Author: Ron Graham

Warning Keep Watch

Is Good Greater than Evil?
—and can good exist without evil?

Having seen that Satan and God are not equals, we now turn to the question of good and evil as the products, respectively, of God and Satan.

How does the good of God compare with the evil of Satan? If good and evil are equal then there might be a case for saying that God and Satan are equal. However if good is greater than evil and overcomes it, then it follows that God is greater than Satan and overcomes him.

1 Good Can Exist Alone

Christians believe that good can exist on its own, and indeed is meant to. In the beginning there was no evil, only good. As we have already observed, God was in the beginning before all things (John 1:1-2). Evil came into existence when, for the first time, a creature of God rebelled against God’s righteousness. Peter tells us that "God did not spare the angels when they sinned" (2Peter 2:4). There must have been a first occasion of this sin and rebellion. Satan, it seems has the "honour" of having committed the first evil. For example Jesus calls him "the father of lies" (John 8:44-45). Thus evil did not always exist, nor did it ever exist independently of good.

By contrast, good has always existed, and did so on its own before evil ever came. Evil is historic and transitory, but good is eternal and perpetual. Good transcends evil.

The heaven that Christians hope for is a place where evil will not exist. "According to his promise, we are looking for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2Peter 3:13). God wanted hell to be unnecessary. Every person in hell, including Satan himself, will be there only because they have defied and "rejected the purpose of God for themselves" (Luke 7:30). Heaven does not need Hell. Good can exist alone and be full good.

2 We are Free to do Good

God's creatures have always been free and able to do good. On the other hand, God has never granted the right to do evil, for if he granted it, then it would not be evil. God did, however, give his creatuires a free will, which made it possible for them to rebel against his will. It was in God’s goodness that he allowed his creatures this freedom of will. It would not have been good to withold it. However this must not be construed as a "right" to rebel. We are at liberty to "examine everything carefully; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil" (1Thessalonians 5:21-22). We have no "right" to do evil, and will be punished if we choose to disobey God (2Thessalonians 1:8-9).

This difference between good and evil —that all people and angels have the choice to do evil, but only the right to do good— demonstrates that good and evil are not balanced forces, nor are their originators equal.

3 Good Will Overcome Evil

In the nature of God, and his creation, good will conque evil. God was able even to turn the most evil act of all time to his good purpose. Through the crucifixion of Christ, forgiveness became possible (1Peter 2:24), Yet God will punish justly those who refuse his forgiveness and righteousness (Romans 6:23). There is a battle going on between good and evil and for this battle Christians "put on the whole armour of God" in order to win (Ephesians 6:12-18).

The New Testament holds out the full assurance of "victory" (1John 5:4) and promises that we shall be "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37). Obviously the vanquished is not equal to the victor.

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