A classic charge against Christianity and the God of the Bible is rooted in what is often called, “The Problem of Evil.” Evil really only becomes a “problem”when we start with ourselves as the standard, assuming we are “good” and believing that God is obligated to treat us according to our idea of ourselves. We as Christians have an obligation to understand ourselves and God according His own assessment. As John Calvin said in the opening words of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”
As we considered last time, Christ’s absolute rule and authority as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (Colossians 1:15-19), today we need to consider the other side of that coin. In turn, the text says of us before we come to God through Christ;
Colossians 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
What does a Sovereign do with people who willingly alienate themselves from Him and become hostile to Him? What are the rights of a traitor? Paul’s inspired pen records the fact that men are the enemies of God before He redeems them. The word enemies in our text is active, meaning not only that He is rightfully angry with us but that we are as the ESV translates it, “hostile” toward Him. We will not have Him to rule over us. This is evidenced by the man who rejects the idea of God on the basis of good and evil which cannot exist without Him. Man uses concepts unimaginable without God to argue against God’s existence. Where does the idea of Good or Just come from if God does not exist?
If God is good and men are rebels what would a good Judge do? In fact, the reality that we are still outside of Hell is a mark for God’s great patience and longsuffering in His goodness of not finding rebellious man immediately guilty and condemning him. Rather, God has brought the curse on the world due to man’s rebellion. This includes suffering, tragedy and death. Yet, as we will consider next time, this is to redeem from the mass of humanity, His elect. This is the ultimate reflection of His goodness.
God can indeed still be “good” while evil exists in the world, if we take into account man’s corruption and curse due to his rebellion. As a matter of fact, it results in the best reason for the world in its current situation; Fallen men worshiping God or gods in all different ways due their corrupt ideas of deity as a result of the Fall. It accounts for evil in the world and man’s sense of justice in the midst of his own evil actions. As Christians, we need to make sure that we (as lovingly as possible) include this in our Gospel message, that we answer the skeptics with it and that we comfort one another concerning the evil in the world with this truth.
Christian, can you submit to God in all things? As you do you will see the increased beauty of God’s mercy. Non-Christian, will you reject God’s goodness because you set yourself as the standard of goodness and reject His infinite mercy? I encourage you to listen to the audio posted below and here more in this great discussion.
Worldview Adjustment– Colossians 1:21