We want to look at a very important question. If evil originated with the fall Lucifer, the head of the angels, why didn’t God destroy it immediately? God could have done that. If Satan is the cause of all the evil in the world, why doesn’t God destroy Satan? Why doesn’t He destroy all the demons, so that we would not be harassed by them? Why should people suffer in so many ways?
If God does not do that, we can be certainly sure that He has a very good purpose. There are many things about God that we cannot fully understand. God’s wisdom is like that of an ocean, and our mind is like a little cup; it can contain just a little bit of the water of the ocean. So we can understand a little bit, but we can’t understand it fully. And with that little bit, with that little intelligence and understanding that God has given us, we can understand a little bit of the reason why God has not destroyed Satan; why God permits life on earth to be so difficult, so insecure, so dangerous in so many ways.
One reason is, if God had made life on earth extremely comfortable and easy, people would not think of eternity. Man was not created only for his short life on earth. Even if you live a hundred years on this earth, that is a very short period compared to eternity. Plants and animals do not exist eternally. But when God created man, He created man to be a creature of eternity; to live endlessly. His body may perish on earth, after he has lived, say, 70, 80 or 100 years, but, that soul within him is eternal; it will never, never die. Once you are born, that soul never dies; it exists eternally. It is important for you to understand that.
One thing we can be sure is that God, in His infinite wisdom, has permitted life on earth to be difficult, so that people think about Him. Even the problems, the sicknesses, the trials and difficulties that Satan and evil spirits bring into your life are permitted by a loving God to make you turn to Him. In that way, even those trials and difficulties are an expression of God’s love for you. See, God is so powerful and so almighty that He can make even evil work for the fulfilment of His purposes. Now, we can’t understand that. We can only think that good is good and evil is evil, and only good things can further God’s purposes. No, God is so almighty that He can make evil work to further the purposes of good for us as human beings.
Let me give you an example. In fact, this is the whole message of the Bible – how God uses Satan and evil spirits to further His purposes. That is why He does not destroy them. All the evil that is going on in the world, we will discover finally, that they fulfilled God’s purposes in some wonderful way. God did not create evil. But when the angels and man decided to be evil, God decided to use it to further His purposes. And there we see something of the almighty power of God. When we see that, our own faith is strengthened, and we discover that we are not afraid of evil anymore, as God can make it to work for our good.
I heard a story of a businessman, who had been very close to God at one time. But, over a period of time, he drifted away from God as his business prospered. He was going to a Christian church, and the elders in that church tried speaking to him repeatedly to turn him back to faith in God, to surrender his life to Christ again. But he was too occupied in his business. He didn’t have time anymore to come for meetings even on Sundays. His business was prospering. Then one day, a poisonous snake bit the youngest of his three sons, and the child became seriously sick. When the doctors gave up all hope, the father was really worried. He sent for one of the elders of the church to pray for the child. The elder was a wise man. He came and prayed like this: ‘Lord, thank you for sending this snake to bite this child, because I tried for six years to get his family to think about You, and I never succeeded. But what I couldn’t do in six years, this snake has done in a moment, it has been more successful. Now that they have learnt the lesson, Lord, heal this child and grant that this family will never need any more snakes to remind them of You again.’
Now do you think a snake bite is good or evil? All of us would agree it is evil, definitely. But in this particular family’s case, did God use it for good? He certainly did. That family was drifting away from God and they would have destroyed their lives in the pursuit of money. But it was through a snake (that did something evil) biting one of their sons made them turn back to God, so their life could be spiritually blessed; they could live for eternity’s values. This is an example of how God uses evil to accomplish good. If there were no snakes in the world, there would be no snake to bite that child, and they probably would have destroyed themselves eternally. So we see how God used an evil thing like a snake. And, very often, it is the same with sickness. There are people who don’t think about God at all in their life, until one day, they are suddenly taken to hospital with cancer or some other serious sickness. All of a sudden, these people who have never thought about God for forty years suddenly start thinking about God.
First of all, we need to establish one thing: is it a good thing to think about God or not? Certainly it is. A man who lives without God in his life lives without meaning and purpose. He may make a lot of money, but ultimately, he will die frustrated. He will die with emptiness. God has created us in such a way that He is the most important factor in our lives and if we don’t think about Him, we miss the meaning and purpose of life altogether. So, if a man lives for 40 or 50 years without thinking about God, and then he gets cancer, and he begins to think about God and turns to Him, would that cancer be good or bad? Of course, if you look at cancer by itself, all of us would say cancer is evil. Sure, but there are examples of how God has used cancer to make people turn to Him. How is it that even though the cancer itself was evil, it was used for a good purpose, just like the snake?
One day we will discover the full story of every man’s life, when Jesus Christ comes back to this earth. When we stand before Him and we see all the people who have lived on this earth from the very beginning, from the very first man, and we hear their stories, we will see that God used many things to turn people away from a sinful life towards heaven; incurable diseases, sicknesses, wild animals, snakes, even poverty and suffering and many other evils were used by God to get people to turn away from their sins towards heaven, and thus to find an eternal home in heaven. So we see, through all these examples, how God uses these evil things that Satan does to save people from Satan’s clutches. There is a man living for the devil, doomed to an eternal destiny in hell, away from God, and Satan is working on him. Then through some of the evil things like sickness, the man turns to God. So we see that God uses the very things that Satan brings into the world – evil to deliver people from Satan’s clutches and to bring them into eternal salvation. There we see the wonderful way in which God works His almighty power. We can also say that thus God makes fool of Satan again and again. This is the wonderful message of the Bible. The Bible says that Jesus Christ came to undo the works of Satan in 1 John 3:8.
We can say that we all started off life with a ball of string neatly rolled up. But through the years, we have ended with that string tied up into ten thousand or even ten million knots. Now, as we look at this ball of string, we are frustrated, we are discouraged, we are wondering what we can do? Then comes to us this wonderful message of the Bible – Jesus Christ can untie every knot. I don’t know with how many knots you have got your life tied into, my friend, but I want to tell you the good news – Jesus can untie every single knot. He can give you back a whole role of new string with your whole life just as though you were born now, and you can start life all over again, if you turn to Jesus Christ, call upon His name, and say, ‘Lord Jesus, you came to destroy the works of the devil, destroy those works in my life. Amen.’
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.