Why doesn’t God destroy the devil?
The devil does exist. One of his many tricks is to fool us into believing he does not exist. There are people in our community who make money out of fortune telling, sorcery, astrology, séances, and other satanic practices – it is very important that we keep well away from such things. A much more common situation we all face is being tempted by the devil. The temptation is not the sin; it is not our fault. But if we give in to it, if we allow that passion to remain in us, then this is our fault. There are many examples we can give. Someone does us an injustice, and we allow bitterness and resentment, even anger and hatred, to become bigger and bigger in our heart. Or we are constantly finding fault in others, judging them, and making excuses for ourselves, refusing to acknowledge we are at fault as well. Or we give in to desires of the flesh: we know it is wrong but we still give in to the devil’s temptation and watch pornographic material, or commit other such sins. Another example is spiritual laziness: we become slack with our spiritual duties, such as fervently participating in the Liturgy, the Sacraments, spiritual reading and prayer, and slowly drift away from the spiritual life. The devil often leads us astray with pride and self-love, but sometimes he uses another tactic – he uses despair: we feel there is no hope, that we cannot defeat our problems, that it is all too hard.
So why does not God destroy the devil? Some people, as part of their question about why does God allow suffering; ask this question as well. They point out that a lot of suffering is due to the wrongs of people. It is true that the greed of some leads to poverty in others, pride can result in enormous hurt in others, as can anger and hatred. Laziness or lack of diligence in their work can lead to mistakes: if such a person is a doctor, or engineer, or car mechanic, this can be a disaster. A teacher or nurse, who just does not care, can create problems and hurt. Those that have not learnt to struggle against desires of the flesh can one day not be strong enough to resist temptation, and may be unfaithful in marriage, or commit rape, and this can scar others greatly for life. It is true that if we were all very loving, caring, forgiving, pure, patient, etc; then there would be much less suffering in the world. So why does not God destroy the devil? Why could he not pre-program all of us to be full of kindness and virtue?
The only answer I can give is that God wants us to be free. If he made us like robots, programmed to only do good, if there was no devil and therefore we were incapable of any of the evil passions, then our goodness would have no value. If there was no sacrifice and struggle involved in doing good, then there would be no beauty.
If an atheist was to read what I just wrote he/she would probably become very angry. By far the commonest reason why atheists do not believe in God is because they feel that the enormous suffering that occurs in the world is incompatible with a God of love. An atheist once wrote: “What sort of loving God would value human freedom so much that out of respect for Hitler’s freedom he allowed so many to die a cruel death in the holocaust?” Atheists who say such things are making a value judgment. God sees things infinitely clearer than we do. For God our freedom is enormously important, and He sees clearly that the only thing that really matters in the end is for us to reach Heaven. For an atheist, the greatest evil imaginable is suffering on this earth. For a Christian who has experienced the love of God, the greatest evil imaginable is to be far from God’s love for evermore. If you have this perspective of eternal life, then it changes how you view suffering. If through our patience in suffering in this life we grow spiritually and come closer to God, then it is worth it.
God is infinitely wise: out of enormous love for us he arranged things as He has, waiting for us to willingly respond to His love and reject the devil.
† Fr D. K.
Source: June-July 2015 Lychnos Edition