If God is so good why does evil exist? Did God create evil? If evil is inevitable why didn’t God just kill Satan after he rebelled?
This is my understanding of the creation of evil. Darkness is simply the absence of light, silence is the absence of sound, and cold is the absence of heat. I’m thinking about the default state of the universe (dark, cold, and silent) and how action creates light, heat, and sound. The first specific act of creation listed in Genesis is when God created light in Genesis 1:3. On almost every day of creation God declared everything good, but good can’t be defined unless there is an alternative right? Genesis 1:2 describes the initial state of the cosmos as without form and void. The first 3 Days were the solution to the formlessness by bringing organization to the unorganized reality (time cycle: day/night, sky/water, land), and the 2nd set of 3 days were solutions to the emptiness filling the organized spaces with inhabitants (celestial lights of the day/night, birds/fish, land animals). In Gen 1:2 things are not good, but by Genesis 1:31 things are very good.
There was one tree in the garden that was off-limits, and this tree gives access to the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2:15-17). The tree cannot have the knowledge of something that doesn’t exist, because it must exist to be defined, therefore, evil existed since the beginning. The tree has fruit that contains both, which implies that good and evil must both exist because one needs the other to define its existence. In the back of the book, God doesn’t destroy the antichrist, false prophet, or Satan and the wicked rebels, but rather subdues them in the Lake of Fire (Rev 14:9-11, Rev 19:19-21, Rev 20:4-15). God says to the Messiah in Psalm 110:1, “…Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool”. Making someone a footstool is very different than destroying them completely. Evil is to be subdued but it cannot be destroyed without removing good because they are tethered together.
Furthermore, after eating from this tree and being corrupted, the first couple were banished from the garden for a specific reason. According to Genesis 3:22-24, God kicked them out to prevent humans from eating from the Tree of Life after sinning. This means that if they did eat from the Tree of Life in that state, they would be sin-filled and have eternal life at the same time. Imagine the terrible sin, violence, and degeneracy of Genesis 6, but it lasts forever because humans have eternal life. God couldn’t use the flood as a soft reset if they were immortal, instead, he would simply have to subdue them forever with the rebels of heaven in the lake of fire. Death is necessary so that God can condemn evil and bring justice, but death is not the end of existence just the end of life on earth. In addition, death limits the spread of evil and prevents humans from destroying the world so quickly. Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve (the first humans), committed the very first murder. He murdered his brother Abel in Genesis 4:8. In Genesis 4:9-15, God punishes Cain with hardship in growing crops, and Cain complains his punishment is too much and he is afraid that someone else (his parent or later siblings) will kill him. So God shows him mercy by branding him with a mark that would function as a symbol of protection in Gen 4:15.
Many years later, in Genesis 4:23-24, Lamech, Cain’s descendant, brags about murdering a man and believes that Cain’s mark will protect him as well. This man warped the theology of Lamech took the mark of God’s mercy on Cain and created a “Murder Olympics”, where people interpreted the mark of Cain as a reward of special protection. This is likely one of the reasons Gen 6:11 says “the world was filled with violence”. God had to stop this with death because if humans had eternal life there could have been an eternal war between Cain and Abel. In Gen 9:5-6, God then establishes the death penalty for murderers because humans obviously can’t handle the mercy he showed Cain.
If death wasn’t a consequence after the fall in Genesis 3-6, then God could not save humanity as he promised through the messiah in Genesis 3:15. It was through the mechanics of death that Jesus saved us. Paul says the wages of sin is death in Romans 6:23. This means we owe God a bond (debt) of life because of our sins and once our bond reaches maturity (our lives reach the end), the “principal” (our life) is paid back because of our sin. However, God uses this to save us by having Jesus pay our bonds with his own life and since he was sinless he had the right to experience eternal life from birth. When he returns for the 1st resurrection he will fulfill God’s promise to pay the believers with new eternal lives as rebates, and this time they will have eternal life with new bodies that are free from sin nature (1 Thess 4:13-18, 1 Cor ch. 15, and 2 Cor 5:1-10). The whole reason we have death is because of sin, but eternal life is still an option because Jesus used this system to free us from the bond of sin/death.
