Gn 3:22 . And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
Years ago the above scripture verse jumped out at me from the pages of Genesis and I am still contemplating the implications and questions that arise in my mind concerning it. Is the knowledge of good and evil inherent to being made in the image and likeness of God? Was God the cause of evil in the world, and to that end? Some claim that this cosmos was flawed, by God’s design. So I have been mulling over these questions in my mind in light of scripture. We can only understand the deep things of God by His Spirit, which compares spiritual things with spiritual, 1Co 2:10-13. So by comparing scripture with scripture and using a little deductive reasoning we should be able to arrive at a clearer understand of evil in the world and if in fact, evil was intended to be a part of this world, by God’s design. A long time ago I took a freshman year requirement course in Logic, at a local Catholic College. We learned that God is what is called a First Cause. Pasted below is a definition for the word causality, from a online Dictionary, which is directly related to God being the First Cause.
1. a. the relationship of cause and effect
b. the principle that nothing can happen without being caused
2. causal agency or quality
God is the First Cause, and He created all things through Jesus Christ. God set creation in motion as the First Cause of all things. Imagine a row of dominoes set up with long and many divergent sets of predetermined lines. And then imagine God gently setting the first domino in motion.
Jn 1:1 . In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. NIV
Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
God is omniscient, possesses foreknowledge and declares the end from the beginning, Isa 46:10. Furthermore, what He purposes will stand, and He will do all that He pleases in the earth, and no one can stay His hand, Da 4:35. It seems a little hard to accept the fact that evil came into this cosmos outside of God’s design, especially since God has foreknowledge. God even states in precise words that He has in fact, created evil.
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
It should be noted that the Hebrew word for evil, in the above verse, is the same word translated evil in Ge 3:22. At least according to the Strong’s Concordance which is recognized as a very competent work in defining the Hebrew and Greek words used in the bible. That definition is pasted below.
1c) evil, displeasing
1d) bad (of its kind-land, water, etc)
1e) bad (of value)
1f) worse than, worst (comparison)
1g) sad, unhappy
1h) evil (hurtful)
1i) bad, unkind (vicious in disposition)
1j) bad, evil, wicked (ethically)
1j1) in general, of persons, of thoughts
1j2) deeds, actions
2) evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity
2a) evil, distress, adversity
2b) evil, injury, wrong
2c) evil (ethical)
3) evil, misery, distress, injury
3a) evil, misery, distress
3b) evil, injury, wrong
3c) evil (ethical)
It is quite telling that before time began, 2Ti 1:9, God’s purpose in Jesus Christ was already set firmly in place.
Mt 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
1Pt 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
So before Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden, God had already in mind a solution for sin and death, which was brought about by their disobedience, Ro 5:17. And the solution, the sacrifice of Jesus, was designed to bring many sons into glory, 1Pe 1:19-20, He 2:10. If given some thought, you can clearly see that evil as a concept was already in existence before Adam and Eve ate the fruit because the tree was named by God as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their eyes and mind were opened to the knowledge of good and evil. If you look at scripture, you can clearly see that death came into the world by and through lust.
2Pt 1:4 through which have been presented to us the precious and greatest promises, that through these you may become participants of the divine nature, fleeing from the corruption which is in the world by lust. CLV
Eve in the garden, exhibited lust. If you examined what motives Eve had for wanting to eat of the forbidden fruit, with what the Apostle John had to say about lust, you will see great similarities.
AV Ge 3:6 . And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
1Jn 2:16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Adam and Eve were subject to lust and through Eve’s lust, the serpent beguiled her. And because of their disobedience, death entered into the world. Many times in the New Testament it is stated that all things are of God, 2Co 5:18. God created evil and the inherent propensity for doing evil, in the created beings of this world. Evil is a result of actions based on choices made by creatures who dwell in God’s creation. Now some might ask why God allowed evil to flourish? Evil is a necessary variable in the purpose of God, because it causes suffering, affliction and tribulation, which are integral to the process of producing mature sons of God.
Ro 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 ¶ And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
The Strong’s Concordance definition of the Greek word that is translated into the English word “vanity” in Ro 8:20.
G3153 mataiotes mat-ah-yot’-ace
inutility; figuratively, transientness; morally, depravity.
Following is a breakdown of the words in the above definition of vanity which offers insight. The words will not appear in order as I intend to expand on one definition.
inutility- not useful
depravity- moral corruption; wickedness
The following definition is my own and explains and expands on the two words and the dictionary definitions of the two words”transientness; morality”.
transientness; morality- the state or fact of lasting only for a short time in regards to morality.
