God creates his intelligent beings able to disobey Him so that their service and love will be their free choice. Evil arose from this freedom; right in the middle in heaven.
Origin – Sin did not originate on earth, but in heaven. Satan and evil existed before humans were created. When Satan deceived our first parents, evil spilled over to earth.
Lucifer – The name “Lucifer” means “Light-Bringer”. It is the glorious title Satan had before his fall. He was “the anointed cherub who covers“. This means that he was one of the highest angels in heaven; one of a special class of angels that serve in God’s immediate presence. He was perfect in beauty, full of wisdom, blameless in his ways, loved by all and he loved all God’s beings. He understood everything that created beings are able to understand. He was perhaps the most glorious being ever created.
Freedom created – God creates his intelligent beings with the ability to disobey Him so that their service and love will be their free choice. Without that ability we would have been nothing other than a computer, programmed to say, “I love you, I love you”. He wants us to love Him because it is our free choice.
Center of the Universe – Evil arose in heaven’s command center, not in some far away galaxy. Sin originated in Lucifer, who served in God’s immediate presence.
Pride – Evil first arose as Pride. Lucifer became proud because of his beauty and desired to be worshiped like God. Pride was therefore the first sin, and it is still the most dangerous of all sins, because it hides behind a mask of self-righteousness.
Freedom allowed – Although Satan was created able to disobey God, God still was able to force Lucifer to obey Him, but He did not; God allowed Satan the freedom to oppose Him. God also allowed Adam to disobey Him and He allowed Satan to tempt the newly created humans. God’s government is based on freedom, for there can be no true obedience from the heart unless there is freedom to disobey.
Evil arose from freedom – Lucifer became proud because of his beauty, but beauty was not the cause of evil. The risk of freedom is that evil would one day develop. But to live with that risk is much, much better than being a robot. There is nothing wrong with how God created His intelligent beings.
Satan’s tactics – To deceive Eve into sin, Satan lured her into conversation by pretending to seek information, twisted God’s words, inspired distrust in God by calling God a selfish liar and got her to be unhappy with what she is and had received. Satan did the same with the angels; he inspires distrust in God. He teaches that God does not have our best interest at heart. Satan also made the angels to be unhappy with what they are and have received.
Satan knew God would forgive Adam and Eve – Satan sinned with full understanding of God and of His governing principles. Satan knew God so well that he knew God would let Adam and Eve live, even though God told Adam “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die”.
Satan also knew he did not have to fear punishment – To be created able to disobey God, but under the threat that God will destroy sinners, is no real freedom. His intelligent beings have this freedom even without fear that God will punish them. Sinners will “depart … into the eternal fire” (Mat. 25:41), but not as punishment.
Final destruction – Satan will one day “cease to be forever”. God’s heart is broken by Lucifer’s rebellion, and it will break Him heart to destroy the most beautiful and most wise creature ever created.
This is the first of the following series of articles:
- Origin of evil
- How could Satan think he could succeed against the Almighty?
- Why did God not destroy evil immediately?
- War in Heaven – Revelation 12 describes a war in heaven between two groups of angels. Why did they fight? What weapons did they use? When and how was the victory won? Why is the war continued on earth?
- Why was evil not destroyed after the Cross?
- Why does God not create a separate galaxy for Satan and his followers?
The Fall of Man
The LORD God said to Adam,
“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
There-after God formed Eve (2:18-23). Satan, in the form of a serpent, approached Eve when she was alone (3:1; Revelation 12:9), and asked her,
“has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’” (3:1)
God commanded Adam not to eat from one specific tree, but Satan, trying to lure Eve into a conversation by pretending to seek information, twisted God’s words by referring to “any tree”.
Eve answered that they are allowed to eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden,
“but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die” (3:2-3).
Satan then called God a selfish liar:
“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (1:4-5).
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:1-6 NKJV)
We learn a number of lessons from this:
To get Eve to sin, Satan got Eve to distrust God.
Satan accused God of telling lies and of being selfish. She was led to believe that God was holding back what should have been hers.
Satan also got Eve to be unhappy with what she is and had.
