According to Bo Giertz, evil comes from the devil.
Why are people so shocked by talk about the devil? Is it more logical not to believe in an evil power that stands in opposition to God? Where, then, does evil come from? The fact is that many lose faith because they think God alone is in control of the world, so He alone is to blame for everything that happens. Therefore, if something happens that can’t possibly be reconciled with their belief in an ‘all good and almighty God,’ they conclude that there is no God. In one sense, this is true. There is no such god, one that has no adversary and who alone is responsible for all that happens. 1
This is quite shocking, because doesn’t Scripture teach that “God works all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose?” (Rom. 8:28) Many Christians today and others do believe that God is responsible for everything–good and bad. But I’m not sure that’s exactly what that verse in the whole context of the Scriptures means.
Chew on this: If God is responsible for everything both good and bad, wouldn’t that also mean that God could be tempted? After all isn’t temptation the lure and enticement of desire? And doesn’t desire “give birth to sin, and sin … brings forth death (Jas. 2:14-15)”? Can God be in the presence of sin? No! God cannot even be in the presence of sin! This is why Moses could not gaze directly on God while on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (See Exodus 19-25 or so). Because Moses was still a sinner, and God was so holy, Moses would die instantly. Not only can God not be in the presence of sin, according to His Word, but God cannot even be tempted! James makes this clear in his letter, this being that, “God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one” (v. 13b). Well, then if God isn’t directly responsible for evil, why does he permit evil to happen and where does it come from? Does this mean God is not all powerful or able to stop it?
Pastor Tullian Tchividjian picks up on this theme in his book Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets you Free:
There is rarely a question of where God is when the sun is shining. … But once life takes a turn for the worse…suddenly we’re not so sure if God really is sovereign, or good. 2
He then takes the reader to the suffering of Job:
…[D]uring Job’s lengthy thirty chapter lament, God seems to be sitting back silently and listening as Job and his friends battle back and forth,, trying to figure out Why. If God really is there, why does He hide his face? Job cannot understand what is happening and demands an answer from God. 2
People want answers and explanations. But answers and explanations are not faith. There is not trust in God when we know what may happen or understand what is happening. What is the key to God’s silence? “God wanted Job to trust Him, come what might.”
Explanations…are a substitute for trust… . God is interested in something much more powerful than information could ever produce. He is interested in faith. 2
All the dramatic tension in the book of Job centers on faith–specifically Job’s–but faith nonetheless. At the start of the book in the first couple of chapters it is recorded that, “…Job, …was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” We then learn Job has been blessed abundantly–children, livestock, and many family parties and gatherings–and makes prayers and supplications to God on behalf of his family! Then the narrator shares this tidbit of information:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD adn said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant JOb, that there is none like him…who fears God and turns away from evil? Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? …You have blessed the work of his hands and his possesions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold all that he has is in your hand. only against him do not stretch out your hand.” (Job 1:6-12)
Satan takes Job’s children and possessions and then later on afflicts his health to the point of excruciating pain. In all this Satan tried to make Job lose faith in God. This is what Satan does to all Christians and all mankind. He “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” Evil also eschews from our very core, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3; 1 Pet. 5). Satan tempts us to ask “Why?” when we wouldn’t and couldn’t begin to fathom it! “Why?” simply distracts us from the reality that God has defeated Satan, death and the devil, in Jesus Christ. 1,2 Satan uses the question “Why?” to tempt us to fashion God into a being we are comfortable with or who shares all our interests and desires. This simply is not the case. God’s desire is that “all people… be saved and come to yhe knowledge of the truth ” (1 Tim. 2:4).
The truth is that evil and suffering were never supposed to be part of this creation. Humanity’s and God’s relationship was severed when Satan successfully tempted us to distrust God. The truth is something had to be done to repair our relationship. God sent his son Christ Jesus to die and rise again to repair it. The truth is that Satan is scrambling, tempting all of us to trust in something other than Christ. Satan desperately wants us to think we are free and “put [ourselves] above God’s commands” so that we stop serving God and start serving the evil one. 1 “Jesus tells us that there is only one way to find true freedom: to remain in His Word, listening, receiving, and understanding. Then we perceive truth, and the truth sets us free, truly free.” 1
Sources: 1. Giertz, Bo. To Live with Christ. St. Louis: Concordi, 2008. pp. 218-225
2. Tchividjian, Tullian. Glorius Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2012. pp. 135-138