The option to choose evil as necessary for God to create beings with a free will is sometimes said to explain why evil exists in a world created by a holy God of infinite power. At first glance, it looks like a reasonable explanation for the existence of evil. But, is moral evil as necessary for free will a biblical idea?
To begin, God is infinitely and eternally free and has never had the option or desire to choose evil. Yet, God is the freest being in and beyond the universe. Also, we will never be more free than in heaven where no evil or the option to choose it will exist. Heaven would be ruined by the presence or possibility of evil.
Also, Christ set us free from the power, penalty, and ultimately the presence of moral evil; He did not set us free to have the option to choose it. “Having been set free from sin, [we] have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18 ESV). In Christ we have become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). Truly, “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Our situation has been infinitely improved in Christ, but not by the option to choose evil.
The choice of evil not only cannot improve one’s situation, it reduces true and biblical freedom. For instance, imagine yourself in a nice restaurant. You open the menu and see many excellent and tasty choices. What you don’t see on the menu are cat box pizza, rotten eggs, or dirt casserole. Now ask yourself, were you cheated? Would you complain to the waiter that your menu excludes pizza sprinkled with used kitty litter? I hope not. Would you be more free with the option of disgusting choices on the menu? Does the choice of something that will taste terrible, make you sick, or even kill you improve your situation or make you more free? Absolutely not.
Biblical freedom involves the ability to choose the best thing, not the ability to choose evil or that which hurts us and dishonors God. Our situation is not improved one iota by the option to choose things that destroy us and others. When Christ set us free, He empowered us to choose the things which benefit us and others the most, to choose the best of the best—to choose Christ. We were born in sin with the ability to choose evil, but Christ set us free to choose Him. We look forward to the day when evil is banished forever, and the infinitely good and free God dwells with His children made holy and free in Christ. There we will freely love and be loved by the infinitely excellent and lovable God. We shall be like Christ and we shall be free.
Next Up: Is Evil Required to Know Good?
© 2015 Craig Biehl, Adapted from Craig Biehl, God the Reason: How Infinite Excellence Gives Unbreakable Faith, Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015.
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