THE leading organ of “free thought” in this section, The Truth Seeker, notes with a tone of some surprise the answer in a late SENTINEL to one of its pet conundrums, “Why don’t God kill the devil?” It says the question has not been answered, and in proof of this submits several questions, and hints at others equally unanswerable in reserve. We notice those bearing directly on the point at issue:—
“Why could not God kill the devil and save the sinners?
“If God is able to deliver all persons from the devil, why does he not do it?
“If there is no need to destroy the devil, then he must be powerless; and if he is powerless, what are the Christians afraid of?
“If God can successfully contend with the devil, why do the vast majority of the race sin and go to hell—that is, if Christian theology be true?”
These questions can be answered because God believes in religious freedom. If he did not they could not be answered.
God could force all things to come to his terms: but he did not force his creatures in the past, and does not force them now, because he does not believe in a forced service.
God might have forced Lucifer to have remained obedient in his station in heaven. But what would have been the worth of such obedience? and what would Lucifer have been without a character?
Lucifer sinned and became the devil; and he led countless multitudes to rebel with him. But better was it that all this should be, than that God’s creatures should have been deprived of their free will, to prevent their sinning. And what a testimony is this to the value of individual freedom in the sight of God!
Because all have this individual freedom, many—even the great majority—choose to go contrary to the will of God. They choose not to submit themselves to him. This is the only reason why he cannot save them.
God will—and does—deliver all persons from the devil who choose to be delivered. But it is in the power of every person not to let God deliver them. The Scripture says, “Submit yourselves therefore unto God; resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
The devil is powerless with regard to any individual who chooses to let God keep him from the devil. The individual who chooses otherwise finds the devil very powerful indeed. The individual who chooses the devil’s pathway instead of the Lord’s, cannot reasonably expect that God will preserve him from harm. The individual who sins, chooses sin and its consequences; and God cannot, without being arbitrary, interfere with his choice.
The vast majority of the race sin and doom themselves to destruction because they choose to walk in that way rather than in the way of life. This constitutes no evidence that God cannot successfully contend with the devil. It proves only that God is not arbitrary in his dealings with them.
God allows the devil to live and work with all his power to destroy souls, and at the same time he saves from all the power of the devil and from the power of the world and the power of sin, every individual who comes to him through the avenue of salvation he has opened. And thus he gives to the universe a mightier testimony of his power to save than could be given were he to remove the devil by destroying him. That indeed would be a virtual confession that God could not save people while the devil lived. But that confession would be a stupendous lie.
Seemingly it is the mind of the Truth Seeker and of the class for whom it speaks, that God—admitting his existence—should have made man an automaton, having no will of his own, or without power to use it, and hence without character, capable only of acting by the choice of another’s mind, and hence without any necessity of possessing any mind of his own. In that way God could have made it impossible for man to have disobeyed him. Then there would have been no sin, and what a delightful world we would have had, to be sure!