Lucifer, the “star of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12) said in his heart “I will make myself like the Most High” (14:14). Now we see that he tempts Eve with the very same thirst for power. He told her that she lacks discernment (“your eyes will be opened”) and she desired wisdom (“to make one wise”).
God does not use force, but allows Satan to tempt His creatures.
He allowed two tree in the garden, He gave Adam the option of disobeying Him and He allowed Satan access to the newly created humans. These things show that His government is based on freedom to choose for or against Him. There can be no true obedience from the heart unless there is freedom to disobey.
Satan and evil (sin) existed before humans were created.
Satan, in the form of a serpent, deceived our first parents. Sin did not originate on earth; the rebellion against God started elsewhere: in what we may call heaven. As Jesus said, “Satan is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). When Satan deceived our first parents this war in heaven spilled over to earth, and continues today.
While much is unknown about how sin originally developed, there are two portions of Scripture that briefly comment on it, namely Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:
The Hebrew word translated as “morning star” (NASB) in Isaiah 14:12 was translated into Latin as Lucifer. People then started to use this as one of Satan’s names. The KJV still translates that word as “Lucifer” in this verse, but it literally means “Light-Bringer”. It is actually the glorious title Satan had before his fall.
According to Isaiah 14:12-13 Lucifer said in his heart:
I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
Because this was the intentions of his heart, Lucifer has “fallen from heaven“ and is ”cut down to the earth” (14:12). He “will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit” (14:15). Sheol is the “underworld – the place to which people descend at death (Strong’s Concordance). It is a synonym for “grave”. The KJV translates sheol as “hell” in this verse, but as “grave” in many other verses (for instance Gen. 37:35; 42:38; 44:29). The implication is that Lucifer will die. Ezekiel 28:19 says “you will cease to be forever”. Please consider the enormity of the tragedy; perhaps the most beautiful and most wise creature ever created, and many beautiful angels “will cease to be forever”. Think how difficult this will be for God, and for all the millions of angels that admired and loved him.
Ezekiel 28 starts out as a warning to the king of Tyre (v2), but then switches to describe “the anointed cherub who covers” (v14, 16), who was “in Eden, the garden of God”, perfect in beauty (14:12), blameless in his ways (v15), until unrighteousness was found in him (v15). This goes beyond the description of an earthly king.
To understand what an “anointed cherub who covers” is, consider the Ark of the Covenant in the original Jewish temple. The “mercy seat” (lid) of the Ark had “two cherubim of gold”, “covering the mercy seat with their wings” (Exodus 37:1-9; 25:17-21). The LORD said to Moses:
“There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.” (Exodus 25:22)
The “mercy seat” is therefore a symbol of God’s throne and the cherubim are a special class of angels that serve in God’s immediate presence; around His throne.
Ezekiel actually saw these cherubim.
“Each one had four faces and each one four wings” (Ezekiel 10:21). There was “one wheel beside each cherub … as if one wheel were within another wheel” (v9-10). “Their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around” (v12). That they are covered with eyes all around means that they see and understand everything; they are “full of wisdom“ (14:12). This description of the cherubim may sound a bit scary, but they are beautiful. They are loved and admired by all.
Satan was one of these cherubim.
As “the anointed cherub who covers“, Satan was one of the highest angels in heaven, the guardian or protector of God’s throne, serving in God’s immediate presence. He understood everything that a created being is able to understand. He had the seal of perfection. Every precious stone was his covering; rubies, topaz, diamonds, beryl, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise, emeralds and gold (v13). It may even be that Lucifer was the highest and most beautiful of these cherubim, for his name was “Light-Bringer” and heart was lifted up because of his beauty (Ezekiel 28:17).
Originally, he had no sin, but “unrighteousness” was found in Satan (v15).
His heart was lifted up and his wisdom was corrupted because of his beauty and splendor (v17). The words, “till iniquity was found in you” (v15) suggests that evil began with Satan. God did not create evil, it originated with Satan.
God created Satan able to sin; to disobey His laws.
