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Where Does Evil Come From? Understanding the First Spiritual War

You can watch the news or read a headline and see evil all around. Reports of murders, theft, scandals, manipulation and lies fill the atmosphere. Many of us ask how people could do such horrific things. We ask, “Where does evil come from?” 

Defining Evil

Before answering the question, “Where does evil come from?” we must first define it. 

Biblically, evil is anything contrary to God’s Word. God is holy. Therefore, anything that comes against His holy nature is evil. 

You must comprehend truth versus a lie to see where evil comes from.  

Truth must be absolute. It cannot change. If it isn’t absolute, meaning it is relative, then by definition, someone’s view of truth must be false, making it an untruth (or a lie). Opinions can be relative, but truth cannot. 

Evil starts with a lie. 

If humanity, not God, defines what is good or evil, it only ends in…

  • Chaos
  • Division and disagreement
  • An imbalance of power
  • Selfishness

The Bible says that God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and cannot lie (an attribute of truth)…

  • “God is not a man, that He should lie…”—Numbers 23:19
  • “…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began…”—Titus 1:2
  • “…that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”—Hebrews 6:18

The Bible also says that God—Father, Son, and Spirit—is truth.

  • “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”—John 14:6
  • “…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”—John 14:17
  • “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”—John 15:26

Therefore, what is written in God’s Word must be truth. He gets to define what is good and evil because He is incapable of lying. Therefore, whatever He states as truth is truth and whatever is contrary to Him is a lie and is evil. 

So then, what words describe what evil is?

According to the Bible, evil is…

  • Anything contrary to God’s Word
  • Wickedness
  • Morally wrong
  • Sinful
  • Actions that cause harm
  • Disaster, calamity
  • Murder
  • Theft
  • Adultery
  • Unbelief
  • Idolatry
  • Blasphemy
  • Disobedience

As Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland stated, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”

With this understanding of truth, we can now dig further into the question, “Where does evil come from?”

Where Does Evil Come From?

In short, evil comes from Satan. Satan is known as the devil, the enemy, the accuser, the adversary, Lucifer, and the father of lies, just to name a few. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) and schemes against us (Ephesians 6:11).

Below are a few Bible verses about Satan and his evil attributes…

  • “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”—1 John 3:8 (emphasis added)
  • “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”—John 8:44 (emphasis added)
  • “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”—1 Peter 5:8 (emphasis added)

God is not the author of confusion, lies, or evil. Reading the words of J.P. Moreland again, we can conclude that God isn’t the author of evil. Rather, it is His holiness that defines it. Romans 12:21 reminds us that we do not have to be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. And, as we’ve learned, God is good. 

Understanding Evil and the First Spiritual War

In 1 John 1:5, it says, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” 

So then, where did darkness come from? Ephesians 6:12 says…

  • “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (emphasis added)

God is always associated with light in the scripture. Every time God shows up in the Word, it is described as a bright, intense light. This isn’t a metaphor. It is literal. 

God is light, and in Him there is no darkness: This means that when there is only God, there is only good and only light. In the book of Revelation, when all things are made new…

  • “The city (Jerusalem) had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.”—Revelation 21:23 (emphasis added)
  • “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”—Revelation 22:5 (emphasis added)
Religious image - heaven and hell, good and evil, light and darkness. Holy spirit bird descends from skies, bright light shines from heaven, white dove is symbol of love and peace

Genesis and the First Spiritual War

In the first few verses of the Bible, we find something that has already subjected God’s creation to darkness. 

  • “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”—Genesis 1:1-3

God said, “Let there be light!” Then He divided that which was good from darkness, which was evil. 

This separation of light from the dark was God judging Satan’s rebellion. What does this mean? It means that Satan was perfect and established by God at some point and then opposed and went against Him for some reason.

Why and When Did Satan Rebel?

The reason? Pride.

In Ezekiel 28:14-15, God said…

  • “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.”—Ezekiel 28:14-15 (emphasis added)

Ezekiel 28:16,17 goes on to describe Lucifer’s (Satan) pride…

  • “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned… Your heart was lifted up [pride] because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor…” (emphasis added)

Lucifer was an exalted angelic being, created by God, but became proud and wanted to take over God’s throne. God removed him from the position. However, Satan continues with his ultimate goal today: to take over the throne of God. Again, this understanding gives depth to the question, “Where does evil come from?”  

Isaiah 14:12 describes Lucifer as the light bearer of God, the shining one, or the day star. Where does evil come from? From the iniquity found in Lucifer, his pride and rebellion against God.

God Divides the Light from the Darkness

By verse 3 of the Bible, we see God’s mission to separate the evil from us. He divided the light from the darkness, and He continues to do this today. God called the light “good.” But He didn’t call darkness good. Every time the sun descends and night sets in, it is a reminder that there is sin in God's creation. 

The Hope You Can Have Even When Evil Is Present…

God works through all situations to bring about His good purpose (Romans 8:28). Only a loving, gracious, and almighty God can restore, redeem, and reconcile what is broken, stolen, or lost because of evil. 

Discover more about Satan’s plan of opposition in the last days and his plan of worldwide dominion in our Book of Daniel Bible Study

Have hope because there will be a day when the universe comes full circle and is made new. There will be no darkness, and the Son, the Lamb, will give light to all for eternity.Be encouraged because God has a plan for restoration. The Word says, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). Jesus in you is powerful! Look forward to His promise that there will be no more tears or evil.  Trust in God and take this time to make Jesus your King!