Journey 2 The Problem of Evil
Day 4: The Cost of Ending Evil
It’s all well and good to talk about the need for ending evil, but it’s just as important to ask what that would look like. If God stepped in right at this moment and ended evil, what would that require?
Here are some possibilities. He could intervene by physically restraining anyone attempting to commit sin—literally stopping everyone from performing any evil act. That’s one option.
Another would be to rewrite the character of everyone on the planet—to take away the desire to sin in one fell swoop by altering who we are, what we believe and how we think, creating a world of living robots, each of us incapable of doing wrong.
Another, far less complicated option would be to simply put an end to the entire human race—to wipe us all out in a single instant and never give us the chance to sin again.
Can God step in, right now, and end evil? Absolutely. But is that really what we want? Are those the solutions we’d prefer? The first two would strip us of our free will; the last one would end our existence entirely. But what are the alternatives? Can you think of a way God could immediately end evil without doing at least one of those things?
The truth is, God is entirely capable of ending evil—and what’s more, He wants to end it. But not like that. Not at the cost of turning us all into mindless drones unable to think and act for ourselves, and not at the cost of blotting out His creation forever. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), and the total obliteration of the human race would make it considerably more difficult to achieve that goal.
He has a much better plan in mind.
In the previous Journey, we learned that God is a family—and not just any family, but a growing family that the whole world has the potential to join. But we also learned that the God family operates in unison, with the same goals, the same perspective and the same values.
What do you think would happen if a sinful human being became part of the God family? Would that family still operate in unity, or would there be division, disagreement and strife? God wants us in His family, but as long as we choose sin over His perfect law, we can have no place in that family. It would go against the very nature of God to allow it.
The penalty for sin is death. Not eternal torment in some fiery underworld, but death. Nonexistence. The Bible makes this clear, reminding us, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4) and “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The most merciful thing a loving God can do for someone who refuses to change and follow His laws—whose life produces evil and suffering—is to end that life.
But we’ve got a problem. If we sin by breaking God’s law, we forfeit our lives. Despite our best efforts, there’s nothing you and I can do to undo a sin. Once the law of God is broken, it’s broken, and no amount of good intentions can change that. “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder’” (James 2:10-11). Paul tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Not one of us can stand before God and claim a sinless life—which means not one of us is qualified to join His family. We’ve each earned the eternal death penalty, and paying that penalty means the end of our existence. That’s a problem for us, but it’s also a problem for God, who, as we’ve already discussed, “desires all men to be saved.”
So what’s the solution?
We’ll get to that—because there is a solution, and what’s more, it’s already in place. We’ll talk about that in the final day of this Journey, where we’ll discover that the solution to our problem is only the first step in God’s master plan to end all evil forever—a plan we’ll examine in depth during our third Journey, “The Plan of God.”
Tomorrow, though, we need to deal with another question entirely:
If sin is such a terrible thing, why do we keep choosing it?