THE ORIGIN OF EVIL
To many minds, the origin of sin and the
reason for its existence are a source of great perplexity. They
see the work of evil, with its terrible results of woe and desolation,
and they question how all this can exist under the sovereignty
of One who is infinite in wisdom, in power, and in love. Here
is a mystery, of which they find no explanation. And in their
uncertainty and doubt, they are blinded to truths plainly revealed
in Gods Word, and essential to salvation. There are those
who, in their inquiries concerning the existence of sin, endeavor
to search into that which God has never revealed; hence they
find no solution of their difficulties; and such as are actuated
by a disposition to doubt and cavil, seize upon this as an excuse
for rejecting the words of Holy Writ. Others, however, fail of
a satisfactory understanding of the great problem of evil, from
the fact that tradition and misinterpretation have obscured the
teaching of the Bible concerning the character of God, the nature
of his government, and the principles of his dealing with sin.
Before the entrance of evil, there was peace
and joy throughout the universe. All was in perfect harmony with
the Creators will. Love for God was supreme, love for one
another impartial. Christ the Word, the only begotten of God,
was one with the eternal Father,--one in nature, in character,
and in purpose,--the only being in all the universe that could
enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. By Christ, the
Father wrought in the creation of all heavenly beings. By
him were all things created, that are in Heaven, . . . whether
they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers;
Colossians 1:16. and to Christ, equally with the Father, all
Heaven gave allegiance.
The law of love being the foundation of the
government of God, the happiness of all created beings depended
upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness.
God desires from all his creatures the service of love,-- homage
that springs from an intelligent appreciation of his character.
He takes no pleasure in a forced allegiance, and to all he grants
freedom of will, that they may render him voluntary service.
But there was one that chose to pervert this
freedom. Sin originated with him, who, next to Christ, had been
most honored of God, and who stood highest in power and glory
among the inhabitants of Heaven. Before his fall, Lucifer was
first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled. Thus
saith the Lord God: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom,
and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God;
every precious stone was thy covering. Thou art the
anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so; thou wast
upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in
the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways
from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found
in thee. Ezekiel 28:12-15, 17.
Lucifer might have remained in favor with
God, beloved and honored by all the angelic host, exercising
his noble powers to bless others and to glorify his Maker. But,
says the prophet, Thine heart was lifted up because of
thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.
Ezekiel 28:12-15, 17. Little by little, Lucifer came to indulge
a desire for self-exaltation. Thou hast set thine heart
as the heart of God. Thou hast said: . . . I will
exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon
the mount of the congregation. I will ascend above
the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.Ezekiel
28:6; Isaiah 14:13, 14. Instead of seeking to make God supreme
in the affections and allegiance of his creatures, it was Lucifers
endeavor to win their service and homage to himself. And, coveting
the honor which the infinite Father had bestowed upon his Son,
this prince of angels aspired to power which it was the prerogative
of Christ alone to wield.
All Heaven had rejoiced to reflect the Creators
glory and to show forth his praise. And while God was thus honored,
all had been peace and gladness. But a note of discord now marred
the celestial harmonies. The service and exaltation of self,
contrary to the Creators plan, awakened forebodings of
evil in minds to whom Gods glory was supreme. The heavenly
councils pleaded with Lucifer. The Son of God presented before
him the greatness, the goodness, and the justice of the Creator,
and the sacred, unchanging nature of his law. God himself had
established the order of Heaven; and in departing from it, Lucifer
would dishonor his Maker, and bring ruin upon himself. But the
warning, given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused a spirit
of resistance. Lucifer allowed jealousy of Christ to prevail,
and he became the more determined.
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 counsels 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 honored above Lucifer?
Leaving his place in the immediate presence
of God, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent
among the angels. Working with mysterious secrecy, and for a
time concealing his real purpose under an appearance of reverence
for God, he endeavored to excite dissatisfaction concerning the
laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that they imposed
an unnecessary restraint. Since their natures were holy, he urged
that the angels should obey the dictates of their own will. He
sought to create sympathy for himself, by representing that God
had dealt unjustly with him in bestowing supreme honor upon Christ.
He claimed that in aspiring to greater power and honor he was
not aiming at self-exaltation, but was seeking to secure liberty
for all the inhabitants of Heaven, that by this means they might
attain to a higher state of existence.
God, in his great mercy, bore long with Lucifer.
