judge is unjust or doesn’t even exist. Our motive is pride. That’s why the proud don’t find God, only the humble who admit their need for God’s mercy (1 Peter 5:5).

Forgive and Forget?

God can’t just forget and ignore our wrongs. That would compromise justice – He would be a crooked Judge. We always criticize crooked judges – but in the end, we ourselves want to be the exception. It’s human nature to want justice until it shines its light on us. God can’t forget justice: That’s why God judges. But that’s also why He died on the cross. He paid the price for our infinite punishment with the blood of His infinite worth, so justice has been fulfilled. Thus, He joins together infinite justice and infinite mercy – we are saved from our evil by the goodness of God.

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The Purpose of Evil and Suffering

Almost nothing else pervades the world so deeply. Everywhere man travels, and everywhere he looks, he finds them. They wrestle inside his inner being and often reign victorious. From storm and sickness to lying and murder, they are the smear upon a glorious creation.

Why is there evil and suffering? And why would a loving, righteous, just God allow such terrible things? Men have long pondered over this paradox. Every religion has had to deal with the problem. It has caused some to assert that a loving God cannot exist at all. A few even deny the very existence of suffering and sin, claiming that reality is just a dream. But, when one reads the mayhem in the news, and sees the pain and wickedness in life, their existence is very real, and the soul longs for an answer.

The Bible is the place to look. Part of the explanation is right in the first book, Genesis. It records that after the Creation, mankind was tempted in the Garden of Eden by Satan, and they disobeyed God. As a consequence, God cursed mankind and all Creation. Death entered the world. Floods, storms, and droughts became natural occurrences. Thistles and weeds flourished in the once-perfect earth, and man had to toil in the ground for his bread.

This harsh world was actually necessary for sinful man. In Genesis 1:28, the Lord commanded Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” But now that man was fallen, how could he subdue the perfect earth? Thus the creation had to come under the Curse as well. Also, now that man was sinful, God made him toil and sweat just to get food so that man would not have so much free time to sin. The curse of work is actually beneficial to man, keeping him from slothful wickedness.

But, why did God permit the possibility of disobedience in the first place? If God knows all things and is all-powerful, why did He create man with the ability to rebel? And why was Satan allowed in the Garden? Why was Satan permitted to continue existing after he fell away, or why was he even created? Obviously, the Lord allowed the entrance of evil for a purpose.

Romans 9 gives an enlightening and piercing discourse pertaining to evil and God’s right to be God.

15) For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16) So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18) So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

So the purpose of Pharaoh’s life is to disobey God and try to prevent God’s people from leaving Egypt, so that the Lord may show His power through His miracles. God used Pharaoh’s sin for His glory, and He actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh, through his sin nature, would choose to disobey! This concept is at first quite unbelievable, even offensive for many. Paul, the author of Romans, senses his readers’ rejection right away, and so answers:

19) You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20) On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this?,” will it? 21) Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22) What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23) And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24) even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Notice how Paul responds. He immediately rebukes accusing man for questioning God, for man is nothing. According to Romans, we are of the same clay lump, and God, the Potter, has mercy to shape a few of these clumps into glorious vessels for His enjoyment and the rest for dishonorable use. Do the clay have a right to tell the Potter what to make them into?

If the Lord wants “to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known,” why did He not just destroy evil when it sprung up? Why has the earth dragged on for thousands of years in sin? God has been so “slow” because He wants His chosen ones to know His great mercy and patience toward the wicked. Even though they deserve instant and eternal punishment, He yet waits until the appointed time of judgment, after all His elect have believed.

Pastor S. Lewis Johnson, in “The Goodness of God and the Existence of Evil,” states, “The Bible says simply, I think this, that God’s self-manifestation is the highest good.” He says that since the glory of God is the greatest good, then the ultimate, supreme purpose of all things is to glorify Him in all His attributes. For what other reason where all things created for? Johnson continues:

His mercy cannot be known if there are not some people who are miserable. And His grace cannot be known if there are not some people who are in sin. And His justice cannot be known if there are not men who are under condemnation. And so He has permitted sin in order that He might be perfectly glorified in all of His attributes, inclusive of His mercy and His grace.

The knowledge of God is eternal life. It is for men the highest good and so, consequentially, He must give us the knowledge of Himself. And that demanded sin, condemnation, and judgment. But He is good, and even this works for His good.

It is necessary that the Lord show all His attributes, and not just some. God is not one dimension. Yes, He is love, but He is also holy, just, righteous, almighty, all-knowing, wise, etc. He displays His love to His chosen ones, but His righteousness demands that justice be carried out. He is so, so holy, set apart, and incorruptible that He cannot tolerate sin, at all.

What better purpose can life have, but to glorify the Creator? Even the angels are watching us, seeing the display of the attributes of God that they never would have known without the entrance of evil.

This concept is so difficult for human minds to grasp. But we must remember, that we are just the little ants who try to understand Einstein’s mind. Is it possible that we, as mere dust, will understand the almighty, all-knowing God?

But for the mind repulsed by the thought that God would allow people to suffer for His glory, think of this: when Christ died on the cross, He bore the punishment for the sins of man. Each of our eternal punishments was laid upon God. He had to bear the greatest suffering of all. No pain of any man can compare to His pain on the cross. And so when people demand to know why God allows evil and suffering to happen to man, they are asking the wrong question. They should ask, “Why did God allow His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer for wicked men?” For we were His enemies, and yet He died for us. He suffered more than anyone and everyone; God allowed Himself to suffer the greatest humiliation. Why? Because He loved us before the beginning of time. He chose us to be saved before the foundation of the world, so that we may see His glory, and worship the only One worthy to be worshiped. And is it not worth all the evil and suffering of the world to show such love and glory? As Paul declared, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18.

Note: Information from the New American Standard Bible and from pastor S. Lewis Johnson’s Systematic Theology, Part 1: Theology Proper, “The Goodness of God and the Existence of Evil.”