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THEOLOGY > Sin > The Problem of Evil > The Significance of Goodness


If there is evil, then there must be some reference point by which to determine what constitutes evil; and that reference point must be goodness. But that raises a fundamental question: what is the source of goodness, or what is goodness? What is the significance of goodness?

Goodness must be the opposite of evil, if it is to define evil. It must be that which is opposed to evil and cannot be harmonized with evil. In other words, the two are enemies; goodness and evil can never be friends.

If the existence of evil is suppose to raise a valid question regarding the existence of God, then the existence of goodness must establish sufficient grounds for affirming the existence of God. If there is such a thing as goodness, an absolute goodness, then there must be God, who is also good. For in the final analysis goodness is not a concept, an idea, or a thing—goodness is a Person. Goodness is God; God is good. The fact that God is good is taught by the Scriptures:

I will make all My goodness pass before you (Ex. 33:19);

Yahweh, Yahweh God . . . abounding in goodness (Ex. 34:6);

For Your goodness’ sake, Yahweh (Ps. 25:7);

Good and upright is Yahweh (Ps. 25:8);

Oh, how great is Your goodness (Ps. 31:19);

The goodness of God endures continually (Ps. 52:1);

Oh, give thanks to Yahweh, for He is good (Ps. 107:1; 118:1, 29);

Oh, that men would give thanks to Yahweh for His goodness (Ps. 107:8, 15, 21, 31);

Your Spirit is good (Ps. 143:10);

How great is His goodness (Zech. 9:17);

No one is good but One, that is, God (Matt. 19:17);

Do you despise the riches of His goodness . . . not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance (Rom. 2:4);

Consider the goodness . . . of God (Rom. 11:22).

From this sampling of texts, it is clear that God not only does good but that He is good. A proper way to speak of God’s essence is to speak of goodness; goodness is what He manifests. And the goodness of God is inconsistent with and opposed to evil. In fact, evil cannot be correctly perceived except from the perspective of Theism. Only in terms of God can evil be seen for what it is. Evil is what it is because God is who He is; evil is evil because God is good. In relationship to God evil is observed to be the evil that it is.

Thus the real wickedness of evil is distinguished by critiquing it in terms of Biblical Theism. Evil is the antithesis of God, and being of that nature, evil is an attack on God. It is an attempt to supplant God, to overthrow God, to be like God, to become God. Originally Lucifer desired to ascend into heaven, exalt his throne above the stars of God, to sit on the mount of the congregation of the north, and to be like God (Isa. 14:12-15). And Eve was tempted with the identical aspiration to be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:1-4). Viewed in this manner evil is understood to be more than acts that are morally wrong; evil is a way of life, a disposition, a nature that is so opposed to God that the desire is to remove God. This passion burns in the breast of every person:

There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside . . . there is none who does good, no, not one . . . There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom. 3:10-12, 18; see: No Fear of God and Hatred of God).

Evil actions are not excused, but the profound essence of evil is its design on the person of God and the rule of God. Both are violently rejected in order that a spurious reign may be instituted in which Theism is replaced by humanism, God is replaced by man. The determination by man to overthrow Goodness is the mentality and aspiration that transformed that which was very good into that which is depraved and under the curse.

If God’s throne can be vacated, then man can ascend. Without God man becomes God. And evil is enthroned.  

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