The notion that God has a purpose in evil strikes panic in the hearts of people who have not thought carefully about God’s sovereign omnipotence.  They can’t envision how God might derive glory or fulfill His good purposes by letting evil exist in His universe.  They imagine (wrongly) that, if God sovereignly ordained a universe that could be cursed with evil, He must be the efficient cause of evil.  They wrongly assume that, if God saves some sinners but not all, He must bear the moral responsibility for the fact that some are not saved.  They want to rescue God from blame for all the bad things that happen.  And, having not thought carefully about God’s sovereignty and what it means, they wrongly assume that the only way to vindicate God is to reinvent Him.  They don’t want to imply, of course, that He is not good, loving, holy, or omniscient.  Therefore, their own faulty logic forces them to conclude that there must be some limitation to His sovereignty.  Some (as we have seen) go so far as to conclude that He doesn’t have the power to stop evil.  Others believe that He has the power, but some self-imposed limitation keeps Him from using it.  They are operating with the assumption that the only way to save God from bad press is by believing that the human will reigns supreme.

But Scripture clearly teaches that, while God is not the author or efficient cause of evil, He does exercise control over it.  He doesn’t, in any sense, approve of evil, ratify it, look on it with favor, give it His blessing, or delight in it.  But nothing happens outside of His sovereignty.  Consider the case of Job – God turned Satan loose for horrendous evil in the life of Job.  All the suffering Job endured at the hands of Satan happened under the Lord’s authority; none of it occurred outside the plan and power of God.  None of it could have occurred if God had not willingly permitted it.

From: None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible by John MacArthur (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2017), pp. 59-60.


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