The error of blaming God (3rd part of “The problem of evil in the world” series)

A lot of people are angry at God. This ABC report details why pretty well. People blame God for all sorts of things. Whenever something bad happens, somehow God is the culprit. Earthquake? God shook the earth. Fire? God lit it. Flood? God made it rain. People die? God killed them. Kids have cancer? God infected them. A terrorist kills a lot of people? Folks blame God seemingly more than the killer. A terrible car wreck caused by a drunk or texting?  God somehow made the cars run into each other. No money? God took it away.

I cringe every time I hear people, even Christians, blaming God for this bad thing and that bad thing, so I felt moved to write about the subject. Many of the statements I have heard blaming God are unbiblical and represent a profound misunderstanding of the Bible. I have written a previous blog about why there is evil in this world.  A second one here says that suffering for believers is normal. I suggest you look these over if you want even more context related to what I am writing here.

Those who do not believe in God also do not believe in the devil

People who are atheists especially like to blame this God they don’t believe in. They blame this imaginary God and demean those who do believe in Him. If God does not, as they insist, exist, then He cannot be the one causing all these tragedies. But there is another implication of not believing in God. Most of these folks don’t believe in anything that could be called “supernatural.” Things just happen. All that exists somehow created itself out of absolute nothing (very logical!), and just goes haywire and leads to chaos with alarming frequency without any rhyme nor reason. Since they dismiss all possibility of the supernatural,  that also implies they do not believe in the devil. So a devil which does not exist cannot be causing all these problems.

I sometimes wonder why people who do believe in God would rather blame God than the devil. Why don’t we say that the devil sent the earthquake, the flood, the fire, the death, the terrorism, the cancer, the wreck, the financial ruin, etc?  It seems to come from a misunderstanding that people have regarding God’s sovereignty. It also ties into the false logic that says that either God is all-powerful but doesn’t care what happens to us or that He loves us but is too weak to stop the evil in this world. So, they say, if God loved me He would not have let this or that bad thing happen.

What the Bible says about the devil’s authority in this world

If we ask about the devil’s role in all this, many people will respond by saying that since God is much more powerful than the devil, He should be able to stop any evil that the devil may try to do, that is if it is truly the case that the devil is behind some of the bad stuff.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this is not about a power struggle between two opposing, equal powers. It is about justice and the devil having a just claim over this world.

The Bible obviously does not portray the devil as the red animal-like person with horns and a pitchfork.  Knowing what the Bible does say about the devil can help us understand why it is not correct, even heresy, to blame God for the evil in this world. There are many, many verses about the power the devil has over this world, but the key verse I like to focus on is Luke 4:5-8:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

Notice the offer the devil makes to Jesus. First he shows Him all the kingdoms of the world,” then he says  “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” According to this, the devil has been given the authority over all the kingdoms of the world, and he can give them to anyone he chooses. But isn’t God the one with the authority over all the kingdoms of the world? Not according to this. It is wrong to say that the devil is lying to Jesus since if he were lying, Jesus would know it and it would not count as a temptation.

We also know the devil is not lying because there are lots of verses which confirm his claim. Verses which say the devil is the “god of this world”, “the prince of this world”, “the god of this age”. There is the well known verse from Ephesians 6:12:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

How many of us have 1 John 5:19 as our worldview verse?: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

In John 14:13 Jesus Himself says: “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me.”

In Acts 26:18, Paul says God gave him his mission: “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

Hebrews 2:4 states: “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,”

The world’s way vs. God’s way

Another theme of the Scriptures is the contrast between God’s way and “this world.”  Study the Gospel of John for the majority of these contrasts. Paul also contrasts God’s way from this world and the flesh. This verse from 1 John 2:15-17 says it well:

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

Colossians 2:20a says, ““You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world. I could go on and on as there are many verses showing the authority of the devil in this world. He has this authority because of the sinfulness of the people of this world. Every time someone turns their back on God or just ignores Him and lives as if He is not there, the devil gets more and more of a foothold in their life. He has a just claim over them. This started with Adam and Eve and has been snowballing ever since.

But in the midst of this, God has been working in the lives of people who open their hearts to Him. The Old Testament tells how He calls out an entire people group, who became the Israelites, to communicate His message to the world. Here we see lots of “Old Testament tough love” as God tries to teach them His eternal truths, and actually sends earthquakes and fire and death to help them understand and realize His holiness and their sinfulness. But then through their linage came Jesus, the one who offers salvation to the whole world, who takes away our sin and makes us holy before God.

