|Lesson 8—Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?
1. How did evil begin?
Evil began on earth when Satan told the first lie. Satan was originally a perfect angel, but “he did not stand fast in the truth.” (John 8:44) He developed a desire for worship that rightly belongs only to God. Satan lied to the first woman, Eve, and persuaded her to obey him instead of God. Adam joined Eve in disobeying God. Adam’s decision led to suffering and death.—Read Genesis 3:1-6, 19.
Read Scripture. Genesis 3:1-6: Now the serpent was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: “Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” At this the woman said to the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But God has said about the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden: ‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it; otherwise you will die.’” At this the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” Consequently, the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something desirable to the eyes, yes, the tree was pleasing to look at. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it. Afterward, she also gave some to her husband when he was with her, and he began eating it.
Read Scripture. Genesis 3:19: In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”
When Satan suggested that Eve disobey God, he was starting a rebellion against God’s sovereignty, or position as Most High. The majority of mankind have joined Satan in rejecting God as their Ruler. Thus, Satan has become “the ruler of the world.”—Read John 14:30; 1 John 5:19.
Read Scripture. John 14:30: I will not speak with you much more, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has no hold on me.
Read Scripture. 1 John 5:19: We know that we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.
2. Was God’s creation defective?
All of God’s works are perfect. The humans and angels whom God created were capable of obeying God perfectly. (Deuteronomy 32:4, 5) God created us with the freedom to choose between doing good and doing evil. That freedom gives us a way to express love for God.—Read James 1:13-15; 1 John 5:3.
Read Scripture. James 1:13-15: When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone. But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn sin, when it has been carried out, brings forth death.
Read Scripture. 1 John 5:3: For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome,
3. Why has God allowed suffering until now?
For a limited time, Jehovah has allowed rebellion against his sovereignty. Why? To show that no effort to rule without him benefits people. (Ecclesiastes 7:29; 8:9) After 6,000 years of human history, the evidence is clear. Human rulers have failed to eliminate war, crime, injustice, or disease.—Read Jeremiah 10:23; Romans 9:17.
Read Scripture. Jeremiah 10:23: I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.
Read Scripture. Romans 9:17: For the scripture says to Pharaoh: “For this very reason I have let you remain: to show my power in connection with you and to have my name declared in all the earth.”
Pictures on page 16: God has allowed men to rule for long enough to demonstrate that they cannot resolve mankind’s problems
In contrast to human rulership, God’s rule benefits those who accept it. (Isaiah 48:17, 18) Soon, Jehovah will bring all human government to an end. Only people who choose to be ruled by God will inhabit the earth.—Isaiah 11:9; Read Daniel 2:44.
Read Scripture. Daniel 2:44: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. And this kingdom will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it alone will stand forever,
4. What does God’s patience allow us to do?
Satan claimed that no one would serve Jehovah out of unselfish love. Would you like to disprove that lie? You can! God’s patience allows all of us to show whether we favor rule by God or rule by man. We indicate our choice by the way we live.—Read Job 1:8-12; Proverbs 27:11.
Read Scripture. Job 1:8-12: And Jehovah said to Satan: “Have you taken note of my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth. He is an upright man of integrity, fearing God and shunning what is bad.” At that Satan answered Jehovah: “Is it for nothing that Job has feared God? Have you not put up a protective hedge around him and his house and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock has spread out in the land. But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your very face.” Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Look! Everything that he has is in your hand. Only do not lay your hand on the man himself!” So Satan went out from the presence of Jehovah.
Read Scripture. Proverbs 27:11: Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, So that I can make a reply to him who taunts me.
Picture on page 17: Our choices reveal whether we want God as our Ruler
5. How can we choose God as our Ruler?
We can choose God as our Ruler by seeking out and practicing true worship based on God’s Word, the Bible. (John 4:23) We can reject Satan as our ruler by keeping out of politics and war, as Jesus did.—Read John 17:14.
Read Scripture. John 17:14: I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.
Satan uses his power to promote immoral, harmful practices. When we reject such practices, some friends and relatives may ridicule or oppose us. (1 Peter 4:3, 4) So we face a choice. Will we associate with people who love God? Will we obey his wise and loving laws? If we do, we prove that Satan lied when he claimed that under pressure no one would do as God says.—Read 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 15:33.
Read Scripture. 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10: Or do you not know that unrighteous people will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Do not be misled. Those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who submit to homosexual acts, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners will not inherit God’s Kingdom.
Read Scripture. 1 Corinthians 15:33: Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.
God’s love for mankind guarantees that evil and suffering will end. Those who demonstrate that they believe this will enjoy life on earth forever.—Read John 3:16.
Read Scripture. John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.
For more information, see chapter 11 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach?