Michael Youssef - Why Does God Allow Evil? - Part 1
How can a loving God allow evil to exist? This is the age-old question. What is the answer? It all depends on what you mean by answer. It all depends in what kind of answer you are willing to accept. It all depends whether you're really looking for an answer or you're making an excuse for not believing. It depends whether you're willing to humble yourself before a mighty God and acknowledge that God is the only one who can give a perfect answer, and he is the one who chose not to give us that perfect answer, not for now anyway. Hear me right on this one. If you are looking for an explanation, if you are looking for a perfect answer to the question, "Where did evil come from?" or, "How can God perfectly take evil and let it serve his perfect will?" then I can tell you at the outset I don't have an answer.
As a matter of fact, nobody has an answer to that. But if you are looking for an assurance and encouragement to trust God in the light of evil, I can help you. If you want to be assured that God is all good, all just, all powerful, and all wise in spite of skepticism, then you came to the right place. But before I get to this I need to say to you a couple of important things. First, I never dismiss out of hand the personal pain that sometimes is associated with that question. I never dismiss that. Where is God when I'm hurting? And the second thing I want to tell you is this. Please, please, please try to remove from your mind the notion that God owes you or me an explanation. We feel that God owes us an explanation. We are very pragmatic, and we feel we're entitled, we're entitled to answers.
And somebody said that "we think of God as a cosmic butler, who must explain himself to us as he dutifully serve every whim of our lives, yet, that is not the God of the Bible. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Word of God tells us that there are some answers to some questions that God chose not to tell us, not to reveal to us, and that's his prerogative. Otherwise he would be just another man, and I refuse to worship such a weak God who have to explain himself to me. Furthermore, this is what heaven is all about".
You see, we will have an answer to all the questions of life but only there when we get to heaven. God will reveal to us everything. The Bible said we will know him fully. For now, we are to trust him even when we don't have all of the answers. But perhaps there's no greater book about pain and suffering, unfairness, injustice as the book of Job. The book of Job is all about God not making sense to Job and everybody else. Throughout the book, Job looks up to the heavens and he says, "Why did you do that, God? Why is this, God? Why, and why, and why"? And by the way, there's nothing wrong with asking, "Why"? And at the end of the book God began to give Job some answers.
He began to answer Job. He asked Job a few questions. "Job, who created the heavens and the earth? Job, who is in a position to judge the creator, God? Job, who knows as much as God or more than God? Job, who knows more than God when it comes to the complexity of the whole universe"? And the answer is? Let me talk to the jurists in the church and lawyers and judges and those involved in the law. Let me just ask you a question. Can an honest judge really render a verdict without all of the evidence present? Hello? No, if he's honest. Thank God we have some honest judges in this church.
Now, if you want to sit on judgment against God, then you must ask yourself the question, "Do I have perfect knowledge of the universe"? Do I have all of the answers about every question surrounding the universe? Only the legalists and the Pharisees think that they have answers to all the questions. They really do. Man, I have met some of them, and I know that you have too. Let me give you examples, Job's friends. "We know the reason why you're suffering, Job. We know why. Actually we know exactly why you're in the fix you're in. We know why you're in the pain you're in. You're a sinner". And what does God do? He looks down from heaven, and he said, "A bunch of twits". That's the Youssef translation, but you get the meaning.
Look at the Pharisees in John chapter 9, the man born blind. Now, just let me repeat this, born blind. They taught that either he or his parents have sinned. He was born blind. He didn't get a chance to sin. He didn't have a chance to do anything. You see, they got the answers. They have all of the answers to all of the questions. It doesn't matter to them. Don't confuse them with the facts. They've got the answers. In looking for an answer be very, very careful, be very, very cautious lest you jump into conclusions that are erroneous and inaccurate. And why do we look forward to heaven if we've got all the answers here? And you don't need me to tell you we are as far from heaven as we possibly can, and it's getting worse. But, listen, before you put God in the dark and accuse him of unfairness and accuse him of injustice and accuse him of not doing the right thing, look at what he himself did. The perfect, holy, righteous, sinless God took the punishment of sinful, wicked people on himself.
Think about this. Is that fair? Is that fair for someone who had never sinned. None of us can claim that. None of us are guiltless, none of us sinless, but he was, the Son of God, sinless, perfect in every way. Is it fair for him to take the punishment that belongs to us? No, it's not fair at all. In fact, the Bible and the Christian faith is the only faith in the whole universe that addresses the whole question of evil. It addresses how the evil entered into the world through the Garden of Eden. It addresses and it tells us about how that sin left its ugly marks not only on our psyche but also on nature, the creation as a whole. It tells us how God dealt with that sin and the consequences of that sin once and for all. It tells us how a loving God provided the only remedy for evil.
Not long ago I read a story about a missionary doctor who was practicing in a hospital in Haiti, and the doctor was puzzled when this man brought his daughter for treatment. And he was particularly puzzled about her name. It was something like, and I may not pronouncing it right, Assez-dents, which roughly translated "enough teeth". The doctor kept on probing and asking the father questions about the daughter and why he named her "enough teeth". And this doctor was astounded when that voodoo worshipper explained to him why. He told him "enough teeth" means enough suffering, enough death, enough destruction. You see, like all natural religions, the voodoo people believe that they are the victims of these spirits' fix. These spirits can do miserable things to you if you anger them, but they might leave you alone or probably do some little good if you appease them.