God gave Satan the ability to decide for or against God’s laws. Without that ability Lucifer would have been nothing other than a computer, programmed to say, “I love you, I love you”. No, God created His intelligent beings with the option to sin, so that their service and love will be their free choice. Perhaps God knew all along that many of His intelligent creatures would one day decide against Him, and that He will one day have to restore happiness in the universe at a massive cost to Himself, but God wanted it no other way; He wants us to love Him because it is our free choice.
God did not prevent Satan’s sin.
Although God created Satan able to sin, He was able to override that ability, but He did not; God allowed Satan the freedom to oppose Him.
Satan knew God so well that he knew God would let Adam and Eve live.
What makes it so very scary is that evil developed in God’s immediate presence; in the command center of the universe, not in some far away galaxy. Lucifer’s position in heaven as covering cherub allowed him to be “on the holy mountain of God”, amidst “the stones of fire” (v14), where God’s visible presence is. This means that Satan sinned with full understanding of God and of His governing principles.
This helps us to understand what happened in Eden. God said to Adam “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). But Satan said to Eve, “You surely will not die” (1:4-5). It seems as if Satan actually told the truth; Adam and Eve did not die in the day they ate from it. People offer different theories to argue that Adam and Eve actually did die on that day, for instance that they became mortal on that day, or that they died spiritually. These are possible explanations, but the explanation preferred here is that God, in His mercy, allowed Adam and Eve to live. Satan knew God so well that he knew that God would forgive Adam and Eve.
Satan knew he could sin without fear of punishment.
If angels work like human beings, Lucifer did not suddenly wake up one morning a sinner; it developed slowly over a long period of time. God knows everything. He knew what was developing in the heart of His much-loved servant next to His throne, and based on the way that God deals with humans, we must assume that God warned Lucifer many times. Lucifer knew God extremely well, and he knew that God knew, but he went ahead on his chosen path. Satan also knew God’s principles inside-out, and it is proposed here that he knew that he could sin without fear of penalty. To be created able to disobey God, and to be allowed to disobey God, but under the threat that God will destroy sinners, is no real freedom. Lucifer understood that the freedom which God’s intelligent creatures enjoy is full freedom, free from fear of punishment.
Is Lucifer protecting us from an evil God?
Did Lucifer desire to raise his “throne above the stars of God … make myself like the Most High” because God is a tyrant from whom Satan is trying to protect us by showing us a better way? Here the Bible does provide an answer. We read that Lucifer’s heart was lifted up and his wisdom was corrupted because of his beauty and splendor (v17). In 1 Timothy 3:6 Paul similarly warns against becoming “conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil”. Conceited means to be self-important or proud. Pride was therefore the first sin, and is still the most dangerous of all sins, because it hides behind a mask of self-righteousness.
Did his beauty cause Lucifer to sin?
Satan started out as Lucifer; which means light-bearer. He was perfect, loved by all and he loved all God’s beings. He was perhaps the most glorious being ever created. But he became proud because of his beauty, and there developed in his heart the desire to be worshiped like God (Isaiah 14:14). Beauty is good, and I don’t think that something good caused evil. The risk of freedom (the ability to choose against God) is that evil would one day develop. But to live with that risk is much, much better than being a robot. There is nothing wrong with the way that God created His intelligent beings. It is Satan that is the real tyrant. He is the selfish one. He only wants the power and glory of the universe for himself.
What did Satan do to the angels to have them rebel against God?
To deceive Eve, Satan said to her two things; firstly God told a lie and secondly that God selfishly withhold things from the humans. It stands to reason, that Satan used the same strategy to lead the angels astray:
He firstly inspired them to distrust God. Satan targets God directly for his attacks. We also see this in the strategies of his earthly agents. The little horn of Daniel has “a mouth speaking pompous words” (Daniel 7:8). “He will speak out against the Most High” (Daniel 7:25). The Sea Beast ”was given a mouth speaking … blasphemies” (Rev. 13:5). “He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven” (Rev. 13:6).
He secondly instilled in them a desire for more power. Satan also said to Eve that “that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:6). Satan must have used the same strategy in heaven against the angels, telling them that God was holding back on them, and that they should have more power. Satan made the angels unsatisfied with what they were and had received.