One of the ways people sometimes attempt to solve the problem of evil and the love of God is by limiting God’s sovereign control and giving more power to Satan than he really has. Satan is a powerful being as a former archangel called Lucifer capable of supernatural power (e.g., Job 1 & 2). But he is not sovereign over our lives able to do whatever he wants. Sometimes people attribute anything bad that happens to the working of Satan so that God is let off the hook, so to speak, and maintains the image that we want to have of Him as a safe, benign Heavenly Father.
This is a very tricky problem because the Bible is very clear that God is not the author of evil. God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one, James 1:13. Yet there are many times in Scripture when God uses the evil that Satan or people do to accomplish His purposes. It is hard for us in the same sentence to say that God is never the cause of evil but that He permits it and uses it in people’s lives. Thus, though God is never the agent who does evil, He is responsible for permitting it to happen to His people.
That may seem troubling to us but it is far better than other alternatives. If God is the direct cause of evil then we have a God who is not omnibenevolent (all-good) as the Bible says, Romans 2:4. Or, if some evil happens that God is not in control of then God is not omnipotent (all-powerful) and there are things out of control in the universe that He is powerless to stop. That hardly squares with Psalm 115:3, But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
The safest alternative is that God is absolutely sovereign and in control of all things. He does not cause or condone evil but He often permits it and uses it to accomplish His purposes so that ultimately He controls what happens to us, even the bad things. In this light, 1 John 5:18 strikes the right balance and is such an encouraging verse. We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. Notice a number of conclusions we can draw that point to the right balance between evil and the love of God.
- Satan is an evil being who desires to harm us. He is the evil one, not God.
- God puts a limit on what Satan can do, He keeps us God is sovereign, not Satan.
- God is a good God who has given us new life so that we do not give ourselves to sin.
Therefore, we can conclude, that when God permits Satan to ply us with trials sore or directly sends us trials Himself, we can withstand them, grow in our love for God, not give in to sinful choices to manage the trial, and come out stronger in the end. James 1:12 says, Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. Amen!
Your friend, trusting in a sovereign God, Pastor Brian (:-}).