Recently I had the privilege of listening to Dr. William Lane Craig respond to a so-called dilemmatic question along these lines: Does God will something because it is good or is it good because God wills it?
According to Dr. Craig, this type of question arises from a lack of proper understanding of who God is. God wills something because of His own inherent goodness. He is goodness itself. The good is God Himself. He is the locus of goodness; the paradigm of goodness. As such, He wills something because He is good. The good is not independent of God.
Dr. Craig asserts further that the existence of God affirms the existence of moral duties. A distinction exists between right and wrong, and good and evil. This distinction is based on the fact that unlike good and evil, right and wrong are associated with duty; a moral oughtness, which tells us what should be the case, not necessarily what is the case. It is about moral obligation. In terms of good and evil, no one has an obligation to do something just because it would be good for them. For example, an individual might pursue a career in neuroscience because it might be good for them, but there is nothing that binds them morally to become a neuroscientist. They are not morally obligated to become a neuroscientist. But, like every other human being, they are morally bound or obligated to treat all human life as sacred. That is a moral obligation.
Moral duties have their source in God; in His Ten Commandments. Jesus condensed the Ten Commandments into two: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 37-39). These commandments form the foundation for objective rightness made manifest in love, hospitality, compassion, equality, generosity, etc… From these commandments we also learn that bigotry, hatred, oppression, theft, violence, selfishness etc..are all vile.
Although it may currently seem as if wickedness has an upper hand, ultimately good will triumph over evil. This why our moral choices are significant. They have eternal consequences. God holds each person accountable for their choices and actions. Without an eschatological belief of universal justice, life as we know it on earth would be meaningless.