Evil and God?

Question
I have looked at the events of Joseph (Gen. 50:20), Ahab (1 Kings 22), Paul's explanation of Moses and Pharaoh (Rom. 9), and Christ's preordained death (Acts 2:23; 4:26-28). However, I still do not understand how Isaiah 45:7 (KJV), which says, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things," does not conflict with "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man," (James 1:13; c.f. 1 John 1:5). How can God ordain all things and yet not be the author of sin? Can you give me a modern day illustration?
Answer
Though evil has been "ordained" by God, the fallen creatures (fallen angels and humans) "author" it. John Calvin stated:
. . . the Lord had declared that "everything that he had made . . . was exceedingly good" [Gen. 1:31]. Whence, then comes this wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put His stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity - which is closer to us - rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God's predestination. (Calvin's Institutes 3:23:8)
God has declared the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:9-10), but while God is sovereign over evil, sin and calamity, he is not the author of it! He ordained that sin should come into the world just as Christ was ordained to die for the sins of the elect BEFORE the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:18-21; Eph. 1:4-5, 11). He ordained that he would deal with sin in the consummation of all things (1 John 3:8; Rev.). But he is not sin's author. His creation was "very good" (Gen. 1:31). Fallen angels and then fallen man corrupted God's "very good" universe. They are the authors of sin, not God. They took that which was very good and corrupted it. They removed good from good, making evil.

You asked for a modern illustration.

Imagine Someone creating a four-legged table that functions as intended - "very good." It is perfect! Wow, it's nice. But what happens when a leg is removed from it? Something good (a leg) is removed from something good (the table), and you have something other than what was originally created. The table is no longer complete. Part of the glory that once was there vanished. It is now corrupted - something sinful, evil, and corrupt - because it is not what it is suppose to be.

God in his glory created the universe. He created a Genesis 1:31 table. It was very good - absolute perfection. God gave his Genesis 1:31 creation to Adam, his covenant vassal, to manage. Adam was in charge of a very good four-legged universe. But in time, Adam removed one of the legs through disobedience. In his management of life, Adam allowed the glory of another to replace the glory of his Creator. So, now we have an imperfect fallen three-legged universe. The universe is out of balance. Sin exists. Evil exists.

But, in the fulness of time, Jesus, the carpenter, became incarnate to inaugurate reattaching the leg for his elect. However, to do so he must create / re-create all things new. We shall see this is the consummation of all things for God's glory alone. His people look forward to the new heavens and the new earth - a new four-legged universe that is even better and incapable of being corrupted!

So, God can create some thing totally good, but ordain that evil come into it, without being its author.

Please note that all finite examples of the infinite are limited, so any illustrations only have a limited value and are not meant to answer every question.

Related Topics:

Does God Use Evil to Accomplish His Purposes?
Are God's Statutes Evil? Ezekiel 20:25
Sin is Good - Or is it?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).