This question has been raised time and time again throughout history. If a supposedly good and all-powerful God exists, why does He allow war, famine, murder and other life’s tragedies? Would He not have the power to prevent and even eliminate all the bad in the world?
The Bible doesn’t answer this question directly. However, the Bible does tell us that a lot of suffering in the world is caused by man himself, as a consequence of the choices he makes out of his free will. War, violence, adultery and other deeply wounding situations are, in fact, caused by man. We cannot blame God for our bad choices. Instead, we must take a look in the mirror.
In this world, however, there is also much suffering that is not caused by man, such as many illnesses and natural disasters. Why doesn’t God prevent these from happening? To some extent, this remains a mystery to us. It seems, however, that God uses hardship and life’s situations to call us into His presence. Perhaps one reason for suffering is to remind us how small we are and thus encourage us to turn to God. On the other hand, suffering brings people closer to each other and it is God’s will that we help those that are in need.
Our comfort and hope in the midst of suffering is Christ – He has defeated sin and death through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18 ESV)
God, all the evil and suffering in this world trouble me. Lord, deliver us from evil!
The Bible doesn’t tell us everything. It only tells us what is crucial for the salvation of mankind. The origin of evil is one of those topics that is scarcely talked about in the Bible.
The first chapters of the Bible reveal that in the beginning man had the freedom to choose between right and wrong. The world and man in it were created good, but man was deceived by Satan and he chose to do evil. The Bible tells us that the devil is also a creature created by God – Satan was originally an angel who rebelled against God. It was Satan who lured man to do what was against God’s will and that is how evil spread on earth.
Why a good God allowed evil to spread on earth will remain a mystery to us. What is clear, however, is that God defeated the devil and its power when He was born as a man on earth and died on the cross for our sins. The first man, and as a result the whole mankind, became a slave to sin when they chose evil over good. That is how we lost our free will. But Jesus Christ came to set us free from sin’s hold. It is only through Jesus that we can be free to live according to God’s will.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:34-36 ESV)
God, you don’t give us the answers to all our questions. Help me to not take offence over it but enable me to focus instead on what you do tell us through your Word.
Sin can be described in many ways. It is when our thoughts, words and actions rebel and move away from what is right in God’s eyes. What is common to all sin is that it slowly takes us out of the life and purposes of God. In short, sin is when the heart abandons God.
The term ‘original sin’ refers to a tendency in all humans to choose what is wrong. It is known by its fruit: evil thoughts, doing what is wrong, words that tear down, and neglecting to do what is right.
Sin hurts and destroys life. Your own and other people’s lives are examples of this. If nothing else, God’s Word and the Ten Commandments serve as a measuring rod for where people really stand.
According to the Bible everyone has sinned. None of us are without sin and no one can escape the consequences of sin. Sin separates us from God and His holiness. The wages of sin are death and eternal separation from God. However, man cannot redeem himself before God – only God can do so.
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
(Romans 3:22-24 ESV)
God sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins around 2,000 years ago. Nailed to a cross, Jesus Christ bore our selfishness, unbelief, greed, dishonesty and every single one of our sins. The forgiveness of our sins was sealed when God brought His Son back from the dead.
When we believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and so redeemed us, our sins are forgiven. It is a gift given to us for free. We can come as we are – as sinners falling short of God’s standard. It is not about what we do; we can simply receive God’s grace that He readily gives. God knew there was nothing we could do to ‘earn’ our salvation and redemption; that is why He redeemed us.
Because of Jesus, you can also believe that all your sins are forgiven. It doesn’t matter what you are like or what you have done, you can trust that your sins are forgiven through Jesus. Our good deeds or accomplishments mean nothing before God – it is only through Jesus we are saved.
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation...For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:19,21 ESV)
Dear God, thank you for the message of the cross. Thank you that through Jesus my sins are forgiven.
It is hard for man to understand just how dangerous the power of sin is. We wouldn’t even think of such questions if we truly understood how sin destroys life.
Sin separates us from God who is the giver of life and our Saviour. Why would we rebel against Him? He is the only one who loves unconditionally and has made the ultimate sacrifice for us.
Sin hurts both the sinner and the people around them. If you sin in full knowledge you are in effect nailing Jesus back on the cross. Jesus died because of the selfishness and disobedience of man! If you understand the cost of the forgiveness of your sins and what Jesus went through for you, you can no longer wilfully choose to sin.
Sin is always a crime against life itself even if we can’t see it. Sin always has its consequences, either for the person sinning or the people around him.
Sinning in full knowledge of what you’re doing, sinning because you choose to, will stain your conscience and quickly leave room for unbelief.
In baptism, a Christian moves from darkness to light, and with the help of God, is called to fight against sin and evil.
…you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith
(1 Timothy 1:19, ESV)
God, keep me from sin and all evil. Guide me so my actions and my life would be pleasing to you.
For as long as one asks in their heart ‘Can I still be forgiven?’, the door to God’s grace remains open. For as long as sin grieves us, we can approach Jesus for forgiveness.
Sometimes we may find ourselves thinking that God’s grace isn’t sufficient for us.
We think that the sins we have committed are so numerous and so awful that they cannot be forgiven. Those are the thoughts the devil whispers in our ear. The devil wants to drive us away from God. It is true that we cannot undo what has been done, but God’s grace is sufficient and covers all our sins. We can trust in God’s forgiveness wholeheartedly.
We are sinners so we will fall from time and time again. But God also forgives over and over again. Through the power of forgiveness, God gives us the strength to fight against sin. Sin is a lethal enemy and we will keep fighting it until we die.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness...
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
(Lamentations 3:22-23, 25 ESV)
God, it is said that Your mercies last forever. Thank you, that I can trust in Your word. Cleanse me and help me get a fresh start.
Forgiving someone can be very difficult, if not impossible. Nonetheless, the Bible tells us to both ask for forgiveness and to forgive others. In fact, it says in the Bible that if we don’t forgive others, we ourselves will not be forgiven. So what are we to do when unforgiveness and bitterness gnaws away at our heart?
First, it’s important that we confess this sin to God. We bring the matter before God – that we cannot forgive. Through Jesus we can believe this too to be forgiven. At the same time, we ask that God in His mercy would do a work in us and help us to forgive. It is only with His grace that the deep wounds in our heart can heal. It can also help to discuss the matter with your pastor, someone you trust or the person who has hurt us.
Forgiveness is a decision we make. On an emotional level, however, it can sometimes be a lengthy process. Sometimes it could take years before we can rid ourselves from feeling bitter. But it is important that we let go of revenge.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
Our graceful God, you know me inside out. Keep my heart from growing hard and bitter.
The Bible talks about Satan, although seldom directly. He is not an equal of the good God, an opposite force. He as well belongs to God’s creation. The reason behind Satan’s evil nature seems to be the same reason that caused humanity to fall: pride, a desire to be God’s equal. Because God has a perfect will concerning His creation, going against that will is purely evil. Satan then is the embodiment of godlessness and everything opposed to God.
How does Satan operate? The Bible teaches that he works in “disobedient people.” If we do not follow God’s will, we follow the will of God’s enemy and thus belong to Satan’s dominion. However, we can change the sides by confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
(Eph. 6:11-12, ESV)