Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!

God Says He Creates Evil,
Does That Mean God Creates Sin?

-by Tony Warren

Isaiah 45:6-7
  • "That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
  • I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
Some people read this verse and claim that it means that God creates sin or wickedness. This is a misguided conclusion that is usually based on a lack of knowledge or understanding of the word that is translated evil. A lot of people erroneously surmise that evil always means wickedness, but that is not the case. The word translated evil in scriptures does not "necessarily" mean evil in the same sense that we typically understand the word in our day. We use the word evil today as a synonym for iniquity or immorality, but that is not always the case throughout history or in the bible. The word translated evil in Isaiah is the Hebrew word [ra'], meaning something that is "not good." It is from a root word meaning to be spoiled, and by implication something that is not good or bad. It does not mean evil in the sense that we might think of the word today as wickedness, but more correctly understood as anything that is "not good" to us. For example, if a child receives a spanking, or we go through some adversity or have something befall us that we deem "not good" is considered [ra'] or evil. e.g.:

Jeremiah 24:2

  • "One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad."
That Hebrew word translated "bad" is the exact same word [ra'] that is translated as "evil." Yet, the fruit is not wicked or sinful fruit, it is simply bad fruit, evil only in the sense that it has become spoiled so that it is "not good" to eat. Fruit is an inanimate object, and cannot be evil in the sense that we understand evil/wicked today. As a practical example, if I were to walk outside my house, trip over the steps and fall, it is a bad [ra'] thing, but it is not because of wickedness, nor is it sin. It is simply something that is in a sense, an evil (not good) thing for me. Unfortunately, in our day, our understanding of what is bad (or evil) and what is sin (or wickedness), are often regarded as one and the same, when in fact often they are often very different.

To be sure, evil can be defined as something wicked or sinful "because" those are bad things. But evil can also be defined as something spoiled, bad, adversity, trouble, misfortune, calamity, natural disasters, or suffering. So it is quite clear that evil is not necessarily sinful. And of course, the scriptures bears witness to this consistently.

Proverbs 15:10

  • "Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die."
Again, the word translated grievous [ra'], is the exact same word often translated evil. And correction in this context is not at all evil in the sense we understand it to be wickedness, it is in fact a good and righteous thing. But this word [ra'] is used here to illustrate it is an unpleasant (bad) experience from the point of view of the person being corrected, but certainly cannot mean that correction is evil in the sense of sinfulness or wickedness. It means a bad experience, an experience that is "not good" to him that receives it, even though 'ultimately' it is for their good. When the Lord says in Isaiah chapter 45 that He creates evil, that is the sense in which the word is used. Indeed, it is self evident that something bad "can be" sin, but something that we consider bad is certainly not always sin. Bad or evil things include a whole list of other non-sinful occurrences. For example, adversity or trouble are bad things to come upon us, and [ra'] is also translated both adversity and trouble in scripture. This is in no wise wickedness.

Psalms 41:1b

  • "..Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble."
That word translated trouble there is the exact same word often translated evil or bad. For there are many different types of evil things. There are things that are morally or lawlessly bad, which we call sin. There are also things that are naturally bad, such as calamity or hurricanes. And then there are things that are experientially bad, such as personal adversity or correction. We can speak of a drought, a tornado or an earthquake as an evil or bad thing. But it is not in any way a sin from God to send an earthquake or a drought. It could be His judgment, which is in no wise wickedness. Likewise, judgment day is an evil day because man has to stand before God and be judged, but it is not a sinful or wicked thing for God to judge. If one walks down the street and a building falls on him and kills him, it is an evil or bad thing, but it was not a wicked/sinful thing. And so when we read that God creates evil, it is not saying that God creates sin, because that is antithetical to the nature of God and is contradictory to all that righteous God declares of Himself.

James 1:13-14

  • "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."
Clearly God does not create, tempt or make anyone sin, but He does create other bad/evil things that are neither wicked or unrighteous. God creates hell, and that is a bad (evil) thing for people, but it is not sin, and it is perfectly consistent with God's righteousness and word to create it. God withdraws light, and thus creates darkness, but this is not sin. God takes away peace, and thus creates war, but this is not God sinning. God removes His hand of restraint from man's heart and it is hardened, but this is not God forcing him into iniquity. For God is "not obligated" to maintain peace, hold back war, or keep man's heart softened. And when we look at the very context of Isaiah chapter 45, it becomes perfectly clear that this is what God is saying.

"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil:"

Notice the contrast between these things. Light contrasted over against the darkness. And Peace contrasted over against evil or bad. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. The opposite of peace is war in one context, but in another it is to be troubled or in adversity. God can create adversity for you, and yet it is not wickedness. Likewise, He can remove it and restore peace to your life. It all depends upon how the word evil is used. God is not obligated to bring man peace, nor to restrain adversity. He's not obligated to shine light upon anyone, nor to keep anyone from darkness. God bound Satan, and by the same token God can loose him. And He's not obligated to keep him bound. In this same way, God creates adversity, trouble or chastisement, and to the person receiving it, it is a bad or evil thing. But it is not sin or wickedness, it is His divine right to do so. And scripture is replete with examples.

Leviticus 26:25

  • "And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy."
This is an example of the opposite of peace, as God sends all these bad things as judgment against these people. It is a evil thing to the people who are under God's judgment, but it is not a sinful act of God. And we can see from the context of Isaiah that this type "evil" is what God is referring to as opposed to their peace.

Amos 3:6-7

  • "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
  • Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
Sin is not God's work or doing, it is the work of men who pervert God's righteous work. God sending evil upon man in the form of taking His hand of restraint off wicked man that he would destroy a city, is judgment and not sin. It is a bad thing sent upon them because of sin. Not sin sent unto them.

When we read in Isaiah that God creates evil, we must understand that the Lord is declaring His sovereignty. He is illustrating that the trouble, afflictions, and adversities [ra'] He sends are the punishments of sin, the judgments which are under His providence. As Job so patiently and humbly stated, shall we think to only receive good from God, and not the bad as well?

Job 2:10

  • "But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips."
The word evil is the same Hebrew word [Ra'[/i]. Evil at the hands of God is not sin or wickedness, it is bad things that people do not like. Godís judgments, or his withdrawing His hand of protection is how God creates evil or trouble in our lives. The righteous judgment of God is not an unlawful or sinful act, it is exactly what man should expect of a righteous God. The well deserved righteous judgments.



printer Print Page

Copyright ©2001 Tony Warren
For other studies free for the Receiving, Visit our web Site
The Mountain Retreat! http://www.mountainretreatorg.net
Feel free to duplicate, display or distribute this publication to anyone so long as the above copyright notice remains intact and there are no changes made to the article. This publication can be distributed only in it's original form, unedited, and without cost.

Created 1/18/01 / Last Modified 1/19/01
The Mountain Retreat / twarren10@aol.com

[ Top | Eschatology | Bible Studies | Classics | Articles | Other Articles | Sermons | Apologetics | F.A.Q. | Forum ]