“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
Paul’s affirmation is abundantly clear. All things were created by him and for him. The “all things” in this passage must include all sources of evil including sinful angels (Satan) and sinful men. The difficulty lies in the words “for him”. Can we really affirm that Satan was created by Christ, FOR Christ? If God ordains everything which comes to pass, then has he ordained the very sin that angels and men commit? Is God the author of Evil? How do we maintain a doctrine affirming the sovereignty of God and at the same time absolve God of the responsibility for the sin and evil in the world?
Unfortunately, many are quick to attempt to absolve God by claiming that evil comes from our free choices and therefore God does not ordain evil. This position is unsatisfying because it places the so-called free choices of men and angels outside the sphere of the Sovereign will of God. In other words, God can control everything else but he can’t control my free-will choices. In effect, my choices–my will–trumps the will of God. This is contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture and is therefore unacceptable.
So is God the author of evil or not? He is NOT the author of evil in the sense that he is the chargeable cause of sin for the following reasons:
1. The testimony of scripture is that “God is light, in him is no darkness at all.”
2. God has decreed all things to come to pass according to the nature of “secondary causes”. Simply put, the moral quality of an act flows from the agent of the particular act. For example, when I make a conscious choice to commit an evil act, I am doing exactly what I WANT to do. I WANT to rebel against God. I WANT to hurt my fellow man. I am finite, and I only see the here and now. My choice to do evil is based on my desire to be independent of the restraints of the lawgiver and so I am guilty of sin. The act I commit is considered evil because of the nature of the one committing it. On the other hand, God in his infinite wisdom, decrees all things that occur so that he can bring about ultimate good. He is good by nature so all his acts are ultimately good. The moral quality of goodness flows from his nature so there is a sense in which we can say that everything that occurs is a “good” thing in that God will bring about good ultimately.
3. God has determined that men and angels are to be held responsible for their thoughts, words, and actions. As a created being, I have the capacity to make real choices for which I must stand accountable. But my freedom to choose is not the necessary condition for my responsibility. The reality of God as the lawgiver is the pre-condition for my responsibility. I stand responsible because God is holy, not because I am a free moral agent. In fact, I’m really not free at all. I’m not free to NOT sin. I’m not free to have been raised in a different family. I’m not free to be 6’4″ and weigh 250 lbs. (I’m 5’9″ and 155).
I’ll leave this post with the following question: Was the crucifixion of Christ a good thing or a bad thing?