Unwanted but Necessary
The Scriptures say that God knows both good and evil. “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever… (Genesis 3:22)
For reasons unknown, but appreciated, God has made a choice to completely put away evil not only from Himself, but from His eternal Kingdom. “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). “Righteous are You, O LORD, and upright are Your judgments. Your testimonies, which You have commanded, are righteous and very faithful” (Psalms 119:137-138).
How good is God? Completely good. In Exodus 33:18, Moses was on the mountain with God, he asked Him, “Please show me your glory.” God’s response is interesting, “I will make all My goodness pass before you…” I find that both interesting and reassuring that in God’s mind, His glory is His Goodness. For me, it kind of unpacks this scripture: Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We have fallen short of God’s goodness. God is thoroughly purging the universe of evil in an interesting way. In heaven, He allowed rebellion with the established angel leader, Satan, then used Satan’s rebellious influence to identify and purge the heavens of the rebellious angels. Even here on the earth, it is Satan (and not God) that has brought evil here. God is also using Satan’s evil influence to purge rebels from among those created in God’s image. As an interesting side note, the angels (including Satan) were not created in the image of God. Therefore, there exists deep animosity from Satan, toward those made in God’s image.
Question: Couldn’t God have dealt with purging heaven of evil without infecting us here?
Answer: Sure, but, even though God has not brought evil here directly, He is utilizing evil for something critically important to His overall goal… love. Well that’s weird. No, because love and loyalty are choices of the will, without the ability to rebel or not love, real love could not exist. Yes, the unspoiled Garden of Eden was a great place, but the fellowship between the Creator and those He created in His image was not complete. There was a vital missing link in their commonality, which was that God knew good and evil, and Adam and Eve did not. Because of this, their fellowship would have never been complete or perfect.
Jesus (God in the flesh) submitted Himself fully to this evil cursed world to the point of death. He was tempted with an offer of the world by way of a shortcut that bypassed the cross. Some say that He really didn’t have a choice or that He wasn’t really tempted. I don’t think that Satan would have wasted his time trying to sidetrack Jesus if there was no possibility of it working. The extreme test of Jesus’ righteous integrity and His depth of love for us, came with the cross. Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13). First He said it, then he did it. He could have called it off at any point (the beating, the scourging, being spit upon, and more) but for the sake of His righteous mission to save those He loved (mankind), He let the torture continue unabated. In case you think that Jesus was just a good man merely caught in bad circumstances, read John 18:5-7 for just a glimpse of the power that was at His ready disposal.
So, while we live in this world that subjects us to both good and evil in all its facets, many of us are like the Apostle Peter who said: “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:13-15).