Every day the news bombards us with the evil around us. There are wars on foreign soil and greedy politicians running the country. Gangs and drugs ravage our own towns. It’s easy to think that evil runs so rampant that God must have stepped back and let things go.
The Bible has a starkly different view of the evil in the world. It is not out of control. It is under His control. Consider what Joseph said when his brothers repented for all their sinful actions toward him.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
– Genesis 50:20
John Piper, in his intimidatingly titled book Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose In the Glory of Christ, has the following to say about this event: “Notice it does not say that God used their evil for good after they meant it for evil. It says that in the very act of evil, there were two different designs: In the sinful act, they were designing evil, and in the same sinful act, God was designing good”.
Now this is just plain hard to imagine—let alone balance—in our minds. Yet this is not the most difficult example. That is found in the life of Jesus—or specifically his death. The death of the Son of God Jesus Christ, God in flesh, is the most heinous act of sin and treason against God imaginable. And yet we read all throughout the Bible that God had predestined His death for our sin from before the foundation of the world.
So again, as John Piper put it, in the death of Jesus Christ many men were designing evil but God was designing good.
I am not saying that our sin isn’t as serious because God can use it for good. Remember, Jesus’ death on the cross is the measure of how serious our sin is to God. But never let the sin you see in the world keep you from believing that God is good and that he can design good in it. And never let the sin in your own life keep you from believing that God is loving and gracious towards you.
Our sin does not thwart God, he can use it. Our sin does not surprise God, he can and will forgive it.
1. Have you ever heard anyone say, “God wouldn’t love me if he knew all the messed up things I’ve done in my life”? What did or would you say to a comment like that?
2. In addition to the examples of Joseph and Jesus, can you think of any other events in the Bible that were meant for evil but God meant for good?
3. How do we respond to someone suffering evil without sounding glib? How do we talk about these things with them without sounding cold? Or do we talk at all?