I remember attending a Bible study many years ago where the question arose about where sin and evil came from. An older gentleman in the group jumped in the discussion and became insistent that it was God who was responsible for creating sin and evil since he created Lucifer. The teacher pointed out the scripture in James 1:13-15 which says:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Many have pointed out, like the man who disagreed with the teacher in the Bible study, that it was God who not only created Lucifer, but also created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and who stated this in Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”
So what are we to make of these situations? Is God really responsible for creating evil? I’m of the belief that James was spot on with his assessment of God’s character–a revelation he received from the Holy Spirit that has its basis throughout scripture. In the beginning, after God created everything in Genesis, he looked at all of it and “saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good,” [Genesis 1:31]. That included the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But something also went along with the higher creatures of man and angels that he created–free will.
Angels and humans were created with the ability to conjure up their own thoughts and to make their own decisions. Along with that came the ability to act on them and to create things or situations based on those abilities. God cannot and must not be held responsible for the bad choices his creatures make of their own free will. He even promoted this idea throughout scripture when he said, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin,” [Deuteronomy 24:16]. This same principle was repeated in Ezekiel 18:1-20.
If what James said is true, then why did God say he created evil in Isaiah 45:7? The word “evil” can have different meanings based on the context of its use. In Isaiah 45 God was talking about how he operates in the affairs of men. He can cause there to be peaceful situations or he can cause there to be bad situations, or evil, which are all dependent on and in response to how humans act.
When God created Lucifer, the Lord said of him, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created,” [Ezekiel 28:15]. But Lucifer used the tool of free will God gave him to ”found,” or establish, iniquity in his heart to be puffed up because of his beauty and he corrupted his godly wisdom because of his brightness [Ezekiel 28:15, 17]. Jesus said in John 8:44 that the devil is the father of lies, which means he was the one who created the very concept of lying and was the first to tell one. Since iniquity was “found” in Lucifer [Ezekiel 28:15] and all iniquity is based on lies, I think it’s safe to say he was the founder of evil.
This may be hard for some to grasp, but think of it this way. Before man’s fall, there was no such thing as fornication, drug abuse, drunkenness, incest, or slavery. These sinful concepts were thought up by humans after they made the choice to turn against God and follow Satan. Mankind came up with these ideas and if he chooses to participate in them, it’s wrong to hold God responsible just like, as I said before, it’s wrong to hold God responsible for the choice Lucifer made to create evil and become Satan.
In closing, I’ll point this out–God will always be much more powerful than what his creation does because he is much more powerful than his creatures. So in the end since God is the father of good, good will always be much more powerful than evil created by his creatures.
Harry A. Gaylord