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Why does God allow bad people to live great lives?


Why aren't evil men and women punished in this life?

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God doesn’t think or act the way that we do.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalms 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities... 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more...

Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

Many people believe that God punishes us in this life when we do evil.

Job’s friends accused him of being wicked simply because he was suffering.Job pointed out correctly (as you do in your question) that the wicked are not always punished in this life.

NKJV Job 21:7 Why do the wicked live and become old, Yes, become mighty in power? 8 Their descendants are established with them in their sight, And their offspring before their eyes. 9 Their houses are safe from fear, Neither is the rod of God upon them. 10 Their bull breeds without failure; Their cow calves without miscarriage. 11 They send forth their little ones like a flock, And their children dance. 12 They sing to the tambourine and harp, And rejoice to the sound of the flute. 13 They spend their days in wealth, And in a moment go down to the grave. 14 Yet they say to God, ‘Depart from us, For we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways. 15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?’

When Jesus healed a man who was born blind, the disciples thought his blindness was a punishment for sin. Jesus had to correct them.

John 9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Pilate had killed some Galilaeans and Jesus pointed out that it wasn’t because of the magnitude of their sin. Similarly those who were killed in the collapse of the tower in Siloam were not more sinful than others.

Luke 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

The fact that the wicked prosper in this life is a problem for many.

The writer of Psalm 73 describes his envy at the prosperity of the wicked:

Psalms 73:2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. 8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

On the outward appearance there seems no benefit in serving God and living by his commandments.

Psalms 73:13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

Solomon describes the outward appearance of this life as vanity

Ecclesiastes 7:15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

Because God does not mete out individual punishment in this life, men continue to do evil.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

But there is a judgment to come

Ecclesiastes 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: 13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

Ecclesiastes 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Acts 24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled...

The psalmist’s problem was resolved by understanding God’s purpose.

Psalms 73:16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

The end of the wicked is complete destruction.The end of those that serve God is eternal life in the kingdom of God.

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels… 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

God created men with freewill in order that, without coercion, we may choose to serve or reject him.

Malachi 3:18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Whilst we live it is never too late to turn away from doing evil. In this there is equality in the ways of God.

Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. 25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? 26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. 27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?

Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live...

God is love and is choosing out of each generation people who respond to his love. They serve God, not because they are afraid of punishment but because they have a genuine desire for the beauty of his character.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 Corinthians 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

God’s character is described to Moses:

Exodus 34:6 ...the LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty…

Sin is the transgression of God’s commandments and all sin is punishable by death.

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

We are all condemned as sinners.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

If God were to exact the penalty for sin immediately, we would all be dead. In His love and mercy,God has provided a way of escape from death by the forgiveness of sin through his son Jesus Christ.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Without Christ, we are accounted dead while we live.

Matthew 8:22... Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Jesus Christ is the appointed judge

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Salvation is offered freely to all by the gospel through the foolishness of preaching.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

The offer is valid regardless of how evil we are.

1 Timothy 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

While we have life we can respond by believing, repenting and obeying the gospel.

Ecclesiastes 9:4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

This life is temporary and relatively short. Evil men prosper because of the forbearance of God.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

It does not matter that evil people prosper in this life; that is their free choice and their end is destruction. What matters is whether we choose to believe and obey the gospel and attain to eternal life. In Christ we have an individual relationship with God which does not depend on how others live their lives.

John 21:21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Proverbs 24:19 Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; 20 For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

Psalms 37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

Matthew 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

I hope you have found this helpful.

God bless,
Glenn
thisisyourbible.com

 
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