Why Wickedness Continues
“JEHOVAH [GOD] is righteous in all his ways,” says the Bible. (Psalm 145:17; Revelation 15:3) Concerning him, the prophet Moses declared: “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) “Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful,” says James 5:11. God cannot and does not cause wickedness.
The disciple James wrote: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) Jehovah God neither tempts people with wickedness nor entices them to commit vile deeds. Who, then, is to blame for wickedness and the suffering it causes?
Where Does the Blame Lie?
The Bible writer James puts part of the blame for wickedness on humans. He states: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.” (James 1:14, 15) Individuals may act according to their improper desires. Consider, too, man’s inherited sin. The power of sin can amplify wrong cravings and bring about very bad consequences. (Romans 7:21-23) Indeed, inherited sin has “ruled as king” over mankind, enslaving humans with wicked works that cause great suffering. (Romans 5:21) Moreover, wicked men can influence others to become corrupt.—Proverbs 1:10-16.
The primary cause of wickedness, though, is Satan the Devil. He brought wickedness into the world. Jesus Christ called Satan “the wicked one” and “the ruler of the world,” or unrighteous human society. Mankind in general obeys Satan by heeding his urgings to ignore the good ways of Jehovah God. (Matthew 6:13; John 14:30; 1 John 2:15-17) “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” says 1 John 5:19. In fact, Satan and his angels are “misleading the entire inhabited earth,” causing nothing but “woe.” (Revelation 12:9, 12) Thus, the major part of the blame for wickedness has to be placed squarely on Satan the Devil.
Revealing another cause of affliction or suffering, Ecclesiastes 9:11 states: “Time and unforeseen occurrence befall [us] all.” Jesus Christ spoke of a certain calamity involving 18 people who were killed when a tower fell on them. (Luke 13:4) They suffered because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Similar things happen today. For example, a brick may break loose from the top of a high building and strike a pedestrian. Is God to blame? No. It was an unplanned and unforeseen occurrence. The same may often be said when sickness invades a household or sudden death leaves behind orphans and widows.
Clearly, then, God is not responsible for wickedness; nor does he cause suffering. On the contrary, it is Jehovah’s purpose to eliminate wickedness and those who cause it. (Proverbs 2:22) In fact, he will do more than that. The Scriptures declare that God’s purpose through Christ is “to break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) The present system of things—based on greed, hatred, and wicked deeds—will then be gone. God will even “wipe out every tear from [all] eyes,” thus bringing an end to suffering. (Revelation 21:4) But you may ask: ‘Why has God not already done this? Why has he allowed wickedness and suffering to continue until our day?’ A key to the answer is found in the Bible account of Adam and Eve.
A Vital Issue Is Raised
The reason why God has permitted wickedness to exist until our day is related to events that happened early in human history. An incident that took place back then raised an important issue concerning the Creator himself—a question that could not be settled quickly or easily. Let us take a close look at what happened.
Jehovah God created the first man and woman perfect and placed them in Paradise. They were endowed with a gift that distinguished them from animals—the gift of free will. (Genesis 1:28; 2:15, 19) As free moral agents, Adam and Eve could use their intellect to choose to love, serve, and obey their Creator. Or they could select a course of independence from God and deliberately disobey him.
To give Adam and Eve an opportunity to demonstrate their love for him, the true God placed one restriction upon them. He commanded Adam: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) To remain in God’s favor, to their own benefit and that of their future family, Adam and Eve would have to refrain from eating the fruit of that one particular tree. Would they?
The Bible tells us what happened. Using a serpent as his mouthpiece, Satan the Devil approached Eve and said: “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” When Eve repeated God’s command, Satan said to her: “You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” Consequently, the tree seemed so desirable to Eve that “she began taking of its fruit and eating it.” The account continues: “Afterward she gave some also to her husband when with her and he began eating it.” (Genesis 3:1-6) Both Adam and Eve thus misused their free will and sinned by disobeying God.
