Definition: That which is very bad morally. It often denotes that which is injurious, malevolent, or destructive in influence.
Why is there so much wickedness?
God is not to blame. He gave mankind a perfect start, but humans have chosen to ignore God’s requirements and decide for themselves what is good and what is bad. (Deut. 32:4, 5; Eccl. 7:29; Gen. 3:5, 6) By doing this, they have come under the influence of wicked superhuman forces.—Eph. 6:11, 12.
1 John 5:19: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”
Rev. 12:7-12: “War broke out in heaven . . . the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. . . . ‘On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.’” (This increased woe to the world has occurred since Satan was hurled out of heaven following the birth of the Kingdom. See verse 10.)
2 Tim. 3:1-5: “Know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” (This is the fruitage of centuries of apostasy from true worship. These conditions have developed because people who have professed to be religious have ignored what God’s Word really says. They have proved false to the power for good that true godly devotion can have in one’s life.)
Why does God permit it?
At times it may seem to us that the best thing would be simply to get rid of everyone who is wicked. We long for an end to wickedness, and yet we have experienced it for relatively few years when compared with the time that wickedness has existed. How must Jehovah God feel? For thousands of years people have blamed him, even cursed him, for the bad conditions they have endured. Yet, these are caused, not by him, but by Satan and by wicked men. Jehovah has the power to destroy the wicked. Surely there must be good reasons why he has exercised such restraint. If Jehovah’s way of handling the situation is different from what we would recommend, should that surprise us? His experience is much greater than man’s, and his view of the situation is much broader than that of any human.—Compare Isaiah 55:8, 9; Ezekiel 33:17.
There would be no wickedness if God had not endowed intelligent creatures with free will. But God has given us the capacity to choose to obey him because we love him or to disobey. (Deut. 30:19, 20; Josh. 24:15) Do we wish it were otherwise? If we are parents, which makes us happier—when our children obey us because they love us or when we make them do it? Should God have forced Adam to be obedient? Would we really be happier if we lived in a world where we were forced to obey God? Before destroying this wicked system, God is allowing opportunity for people to demonstrate whether they really want to live in harmony with his righteous laws or not. At his appointed time, he will without fail destroy the wicked.—2 Thess. 1:9, 10.
Wisely he is allowing time for the settling of vital issues: (1) The righteousness and rightfulness of Jehovah’s rule was challenged in Eden. (Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:1-5) (2) The integrity of all of God’s servants in heaven and on earth was called into question. (Job 1:6-11; 2:1-5; Luke 22:31) God could have destroyed the rebels (Satan, Adam, and Eve) immediately, but that would not have settled matters. Might does not prove that one’s cause is right. The issues raised were moral ones. God’s allowing of time was, not to prove any point to himself, but to permit all creatures with free will to see for themselves the bad fruitage produced by rebellion against his rulership, also to afford them opportunity to demonstrate where they personally stand on these vital matters. With these issues settled, never again would anyone be permitted to disrupt the peace. The good order, harmony, and well-being of the entire universe depend upon the sanctifying of Jehovah’s name, the treating of him with heartfelt honor by all intelligent creatures. (See also pages 363, 364, under the heading “Satan the Devil.”)
Illustration: If someone made a charge before the whole community that you abused your position as family head, that your children would be better off if they made their own decisions independent of you, and that all of them obeyed you, not because of love, but because of material benefits you provided, what would be the best way to settle the matter? Would shooting the false accuser put the charges to rest in the minds of the community? Instead, what a fine answer it would be if you gave your children opportunity to be your witnesses to show that you are a just and loving family head and that they live with you because they love you! If some of your children believed your adversary, left home, and ruined their lives by adopting other life-styles, it would only make honest observers realize that the children would have been better off if they had heeded your direction.
Have we in any way benefited by God’s permission of wickedness down till the present?
2 Pet. 3:9: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (Because his patience has extended down till our day, we have the opportunity to demonstrate that we are repentant and that, instead of making our own decisions as to good and bad, we want to submit to Jehovah’s righteous rulership.)
Rom. 9:14-24: “What shall we say, then? Is there injustice with God? Never may that become so! . . . If, now, God, although having the will to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, tolerated with much long-suffering vessels of wrath made fit for destruction [that is, he tolerated the existence of wicked people for a time], in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory [that is, he would use the time to extend mercy to certain ones, in harmony with his purpose], namely, us, whom he called not only from among Jews but also from among nations, what of it?” (Thus God put off the destruction of the wicked so as to allow time to select people whom he would glorify with Christ as members of the heavenly Kingdom. Has God’s doing that been an injustice to anyone? No; it is part of Jehovah’s arrangement for blessing people of all sorts who will be favored with the opportunity to live forever on a paradise earth. Compare Psalm 37:10, 11.)
If Someone Says—
‘Why does God permit such wickedness?’
You might reply: ‘Your question is a good one. Many faithful servants of God have been disturbed by the wickedness around them. (Hab. 1:3, 13)’ Then perhaps add: (1) ‘It is not because of any indifference on God’s part. He assures us that he has a set time when he will call the wicked to account. (Hab. 2:3)’ (2) ‘But what is required on our part if we are to be among the survivors when that time comes? (Hab. 2:4b; Zeph. 2:3)’
Or you could say: ‘I am glad that you brought that question up. It is one that disturbs many honest-hearted people. I have here some very helpful information that answers your question. (Then read together some of the information on pages 428-430.)
‘After all these years, I don’t believe that God is going to do anything to change matters’
You might reply: ‘I’m glad to hear that you do believe in God. It certainly is true that there is a lot of wickedness, and it began long before our time. But have you considered this . . . ? (Use the thoughts in paragraph 1 on page 428, regarding the length of time that God has endured it.)’
Or you could say: ‘I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that anyone who has the ability to build a house certainly is capable of cleaning it too. . . . Since God created the earth, it would not be a difficult matter for him to clean it up. Why has he waited so long? I found this answer very satisfying. Tell me what you think. (Then read together the material on pages 428-430.)’