Since God is all knowing, why did he let sin happen? Why did he let the devil turn against him? Why didn’t he just kill or destroy the devil?
– VJ from Henderson, NV
God never fails (Part 1)
What a really good question! People have been wondering about that for thousands of years and theologians and deep thinkers have been trying to answer it for as long. It just doesn’t make good common sense to us does it? If you or I were God, we know that we would zap the devil when he first made trouble and we can’t figure out why God doesn’t see it that way. On the other hand, we know that he is God so he doesn’t make mistakes. What a dilemma for our small little brains to try to comprehend.
I will give you my perspective on this subject without making any claims that I am entirely right or that I have the final answer. Isaiah 55:9 says; “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” We have to concede that we just aren’t going to have all the answers here on earth. But that also should not stop us from trying, right?
My first perspective is that God never fails. Have you ever started a project having in mind a beautiful outcome? On the human level, let’s say your project goes badly. You keep trying to fix it and reverse mistakes but things get worse. You may finally reach the place where you throw in the towel and give it up as a lost cause – not redeemable.
Now suppose a friend comes along who looks it all over and says; “Do you mind if I give it a try?” “Sure” you say, “If you can do anything with this, you’re a genius.” Two months later the friend returns to your house to show you the finished project. To your utter amazement, he has made something better out of the broken messed up pieces than you ever envisioned. It seems impossible but there it is.
In the end, when we look at history from eternity we will realize that is what God did with the devil. We will see how smart God really was. God would never scrap the project (his whole plan for man and the universe) because he can never fail. He is able to catapult failure into fulfillment every time.
Next: Why did God allow the devil and man to sin?
Letting sin happen (Part 2)
If free will was going to be part of God’s plan, there was no choice except to let sin happen. The results are gargantuan but God is up to the task of overcoming the evil results of sin. Once God allowed free will he would not go back.
Suppose you tell your son that he can decorate his bedroom in your new house anyway he wants to. He chooses an orange ceiling with black walls and navy blue carpet. “Sorry,” you say, “I meant you could decorate it any way you want as long as you do it my way.” The son realizes he never had real choice. If God looked at sin and said; “Sorry but I don’t like what you chose, I’m going to re-wind and not allow any sin,” how could you still call it “free” will?
Yes God knew that Satan would fall and he knew that Satan would tempt man and man would fall. That did not worry God. He could have prevented Satan from entering the Garden of Eden but that would have left Adam and Eve sinless by default. You could not say they chose NOT to sin if no chance to sin ever presented itself.
Well, why didn’t God just decide from the beginning not to allow free will? I think it is because love freely given treasures love freely returned. God is so awesome and great that we are as nothing compared to him and yet he has chosen to elevate us. He wants a relationship with us and he wants it to be our choice. (That’s the thing that numbs my mind and that I will never understand – WHY he loves us.)
Next: Is there any good to see from God’s decisions to allow the devil to continue operating?
What good can come out of all this? (Part 3)
Okay, we see that we will look back on this from eternity and applaud God for his wise decision to let the devil continue to operate. We see that free will was the only way to go in order to have a creation that freely worships him. But, is there anything we can see NOW to demonstrate the good that can come out of this?
The devil is used to hone the skills God knows we need to succeed in his kingdom. Every boxer needs a sparring partner. If the boxer just hits into the air during practice what are his chances of winning in a real fight? As Christians, we are told that we are in a battle, that this earth is a testing ground preparing us for eternity.
What if we see that the devil is a tool in God’s hands to work for our good? We are tempted so we can succeed in overcoming temptation and prove it can be done. We experience trials and our character is formed. We overcome evil with good because if there were no evil there would be no demonstration of good. We are weak and find out that we need Christ’s strength. We stumble and sin and God’s grace is revealed as we seek forgiveness. Satan is at work but God only looks down and laughs at him.
Nothing that the devil is allowed to do on this earth is worthless to us. And there is nothing that the devil can do that is not redeemable by God. I always think about what Joseph said to his brothers when they were afraid he would pay them back for the evil they did to him selling him into slavery. He said; “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)
The devil intends to harm us but God means it all for our good. Short of eternity there will be instances where we cannot see the good that God will ultimately work. That’s where faith comes in. We believe in God’s goodness and wisdom despite the evil we see around us. We decide to trust God now and get our answers in eternity.