I want you to hear me right. This is important. Your view of God will affect your view of life. Back to the story. This father had eight children. Seven of them already died, and number eight is the only one left. So the mediums and the shamanists and the witch doctors told him, that in order to appease these spirits, call her "enough teeth" to appease these spirits. Now, beloved, history provides us with a long list of gods. Ah, but the Hebrew God, listen to me, but the Hebrew God who revealed himself first to Abraham is a totally, all-holy God. He is all-righteous God. He is an all-just God. He is an all-good God. He is a God who abhors evil. He is a God who hates evil. He was a God who resists evil. He is all good.
And in the New Testament, when god fully revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ, his Son, we see what God is like. He knew that we are condemned by our very life because we are lawbreakers, so what does he do? He does not add to our misery. He does not demand from us what we can never do. No, he paid the penalty that is ours. He took the punishment that is ours. He took the judgment that is ours upon himself. He served the sentence that rightly belongs to us. He experienced hell itself. That's our God. That's the true God. That's the only God who is worthy of the name. So with everyone who would humble themselves and come to him and receive the gift of salvation from his hand, be eternally adopted as sons and daughters and know God, and even when they don't understand everything they know God. They trust God.
Many years ago I told this true story. It was about a Russian tribal leader, and this great leader of that particular tribe had only two laws. The first law is that everyone in the tribe must love their parents, and the second law was that they must never steal, never steal. This man's leadership and these laws made the tribe to be one of the greatest in all of Russia of old, and one day they discovered there was someone in the tribe who's stealing. And this angered the leader, angered him greatly, and so he brought the people together. And he said, "Let the thief come forward and receive ten lashes". Nobody came. He upped the ante. He said, "Thirty lashes, forty lashes". He stopped there because he knew it'd take a strong man to be able to take that many lashes and still be alive.
And so, he dispersed the crowds, but he sent his men to find the thief. They have to find the thief, and within a week they found the thief. They brought the thief forward, and the leader looked and gasped when he saw who the thief was. It was no other than his own mother, his own mother. So they guards began to wager among themselves what this great and wise leader going to do. Would he keep his word and obey the second law and with his mother, or will he obey the first law and love his mother and let her go? But if he does that he has disgraced himself and his own laws that he sought to enforce. But if the crime goes unpunished everybody will start stealing.
And so, he gathered the tribe once again, and they brought forward his mother, took off her bare back in order to receive the lashes. And the people said, "Aha, he's going to whip his own mother". Then just before the whip master brought the whip to bear, the leader strut over to where his mother was as he was tearing his own shirt off, and he draped his body over his mother's and took the 40 lashes himself.
Now, beloved, listen to me. When Jesus Christ hung on that cross it was a lot more than just lashes. He took the lashes, but that separation from God the Father for that moment like has never happened since eternity is something we will never comprehend until we get to heaven, but he did this for you, for you and for everyone who would come to him. And he says, "You did this for me". That's the reason why the only answer to the question of evil and the existence of evil is not to blame God, but to allow yourself to receive the new heart and the new spirit and the new set of eyes that he wants to give you as a gift, for when you receive this new heart and the new spirit and new set of eyes, you'll be able to at least to a certain degree begin to comprehend the problem of evil, and you'll begin to comprehend how our God is a mighty God. You'll begin to comprehend the truth that's in the Scripture.
When you have this new heart and the new spirit, you begin to comprehend that in all things God works together, in all things, the bad things, the good things, in all things, the tough things and the tough times and the easy times, the painful things and the pleasant things, the senseless things and the sensible things, "In all things God works together for the good of those who love him". But Paul continues. That's not where he stops. He continues. Most people stop right there, and even some people take it out of context, "It all works for good". No, no, no, no, you missed the whole point. It's for those who love him.
In verse 31 of Romans 8, "What shall we say in response to this"? I mean, this is a huge thing. "But what shall we say in response to this? If God be with us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but he gave him up for us all, how will he not also give us, with him, graciously give us all things"? He continues. Verse 36, "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to the slaughter". That was a testimony of the Apostle Paul. That was the suffering that he was going through, but that he says, "No, no, no, no, but in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us".
And then he continues, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in the creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord". If that question is really keeping you from coming to a loving God, if that question is keeping you from coming to Christ, then I'm imploring you, I'm imploring you to humble yourself before him, and look up to heaven and say, "You are the judge, and I'm not. You are all knowing, and I'm not. You are all sovereign over all, and I am not".
Tell him that you long to receive this new heart, this new spirit, this new set of eyes so that you at least begin to see the world differently, for until that point you're not able to see the world from God's eyes, at least from the Word of God's viewpoint because when you come to him and you receive the new heart and the new spirit and the new set of eyes, then you will understand that he is not the maker of evil. He is not the author of evil. But you will see that evil cannot overcome him, that evil can never defeat him, that evil will never, never, never thwart his long-term plan and his long-term purpose for you, that you will understand that one day he's gonna throw that evil one who is the author of evil into the lake of fire and that for all those who loved him, all those who trusted him when they did not understand, will rejoice forever and ever and ever with him in heaven, amen.