The Bible seems to suggest there are two kinds of eternal life. A primordial eternal life is given for simply being a sinless pure being, and the second is a permanent eternal life that can’t be taken away, even in the case of sin. The first kind is what Adam and Eve started with, and what Jesus had while he was on earth. This is why God said “you will surely die” if they ate the fruit (Gen 2:15-17). Since they didn’t die immediately when they ate the fruit, that seems to suggest that this was the initiation of death, meaning they never would have died if they followed God’s commands. This may have been why Jesus had to be born from a virgin. Like Adam, he was supernaturally created but as a child in a woman’s womb. It was a way of resetting him to the original pure state so that he could be sinless from the start without being corrupted by sin nature passed on from a human father.
The primordial eternal life can be lost if a person sins or willingly gives up their life. Jesus could not be killed unless he gave himself up (John 10:17-18). The Jewish leaders and mobs of people tried to kill him multiple times but he always escaped by passing through people, disappearing, or the guards being pacified (Luke 4:28-30, John 8:59, John 10:31). He even avoided arrest early because his time had not come yet, as it says in John 7:30. He even could have staved off the crucifixion via a legion of angels (Matthew 26:53), but that would not pay the debts of man’s sin, which was his purpose. Adam and Eve sinned so they lost the primordial eternal life. On the other hand, permanent eternal life is not related to sin, and cannot be taken away. I believe the permanent eternal life is what Jesus got in return for giving up his primordial eternal life. He had to die in order to get permanent eternal life, and that is the eternal life believers are promised when they receive Jesus. This eternal life begins at the 1st resurrection since he was the “first fruit” (1 Cor 15:20) of the final harvest (Matt 3:11-12, Matt 13:24-30).
From this, we can deduce that eternal heavenly beings like Satan and the fallen angels have this permanent eternal life from the start. Despite the iniquity of Satan and the heavenly rebels, God can’t destroy them because this eternal life is a permanent promise from God, and God cannot break a promise. In addition, why would God break this promise even if he could? God allowed them to have this kind of eternal life despite any sin they committed because sin has to be possible (evil must exist for good to be defined). So rather than kill them, God will just subdue them in the end. As for why God lets Satan tempt humans in the first place, God can’t judge Satan for something he hasn’t done yet, so he has to let Satan tempt first. The humans could have resisted, and Satan would have likely been cast out of the garden by Adam since he and his wife, had authority over everything on the earth, but the first humans failed. Throughout the Bible, God never prevents humans from sinning or punishes people in advance, he waits for them to sin and then warns them to repent, then condemns those that don’t. Meanwhile, Satan has used his cunning to take Adam’s position as leader of the world and has blinded the minds of the people of the world, so that they stay trapped in sin (2 Cor 4:4).
In order to love God with all our hearts, we must have the option to hate him, otherwise, it is not a real choice to act in love. Without the option to not love, our love would be automated and fake. We humans can program machines to say “I love you”, but it is not the same as falling in love with a spouse that chooses to love us back. This may be why God compares his relationship with his people to marriage. He chooses those who chose Him, and the rest will not benefit from this covenant of love because they chose not to be a part of it (John 3:16-21). All humans have to be tempted and have a chance to act on or fail at God’s commands. This requirement may explain why Satan is released at the end of the Millennial reign after being temporarily bound for 1000 years (Rev 20:1-10). Those humans born during the millennial reign have to be tempted, otherwise, it would be unfair to all the people tempted beforehand. So Satan is released to tempt them and those who join him are punished, along with all those who are still in Sheol awaiting condemnation on judgment day, because they rejected God’s way to salvation.
