Where Did Evil Come From?

By Rev. D. Earl Cripe

 

Whither Evil?

Did evil exist from eternity as God had existed? or did it come in before man, but somewhere along the line after God began to make beings?  Was Carl Barth right about dualism?  Did evil, that uncreated chaos, pre-exist with God since the good God could not have created it?  Historic Orthodox Christianity believes the Bible to teach that evil did not pre-exist as an entity, a force, or an expression.  Yet at the same time absolutes did pre-exist.  The very fact that God was righteous means that there was the antithesis; that which was wrong or anti-right or non-right.  So long as there was only God, the Omnipotent[1] and Omniscient[2] One, there was no danger of this ever changing.  The eternally Holy and Righteous God, Who was flawless in character and Who knew all things including what would happen if right was violated, would not and could not do wrong.  But when God began to make creatures with free moral agency, the potential for evil was created.  That is because the creature could not rise to the heights of the Creator.  Having free will and the capacity to aspire to great achievement, the creature might well challenge the position of the Creator out of envy, competitiveness, pride, or vanity.  In fact, according to the Bible this is exactly what happened.  In Isaiah 14:12-14, it reads:

“How art thou fallen from heaven, Oh Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! for thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into the heaven,  I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

It is not my intention to plumb the depths of the issues raised by this passage.  That would take us too far afield and will have to wait for another time.  But simply put, Lucifer (or Satan) was not satisfied with his position.  He not only wanted to be above all the other messengers of God, but he wanted to sit in God's seat.  He wanted to be equal with Him.  He wanted to sit on the throne and rule over the hosts of God's servants. 

In a related passage, where Satan is characterized as the King of Tyre,[3] it is indicated that Satan's downfall was brought about by pride and vanity, which in turn was induced by wealth, beauty, prestige, privilege, praise, and power.  From Ezekiel 28:12,13 we read:

“Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, . .”

Then they are listed: the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold.”   It is thought by many that Satan had the control over the wealth, or in other words the precious stones and the gold.  The Hebrew for Tyrus is tsor (tsore)and it means a stone, as if pressed hard or to a point; flint, sharp stone. It rises from tsuwr (tsoor), a primitive root that means to cramp, i.e. confine (in many applications, literally and figuratively, formative or hostile).  It means an adversary, to assault, to lay siege to.  I do not want to get lost in this, but I will tell you that it is easy, from these words, to draw that conclusion and more.  Lucifer had control over precious stones.  This caused him to swell with pride and go on a power tripe.  Eventually it lead him to become God’s adversary, to assault the throne and lay siege to it, and to instigate the war in heaven that finally result in Michael the Archangel and his forces throwing Lucifer out of heaven.  All of that is potentially comprehended in the title, King of Tyrus.  In that context, Tyrus would have nothing to do with the Kingdom of Tyre.  But it is worrisome to become too affirmative because the words Tyrus and the word Tyre are the same in most respects.  It may be that Tyre is one of the many Old Testament names that are prophetic and symbolic and have more than one meaning.

In any case, he was a magnificent creation.  Verse 14 probably indicates that he was one of the highest—if not the highest—and most powerful creatures of God.  He had great position.  He was upon the holy mountain of God, put there by God.  The latter part of verse 14 may mean that God gave Satan the knowledge and the authority to make gold and precious stones, when He says: “Thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.”

“Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created until iniquity, [or in other words evil] was found in thee,” says verses 15.  Verse 16 declares that Satan's anger, violence, and stupidity in challenging God was caused by his wealth and power.  “Therefore,” God says in verses 16 and 17, “I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.  Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground,” and the rest of the segment of this Scripture through verse 19 describes the humiliation, decline, and destruction of this once mighty and proud creature. 

Historic Orthodox Christianity believes that evil came into existence when Satan succumbed to the temptations presented by the dangers and the potential of the free will, and used them to rebel against the Creator God.  Evil, then, began with the original expression of the antithesis.

 

[1]   Omnipotent means having all might and power.

[2]   Omniscient means having all wisdom and knowledge.

[3]   There actually was a king of Tyre but the passage here is about Lucifer and not the king of Tyre.

 


 

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