Wondering About Good & Evil
Let's now examine these two questions.
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- Why do good things happen to bad people?
Firstly, the Bible teaches us that "there is none that are righteous (good), no not one..." "...for all have sinned and come short of the glory (expression) of the Lord" (Rom 3:10, 23).
Certainly some of us are worse than others, but in God's eyes were are all "sinners" needing reconciliation, redemption, justification, and renewal in our fallen souls. Apart from faith in Christ as our Savior none of us are to be "counted as righteous in God's eyes." The Bible says we were all "conceived in sin." None of us are born having an inherent righteousness; and if we've sinned even once we are "sinners." So no one is justified to complain about something bad happening to them, especially when we admit the greater part of our sufferings are due to the consequences our own rebellion against what we know, that is our conscious "knowledge of good and evil" that all men have by their conscience.
We may think we are good but that's most often measured incorrectly, by comparing ourselves with other fallen humans. In fact, Paul wrote, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." So that sets the bar very high... whatever we do of ourselves, that is... not trusting the Lord and His leading in our lives is sin. The standard of sin is to live not by faith in the Lord and trusting His wisdom for us, knowing His hand in all our affairs of life.
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverb 14:12)
The fact is that our righteousness is "filthy" when compared to that of the Lord's perfection.
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; andour iniquities (sins), like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)
Thankfully, we are not saved based upon our feeble attempts at righteousness.
"NOT by works of righteousness which we have done, but According To His Mercy He Saved Us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Titus 3:5)
The washing noted above washes us not only of our gross sins but also our false religious righteousness that most often is for appearance sake, rooted in self-interest. In our fallen condition all mankind is self-seeking and not one of genuine self-giving.
Yet, we tend to look at life on a meritorious way, as if we can earn our salvation and favor with God. But Paul wrote, "there is none righteous no not one." If an unrighteous person died to pay for the sins of another unrighteous one, then that offering would be rejected as inadequate. Our redemption requires the blood and death of an innocent one, who has no sin record... that would make Jesus Christ the only qualified one, as the innocent "Lamb of God." He is the only one qualified to redeem us and make us then counted as righteous before God. When we place our faith in Christ, not in ourselves, we are declared "righteous" before the Father.
"For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, (Him) who knew no sin; (so) that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
We can put our first question a different way and ask, "Why does good things happen to anyone since none of us is really "good"?" And then, since we do suffer, what purpose do trials serve in our lives?
We have already offered some insight into this but there is more to understand. We as Christians have been brought into Gods kingdom as members of Christ's body and as His ambassadors; we are pilgrims in this world that is not our home. We "in the world but not of it." While we are on earth we go through the valleys, we are not placed from Mountain Top to Mountain top. We can consider the Mountain tops as places that give us a glimpse heaven and the valleys as things of this world. Yet, it is in the valleys we seek and find the flowing water that is of His life, which flows from the mountain tops, typifying heaven.
Paul, who suffered more than any other apostle during his ministry on earth, wrote "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God." (Rom. 8:18-21)
Paul tells us of "the glory which shall be revealed in us" is the manifestation of Christ's life that is within us at our spirit core. "Eventhe mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ In You, The Hope Of Glory: (Colossians 1:26-27)
Sometimes we think fairness requires retribution for sin s against us. So we may say, "Why do good things happen to bad people?"
Solomon wrestled with this question from a human perspective as seen below. To us, as believers it looks as if the same fate befalls the wicked and the righteous, there is no distinction between them and us.
"So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as wereoppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. (Ecclesiastes 4:1)
To the untrained Christian's eye and heart this seems so unfair at first glance. Many a believer and prophet wondered aboutwhy God did not destroy the wicked or deliver them from the evil.
"Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; they grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from their mind." (Jer.12:1-2)
So even the great and wise Solomon, who once had the greatest wisdom in the world, was perplexed.
"I have seen everything in my days of vanity: there is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness." (Eccl. 7:15)
Job wondered as well.
"Why do the wicked live and become old, yes, become mighty in power? Their descendants are established with them in their sight, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. Their bull breeds without failure; their cow calves without miscarriage. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the flute. They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. Yet they say to God, 'Depart from us, for we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?" (Job 21:7-15)
David also wondered about these questions.
"But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish. They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth. Therefore his people return here, and waters of a full cup are drained by them. And they say, "How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?" Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I had said, "I will speak thus," behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; you cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors." (Psalm 73:2-19)
From all these and more Scriptures we see that Israel's Patriarchs and Prophets in the Old Testament had the same honest questions as we. In the next installment we will look at other Scriptures that relate an understanding of the Lord's seemingly mysterious ways in permitting the suffering of His saints.