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Illnesses, draughts, and infertility of the earth, even the most difficult circumstances in the life of each person, all these prevent evil from increasing and spreading. Hence, all these “bad” things that are permitted by God actually remove the cause of the generation of true evil. Both physical ailments and adversities beyond our control have been permitted to distance us from sin. Therefore, God destroys evil; evil does not come from God. Doctors cure diseases; they do not generate diseases within the body.

Sin is the primary and chief evil, and it is indeed worthy of being called an evil. Sin depends on our own free volition. It is up to us to either stay away from sinfulness or to be wicked. All other evils are permitted either to reveal a person’s courage and virtue, as in the case of Job, or to heal and rectify sins that have been committed in the past, such as with the prophet David, or to render more careful and prudent them who easily slide into sin, such as in the case of Dathan and Abiram (Num. 16:27), who served as a lesson and example for others. 

Now that you have come to know the various forms of evil that God allows, now that you have understood well that sin is the only true evil, whereas things that seem evil on account of pain are in fact very beneficial and lead to the eternal salvation of the soul, cease being dissatisfied with God’s decisions and divine interventions. In general, never consider God to be the cause of the existence of evil. Do not even imagine that evil is an entity. Evil is not something that exists like some creature, nor can it be viewed as a living substance. Rather, it appears after the soul is crippled.

God created the soul, but not sin. But then, why is the soul generally capable of becoming evil? This is on account of the free will, which is especially befitting to rational beings. “But why don’t we have sinlessness embedded in our nature,” someone may ask, “so that even if we wanted to, we could not sin?” Because you also do not consider your slaves as friends when you hold them captive by force, but when you see them willingly serving you. Similarly, God is not pleased with things that take place out of necessity, but with what takes place on account of virtue. And virtue takes place through man’s free choice—not through force. Free choice depends on us, and we have our free will. Therefore, he who blames the Creator for not making us sinless by nature prefers to have irrational instead of rational souls, and motionless, inert beings instead of ones who can make voluntary decisions and take actions.

Let us therefore stop correcting the Wise God. Let us stop seeking something better than what He has made. If we are unaware of the reasons behind certain things God has planned, let us at least maintain one dogma in our soul with certainty: there is no evil that comes from the Good God.

by St. Basil the Great

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