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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!

God Says He Creates Evil,
Does That Mean God Creates Sin?

-by Tony Warren

Isaiah 45:6-7
  • "That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
  • I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
Some have read this verse and surmised that it means that God creates sin or wickedness. Did God create evil? This is a misunderstanding that is usually based on a lack of knowledge or understanding of the word that is translated evil and how it is often used within Scripture. Many have concluded that evil always means iniquity, but that is actually not true as it pertains to Scripture. The word translated evil does not "necessarily" mean sinful. We use the word evil today almost exclusively as a synonym for iniquity or wickedness, but that was not always the case throughout history or in the bible. The word used in Isaiah is the Hebrew [ra'], literally meaning something that is "not good." It comes from a root word meaning "to be spoiled," and by extension something that is not good, or that is bad. It does not mean evil in the sense that we might think of the word today as wickedness, but it is more correctly understood as anything that is "not good" to us. For example, if a child receives a spanking, or we go through some adversity or we have something befall us that we deem "not good," we can say it is [ra'] or bad. e.g.:

Jeremiah 24:2

  • "One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad."

That Hebrew word translated "bad" there is the exact same word [ra'] that is translated evil. Yet, the fruit is not wicked or sinful fruit, it is simply bad fruit. The ruit has become spoiled so that it is "not good" to eat. Fruit is an inanimate object, and cannot be evil in the sense that we understand evil/wicked today. As a practical example, if I were to walk out my door, trip over the steps and fall, it is a bad [ra'] thing, but it is not evil or wickedness, nor is it sin. It is simply something that was not good for me. Unfortunately, in our day, our understanding of what is evil (or bad) and what is evil (or wickedness) are often regarded as one and the same when in fact often they are very different.

Did God create evil? To be sure, evil certainly can be something wicked or sinful because those "are" bad things. But evil in Scripture can also be defined as spoiled, bad, adversity, trouble, misfortune, calamity, natural disaster, or suffering. So it should is quite clear that evil is not necessarily sinful. And of course, allowing the Scripture to interpret itself, it bears witness to this ruth consistently.

Proverbs 15:10

  • "Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die."

Again, the word translated grievous is [ra'], and is the exact same word often translated evil. Correction in this context is not at all evil in the sense we understand it to be wickedness. It is actually a very good and righteous thing according to God. But this word [ra'] is used here to illustrate it is a "bad" or unpleasant experience from the point of view of the person being corrected. This passage certainly cannot mean that correction is evil in the sense of it being sinfulness or wickedness. It may be a painful, sorrowful, grievous experience, meaning a experience that is "not good" to him that receives it. But 'ultimately' God declares correction is for our good. So then, in the context of Isaiah chapter 45 where the Lord declares that He creates evil, that is the sense in which the word is used. Things that may be bad a bad experience in our lives, butthat is not wickedness on His part. It is self evident that something bad "can be" sin, but something that we consider bad is certainly not always sin. Bad (or what is called evil) things include a whole list of other non-sinful occurrences. Again, adversity or trouble are bad things that come upon us, and indeed [ra'] is also translated both adversity and trouble in scripture. But this is in no wise inful or wickedness.

Psalms 41:1b

  • "..Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble."

That word translated trouble there is the exact same word often translated evil or bad. There are many different types of things that we might call evil. There are things that are morally or lawlessly "bad," which we call sin, but there are also things that are naturally bad, such as a hurricanes, a cold or a accident. There are things that are experientially bad, such as a death in the family or ome personal correction. We can speak of a drought, a tornado or an earthquake as an evil or bad thing. But it is not in any way a sin created by God in Him sending an earthquake or a drought. It could be His judgment, which again is in no way wickedness. Likewise, judgment day is an evil day because man has to stand before God and be judged, but it is not a sinful or wicked day for God to judge. If one walks down the street and a building falls on him that he dies, it is an evil or bad thing, but it was not a wicked/sinful thing. And so when we read that God creates evil, it is not saying that God creates sin, because that is antithetical to the nature of God, and is contradictory to all that righteous God declares of Himself.

James 1:13-14

  • "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:
  • But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."

This answers the question, Did God create evil. Clearly God does not create, tempt man with, or make anyone sin. However, He does create bad/evil things in this world that are neither wicked or unrighteous. God creates hell, and that is a bad (evil) thing for people, but it is not sin, and it is perfectly consistent with God's justice, righteousness and word to create it. God withdraws light, and thus creates darkness, but this is not Him creating sin. God takes away His hand of peace, and thus war is created, but this is not God making man war, but God allowing man to war. God removes His hand of restraint from man's desperately wicked heart and it is hardened, but this is not God forcing him into iniquity. This is God allowing him to sin. For God is "not obligated" to keep man from sinning, maintain peace, hold back plagues, or soften man's heart. And when we look at the very context of Isaiah chapter 45, it becomes perfectly clear that this is what God is saying.

"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil:"

Is God under any debt or obligation to man to give him light? Is He under any contract, burden or moral liability to man to give him peace? Not at all. He can withdraw these blessings at any time. Notice the contrast between these things. Light contrasted over against the darkness and Peace contrasted over against evil or bad. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away--Blessed be the name of the Lord. The opposite of peace is war in one context, but in another it is to be troubled or in adversity. God can withdraw peace and thus create adversity for you, and yet it is not God being wicked. Likewise, He can remove these evil things and restore peace to your life. It all depends upon how the word evil is used. God is not obligated to bring man peace, nor to restrain adversity, nor to shine His light upon anyone, nor to keep anyone from darkness. That "promise" is reserved unto His covenanted people only. God bound Satan, but by the same token God can loose him again because He's not obligated to keep him bound. In this same way, God creates adversity, trouble or chastisement, and to the person receiving it, it is a bad or evil thing. But it is not sin or wickedness, it is His divine right to do so. And scripture is replete with examples.

Leviticus 26:25

  • "And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy."

This is an example of the opposite of peace, as God looses all these bad/evil things as judgment against these people. It is a evil or bad thing to the people who are under God's judgment, but it is not a sinful act of God. We can see from the context of Isaiah 45 that this type "evil" is what God is referring to creating by removing their peace.

Amos 3:6-7

  • "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
  • Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."

Sin is not God's work or doing, it is the work of men who pervert God's righteous work. God sending evil upon a city in the form of taking His hand of restraint off wicked man that he would destroy it is judgment, not sin. It is a bad thing sent upon them because of these men's lusts and sins, not sin created by God. When we read that God creates evil, we must understand that the Lord is declaring His complete sovereignty over all the earth. He is illustrating that the trouble, afflictions, and adversities [ra'] He sends are His the punishments for sin, the judgments which are under His divine providence. As Job so patiently and humbly stated, shall we think to only receive good from God, and not the "bad" as well?

Job 2:10

  • "But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips."

The word evil is the same Hebrew word [Ra'], meaning bad. Evil at the hands of God is not sin or wickedness, it is bad things that the people do not like. Removing His restraint brings His judgments, and the withdrawal of His hand of protection is how God creates evil or trouble in our lives. The righteous judgment of God is not an unlawful or a sinful act, it is exactly what man should expect of a righteous God that is bligated to justice. All are the well deserved, just righteous judgments upon the wicked.



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Copyright ©2001 Tony Warren
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Created 1/18/01 / Last Modified 1/19/01
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