Ezekiel 20:25—Are God’s statutes evil?

Problem: Ezekiel tells us that God “gave them up to statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they could not live.” However, the Bible declares that God’s laws are perfect and holy (Lev. 11:45; Ps. 19:7; Rom. 7:7).

Solution: First of all, Ezekiel is probably not referring to the laws of God, but to pagan statutes to which God turned over His people when they disobeyed His holy law. Notice the text says, God also gave them up to statutes that were not good because “they rebelled against Me” (20:21).

Second, there is a sense in which God’s holy law can be said to be not good, namely, disobedience to it brings evil results. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Is the law sin? Certainly not! ... But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead” (Rom. 7:7–8). That is, the purpose of the law is good (namely, to reveal God’s righteousness), but the result to the law is evil (since it is the occasion of man’s sinfulness).

See All Problems

This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.