How Evil Began and What Christians Can Do About It
“His compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22
Many of us have probably wondered why bad things happen. We might ask where evil comes from. Did God create it? We also might ask why He allows it. The Bible tells of multiple instances of Satan causing trouble and spreading evil, but when did it begin?
The Bible’s first recorded occurrence of evil happens in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve are going about their business in the Garden of Eden when a serpent suddenly appears. The serpent asks Eve if it is true that God said they could not eat the fruit of a particular tree. Eve confirms the truth, but then the serpent convinces her otherwise.
“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Genesis 3:4–5
As we know, Eve gave in to the temptation. She ate the fruit then gave it to Adam to also eat, thus allowing sin into the world. However, this is not the first incidence of evil. It happened far before Adam and Eve’s time.
Creation of Lucifer
Satan is not always called Satan in the Bible. He is also called “King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28),” “King of Babylon (Isaiah 14),” or beast or dragon (Revelation). But God did not always call him those names. He was originally called Lucifer.
In Greek, the name Lucifer means “Morning Star.” Before the creation of the universe, he was God’s highest anointed angel, His right-hand man. God created him to be perfect, wise, and beautiful.
“You were the seal of perfection, full wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you. You were on the holy mountain of God. You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created.” Ezekiel 28:12–15
Everything about Lucifer was perfect. God loved him and trusted him completely. But at some unknown point, Lucifer decided he was better than God. Worse, he wanted to be God.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12–14
Lucifer was beautiful in every way until he sinned. Ezekiel 28 tells us how incredible he was until “iniquity was found in” him (v15). Lucifer was the one who created evil. He committed the first sin, that of pride. Since that time, he was no longer called Lucifer but Satan, which means “the adversary.”
Satan’s Evil Plan
After Satan rebelled, God cast him out of heaven and placed him into the Pit (hell).
“By the abundance of your trading, you became filled with violence, and you sinned. Therefore, I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God. And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.” Ezekiel 28:16
“Yet you will be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” Isaiah 14:15
Satan did not go quietly, of course. He managed to take one-third of the angels with him (Revelation 12:4). Together with his new demonic army, Satan has been trying to devour the children of God ever since. The apostle Peter was sure to mention it in his epistles.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Satan’s only goal is to destroy everything God loves, namely His children. And he will use any means necessary. In his mind, if he cannot have what he wants, neither can God.
Satan has waged his war with God ever since the day he wanted God’s throne, and he continues to fight every day. He battles for our families, our marriages, our finances, our sanity, and our very lives. Thankfully, Jesus will return one day and end the war once and for all. The Lord will be victorious, and He will forever destroy Satan in the final battle (Revelation 20).
Why Does God Allow Evil?
We know God did not create evil, but why does He allow it? He had the power to end it right when Satan first rebelled, so why didn’t He?
To be clear, Satan did not simply tempt Adam and Eve and declare that was the end of it. Sin has consequences, which Adam and Eve soon discovered. Their sin caused the entire world to change. It was no longer perfect. Suddenly, it was fallen, and we still live in that fallen world today.
So why did God not stop Adam and Eve’s sin before it was too late? It is because of moral responsibility and freedom.
If God had created a world where Adam and Eve perfectly obeyed, we would all be akin to robots. Instead, God gave them (and us) moral responsibility. Just as He is moral, He has created us to be moral. Without it, there would be no good or bad.
But Genesis 1:31 tells us God looked over His creation and declared it “good.” His foundation of morality is our foundation of morality, whether we acknowledge it or not. And with morality comes responsibility and the calling to be good and do good.
God also gives us the freedom to choose. He wants to have a personal relationship with us in which we walk together through life, whether times are good or bad. He wants us to have the freedom to love Him and respond to His gentle Spirit. If God designed us to obey Him blindly like robots, a relationship with Him would not be possible.
The World Groans
Because Adam and Eve sinned, we unfortunately now must live in a fallen world where bad things happen every day. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:22–23,
“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”
The world groans because of sin and evil. We groan, too, as we suffer and wait for the Day of the Lord to come. Until then, we trust in God’s faithfulness and compassion.
As bearers of sin, we deserve to pay the penalty of death. But God in His mercy sent His Son, Jesus the Messiah, to pay that penalty for us. His sacrificial death redeems us, and God continues to shelter us from constant tragedies and the evil this fallen world tries to throw at us.
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22–23
God’s faithfulness to His children has no end, which means His plan of vengeance on Satan will happen. He will save us; then we will groan and suffer no more.
Responding to Suffering and Evil
Jesus promised us we would face trials and tribulations (John 16:33) as we navigate this fallen world. How should a believer respond?
Patience and Prayer. Romans 12:12 tells us to be “patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.” With patience and steadfast prayer, we grow in strength while waiting for the Lord to move. Doctor Charles Stanley always says, “Fight your battles on your knees, and you’ll win every time,” and he is right.
Rejoice. It seems odd that we should rejoice in our suffering. But we know God works all things together for good, which is why He said in Romans 5:3–4,
“But we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.”
Like refined gold, God refines us through our trials so we can grow in our faith and learn to trust Him more. Our hope in His grace grows, and the evidence of His love becomes more tangible.
Worship. When we make worship a central part of our faith, trials become easier to bear. Through worship, we experience God’s peace more deeply, a kind of peace that defies understanding so that while we feel oppressed, we can still say, “I don’t understand it, but I trust You, Lord.”
Feel Encouraged. Bad things happen, and we have little power to stop them. But we can be encouraged. The power of God’s love and faithfulness surrounds us, and He uses every situation to “perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle” us (1 Peter 5:10).
Remember the Truth. God uses suffering to remind us this is not our home. He has prepared a far better place for us. We are merely passing through as we look forward to spending a glorious eternity in heaven.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18
We Have the Victory
Satan routinely confronts our morality and freedom. Every day, he seeks to tear us down and make us question our loyalty to our Savior. We will face tribulation. Evil does stalk us. But Jesus tells us to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We already have victory over Satan because of Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
In the shelter of the Most High God, we find strength and refuge when evil knocks on the door.