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Question and Answer

The Problem of Evil


I've been struggling with the lack of clarity about the origin of sin according to the Christian faith, and most especially from a Reformed perspective. All reality seems to hang in the balance of our fallen nature and our need for redemption, but the cause of it all seems to be lost. How could or why would a perfect and omnipotent God decree even the slightest notion of the existence of sin? Where is or what could be the glory that justifies itself in the result? And ultimately, is it sin or the sinner that serves as the point-proven object of divine wrath? I am at a loss. Please counsel.


The difficulty you experience has exercised God's people down through the ages. Much of the book of Job in the Bible is really concerned with this problem.

The Apostle Paul, in the second letter to the Thessalonians, speaks of "the mystery of iniquity" (2 Thess. 2:7). As I understand the word "mystery" in the inspired Scriptures, the word refers to things that cannot be known unless and until God reveals them to his people (see Col. 1:25-27). And it is my conviction that this mystery is one that awaits more complete revelation at the time of our Lord's second coming.

To put it a bit differently, what I am saying is that I do not think anyone can give you an explanation, right now, that will fully explain the problem of evil. I also believe this is not bad for us but good. It is good for us because it leaves us with another more important question: are we going to believe in the God of Scripture who has told us that he is holy and good and that he works all things together for good for those who love him?

The greatest crime in history, as you know, was the unjust execution of Jesus Christ. Yet that very evil thing accomplished the most important good in history because it was that death that brought life to a multitude of people.

My recommendation, then, is to meditate on the death of our Savior. For, awesome as the problem of evil is, more awesome still is the mystery of our redemption through the greatest of all evil deeds.

The Apostle Paul put it this way: "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory." (1 Tim. 3:16, New King James Version) Those who have faith will find the ultimate answer to the mystery of iniquity in the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May God give you light as you meditate on these things.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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