Summary: God is perfectly good. What does that mean?
James speaks to us her about the goodness of God. He refers to God as the “Father of the heavenly lights.” This is the only place in the Bible where God is called by such a title and seems to be used by James for the purpose of emphasizing God’s goodness. The idea of “heavenly lights” conjures up the ideas of holiness, purity, righteousness and goodness. The term “Father” indicates that God is the source of all things good, holy, righteous, and pure.
“God is good, all the time; and all the time, God is good!”
This saying is one James would agree with. But it’s important to see that when James says God is good, the goodness of God transcends our common understanding of the word. God is perfection - the ultimate definition of good. There’s nothing comes close to God’s goodness, and nothing to which we can compare Him. God is holy, set apart from all unrighteousness. This is important to understand as we think about what James says about the goodness of God.
1. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift - vs. 16-17
James urges his readers to not “be deceived.” Apparently, some were making the mistake many today make about God - blaming God for evil. After all, this world’s a mess. There’s war, genocide, child slavery, starvation, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Where did these evils come from, and how could a good God let them happen?
The Bible tells us that in the beginning, God created a perfect world with no death or pain. He entrusted the care of it to Adam and Eve, the first human beings; and gave only one restriction: “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
God warned that in partaking of the fruit of that tree, they would be choosing to decide for themselves what was good and what was evil, instead of taking God’s Word for it. This would be catastrophic, as death would be the result. Although they were warned of the consequences, Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, which brought the Curse of pain and death into God’s originally perfect creation.
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” - Romans 5:12 (NLT)
“Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.” - Romans 5:19 (NLT)
Adam and Eve passed on to all mankind an inclination toward sin (we are sinners by birth) that eventually leads to us acting in sin (we are sinners by choice); and the consequences of man’s sin is death. In other words, the problem of evil is not God’s problem; it’s man’s problem.
James says God is the originator only of that which is good. So God isn’t responsible for genocide, child slavery, starvation, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Evil things that occur in life are due to the sinfulness of this world, the treachery of Satan; or the wrong choices of men.
Another deception about God’s goodness is that if God is good, then He would never sentence anyone to eternal condemnation. The Bible clearly teaches if one does not come to God through faith in Christ, they will be condemned for all eternity. How can this be? Well, when one understands the goodness of God, you realize the answer.
If you want a God who is perfectly good, you must also want a God who is just and holy, which is the God the Bible speaks of. Because of His perfect goodness, God allows those who reject Him to continue in condemnation, separated from Him for all eternity. Remember that the condemnation mankind is under wasn’t God’s idea; but man’s choice.
“God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.” - Ecclesiastes 7:29 (NLT)
Eternal condemnation isn’t something God forces on anyone; it’s what mankind has chosen for themselves. If one’s eternally condemned, it’s because they’ve rejected a good God who’s provided a way for them to pass from death to life; and that Way is Jesus.
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” - John 5:24 (NLT)
God is not pleased with the effects of sin, pain, and death in the world.
“(God) does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men” - Lamentations 3:33 (NASB)
“Tell them that as surely as I am the living Lord God, I don’t like to see wicked people die. I enjoy seeing them turn from their sins and live.” - Ezekiel 33:11 (CEV)