By Gordon Anderson
MEMORY VERSE: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44.
STUDY HELP: Patriarchs and Prophets, 33–43.
INTRODUCTION: “The question is asked, How is the existence of sin reconcilable with the government of a wise, merciful, and omnipotent God? Why was sin permitted to enter heaven? Why was it permitted to take up its abode on the earth to cause discord and suffering? It certainly was not God’s purpose that man should be sinful. He made Adam pure and noble, with no tendency to evil. He placed him in Eden, where he had every inducement to remain loyal and obedient. The law was placed around him as a safeguard. Evil originated with the rebellion of Lucifer. It was brought into heaven when he refused allegiance to God’s law. Satan was the first lawbreaker.” Review and Herald, June 4, 1901.
“THE ANOINTED CHERUB THAT COVERETH”
By what name was Satan known when he was in heaven? Isaiah 14:12.
NOTE: “Lucifer, ‘son of the morning,’ was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled. He stood in the presence of the great Creator, and the ceaseless beams of glory enshrouding the eternal God rested upon him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.
[It is clear from this verse that the reference is not to an earthly king of Babylon.]
What position did Lucifer hold in heaven? Ezekiel 28:14.
NOTE: “Lucifer was the covering cherub, the most exalted of the heavenly created beings; he stood nearest the throne of God, and was most closely connected and identified with the administration of God’s government, most richly endowed with the glory of His majesty and power.” Signs of the Times, April 28, 1890.
[Verse 14 shows clearly that the primary reference is not to an earthly king of Tyre.]
When he was created, what was Lucifer like? Ezekiel 28:15.
NOTE: “The angels had been created full of goodness and love. They loved one another impartially and their God supremely, and they were prompted by this love to do His pleasure. The law of God was not a grievous yoke to them, but it was their delight to do His commandments, to hearken unto the voice of His word. But in this state of peace and purity, sin originated with him who had been perfect in all his ways.” Signs of the Times, April 28, 1890.
“TILL INIQUITY WAS FOUND IN THEE”
What went wrong with Lucifer’s thinking and led him into sin? Ezekiel 28:17, first part.
NOTE: “The change from perfection of character to sin and defection did come even in heaven. Lucifer’s heart was lifted up because of his beauty, his wisdom was corrupted by reason of his brightness. Self-exaltation is the key to his rebellion, and it unlocks the modern theme of sanctification. Satan declared that he had no need of the restraints of law, that he was holy, sinless, and incapable of doing evil; and those who boast of holiness and a state of sinlessness, while transgressing the law of God, while willfully trampling under-foot the Sabbath of the Lord, are allied on the side of the first great rebel. If the sanctified, holy angels became unsanctified and unholy by disobedience to God’s law, and their place was no longer found in heaven, think you that men, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, will be received into glory who break the precepts of that law which Christ came to magnify and make honourable by His death upon the cross? Adam and Eve were in possession of Eden, and they fell from their high and holy estate by transgression of God’s law, and forfeited their right to the tree of life and to the joys of Eden.” Signs of the Times, April 28, 1890.
Because of his pride, whose position did Lucifer wish to seize? Isaiah 14:13, 14.
NOTE: Notice the self-centerdness of these verses, the number of times Lucifer spoke of “I” and “my.” “Pride in his own glory nourished the desire for supremacy. The high honors conferred upon Lucifer were not appreciated as the gift of God and called forth no gratitude to the Creator. He gloried in his brightness and exaltation, and aspired to be equal with God. He was beloved and reverenced by the heavenly host. Angels delighted to execute his commands, and he was clothed with wisdom and glory above them all. Yet the Son of God was the acknowledged Sovereign of heaven, one in power and authority with the Father. In all the councils of God, Christ was a participant, while Lucifer was not permitted thus to enter into the divine purposes. ‘Why,’ questioned this mighty angel, ‘should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He thus honoured above Lucifer?’” Great Controversy, 495.
“None are too high to fall. Sin originated with Satan, who was next to Christ. Lucifer became the destroyer of those whom heaven had committed to his guardianship. Satan has a church in our world today. In his church are all the disaffected ones and the disloyal. All who harbor pride, ambition, vain-glory, or selfishness, will be found wanting when weighed in the balance of the Lord.” Australasian Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906.
What was the outcome of Lucifer’s ambition? Revelation 12:7.
NOTE: “Until this time all heaven had been in order, harmony, and perfect subjection to the government of God. It was the highest sin to rebel against His order and will. All heaven seemed in commotion. The angels were marshaled in companies, each division with a higher commanding angel at its head. Satan, ambitious to exalt himself, and unwilling to submit to the authority of Jesus, was insinuating against the government of God. Some of the angels sympathized with Satan in his rebellion, and others strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God in giving authority to His Son. There was contention among the angels. Satan and his sympathizers were striving to reform the government of God. They wished to look into His unsearchable wisdom, and ascertain His purpose in exalting Jesus and endowing Him with such unlimited power and command. They rebelled against the authority of the Son. All the heavenly host were summoned to appear before the Father to have each case decided. It was there determined that Satan should be expelled from heaven, with all the angels who had joined him in the rebellion. Then there was war in heaven. Angels were engaged in the battle; Satan wished to conquer the Son of God and those who were submissive to His will.” Early Writings, 145.
What was the outcome of the war in heaven? Revelation 12: 8, 9.
