Like all of you, I’m doing cartwheels and backflips over the Supreme Court abolishing Roe v. Wade. While I know there’s still much ground to cover in the pursuit of protecting innocent unborn life, the world feels a little less evil now.
Which brings me to our subject today: evil and how to remove it for good. Which, in turn, brings me to the conversation I always have with unbelievers when that subject comes up. It goes like this:
“If God really existed, He’d get rid of evil.”
Me: “So you’re saying you want God to dropkick all the evil out of the world?”
Me: “What if He starts with you?”
It’s at that point they flash me a face that looks like they took a big swig of lemon juice mixed with lighter fluid. Few can handle being thought of as evil.
And yet, Jesus called us evil. All of us.“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Jesus said in Matt. 7:11 (emphasis mine).
It’s a pretty bleak picture Jesus paints: evil being in every person. Add to that the natural evil we see with sickness and disasters, then sprinkle in the supernatural evil of Satan and the demonic realm, and you can quickly get overwhelmed.
Thankfully, God’s Word gives us our Creator’s blueprint for whipping evil and the part we play in the process. Understanding how all that is going to work starts with identifying what evil actually is.
The definitions that aren’t
Check any dictionary for the definition of evil and you’ll find they all have one thing in common: they don’t actually define it. They’ll tell you evil is “moral wrong” or “bad conduct” or provide synonyms like “wicked.” But that’s not what evil is. The question is, what actually causes moral wrong or bad conduct or wickedness?
The early Church fathers and some of the ancient philosophers nailed it when they defined evil as a privation and/or corruption that exists in something that was originally good and perfect. Simply put: something is missing or damaged, and because of its absence or brokenness, evil results.
Evil, then, isn’t a “thing” per se, but the deficit of a thing, much in the same way that darkness isn’t a thing, but rather is the absence of light.
Once you understand what evil is, the way to permanently remove it becomes quite clear. You need to restore what’s missing.
In the same way darkness “disappears” when you bring back the light, evil is defeated when you return the good that’s missing. Whether it’s the school shooter, political tyrant, child abuser, take your pick — they lack the love, respect, empathy, sympathy, mercy, kindness, etc., which if present, would negate their evil actions.
The $64,000 question then becomes: can these things be restored to such people?
For the answer, we could ask Tom Tarrants, who was many years ago a white supremacist and called the most dangerous man in the South – so dangerous in fact that the U.S. President at the time personally sent a team of officers to find and arrest him. Today, Tarrants is president of the C. S. Lewis Institute, having had his darkness scattered while in prison by the restoration of Christ’s light to his life.
He’ll tell you that the missing ingredients that cause evil are now back in place, and because of that, he’s a changed man. Tarrants’ end result is why James tells us that being “perfect” means “lacking in nothing” (James 1:4) and why Paul says that the goal of the Christian life is to be “complete in Christ.”
Whipping moral evil is done through a spiritual heart transplant (Ezek. 36:26) and transformation of the mind (Rom. 12:2) where “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Tom Tarrants and countless others stand in witness to this biblical truth.
That said, today we still sin and are faced with both natural and supernatural evil. However, God’s Word tells us that one day our sin will cease, God’s judgment that resulted in natural evil (Rom. 8:20-21) will end, and Satan along with the demons will finally be put down (Rev. 20:10).
Until then, God allows sin so we can see the beauty of His forgiveness and He permits evil to one day showcase His attribute of justice. And occasionally, He pushes back some of the evil in this life like overturning Roe v. Wade.
Until the new heavens and new earth, we’ll happily take those wins when they come.
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.