God and Sin

  • August 2017 Issue
Theology Matters

Humanity has long wrestled with the question of the origin of sin and evil. As the Creator of all things, did God create evil? Are good and evil equal forces in the universe?

According to Jesus, God alone is good (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). Jesus meant more than that God meets a standard, characterized as good. He meant that good does not exist apart from God. God is perfect and is incapable of sin (Matt. 5:48). Since God alone is good, good can only come from God.

Sin and evil were not part of God’s original creation. When God initially assessed all that He had made, He concluded that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Not only was this true of creation which reflected His glory, it was especially true of Adam and Eve, who were expressly made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26). Because Adam and Eve were created good, they were created with the ability to obey. When God placed Adam in the Garden, He commanded him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16–17). Prior to his sin, Adam had the capacity both to obey and to disobey. What Adam did not yet have was a proclivity for sin. This changed after Adam disobeyed. When Adam fell, his nature changed so that he and all his offspring were guilty of and inclined toward sin.

Sin entered the world through Adam, but it did not begin with him (Rom. 5:12–14). Satan was created prior to Adam and was the first to fall into sin (Luke 10:18). Like Adam, Satan was created with a capacity to either obey or disobey God’s command. Satan fell into sin when he aspired not merely to be like God but to replace Him (Isa. 14:12–15; Matt. 4:9–10). This ambition was reflected in Satan’s appeal to Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in order to “be like God” (Gen. 3:4–5).

Some religions (especially Eastern religions) explain God’s relation to sin as an aspect of God, a counterbalancing facet of His nature. Others who refuse to make God responsible for evil claim that it has always been a factor in creation, making it coexistent with and autonomous from God. The Bible rejects both views. Evil began with Satan’s rebellion and entered into human experience through Adam’s sin. Evil rejected the only One who is the true source of good.

BY John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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