The Problems with Evil and Hell
1. Why does God allow evil?
I would like to point out that if there were no god or if God were not "good" ... how would we know what is evil? If those who hold fast to the "there are no absolutes" philosophy were correct, there would be no use arguing good and evil ... all would be good and we would have no standard to judge between the two. We only understand "evil" via the standard God has made known to us.
First of all, God did not create evil. He created Lucifer (later Satan) to have free choice. Free choice comes with a great price tag. But why? Because God is not a cosmic rapist. He desires love, love can only be offered up freely, not forced. Forced love is rape ... forced love is a contradiction of terms.
If God were to create angels or man without free will (choice) He would be forcing them to LOVE Him or forcing them to neither love or hate Him (like the animals), which would be not love at all.
Now God knew that Lucifer would fall (His all-knowing nature) and He also knew man would fall ... if not we are forced to say God either did not KNOW that man would fall and had to work up a quick "work-around" to "fix it". Or that God knew man MIGHT fall and (like a good computer programmer) created an "error routine" to fix it before it happened.
In either of the last two cases God's omniscience nature is assaulted.
We really are stuck with God knew Lucifer and man would fall ... that the world would be plunged into suffering, evil, pain, sickness and death. But, knowing is not causing. I know if you point a gun at someone's head and pull the trigger the man will be shot and most liking killed. I did not pull the trigger, I did not even suggest that you pull the trigger; in fact I would plead with you not to. By I am not responsible for the death of the other. Analogies always fail if you push it too far, so I will end it with that.
God knew it, and went ahead and created knowing it, because He knew something else ... in the end it would be well worth it.
What was God's goal in creating in the first place? To be loved and to have intimate relationship with His creatures. God looked down the portals of time and decided it was worth the pain and the suffering for a short season (to Him and man) when in the end they would have this close fellowship ... eternity of love, fellowship and personal relationship. We may not see it as worth the pain, yet. No athlete sees the pain of practice, exercise and self-discipline as "worth it" when he first starts. But, when he wins the championship, he hardly remembers the pain; I have yet, heard one who has won a championship state, "it wasn't worth the effort". A mother during the delivery process "feels" it isn't worth the agony ... but moments after she has given birth, she may offer to do it again just for the reward.
2. Why didn't God just annihilate sin as soon as Lucifer rebelled?
God had/has to allow sin to run its full course. Otherwise, someone sometime might think it will be a good idea to try it again ... At the present sin looks to us like a delightful McDonald’s quarter-pounder with cheese (the pictures of them, not what is really served up). When sin has run it's full course it will look like a piece of maggot invested, rotten meat, between two moldy, hard-crusted buns with black, wilted lettuce, rotten tomatoes and putrid onions and pickles. As long as sin is even remotely "tempting" to us, someone might decide to give it a try. Once we see sin as God sees it, we will never again want it.
Let me ask this ... could anyone tempt you to eat a piece of animal dung? Especially when you are surrounded by mango, banana, orange, and pear trees (which are at their peck of ripeness)? However, one might be tempted to eat a piece of spoiled meat in the same setting ... God is allowing sin to become fully "mature". He is allowing the spoiled meat to decay into dung; so we will never again be tempted to eat it.
3. The problem with Hell
The number one objection I see with those who disbelieve is with Hell. "Why would God, being good, consign His children (or at least those He created) to Hell ... to be burnt eternally with fire, to have devils ripping out their fingernails".
Unfortunately Christians have a mistaken perception of what Hell is. It is not entirely our fault. The word pictures used to describe Hell is very forceful (and with good reason). A simple (yet theologically sound) definition of Hell is "Where God is not ... Heaven is where God is." -- Note: when Psa 139:8 ... if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou [art there]. This word 'hell' is the 'grave' not the final, eternal reward of the unbeliever.
God loves man more than we can ever imagine ... He loves us so much He will ALLOW some to live in Hell. We always present Hell as a place God SENDS folks ... in reality it is a place He allows them to go. It is not His will any should go, however, He allows them to go.
We know no place at this time where God is not. We can not imagine what such a place might be like. The best those who try to describe it can say is it is a place where a person will "burn" and "there will be gnashing of teeth" ... a word picture of something akin to hearing fingernails on a chalkboard without end ... in other words a man in Hell will be tormented within his own mind ... but, not by God. God is not going to "punish" any; they will be self-punished.
As hard as it will be on God, and He will suffer Himself at losing even one person; He will not force someone to live with Him who do not choose to do so. God will not force a nonbeliever to live in His kingdom, if he chooses not to live there. So, in His last ditch effort to show His love for man, He will allow him to live with his god ... the god of his own making ... himself. God created him to be an eternal creature, and as such it would be against His nature to annihilate one of His beloved creatures.
The best example I can think of is a husband whose wife wants to leave him ... does he force her to stay? or does he allow her to leave? God will not force His "wayward wife" to stay ... she is free to go.
Think about it ... try it ... try going one full week with nothing but yourself. No sounds, no light, no smells, no sense of touch ... just yourself and your thoughts. That, my friend will be HELL at its worst.
In the 70s some experimented with "Altered States of Consciencousness". The subject was placed in a tub of water, perfectly balanced until a state of equliberium was established (the subject could not tell up or down, he was suspended between sinking and floating. His goggles were blackened and earplugs prevented him from hearing. The water was level with his own body temperture so the subject was virtually without the sense of touch. Most subjects didn't last but hours before their minds started to snap. Those who made it the longest (I don't remember the time, but it was measured in hours, not in weeks), had felt terrior beyond belief, and nearly lost their minds. I do not think anyone has conducted such experiments since. We were not created to be alone, but because some will choose themselves as their own god, God will allow them to be with the god they choose.
Those memories of what you did to yourself will BURN in your soul; the bad choices you made will EAT away at your soul forever. And because the man in hell has rejected God, in a word, told God, "I don't want you, need you or want you in my life" God will depart from Him. And there is no way back ... God is not there. God will never again encroach into the man's territory. He is completely and totally on his own, just as he wanted. God can not bring the man back if He were to try ... God is not there. God has created a small space in His creation where He will not enter. Hell is exactly that .. HELL.
Hell is not punishment, but an act of God's ultimate love.
We who have embraced God's love, who bow at the feet of God ... and have accepted Jesus' true gift of salvation, can only see Hell as a horrible place of eternal punishment ... for those who do not accept God's plan of salvation, heaven would be hundred times more horrifying than hell ... try to imagine having to spend eternity with your enemy ... To them God is the enemy. God will not force His affections on those who do not want them ... again, think of the woman who wants out of her marriage. Which would be more of a hell for her? Being alone, or forced to live with the man she despises?
God truly loves man ... so much so, He will allow man to go where God is not.
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