The reality of evil confronts us every day. Men and women commit terrible acts of violence and degradation continuously. News stories from all over the world testify hourly of the filthy depths to which human beings stoop. Oddly enough, many blame God for not stopping the evil that men choose to perpetrate, even as they continue to ignore, demean, mock, and rebel against Him.
How are Christians to react to these awful acts? We who trust and serve the Creator of the universe should have a much different perspective on all this than do those who reject God and choose to govern their own lives. In this article, we will answer the question of whether good can come from evil. However, even as we begin, the answer should be clear to believers…the central message of the Bible is a message of redemption. God provided a way in which a sinful race of human beings (committing evil in God’s sight) could be forgiven and redeemed…good coming from evil. Let us look at some situations where evil paved the way for greater good.
The Fall of Humankind
The first example of good coming from evil would be the Fall of humanity. We find this recorded in the book of Genesis. God had created a perfect universe. He had placed a perfect couple into a perfect world and had given them a perfect life. He also gave them the power to choose. Because this perfect couple (with the ability to choose) chose to believe the words of Satan instead of the promises of God, sin entered this perfect world and contaminated it with imperfection and sin. If this were the end of the story, it would be a sad story indeed. However, our gracious Creator immediately put into action His plan to redeem His wayward children (Genesis 3:15). Beginning with this story, we see that there is always a way that good can come from evil, if we put our lives in God’s hands and trust in Him.
The Hardships of Paul
The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, often found himself the recipient of other men’s evil acts as they sought to put an end to his evangelistic efforts. In a litany of hardships that would surely crush anyone not relying on the power of God, Paul writes, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27 ESV).
Nevertheless, Paul persevered in the power of the Holy Spirit, giving us the inspired writings of the New Testament and serving as an example for us to follow (Acts 20:35; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:7,9). Even through all his struggles, he retained the attitude best summed up in this verse, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 ESV). Again, we see the power of God to turn the worst situations into good for His glory.
Jesus Christ paid for your sins and mine. What a great and glorious truth. However, in order for that truth to become reality, He had to endure an incredibly painful, humiliating, death on a cross. Those who were responsible for this crucifixion were committing a terribly evil act. Jesus said that Judas’ act of betrayal was exceptionally evil (Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:21; Luke 22:22). Jesus’ death was certainly not looked upon as something good while it was happening. Even His disciples seemingly lost hope.
However, Jesus did not stay in the grave, and His resurrection is the hope of every believer. He was, “…declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4 ESV). The evil that inhabited the hearts of those who crucified Jesus, resulted in the means by which humanity can be forgiven of sin and enter into eternal life with our Creator. Once again, we see God’s grace at work.
How about us?
We have seen biblical examples of God turning evil into good. Nevertheless, what about the evil we see, and often experience in our own lives? Does God still work the same way as we see He did in the Bible? When I am in the midst of something terrible in my life, how am I to respond?
We should respond by trusting that Jesus is, “…the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 ESV). His love is just as real and as powerful as it was in Genesis, in Matthew, and for eternity. When we are floundering under the load of life, we must know that God is with us. He knows everything: the past, the future, our hearts, and every nuance of the situation we are enduring. He has promised you and me that, “No temptation has overtaken [us] that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let [us] be tempted beyond [our] ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that [we] may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV). No evil can overcome us if we simply leave our lives in God’s hands, trusting His love and His power to carry us through.
There is certainly evil in the world today. Many experience its presence daily. However, the apostle Paul, no stranger to the effects of evil himself, writes, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). This verse tells us that we have nothing to fear, no matter what it may seem like or feel like, when we love God and trust Him with all of our life. Only He can guarantee to turn something bad (evil) into something good.
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Resource – The Holy Bible, English Standard Version “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. YouTube “The old rugged cross made the difference” sung by The Gaither Vocal Band