The Anglican theologian N T Wright asked the question, “how does the world, and in particular the Christian faith, deal with the problem of ‘evil’?” And of course, this then requires us to understand what ‘evil’ is. Most people probably have two levels of definition. Firstly, ‘that which is bad or not good’, and then there is that which is ‘truly Evil’ (which can even be personified as in ‘the Evil One’).
In the Judeo/Christian psyche: God is good, Satan is evil. Does this mean that God and Satan are 2 equal forces, balancing out the universe in a type of Ying/Yang way. Is Satan another god? If God created all things, did He create ‘evil’? Do we need ‘evil’ to be able to appreciate ‘good’?
Some have said that evil is merely the absence of good, as darkness is the absence of light, or cold is the absence of heat. And in a limited sense this may be true if we define ‘evil’ as such. However, we are all aware that ‘evil’ is much more than ‘not good’. To get a better understanding of this issue we must, as always, return to the source of all things.
God is ‘Love’ (1 John 4:8). We have defined ‘love’ elsewhere as ‘the giving of ourselves, and all that we have, for the betterment of the other, regardless of how much it may affect us’, as demonstrated in John 3:16. Thus we can say that God desires the best for humanity (1 Timothy 2:3-4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.). Therefore, ‘desire’ is an attribute of God and His image.
Satan, as Lucifer, had the desire to worship, but instead of desiring to give the worship to God recognising His due worth, he chose to desire worship for his own. This meant that he needed to steal the worship from God’s image as well. Thus, Satan used ‘The Lie’ to tempt Adam with the desire to be ‘as God’, even though he already was. Consequently, Adam’s sin of eating from the tree was a because of his own desire.
The desire to benefit others is love, which gives life (as in God desired to make man in His image, and therefore created creation). The desire to benefit oneself at the expense of others is evil (we call it ‘lust of the flesh’ Ephesians 2:3, “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”). In English, it is a visible sign that ‘evil’ is the reverse of ‘live’. Do we give beneficially, or do we take: not just towards other people but also to the rest of creation, and even towards God.
So, how do we deal with the issue of ‘evil’? Easy – LOVE!