The Kingdom of God

There are now some new children of Abraham. Jesus said he came to proclaim the Kingdom of God. The “Kingdom of God” does not just refer to heaven, but establishing God’s Kingly rule over the lives of people in this world. Calling out a special people to follow Him and be His light among the darkness of this world. People you might call His Special Forces to undermine what the devil has a right to do in this world because of sin. It all started out small. like a mustard seed, but the influence of His people has been growing and growing since those first disciples began following Him.

There is a great delusion in this world, what the Bible calls being “of” the world, which translates to being under the devil’s authority, in his kingdom, which is opposed to being part of this new kingdom of God Jesus started. For those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord and are new creations, they are in the world but they are not “of” the world. They are under the authority of a new kingdom, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, their hearts are set on the things of God, of heaven, and not on the desires of this world. Since these people are in this world, they will suffer all the evil side-effects of this world caused by the power of the devil. They may suffer or even die in earthquakes, fires, floods, tornadoes, wrecks, cancer, murder, the same types of things that happened to most person who followed the will of God in the Bible.

But these people know, as Hebrews 11 states, that this world is not our home. This is not heaven. The heroes of the faith mentioned were looking for a heavenly city. While we are in this world, we will have suffering, but we can be of good cheer, for Jesus has overcome the world. Times now can be rough, even horrible, but Jesus says He gives us a peace that passes all understanding. He says we have a hope that is sure. He says that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will comfort us. There are lots of worse things that can happen to us besides dying or being sick.

So let us not blame God when bad things happen to us, or happen to those around us, or happen in this world. All these same types of things happened to the most faithful people in the Bible, and they stood firm. The devil has a just claim over this sinful world and so bad things happen and will continue to happen.

When God does or doesn’t intervene

I do not disagree that it is a mystery sometimes as to why God does or doesn’t intervene. I do know that when He does intervene, it requires major spiritual warfare with the devil. A good example of this is Daniel 10:12-14:

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

Then in verse 20: So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come.”  There is an “invisible to us” spiritual warfare few of us can imagine or understand.

Spiritual Warfare and the final victory

Frank Peretti has written several books on this subject, especially “This Present Darkness”, which, while a bit overdone in imagery, is actually very close to what the Bible seems to imply is going on all around us, a spiritual warfare battle between God and the devil. Let me emphasize again that this is not a struggle between two equal powers. God could crush the devil in a millisecond.  But it is a struggle in regards to justice. The devil has a just claim over this world. But the good news, as we read in the book of Revelation, is that the time will come when God will justly remove the devil and cast him into the lake of fire and will set up His perfect Kingdom for ever and ever. Remember and think about the book of Revelation when thinking of spiritual warfare, since it is the most detailed vision of the type of warfare that is currently happening all around us. To watch a video I made for my local church of this section of the article, you can find it on facebook at: Blaming God

Job. Faithfulness during times of great trouble

A final thought. Who caused the suffering of Job?  Did God send all those calamities into his life? The Bible says the devil caused it all. But someone might say, “Well God let the devil do it.” So are we now blaming God for the tragedies the devil causes because we think it is God’s fault since He allowed it?  Hopefully this study has helped us see that the devil has authority and the right to cause all kinds of problems in this world. But God never left Job, and Job, though complaining, stayed faithful to God. He could not understand why God, whom he loved, would let these things happen to him. 13:15: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him, I will surely defend my ways to his face.” Job could never figure out what he could have possibly done to cause his suffering, but in the end God showed him that no matter what happens, the most important thing is to keep trusting in Him, for He continues to have the ultimate power and will never leave nor forsake Job.

Complaining without blaming

So Job complained to God, but he did not come to the point of blaming Him. In Psalms David commonly is complaining to God about his enemies, and asking why he is going through such difficult times. But I do not see a blaming spirit coming from David. The Bible makes it clear that it is okay to bear our heart and soul to God, to question Him, to plead with him, to let Him know we just don’t understand why things are happening. But despite all their complaining, Job and David stood strong in their faith and their love for God.

Let us follow the example of these people. We can open our hearts to God, tell Him our fears, our doubts, our issues. But let us not fall into the error of blaming Him and introduce cracks in our faith in Him which can lead to crippling doubt. When we express such blame we are also perpetuating a great misunderstanding of His Word and the role of the devil in all this. This is not heaven. We will go through some terrible things, just like all the faithful ones in the Bible did. But let us remain faithful, remain in love with God. He gives us His peace, He gives us Hope, He gives us comfort and He will never leave us nor forsake us. He loves us unconditionally. And one day we will see Him face to face and live with Him forever.

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