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14 Does God Create Evil?

Isaiah 45:7 is sometimes offered by the Calvinist as proof that God does create evil, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” However, note what the word “evil” is contrasted against in this verse. Light and darkness are contrasted, and peace and evil are contrasted. Evil is not contrasted against righteousness. In other words, God is not saying that He created sin. God is saying that He creates a lack of peace. According to the Strong’s lexicon, the word “evil”[1] in this verse can accurately be translated as “calamity” or “distress.”

 

Many times God speaks about bringing “evil” against a city, but the context always shows it to mean judgment, calamity, or distress (Neh. 13:18; Jer. 21:10; 25:29; Amos 3:6). When God says in Isaiah that He creates peace and evil, God is saying that He gives peace to the righteous and distress to the wicked.

 

Scripture is clear that God is holy in His character. Because of this, He neither sins nor approves of it:

“The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”

~Psalm 145:17

“For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.”

~Psalm 5:4

“Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.”

~Job 34:10

“Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.”

~Job 34:12

“Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?”

~Job 36:23

“To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

~Psalm 92:15

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

~Deuteronomy 32:4

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  

~James 1:17

“The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity …”

~Zephaniah 3:5

 

Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:18 that, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” God is good; therefore, God’s fruit cannot be evil. This means that because God is good, God cannot be the author of sin.

 

Instead, God created everything perfect, but God’s creation exercised it’s free will to do evil. The Bible is clear that man is responsible for evil, not God. Ecclesiastes 7:29, “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”

 

Consider the fall of Lucifer. He did not fall because God decreed that he should fall. Rather, Scripture reveals that Lucifer chose to place his will above God’s will for him. Isaiah 14:13–14 recounts, “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (emphasis added)

 

It was never God’s decree that His creation should sin. God’s decree is given to us in Exodus 20 where He says, “Thou shalt not …” God means what He says. Unfortunately, Calvinism leads one to believe that God is insincere in His decree. In fact, by ascribing God’s decree and secret will as the ultimate cause behind all things, Calvinism makes God a minister of evil. Paul refutes such notions in Galatians 2:17, “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.” Isaiah also refutes the teaching that God decrees unrighteousness when he says in Isaiah 10:1, “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed.” If God holds accountable those who decree unrighteousness, then God cannot decree such things Himself.

 

God does not secretly desire or will sin. Isaiah 45:19, “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” If God declares a will which is different from His secret will, then God cannot truthfully be said to be declaring things that are right. Further, if God is in the habit of speaking things and commanding things which are actually opposite of what He really wants or means, then how can we trust God in anything that He has said?

 

The Calvinist’s understanding of God places God’s sovereignty above all other aspects of His character and attributes. Fortunately, we do not merely serve a powerful God. We serve a God who is holy in His character. We can trust whatever He says to be absolutely true. God does not have a secret will which is contrary to His declared will. God cannot will or decree sin. All that God does is completely holy and totally right because God is completely holy and totally right in character, attitude, and nature.

 


  1. “Evil,” Strong’s #7451, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, 109.

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Does God Create Evil? Copyright © 2011 by Timothy Zebell. All Rights Reserved.

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