Whenever I tell people that God-is-all-the-time-good, I am invariably rebuked by those who say he isn’t. And they’ve got the scriptures to prove it.
- Job 1:21 says God robbed Job
- 1 Samuel 2:6-7 says God makes people poor and kills them
- Exodus 4:11 says God gives people disabilities
- Isaiah 45:7 says God is the creator of evil and darkness
I enjoy unpacking these scriptures and proving, from scripture, that God is not the villainous Dr. Evil that some people think he is.
In fairness, those who say God does evil are usually quick to add that it’s a good kind of evil. “His ways are higher than our ways.” So when we do evil, it’s bad, but when God does evil, it’s good.
Makes total sense.
Let’s not mince words. To be evil is to be “profoundly immoral and wicked” and God is neither.
For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with you. (Psa 5:4)
God and evil go together like light and dark. With that settled, let’s look at three scriptures that seem to suggest that God speaks or does evil.
Is it not out of the mouth of the Most High that evil and good both proceed? (Lam. 3:38, AMP)
No, good and evil do not both proceed out of God’s mouth. Only good words flow from a good God.
Like Job, the author of Lamentations had an occasionally messed up view of God. He said God ignored his cries for help and tore him to pieces like a bear (Lam. 3:8-11). That’s right, like a bear.
We should be thankful that Lamentations is in the Bible, but this is not an accurate portrayal of the character of God. “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). Jeremiah had a glimpse of God and what he saw he filtered through the lens of the old covenant. Consequently, Jeremiah sometimes portrays God as angry, unforgiving and punishing (see Lam. 3:39-43).
But if you want a better picture of God, you need to see Jesus. “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Does Jesus ever speak evil? (Remember evil means “profoundly immoral and wicked.”) Is this passage from Lamentations an apt description of Jesus? Then neither is it an accurate description of the Father.
Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? (Amos 3:6, KJV)
Since God cannot sin, most commentators are quick to say that the evil here refers to troubles or calamities, which are God’s punishments for sin. Augustine said this “evil is punishment for evil.” In other words, do bad, get bad. Every time there is a natural disaster, bad news prophets are quick to say “God is judging this city.” Except he is not. The cross, not earthquakes, is God’s once and for all solution to sin.
How can God punish us for sins he neither records nor remembers (2 Cor. 5:19, Heb. 8:12)? Since all sin was borne on the cross by Jesus, it would be unjust to punish now what he dealt with then.
Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household.” (2 Samuel 12:11)
These are the words of the prophet Nathan to sinful King David. As you may recall, David slept with another man’s wife, got her pregnant, and then killed the husband to hide his secret. It was a heinous crime, and Nathan let him know that God was not pleased.
The prophet Nathan was the embodiment of the law in the sense that he came down hard on the sinner. He said that God would punish David by killing the child. But look at what David did; he prayed that the child would live.
Whoa, surely David was way out of line! How dare he pray contrary to the will of God? Hadn’t this reprobate sinner learned anything?
Then he sat down and wrote this: “Be gracious to me, O God, according to your lovingkindness” (Ps. 51:1). The word for lovingkindness is hesed, which is the Hebrew equivalent of grace. “According to the greatness of your compassion blot out my transgressions” (Ps 51:1b).
Whoa and double-whoa! Who did David think he was? Not only was he praying against the will of God, but he was asking the Lord to treat him according to grace instead of law. He even had the temerity to ask for his sins to be blotted out.
Make no mistake – David was sorry for what he did and there were terrible consequences to his sin. Yet David ignored the condemnation of the prophet. “You may say God will do evil, but I believe God longs to be gracious.”
And God said David, not the sinless law-preacher, was a man after his own heart.
What happened next? God answered David’s prayers. He took the evil mess that David made and turned it around for good. Bathsheba become the mother of the future king, and all their sins were blotted out by the blood of Jesus. God even listed David as one of the heroes in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith.
God is good and everything he does is good. He is so good at what he does that he is able to take the worst mistakes of our lives – the heinous crimes, the regrettable errors, the fatal decisions – and turn them around for his eternally good purposes. “God causes all things to work together for good” (Rom. 8:28).
God is never the author of evil. He is the Good and Great Redeemer who makes everything good for those who love him.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever… (Ps 100:5)
Extracted from Paul’s full-length study note, “Is God the Author of Evil”, available now on Patreon.