GOD ALLOWS EVIL, PAIN & SUFFERING

He lost everything. He lost his servants. He lost his livestock. He lost his possessions. He lost all of his children. He lost his health. And to top it off, his wife told him to curse God and die (Job 1:15-22; 2:2-9). This man’s name was Job.

He was not a bad man. In fact, he was a good man. He is described as being “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Why then did all of these horrible things happen to him? The simple answer is because God allowed it.

For many, this is a hard pill to swallow. If God can stop evil, pain and suffering, then why doesn’t He? Some feel God can’t stop evil, pain and suffering. Others believe Satan is just as powerful as God and we are constantly caught in the cross hairs of their spiritual battle.

In this article, the objective is to demonstrate that God does indeed allow evil, pain and suffering. In the other studies, we will be answering questions such as why does God allow evil, pain and suffering. But for now, our focus will first be on the fact that He does indeed allow it.

GOD IS NOT THE ORIGINATOR OF EVIL, PAIN & SUFFERING

James 1:13-15 says:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

The word “by” is essential to our understanding of this verse and the concept of temptation. This word indicates that God is not the originator of temptation.  Satan is the originator of sin and temptation. Satan is called “the father of all lies” (Jn. 8:44) in that he is the original liar, and the one who brought sin into this world (Gen. 3:1-7).

GOD DOESN’T TEMPT ANYONE, BUT ALLOWS SATAN TO TEMPT OTHERS

The Bible does not put Satan on equal footing with God in any sense. The first two chapters of Job clearly show God’s superiority over Satan in the fact that Satan had to ultimately ask permission from God in order to tempt Job.

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person’” (Job 1:12).

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life’” (Job 2:6).

Job presents the situation as Satan actually having to get permission from God in order to tempt others. God has allowed Satan (and the influence of Satan) the freedom to roam around “to and fro” to tempt others to sin. Considering the following passages of Scripture:

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come? ‘So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it’” (Job 1:7; Job 2:2).

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

GOD HAS THE POWER TO STOP EVIL, PAIN & SUFFERING

Even though Satan is real and can do horrible things, he ultimately has to get permission from God. God is the King of the universe and all things (1 Tim. 6:15). God has allowed Satan, who is in subjection to God, to be the prince of the universe (Eph. 2:2; 1 Jn. 5:19).

The first two chapters of the book of Job present the clear case that God has the power to stop evil, pain and suffering. This means anytime we blame Satan for something that is happening, we must also reckon with the fact that God is allowing it.

“And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3).

Job recognizes that while God is not the originator of evil, He is in ultimate control and is allowing these things to take place; thus, he points everything back to God.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21).

“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept evil? (Job. 2:10).

In these instances, Job was correct in his assessment because the text following both of these statements says that in all of these things (at this point), Job had not sinned in his response to the trials (Job 1:22; 2:10). Certainly, if this had mischaracterized the situation, then it would have been corrected. Furthermore, the inspired writer concluded the book of Job by saying:

“…they consoled him and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11).

Keep in mind, Job 42:11 is the inspired writer talking. This is not Job in one of his depressed states trying to figure out what is going on. This is an accurate depiction of what took place.

CONCLUSION

Satan does nothing in this world except by God’s permissive will. What an awesome thing to ponder and realize! This means that at any moment, God could stop all evil, pain and suffering. To say otherwise is to elevate Satan on the same level as God—or worse, to demote God to the same level as Satan. Yes, every bit of sin, every bit of evil and every bit of suffering and temptation has to first be allowed by God in order to take place.

– Kevin Pendergrass

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