Do you see the seriousness of what transpired? The Devil contradicted what God had said to Adam. Satan’s words implied that Adam and Eve would not need Jehovah in order to decide what was good and what was bad for them. Satan’s challenge therefore brought into question the right and validity of Jehovah’s rulership over man. The all-important issue that Satan raised, then, was that of the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. How did the true God answer the challenge?
The Need for Sufficient Time
Jehovah had the power to destroy the three rebels—Satan, Adam, and Eve. God was unquestionably stronger than they were. But Satan did not question God’s power. Instead, he questioned Jehovah’s right to rule. The issue affected all creatures having free will. They needed to see that the gift of free will must be used properly—within the bounds of physical, moral, and spiritual guidelines from God. Otherwise, harm results, just as surely as injury will occur when a man jumps off the roof of a tall building without regard for the law of gravity. (Galatians 6:7, 8) All intelligent creatures could benefit from observing for themselves the bad fruitage of choosing a course of independence from God. This required time.
The fact that it requires time to settle some issues can be illustrated this way: Suppose the father of one family challenges the father of another to a contest that will prove which man is stronger. That issue could be decided quickly. Strength could be measured by lifting rocks. The father who lifted the heaviest rock would be the stronger man. But suppose the challenge involved which father truly loves his sons and daughters and whether they love him in return. Or what if the challenge raises the question of which father manages his family in the best way? Neither a display of strength nor mere words would be adequate. Sufficient time would have to pass, careful observation would be required, and right conclusions would have to be drawn in order for the issue to be settled.
What the Passing of Time Has Shown
Some 6,000 years have passed since Satan questioned God’s right to rule. What has history revealed? Consider two aspects of Satan’s allegation against God. Satan boldly told Eve: “You positively will not die.” (Genesis 3:4) By saying that Adam and Eve would not die if they partook of the forbidden fruit, Satan was in effect calling Jehovah a liar. A serious charge indeed! If God were not truthful in this matter, how could he be trusted in anything else? However, what has the elapsed time shown?
Adam and Eve became subject to sickness, pain, aging and, finally, death. “All the days of Adam that he lived amounted to nine hundred and thirty years and he died,” states the Bible. (Genesis 3:19; 5:5) And from Adam, this sad legacy has been transmitted to all mankind. (Romans 5:12) The passing of time has proved Satan to be “a liar and the father of the lie” and has shown that Jehovah is “the God of truth.”—John 8:44; Psalm 31:5.
Satan also told Eve: “God knows that in the very day of your eating from [the forbidden tree] your eyes are bound to be opened and you [both Eve and Adam] are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 3:5) With those cunning words, Satan presented humans with a sham opportunity to be self-governed. Deceptively, Satan implied that humans would be better off independent of God. Has this proved true?
Throughout the course of history, empires have come and gone. Every conceivable form of human government has been tried. Time and again, however, dreadful things have happened to the human family. “Man has dominated man to his injury,” a Bible writer wisely concluded some 3,000 years ago. (Ecclesiastes 8:9) “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step,” wrote the prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 10:23) Even scientific and technological achievements of recent years have not negated the truth of these statements. The passage of time has only proved these observations to be true.
What Will You Do?
The time allowed by God has proved Satan wrong on the issue of the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Jehovah God is the absolute Sovereign of the universe. He has the right to rule over his creation, and his way of ruling is the best. Acknowledging this fact, heavenly creatures who have intimately experienced life under God’s rule declare: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”—Revelation 4:11.
Where do you stand on the question of God’s rulership? Do you agree that God is worthy to rule over you? If you do, you must recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty. You can do this by applying the marvelous truths and counsel found in his Word, the Bible, in every aspect of your life. “God is love,” and his laws and commandments spring from his love for his creatures. (1 John 4:8) Jehovah does not deprive any of us of what is for our good. You can therefore take to heart the Bible’s admonition: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
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You can choose God’s rulership by studying the Bible and applying in your life what it says
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