In Eternity, when nothing had been created, the Almighty Spirit was alone with his thoughts. He was all-knowing and therefore present everywhere, the all in all. Being present everywhere there was no way anything (whether existing as a concept, a potential or an actual thing) could exist outside him! Every conceivable thing, whether good or evil, could only potentially exist within him – “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Pro.15:3, cf.Heb.4:13). In the words of the psalmist, “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there” (Psa.139:8).
The great Eternal Spirit stepped into Time to:
- Cause the Good and the Evil to manifest.
- Preserve the Good, and;
- Annihilate the Evil.
In Time, all those through whom the Good manifests will live and abide forever with it: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph.1:4). Likewise, “the children of disobedience” (Eph.2:2), being vessels through which Evil expresses itself, shall be annihilated with it, “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pet.3:7, Jud.1:6, Rev.20:14-15). Right from the beginning the first man had been warned about this fate of death – “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen.2:17).
When Time shall wind up into Eternity, and Jesus Christ would have handed over all things to the Creator, God will return to being the “all in all” (1 Cor.15:28) but with ‘future-eternity’ only having the Good.
In all this we behold and revere the sovereignty of the Creator. He is God, “declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa.46:10). Even before the foundations of the world he had already purposed the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for in the revelation given to John we read that he was the Lamb slain “from the foundation of the world” (Rev.13:8).
God’s work from the beginning shows his ultimate intention to manifest the Good and Evil, to preserve the Good and destroy Evil: in Genesis we read that in the beginning he “divided the light from the darkness” (Gen.1:4), and in Isaiah 45:7 God said, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things”.
But, why didn’t the Almighty Spirit leave things as they were, to continue ‘existing’ only as potentials, a state in which no actual evil would have occurred?
The Price of God’s Desire
Well, had the Almighty left ‘things’ as they were there also wouldn’t have been actual good! And if a good thing forever remains a thought its value shall likewise remain unmanifest and unrealised and that would amount to being nothing and meaningless! So, it was not good for God to remain alone with his thoughts.
The story of redemption in the Bible shows that God desired to bring Good to reality. “And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light and God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness” (Gen.1:3-4).The manifestation of Good was not to be for the mere sake of it; God had a desire to have a family of beings that he could fellowship with in love. Now therein lay the challenge: love can only be true when the entities involved in a relationship have a real choice to either love or hate. This required God to create beings that would be endowed with free will.
Here I want to emphasise that the granting of free will comes with it the possibility of evil because there can never be true choice until one is truly free to do real good or real evil. And when evil manifests that provides a way for it to be dealt with!
Now God is so great that he could take a ‘piece’ out of himself, so to speak, and create another being which could think, reason, and make independent decisions. How he was able to do that when he created angels and human beings is perhaps the most mysterious thing he ever did! It’s simply beyond our comprehension. Some overzealous scientists believe that they too will one day be able to repeat the feat by creating a self-conscious computer, a machine that will be able to reason beyond its coded instructions. Today millions of dollars are being invested in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. But although current AI systems are able to do some amazing things, they are light-years behind to catch up with the real intelligence of human beings, and they are nowhere near the possibility of possessing free will!
Great as it was to create beings with free will, as has been earlier alluded to, the work was done at a risky price of also permitting evil. “What if man foolishly chooses to despise the will and love of his creator and becomes a danger to himself and other creatures around him?” – if you were with God in his counsel of thoughts, how would you have handled this question? The biggest ‘dilemma’ in this whole drama would be that if man chooses Evil over Good, he would put himself on the path to destruction because by doing wrong man would have freely chosen to become a vessel of Evil, a thing which God had purposed to annihilate!
Well, the problem wasn’t as complex for God. In the problem of free will God provided an opportunity for man to fail, learn, and repent! So, instead of creating a world of automated beings – beings which would automatically do good and hence be not real – because free will provided an opportunity to learn its price was worth it!
One day my little child saw me eating what looked like sweet tomato sauce. He saw the red bottle and was sure it is what he had once tasted. Unknown to him it was chilli sauce I was eating. He begged me to give him some. He could not believe whatever explanation I gave him and so he started crying for it. He doubted my care and love for him, so to speak. He thought I was hiding something better from him. Well, there was a way to let him learn the truth about the matter. I had to let him taste and experience what he craved for in hope that he would learn and make a wise decision. I knew that he would spew out the sauce and that would be a waste or loss of something that costed money to buy. The act would amount to subjecting the boy to a vain exercise, so to speak. I call it “vain” because I knew that after giving him the sauce it would be spewed out. However, the ‘vanity’ or ‘loss’ was for a greater purpose – learning!
When the fall occurred in the beginning God permitted all creation to come under vanity in hope of later bringing deliverance to all those who would learn and repent. Is it not written that “they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Pro.1:29-31)? And elsewhere again it is declared that “the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom.8:20-21).