He was not immediately degraded from his exalted station when
he first indulged the spirit of discontent, nor even when he
began to present his false claims before the loyal angels. Long
was he retained in Heaven. Again and again he was offered pardon,
on condition of repentance and submission. Such efforts as only
infinite love and wisdom could devise, were made to convince
him of his error. The spirit of discontent had never before been
known in Heaven. Lucifer himself did not at first see whither
he was drifting; he did not understand the real nature of his
feelings. But as his dissatisfaction was proved to be without
cause, Lucifer was convinced that he was in the wrong, that the
divine claims were just, and that he ought to acknowledge them
as such before all Heaven. Had he done this, he might have saved
himself and many angels. He had not at this time fully cast off
his allegiance to God. Though he had forsaken his position as
covering cherub, yet if he had been willing to return to God,
acknowledging the Creators wisdom, and satisfied to fill
the place appointed him in Gods great plan, he would have
been re-instated in his office. But pride forbade him to submit.
He persistently defended his own course, maintained that he had
no need of repentance, and fully committed himself, in the great
controversy, against his Maker.
All the powers of his master-mind were now
bent to the work of deception, to secure the sympathy of the
angels that had been under his command. Even the fact that Christ
had warned and counseled him, was perverted to serve his traitorous
designs. To those whose loving trust bound them most closely
to him, Satan had represented that he was wrongly judged, that
his position was not respected, and that his liberty was to be
abridged. From misrepresentation of the words of Christ, he passed
to prevarication and direct falsehood, accusing the Son of God
of a design to humiliate him before the inhabitants of Heaven.
He sought also to make a false issue between himself and the
loyal angels. All whom he could not subvert and bring fully to
his side, he accused of indifference to the interests of heavenly
beings. The very work which he himself was doing, he charged
upon those who remained true to God. And to sustain his charge
of Gods injustice toward him, he resorted to misrepresentation
of the words and acts of the Creator. It was his policy to perplex
the angels with subtle arguments concerning the purposes of God.
Everything that was simple he shrouded in mystery, and by artful
perversion cast doubt upon the plainest statements of Jehovah.
His high position, in such close connection with the divine administration,
gave greater force to his representations, and many were induced
to unite with him in rebellion against Heavens authority.
God in his wisdom permitted Satan to carry
forward his work, until the spirit of disaffection ripened into
active revolt. It was necessary for his plans to be fully developed,
that their true nature and tendency might be seen by all. Lucifer,
as the anointed cherub, had been highly exalted; he was greatly
loved by the heavenly beings, and his influence over them was
strong. Gods government included not only the inhabitants
of Heaven, but of all the worlds that he had created; and Satan
thought that if he could carry the angels of Heaven with him
in rebellion, he could carry also the other worlds. He had artfully
presented his side of the question, employing sophistry and fraud
to secure his objects. His power to deceive was very great, and
by disguising himself in a cloak of falsehood he had gained an
advantage. Even the loyal angels could not fully discern his
character, or see to what his work was leading.
Satan had been so highly honored, and all
his acts were so clothed with mystery, that it was difficult
to disclose to the angels the true nature of his work. Until
fully developed, sin would not appear the evil thing it was.
Heretofore it had had no place in the universe of God, and holy
beings had no conception of its nature and malignity. They could
not discern the terrible consequences that would result from
setting aside the divine law. Satan had, at first, concealed
his work under a specious profession of loyalty to God. He claimed
to be seeking to promote the honor of God, the stability of his
government, and the good of all the inhabitants of Heaven. While
instilling discontent into the minds of the angels under him,
he had artfully made it appear that he was seeking to remove
dissatisfaction. When he urged that changes be made in the order
and laws of Gods government, it was under the pretense
that these were necessary in order to preserve harmony in Heaven.
In his dealing with sin, God could employ
only righteousness and truth. Satan could use what God could
not--flattery and deceit. He had sought to falsify the word of
God, and had misrepresented his plan of government before the
angels, claiming that God was not just in laying laws and rules
upon the inhabitants of Heaven; that in requiring submission
and obedience from his creatures, he was seeking merely the exaltation
of himself. Therefore it must be demonstrated before the inhabitants
of Heaven as well as of all the worlds, that Gods government
was just, his law perfect. Satan had made it appear that he himself
was seeking to promote the good of the universe. The true character
of the usurper, and his real object, must be understood by all.
He must have time to manifest himself by his wicked works.
The discord which his own course had caused
in Heaven, Satan charged upon the law and government of God.
All evil he declared to be the result of the divine administration.
