Russell asks, “Is God responsible for plagues, viruses and deaths, or is Satan responsible?”
I’ve been asked many variations of the question, “How could a loving God allow …” The idea of a good and perfect and holy God allowing—or perhaps even causing—tragedy and death in this world is no easy thing to explain away.
There are two premises that all believers must accept that are the foundation for answering this question:
- God is sovereign over all circumstances and God is perfect and holy. He is all these things all the time, and no attribute of God diminishes any other.
- Whenever our human understanding cannot reconcile two attributes of God that seem to compete with each other, the fault is not with God, but with our human understanding.
To answer your question directly, God is not responsible for the consequences of sin in the world: we are. But God does use and often does cause these consequences—like plagues, viruses, and death—to happen.
To put it in slightly different terms, is a judge is responsible for a criminal receiving a prison sentence? That judge may have caused the guilty person to go to prison by issuing the sentence, but the guilty person is responsible for the consequences of their own actions, their own crimes.
Through our sin, humanity is morally responsible for all evil in the world. But none of these consequences can exist without the will and sovereignty of God.
Remember, it was God, through Moses, who brought the plagues—including death—upon the Egyptians. Satan wasn’t working through Moses, God was.
It was God who gave Satan permission to inflict harm upon Job; Satan couldn’t even do that without asking God’s allowance.
When we see evil in the world, we can recognize that God is sovereign over even that evil, and we can seek ways God might be working through even tragedy; but we cannot blame God. We can only look at our sins—the sins of the whole world—and grieve over the consequences of those sins.
But ultimately, we can rejoice that God has provided us an eternal rescue from both sin and judgment: His son, Jesus Christ.