Tonight I’m taking one of my projects to the next level. I’m field-testing a Bible study guide I’ve been working on for the last two years, The God of Paradox: Relying on God Even When He Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations. When I saw today’s Daily Post prompt, I knew it was a divine nudge to share from this message. Here is an excerpt from the first lesson, which I’ll be sharing with my Bible study group tonight. It’s entitled Paradox I: Why Does Our Holy God Allow Evil to Exist?
- Read Genesis 1:26 through 3:24.
That God permits wickedness is the singular issue that caused me to walk away from God in my early teens. Maybe you struggle with it, too. After all, if God is righteous and all-powerful, with unlimited options, how can He not eliminate evil as soon as it emerges?
When God created the first humans, He told them, “‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’” (Genesis 1:28). With those words, He put them in charge of creation. He gave them a beautiful paradise full of nutritious plants (Genesis 1:29-30).
But He set one limit—not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve could trust that God knew what was best for them, or they could rebel against restriction and find out what the alternative to best is.
Satan, the serpent, tempted the humans with the lure of the power of secret knowledge. “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). To our naïve first parents, that sounded beneficial, and they ate.
God could have blocked that first intrusion of evil. He did not. When He gave humans dominion over the earth, He also gave them free will. They had the power to ponder, to consider, to discern, and to decide. Would they utilize their free will to obey the God Who had provided them with everything they could ever want?
I wish God had created us with an intellect that propelled us into doing only good things that would glorify Him and bless our fellow human beings. But He didn’t. He wanted us to know Him and to learn to trust Him. He wanted us to obey Him joyfully, because we want to, not because we couldn’t do otherwise. Free will is a good gift of a loving God, Who provides us the opportunity (and the responsibility) of shaping our own characters. His gift of free will allows us to decide whether to serve Him and become the people He created us to be, or go our own way and serve ourselves.
Now, this is just a snippet. There’s more to this lesson: more text, more passages from Scripture, questions to ponder (such as, “Are people born good, evil, or a blank slate?”), personal application, and prayer.
With the insight I get from working through this manuscript with my Bible study group, I hope to fine-tune it and submit it for publication in 2018.