I can remember when I was stationed at a Army base in Germany in the early 1970’s. There was a significant amount of drug use and drug addiction taking place on the base and many young men were addicted to methamphetamines. It took a short period of time to learn not to lend them money. They would ask to borrow money and promise to pay you back on pay day, but never did. The thing was, when they asked to borrow the money they were so sincere and genuine about promising to pay you back, that you believed them. They actually believed in their heart at the time, that they would pay you back. But they lacked character, they in fact had transient morality. In short, their good intentions were short lived. So after pay day, they would avoid you and if they saw you, they would not look you in the eye. In a real sense they were objects of scorn and sometimes pity. You learned in short order not to lend this type of person any money. Now least any of us consider ourselves any better.
Ro 7:18 For I know that in me, that is, in my lower self, nothing good has its home; for while the will to do right is present with me, the power to carry it out is not.
19 For what I do is not the good thing that I desire to do; but the evil thing that I desire not to do, is what I constantly do.
20 But if I do that which I desire not to do, it can no longer be said that it is I who do it, but the sin which has its home within me does it. Weymouth
Mankind was subjected by God to vanity in hope, expectation, that the glorious liberty of the children of God would be revealed. When seeking to understand God’s actions in response to evil in the world, one should keep this in mind. So in conjunction with the above verses and definitions, the following verses brings even more clarity of why evil was allowed by God to exist in the world.
He 5:12 For although, considering the long time you have been believers, you ought now to be teachers of others, you really need some one to teach you over again the very rudiments of the truths of God, and you have come to require milk instead of solid food.
13 By people who live on milk I mean those who are imperfectly acquainted with the teaching concerning righteousness.
14 Such persons are mere babes. But solid food is for adults — that is, for those who through constant practice have their spiritual faculties carefully trained to distinguish good from evil. Weymouth
The fruits of righteousness can only come about by being trained or exercised in the choices we make in life regarding good and evil and often times being chastised for making the wrong choices. In short we learn by doing wrong and by God disciplining us.
1Co 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
He 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
We are after all, only children of God but are destined to be mature sons of God, with power and authority, following the first resurrection. That requires training by the Spirit of God, to facilitate character development or as it is put in the New Testament, bringing forth fruit.
Ga 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Unfortunately this fruit cannot be grown in a person without them being tempted or tried by suffering, affliction, temptation and tribulation. It is written that God does not tempt or try a person, Jas 1:13. But did not the Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, Mt 4:1? And when we pray the Lord’s prayer, we pray to the Father not to lead us into temptation. Perhaps Adam and Eve were led or allowed to be tempted by the serpent. The very definition of the word tempted, offers great insight.
G3985 peirazo pi-rad’-zo
to test (objectively), i.e. endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline.
When we, as parents, bring a child into the world we have a responsibility to see that that child grows in maturity for their sake and the sake of society. Now, the environment in which this maturity is learned, is already in existence around the child. A child often learns by trial and error or by making mistakes and one would hope, a parents loving guidance. Many times it has been said, “don’t touch the stove it is hot”. Of course the lesson is often only learned by the child, when they slightly burn their tender fingers and cry from the pain. God of course, saw the need for all of this suffering when he made the cosmos and set upon the course of action of making man in His image and likeness. God exhibits no partiality, Ac 10:34, towards his created children and allows them to suffer so He can give his loving guidance and instill maturity, in the vessels of mercy, Ro 9:23. I can honestly say I do not understood all the ramification and implications regarding evil in the world. But I will share a pertinent experience of my own. In 1984 I was in a car accident and was paralyzed for ten days. I have lived with a spinal cord injury for 30 years which has caused a great deal of pain, suffering and frustration. It is a evil in my life. The day of my accident a Christian woman called me and said that the night before, she had a vivid dream. In her dream, I had been badly injured in a car accident. This woman implored me to drive careful. A little over 12 hours later, driving at a reckless speed, I was in a car accident and broke two vertebrae in my neck, both in three pieces. I have given this much thought over the years and the only real determination I can make of this experience in light of scripture is this.
Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
God allows us to make choices and make mistakes. That is partially how maturity or perfection is acquired. We suffer often times because of our choices due to our immaturity. People make choices every day that can lead to great evil in the world. A man will rape a little child and adversely affect that poor young child’s life for years after. Men kill for many reasons, out of anger or because he covets someones property but largely out of immaturity. Many of the choices we make in life, can be in large or small ways, evil, Ac 9:13. Perhaps it is as small as gossiping or a rude comment that hurts another person’s feelings. In big or small ways we all contribute to the evil in this world, and the whole creation suffers because of these choices. It is only out of the furnace of this suffering, affliction, temptation and trial that a mature son of God emerges, fit for the masters use. That maturity is encapsulated by one word, love, Col 3:14.