The only thing that had to happen for evil to exist, was for God to exist—which the Bible tells us has been true from all of eternity—and for God to create beings that were able to choose Him or not choose him.
The Bible seems to tell us that Satan was a created being, that Satan was among the first of the creatures. He was one of the angels that was created and then fell from that position. He chose to rebel against God, and as a result, the Scriptures seem to say that He was thrown down, he was cast out of heaven. And we’re told that he led many with him. So it wasn’t just Satan by himself, but there were many, if you will, fallen angels that followed him in that rebellion against God. The question comes as a result of that: if it is true that Satan was an angel, created good to serve the Lord and yet rejected that place of goodness, if you will—rejected that service of the Lord and chose instead to rebel against God with many other of His fellow angels—if that is true, how in the world did Satan choose that? Sin and evil must have been in the world already for Satan to be able to choose evil or to choose sin, rather than choosing to serve God.
The Origin of Evil
And so the question then comes as a result: if that is true, if the Bible’s comments about Satan and the fall of Satan, the casting out of Satan, is true, then where did evil come from? How was evil even there for Satan to choose in the first place? And I think what I’d want to say to that question is that evil is not a substance. Evil is not something that needed to be created in order to exist. Everything else that is had to be created. And we’re told that God created everything that is by the Word of His power, and sustains it still today. But evil, I want to suggest, is not a thing. It’s not a substance. Rather, it’s the privation or absence, denial of a thing.