We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded by your direct support for ReKnew and our vision. Please consider supporting this project.

Fruit

Enduring an Evil-Infested World (6 Principles) —part two

In the previous post, I introduced the first three principles that will help you find peace and even a sense of victory in the midst of the evil we face in this world. Here are the final three.

Principle #4: Let Go of the “Why” Question and Confront Evil

In the midst of suffering, we often want to know why it is happening. However, in most cases the why question is utterly useless and unanswerable. There are just too many variables that have contributed to any particular episode of suffering. As I explain in many places, the variables that contribute to any one thing occurring extend throughout history and may have nothing whatsoever to do with the wills of the people afflicted or with God’s will for their life.

In addition, asking the “why” question was systematically discouraged by Jesus. We need only to repent of our sin and seek to glorify God (See Luke 13:1-5 and John 9:1-5). When we confront circumstances that reflect the will of Satan, we are not to seek the reasons for that evil. Instead we are to do everything possible to bring them into conformity with God’s will. “Why” questions are actually a distraction from this calling to confront evil.

Principle #5: Live in the Spirit

If we are called to participate in bringing everything into conformity with God’s will, how do we know what we should accept as good and what we should confront as evil? The most fundamental answer is found in “living in the Spirit” (Gal 5:16). While we know God’s general will for us in Jesus Christ and through Scripture, usually we don’t know God’s specific will for particular circumstances except through the Spirit. The Spirit alone knows the mind of God, and he will lead us if we are willing to listen (1 Cor 2:10-11).

When we appreciate all the variables that lie behind every situation, we become fully aware that there is no way we could figure out the right thing to do on our own. Living in this sea of ambiguity, we realize that we need to look for God’s guidance all the time. There is no fixed set of principles, no exhaustive rule book, that covers all of life’s situations. This forces us to constantly attend to our relationship with God—which is our central calling, after all.

Principle #6: Live in Hope Knowing It All Will Be Worth It

The Bible never assures us that things will go well for us in this life. To the contrary, the NT teaches us that Christ followers should expect to suffer (John 16:33; 1 Thess 3:4). Paul assumed that angels, rulers and powers, are at work against us and can negatively influence our lives (Rom 8:39).

However, Scripture offers us the peace of knowing that Christ is with us in all circumstances and we can have the assurance that God is at work to bring good out of the situations we face.

One more thing: Ultimately, there will come a time when God has conquered all suffering and evil. At that point, God’s home will be or home. The earth will be rid of all sin, sorrow, sickness, and death. We will continually live in the presence of God’s triune love. All our desires that are frustrated in this war-torn epoch will be fulfilled. The most fundamental hope the Bible gives us is not that everything now follows God’s will but that someday God’s purposes will be done on earth as they are in heaven.

—Adapted from Is God to Blame, pages 157-164

Related Reading

Why Can’t God Stop Evil? The Thomas J. Oord Interview (podcast)

Greg and Thomas talk about Open Theism and how Greg’s views differ from Thomas’s. Theology nerds, get your compass and your flashlight and prepare to go DEEEEEP in the weeds!  Thomas’s book: God Can’t Episode 487 http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0487.mp3

Free Will: What about “natural” evil? Was Hurricane Sandy a Free Agent?

What about natural evil? How does free will help to make sense of this? Greg reflects on the origins of sickness, natural disaster, animal suffering and so on. Hope you’re enjoying the series so far. There’s more to come!

Did God use Satan to test Job?

Question: In Job 1:21 and 2:10, Job seems to accept “adversity” from God while continuing to trust him. Job blames his troubles on God (i.e. “He shattered me” [16:12], “He breaks me down on every side” [19:10], “For he performs what is appointed for me” [23:14]). In Chapters 1 and 2, God even seems to…

Do Angels and Demons Really Exist?

While the supremacy of God is never qualified in the Bible, this supremacy is not strictly autocratic. Other “gods” or spiritual entities like angels and demons are not mere puppets of the God of the Bible. Rather, they appear to be personal beings who not only take orders but also are invited to give input…

Theology That Accounts for Terrorism

The general assumption of both the Old and the New Testaments is that the earth is virtually engulfed by cosmic forces of destruction, and that evil and suffering are ultimately due to this diabolical siege. Jesus defined himself and his ministry in terms of aggressively warring against Satanic forces. Both he and his disciples recognized…

The Earth is a Spiritual Battlefield

The early Church Fathers uniformly believed that angels, like humans, were created free and given a sphere of influence and responsibility over creation. As with humans, angels could use this influence for good, as God intended, or they could choose to use it for evil. They understood that this is simply what it means for…