NOTE: “Even when it was decided that he could no longer remain in heaven, Infinite Wisdom did not destroy Satan. Since the service of love can alone be acceptable to God, the allegiance of His creatures must rest upon a conviction of His justice and benevolence. The inhabitants of heaven and of other worlds, being unprepared to comprehend the nature or consequences of sin, could not then have seen the justice and mercy of God in the destruction of Satan. Had he been immediately blotted from existence, they would have served God from fear rather than from love. The influence of the deceiver would not have been fully destroyed, nor would the spirit of rebellion have been utterly eradicated. Evil must be permitted to come to maturity. For the good of the entire universe through ceaseless ages, Satan must more fully develop his principles, that his charges against the divine government might be seen in their true light by all created beings, that the justice and mercy of God and the immutability of His law might forever be placed beyond all question.” Great Controversy, 498, 499.
“Satan is a deceiver. When he sinned in heaven, even the loyal angels did not fully discern his character. This was why God did not at once destroy Satan. Had He done so, the holy angels would not have perceived the justice and love of God. A doubt of God’s goodness would have been as evil seed that would yield the bitter fruit of sin and woe. Therefore the author of evil was spared, fully to develop his character. Through long ages God has borne the anguish of beholding the work of evil, He has given the infinite Gift of Calvary, rather than leave any to be deceived by the misrepresentations of the wicked one; for the tares could not be plucked up without danger of uprooting the precious grain. And shall we not be as forbearing toward our fellow men as the Lord of heaven and earth is toward Satan?” Christ’s Object Lessons, 72.
“THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW”
How does God’s Word define sin? 1 John 3:4.
NOTE: At a time when theologians are proposing multiple definitions of sin, like “inherited guilt,” “a broken relationship,” “missing the mark,” “our natural spiritual condition, the condition of sinfulness,” “being by nature spiritually bent,” etc., it is important to know what God Himself defines as sin.
“Our only definition of sin is that given in the Word of God; it is ‘the transgression of the Law.’” Great Controversy, 493.
“The only definition given in God’s Word is: ‘Sin is the transgression of the Law,’ and the apostle Paul declares, ‘Where no law is, there is no transgression.’” Bible Echo, June 11, 1894.
Why do we choose to sin when tempted by the devil? James 1:14, 15.
NOTE: “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed. He is turned away from the course of virtue and real good by following his own inclinations. If [you] possessed moral integrity, the strongest temptations might be presented in vain. It is Satan’s act to tempt you, but your own act to yield. It is not in the power of all the host of Satan to force the tempted to transgress. There is no excuse for sin.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 623.
What will cause our attempts to obey God’s Law to fail? Romans 14:23.
NOTE: ” ‘Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ In order to be prepared for the judgement, it is necessary that men should keep the law of God. That law will be the standard of character in the judgement. The apostle Paul declares: ‘As many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law, . . . in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.’ And he says that ‘the doers of the law shall be justified.’ Romans 2:12–16. Faith is essential in order to the keeping of the law of God; for ‘without faith it is impossible to please Him.’ And ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23.” Great Controversy, 436.
“THAT HE MIGHT DESTROY THE DEVIL”
What was Christ’s purpose in coming to earth and taking our nature? Hebrews 2:14.
NOTE: “We need not place the obedience of Christ by itself as something for which He was particularly adapted, because of His divine nature; for He stood before God as man’s representative, and was tempted as man’s substitute and surety. If Christ had a special power which it is not the privilege of a man to have, Satan would have made capital of this matter. But the work of Christ was to take from Satan his control of man, and He could do this only in a straightforward way. He came as a man, to be tempted as a man, rendering the obedience of a man. Christ rendered obedience to God, and overcame as humanity must overcome. We are led to make wrong conclusions because of erroneous views of the nature of our Lord. To attribute to His nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in His conflicts with Satan, is to destroy the completeness of his humanity. The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan’s temptations except as divine power works through humanity. The Lord Jesus came to our world, not to reveal what God in His own divine person could do, but what He could do through humanity. Through faith man is to be a partaker of the divine nature, and to overcome every temptation wherewith he is beset.” Signs of the Times, April 10, 1893.
When will the sins of the righteous be finally blotted out of the books of record? Revelation 22:11, 12. Compare Acts 3:19.
NOTE: “When the Third Angel’s Message closes, mercy no longer pleads for the guilty inhabitants of the earth. The people of God have accomplished their work. They have received ‘the latter rain,’ ‘the refreshing from the presence of the Lord,’ and they are prepared for the trying hour before them. Angels are hastening to and fro in heaven. An angel returning from the earth announces that his work is done; the final test has been brought upon the world, and all who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received ‘the seal of the living God.’ Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. He lifts His hands and with a loud voice says, ‘It is done;’ and all the angelic host lay off their crowns as He makes the solemn announcement: ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ Revelation 22:11. Every case has been decided for life or death. Christ has made the atonement for His people and blotted out their sins.” Great Controversy, 613, 614.
How complete will the destruction of Satan and sin? Malachi 4:1, Psalm 37:9, 10, Ezekiel 28:19.
NOTE: “Then the end will come. God will vindicate His law and deliver His people. Satan and all who have joined him in rebellion will be cut off. Sin and sinners will perish, root and branch (Malachi 4: 1), Satan the root, and his followers the branches. The word will be fulfilled to the prince of evil, ‘Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; . . . I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire . . . Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.’ Then ‘the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be;’ ‘they shall be as though they had not been.’ Ezekiel 28:6–19; Psalm 37:10; Obadiah 16.” Desire of Ages, 763.