He claimed that it was his own object to improve upon the statutes
of Jehovah. Therefore it was necessary that he should demonstrate
the nature of his claims, and show the working out of his proposed
changes in the divine law. His own work must condemn him. Satan
had claimed from the first that he was not in rebellion. The
whole universe must see the deceiver unmasked.
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.
Satans rebellion was to be a lesson
to the universe through all coming ages, a perpetual testimony
to the nature and terrible results of sin. The working out of
Satans rule, its effects upon both men and angels, would
show what must be the fruit of setting aside the divine authority.
It would testify that with the existence of Gods government
and his law is bound up the well-being of all the creatures he
has made. Thus the history of this terrible experiment of rebellion
was to be a perpetual safeguard to all holy intelligences, to
prevent them from being deceived as to the nature of transgression,
to save them from committing sin, and suffering its punishment.
To the very close of the controversy in Heaven,
the great usurper continued to justify himself. When it was announced
that with all his sympathizers he must be expelled from the abodes
of bliss, then the rebel leader boldly avowed his contempt for
the Creators law. He reiterated his claim that angels needed
no control, but should be left to follow their own will, which
would ever guide them right. He denounced the divine statutes
as a restriction of their liberty, and declared that it was his
purpose to secure the abolition of law; that, freed from this
restraint, the hosts of Heaven might enter upon a more exalted,
more glorious state of existence
With one accord, Satan and his host threw
the blame of their rebellion wholly upon Christ, declaring that
if they had not been reproved, they would never have rebelled.
Thus stubborn and defiant in their disloyalty, seeking vainly
to overthrow the government of God, yet blasphemously claiming
to be themselves the innocent victims of oppressive power, the
arch-rebel and all his sympathizers were at last banished from
The same spirit that prompted rebellion in
Heaven, still inspires rebellion on earth. Satan has continued
with men the same policy which he pursued with the angels. His
spirit now reigns in the children of disobedience. Like him they
seek to break down the restraints of the law of God, and promise
men liberty through transgression of its precepts. Reproof of
sin still arouses the spirit of hatred and resistance. When Gods
messages of warning are brought home to the conscience, Satan
leads men to justify themselves, and to seek the sympathy of
others in their course of sin. Instead of correcting their errors,
they excite indignation against the reprover, as if he were the
sole cause of difficulty. From the days of righteous Abel to
our own time, such is the spirit which has been displayed toward
those who dare to condemn sin.
By the same misrepresentation of the character
of God as he had practiced in Heaven, causing him to be regarded
as severe and tyrannical, Satan induced man to sin. And having
succeeded thus far, he declared that Gods unjust restrictions
had led to mans fall, as they had led to his own rebellion.
But the Eternal One himself proclaims his
character: The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering,
and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by
no means clear the guilty. Exodus 34:6, 7.
In the banishment of Satan from Heaven, God
declared his justice, and maintained the honor of his throne.
But when man had sinned through yielding to the deceptions of
this apostate spirit, God gave an evidence of his love by yielding
up his only begotten Son to die for the fallen race. In the atonement
the character of God is revealed. The mighty argument of the
cross demonstrates to the whole universe that the course of sin
which Lucifer had chosen was in nowise chargeable upon the government
In the contest between Christ and Satan,
during the Saviours earthly ministry, the character of
the great deceiver was unmasked. Nothing could so effectually
have uprooted Satan from the affections of the heavenly angels
and the whole loyal universe as did his cruel warfare upon the
worlds Redeemer. The daring blasphemy of his demand that
Christ should pay him homage, his presumptuous boldness in bearing
him to the mountain summit and the pinnacle of the temple, the
malicious intent betrayed in urging him to cast himself down
from the dizzy height, the unsleeping malice that hunted him
from place to place, inspiring the hearts of priests and people
to reject his love, and at the last to cry, Crucify him!
crucify him!--all this excited the amazement and indignation
of the universe.
It was Satan that prompted the worlds
rejection of Christ. The prince of evil exerted all his power
and cunning to destroy Jesus; for he saw that the Saviours
mercy and love, his compassion and pitying tenderness, were representing
to the world the character of God. Satan contested every claim
put forth by the Son of God, and employed men as his agents to
fill the Saviours life with suffering and sorrow. The sophistry
and falsehood by which he had sought to hinder the work of Jesus,
the hatred manifested through the children of disobedience, his
cruel accusations against Him whose life was one of unexampled
goodness, all sprung from deep-seated revenge. The pent-up fires
of envy and malice, hatred and revenge, burst forth on Calvary
against the Son of God, while all Heaven gazed upon the scene
in silent horror.
