One of the age-old questions people often ask is, “Why would a loving God allow bad things happen to good people?” This Bible study will turn that question around and examine why a just God allows good things to happen to bad people.
When Bad Things Happen to “Good People”
We will start by examining the issue of bad things happening to “good people.”
“Good People” Experience Adversity
Job was immortalized in the Bible as one of the most righteous people who ever lived, yet God permitted him to suffer tremendous adversity. David was a man after God’s own heart and had been anointed by Samuel to be king over Israel, yet he had to flee in from Saul the wilderness for years.
People all like to think of themselves as good and deserving of God’s blessings. We think it unfair when life is hard, or misfortune besets us. So we ask why a loving God would allow “good people” to suffer.
The question of why God permits trials and adversity in the lives of His children is partially addressed in a series of blog posts on this website. These Bible studies examine the subject of trials and testing in the lives of Christians, beginning with “Christlike During the COVID-19 Trial.”
The whole series on Biblical trials is available as an e-Book called, “7 Spiritual Tests During the COVID-19 Trial.” This e-Book examines why God permits trials using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example. It provides 7 spiritual tests you can use to evaluate how Christlike your behavior has been, and asks “Did you pass God’s test?“
There are No “Good People“
The first thing we need to understand about why bad things happen to “good people” is that the question is based on the moral relativity of humans, not God’s standard. According to God’s Word, there are no “good people.”
Only God is good. Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, and Luke 18:19 all record Christ’s reply to a young man who addressed Him as “Good Master.” Jesus “said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”
Solomon declared “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:21).
In Romans 3:10–12, 23, Paul proclaimed, “As it is written (in Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3): There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
The only truly good person who has ever lived is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Yet Jesus willingly suffered to fully experience the human condition without sinning, so He could pay the price to redeem us from our sins through His sacrificial death on the cross.
Since there are no “good people,” we should stop asking why bad things happen to them. We should focus on the positive instead of on the negative. Instead of complaining about our troubles, we should be grateful for our blessings.
3 Reasons Good things happen to Bad People:
Since there are no “good people,” the proper question is not why God allows bad things to happen to them. A better question is why God allows “bad people” to experience good.
1. They live in Harmony with Natural Law
We live in a physical universe governed by the law of cause and effect. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Some inputs naturally produce certain outputs.
A related principle is the law of the harvest; you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). If you plant corn you will grow corn. If you diligently work hard in wise ways, you will reap prosperity (Proverbs 14:23; 21:5).
An ungodly man may earn spiritual judgment by immoral thoughts and behavior. But he can still reap good things materially if he lives in harmony with the physical laws of God’s creation.
Any farmer can reap a good crop if they diligently plow, fertilize, plant, and water good seed. On the other hand, even morally good farmers will suffer if they fail to do so.
Many people experience good results in this world (even if they are morally bad) because they diligently work wisely in harmony with natural law.
2. Because They live among “good” people
Few people live in isolation. We naturally share in the blessings and troubles of the area we live in. We experience the same climate, weather, culture, government, laws, current events, etc. as the others in our region.
If God sent famine, drought, or pestilence to punish the wicked, it would adversely affect any “good” people living around them. Would you consider it fair if God punished the “good” along with the wicked? Abraham didn’t.
Before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, God gave Abraham the opportunity to intercede on their behalf (Genesis 18:16-33). Abraham asked God:
“Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? . . . That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: . . . Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”Genesis 18:23, 25
As a result, God agreed to spare those cities if there were as few as 10 righteous people in them (Genesis 18:32). Unfortunately for those cities, they lacked even 10 righteous people.
God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God is gracious and does not want to punish people. He is “slow to anger, and of great mercy” (Psalm 145:8 and Psalm 103:8).
Salt is a preservative. A little salt can prevent decay. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus called His followers to be salt and light, as a testimony for God and a preservative against sin (Matthew 5:13-16). Ungodly people often owe the peace and prosperity they experience to the righteous people living in their midst.
Are you being the salt and light God has called you to be?
3. Because of God’s Goodness, Love and Mercy
People may question why God allows negative things to happen, but it is because of God’s goodness and love that we ever experience His blessings.
Despite our sinfulness, God loves us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
God created Adam and Eve in His likeness so He could have fellowship with them. He did so even though He knew they would sin. He did so knowing He would have to live as a man and die a terrible death to pay for their sins, and the sins of the whole world.
God takes no pleasure in trouble, sorrow, or the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). His desire is for all to turn away from their sin and trust His Son, Jesus Christ for eternal life (2 Peter 3:9). “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die?” (Ezekiel 18:31).
During the sermon on the mount, Jesus challenged His followers to, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Bad people experience good things because God loves even His enemies. He blesses those who curse Him, and does good to those who hate Him, even those who despitefully use and persecute His children. The goodness of God is intended to lead all to repentance (Romans 2:4).
The living God has richly given us all-things to enjoy during our life here on earth (1 Timothy 6:17). But we must not mistake God’s goodness, patience, and love as permissiveness or weakness. For “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Those who take God’s goodness for granted, and die without turning to Christ as their savior, will stand without hope before Him, as their Holy Judge. Those who die without Christ will be cast into outer darkness, cut off from God and His goodness forever.
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