Since the heavenly rebels have eternal life, they can never pay for their sins, meaning Satan and the others can’t be redeemed. In the old testament, the Israelites were commanded to sacrifice every firstborn male, but they had to redeem the humans, by substituting them with animals (Exodus 34:19-20), just like Abraham substituted Isaac with a ram in Genesis 22. Since the heavenly rebels have eternal life, they can’t die, and that means being redeemed by death. Jesus can die in our place because we were going to die anyway, but rebellious eternal beings can’t be saved through substitution since they can’t die. As Paul said the wage of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Following that metaphor, blood is just the currency, and according to Genesis, death is the byproduct of Adam’s sin (Gen 2:15-17). Therefore, heavenly beings can’t pay God back because the promise of eternal life traps them in a debt that can never be paid since they don’t have the liquid currency of mortal life because “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev 17:11). In other words, they can’t bleed to death, so they can’t give up their life. Only humans can be saved because they bleed and die like other mortal creatures. Unlike animals, however, humans are made in God’s image and are promised salvation. Only Jesus the Messiah, who had a primordial eternal life (because he was sinless) could give it in exchange for the one Adam lost, and save us all.
It seems the risk must be worth the reward, since God has put up with us for this long, and since he knew he would have to put up with us beforehand because of his omniscience, he still considered us not only worthy of being created but also worthy of saving rather than starting over after Adam failed. There are some who believe that Adman and Eve didn’t have eternal life yet before the fall, but rather they missed out on the chance to take it. I think that idea may be influenced by the Enuma Elish (Babylonian creation myth). In this view, I suppose they would have argued that Jesus being untouchable was just a special circumstance because he is the Messiah and that Adam and Eve were going to die anyway whether they ate the fruit or not. My question would be what is the significance of the consequences of taking from the forbidden tree if they were doing to die anyway? I don’t think those that take this view will have a problem with the overall conclusions of this article but they will have to work out their own details for the in-between. Since there is no mention of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Life before the fall, then it’s also possible that they did eat from it since God said they can eat from ANY tree in the garden EXCEPT the forbidden one (Gen 2:15-17), and its effects were temporarily removed by the first act of sin. In that case, eating it afterward would reset their eternal life trapping them in eternal life with a sinful nature. Or maybe the idea was that fruit from the tree of life is not permanent and they would have to keep eating from it to maintain eternal life? Either way, man needs salvation and that salvation came through the death of Jesus because only he (as a sinless person with primordial eternal life) could exchange himself for our sins. This way humans can receive permanent eternal life without sin nature since it is the promised gift of the holy spirit that helps us overcome sin nature. Meanwhile, Satan and his rebels are trapped because they could never die, and could never experience the redemption of their debts. This is what I believe motivates Satan to want to kill, steal from, and destroy us all (John 10:10) so that he can prevent as many of us as possible from having what he cannot.
Sin is the one thing that prevents us from having eternal life now and God’s solution was to pour out his spirit on humanity to give us power over our fleshly sinful desires. It’s the holy spirit that was promised to “circumcise” our hearts (Deut 30:6, Jer 4:4, Ez 36:25-27, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:16-21, Rom 2:29, and Col 2:11) and give us the power to overcome sin nature so that we could accomplish the task of keeping God’s commands. In Deut 30:6 Moses says that the Israelites will never keep God’s commands until their hearts are circumcised, in other words, the hardness of their hearts must be cut away. Jeremiah 4:3-4 God says that the hearts of the people of Judah need to be circumcised so that they can repent of their sins. Ezekiel 36:25-27 says that God will transform the human heart by pouring out his spirit on humanity. This is prophesied in Joel 2:28-32 and fulfilled in Acts chapter 2. Paul confirms this heart circumcision is by the Holy Spirit in Romans 2:29 and Colossians 2:11. God’s spirit is what transforms people. His spirit dwells in the bodies of believers, just like he dwelled in the temple and tabernacle built by the Jews in the old testament. Only this time the “temple” is the bodies of the people who are in covenant with Jesus, rather than a building in Israel. And the Holy Spirit is only available to those who received Jesus as Lord (John 14:15-17, Rom 8:5-11). Those with the spirit are the chosen ones who answered God’s call to the Kingdom. Many are called and few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).
Revelation 12:7 (NLT) Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. 8 And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. 9 This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”
Rev 20:Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit[a] and a heavy chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. 3 The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while.
4 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. 7 When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. 8 He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. 9 And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them.
10 Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.