When the great sacrifice had been consummated,
Christ ascended on high, refusing the adoration of angels until
he had presented the request, I will that they also, whom
thou hast given me, be with me where I am. John 17:24.
Then with inexpressible love and power came forth the answer
from the Fathers throne, Let all the angels of God
worship him.Hebrews 1:6. Not a stain rested upon Jesus.
His humiliation ended, his sacrifice completed, there was given
unto him a name that is above every name.
Now the guilt of Satan stood forth without
excuse. He had revealed his true character as a liar and a murderer.
It was seen that the very same spirit with which he ruled the
children of men, who were under his power, he would have manifested
had he been permitted to control the inhabitants of Heaven. He
had claimed that the transgression of Gods law would bring
liberty and exaltation; but it was seen to result in bondage
Satans lying charges against the divine
character and government appeared in their true light. He had
accused God of seeking merely the exaltation of himself in requiring
submission and obedience from his creatures, and had declared
that while the Creator exacted self-denial from all others, he
himself practiced no self-denial, made no sacrifice. Now it was
seen that for the salvation of a fallen and sinful race, the
Ruler of the universe had made the greatest sacrifice which love
could make; for God was in Christ, reconciling the world
unto himself. 2 Corinthians 5:19. It was seen, also, that
while Lucifer had opened the door for the entrance of sin, by
his desire for honor and supremacy, Christ had, in order to destroy
sin, humbled himself, and become obedient unto death.
God had manifested his abhorrence of the
principles of rebellion. All Heaven saw his justice revealed,
both in the condemnation of Satan and in the redemption of man.
Lucifer had declared that if the law of God was changeless, and
its penalty could not be remitted, every transgressor must be
forever debarred from the Creators favor. He had claimed
that the sinful race were placed beyond redemption, and were
therefore his rightful prey. But the death of Christ was an argument
in mans behalf that could not be overthrown. The penalty
of the law fell upon him who was equal with God, and man was
free to accept the righteousness of Christ, and by a life of
penitence and humiliation to triumph, as the Son of God had triumphed,
over the power of Satan. Thus God is just, and yet the justifier
of all who believe in Jesus.
But it was not merely to accomplish the redemption
of man that Christ came to the earth to suffer and to die. He
came to magnify the law and to make it honorable.
Not alone that the inhabitants of this world might regard the
law as it should be regarded; but it was to demonstrate to all
the worlds of the universe that Gods law is unchangeable.
Could its claims have been set aside, then the Son of God need
not have yielded up his life to atone for its transgression.
The death of Christ proves it immutable. And the sacrifice to
which infinite love impelled the Father and the Son, that sinners
might be redeemed, demonstrates to all the universe--what nothing
less than this plan of atonement could have sufficed to do--that
justice and mercy are the foundation of the law and government
In the final execution of the Judgment it
will be seen that no cause for sin exists. When the Judge of
all the earth shall demand of Satan, Why hast thou rebelled
against me, and robbed me of the subjects of my kingdom?
the originator of evil can render no excuse. Every mouth will
be stopped, and all the hosts of rebellion will be speechless.
The cross of Calvary, while it declares the
law immutable, proclaims to the universe that the wages of sin
is death. In the Saviours expiring cry, It is finished,
the death-knell of Satan was rung. The great controversy which
had been so long in progress was then decided, and the final
eradication of evil was made certain. The Son of God passed through
the portals of the tomb, that through death he might destroy
him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. Hebrews
2:14. Lucifers desire for self-exaltation had led him to
say, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. . .
. I will be like the Most High. God declares, I will
bring thee to ashes upon the earth, . . . and never shalt thou
be any more. Isaiah 14:13, 14; Ezekiel 28:18, 19. When
the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, all
the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and
the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts,
that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. Malachi
The whole universe will have become witnesses
to the nature and results of sin. And its utter extermination,
which in the beginning would have brought fear to angels and
dishonor to God, will now vindicate his love and establish his
honor before a universe of beings who delight to do his will,
and in whose heart is his law. Never will evil again be manifest.
Says the Word of God, Affliction shall not rise up the
second time. Nahum 1:9. The law of God, which Satan has
reproached as the yoke of bondage, will be honored as the law
of liberty. A tested and proved creation will never again be
turned from allegiance to Him whose character has been fully
manifested before them as fathomless love and infinite wisdom.
From the book The Great Controversy
By Ellen G. White.
The amazing book we offer, Earths
Final Hours, contains much more information about the death
of the devil and related subjects as described in Bible prophecy.