Why is it necessary to show that God judges perfectly?

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

antichrist last seven yearsThe previous article concluded that the Purpose of the Plagues is not to punish, but to demonstrate that God’s judgments are perfect:

The people with the mark of the beast are the modern Pharisees.  In name, they are Christians, but the plagues will show that they are hardened beyond repentance.

The people with the seal of God will be a persecuted minority, but the plagues will also show that they would rather die than to be unfaithful to their Creator.

The current article provides context to these conclusions:

HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE FOR SIN TO ARISE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

How was it possible for sin to arise if God is almighty and good?

God is love and wants us to love Him in return, but that requires freedom.  For that reason, He creates intelligent beings with the freedom to love or to hate Him.  Sin comes from this freedom.  We can take great comfort in the fact that God did not exterminate the first sinner as soon as he had the first evil thoughts for it shows that our freedom is real. He protects our freedom, even if it costs Him the life of His only begotten Son.

WHY DID GOD ALLOW SIN TO DEVELOP FURTHER?

Why did He allow sin to develop to the level of cruelty and suffering we see around us today?

      • Firstly, by accusing God’s elect, Satan, by implication, accuses God of unfair judgment.
      • Secondly, Satan’s ways did not appear to be evil at first.

If God destroyed Satan before his accusations were refuted and the true nature of rebellion was revealed, the intelligent creatures would have concluded that Satan’s accusations are true.

As stated, the purpose of the plagues is not to punish, but to reveal the truth. More specifically, the purpose of the plagues is to demonstrate that it is not God who kills sinners, but that separation from Him NATURALLY causes degeneration and eventually destruction.  To disconnect yourself from the Almighty is to disconnect yourself from life itself, for God is the life of the universe and of every living being. The purpose of the plaques is to show what happens when the world is disconnected from its Creator. It will self-destruct.

WHY DO ANGELS DOUBT GOD’S JUDGMENTS?

As stated, even the heavenly beings that remain loyal to God were unable to prove conclusively that God’s judgments are always perfect. To understand this, we need to understand how sin developed.

Sin originated in Satan; before the world was created.  He was the most beautiful and most talented being ever created (cf. Ezekiel 18:13) but he wanted to be adored equal to God (Isa 14:13, 14).  Satan is the master accuser (Rev 12:10).  He covered his motives under a cloak of lies. Due to his brilliant attacks on the perfection of God’s judgments, he succeeded to lead a very large portion of the perfect angels away from God (Rev 12:7).  Not even the loyal angels are sure that God always judges perfectly. Therefore, even the loyal angels need answers.

GOD IS NOT THE JUDGE.

Obviously, God wants to make an end of sin as soon as possible.  Why does He allow sin to continue?

Freedom is freedom without fear of punishment.  If we fear that God will punish us if we sin, then we are not completely free.  God will eventually destroy evil and all beings that have become permanently committed to evil, but it will not be a punishment for past evil deeds. He will destroy evil to protect the future safety and happiness of the universe.

But the destruction of evil will only be to the benefit of the universe when God’s angels and people agree that the destruction of evildoers is the only option.  If unanswered questions remain, if a lingering doubt with respect to God’s goodness remains, that doubt can become the seed in the future eternities for another rebellion.  Only when all questions with respect to the nature and consequences of evil have been answered, to the satisfaction of God’s intelligent creatures, can God safely eliminate the destructive forces from the universe.  God, therefore, is not the judge.

 – END OF SUMMARY – 

THE PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES
IS TO DEMONSTRATE.

The previous article concluded that the Purpose of the Plagues is not to punish, but to demonstrate that God’s judgments are perfect:

The people with the mark of the beast are the modern Pharisees.  In name, they are Christians, but the plagues will show that they are hardened beyond repentance. Even under the most severe circumstances, they will not repent. Therefore the only solution is eternal death.

The people with the seal of God will be a persecuted minority, but the plagues will also show that they would rather die than to be unfaithful to God by submitting to the image of the beast, and, therefore, are worthy of eternal life. 

Combined, these demonstrations will show that God’s judgment, as to who will live and who will die, is perfect.

HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE FOR SIN TO ARISE?

Why did sin arise in the first place? How was it possible for sin to develop?

God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). He is light, and in Him, there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  His government is based on unconditional love.  He loves all His creatures.  He loved them so much that He was willing to give His only begotten Son to die for them (John 3:16). 

Love requires freedom – God also wants us to love Him in return (Matt 22:37-38), but that requires freedom.  The only obedience that He desires is obedience that results from love.  Obedience that is FORCED or based on FEAR, even in the slightest degree, is no obedience at all.  Real love is freely given. 

Humans have free choice – For that reason, God creates intelligent beings with the freedom to love or to hate Him.  He could have created robots, programmed to always say ‘I love you’, but He chose to create free intelligent creatures, with the ability to curse Him. 

Sin arose from this freedom.  Freedom creates the potential for evil; to hurt and even kill.

WHY DID GOD NOT ELIMINATE
THE FIRST SINNER?

The above explains why the first evil came to exist, but why did God not exterminate the first sinner (Satan) as soon as he had the first evil thoughts?  God could have erased any memory of Satan from our minds, for He is Almighty.

However, if He would do that, our freedom would not be real.  Since He did not do that, we know that God regards our freedom very high.  We can take great comfort in the fact that God did allow Satan to continue for it shows that, although God is Almighty, and although every thought and every action depend on His supporting power, He protects our freedom, even if it costs Him the life of His only begotten Son.

WHY DID GOD ALLOW SIN TO DEVELOP?

Why did God allow sin to develop to the level of cruelty and suffering we see around us today? Why did He not put an end to evil a long time ago?

In the Bible, we often that Satan accuses God’s people, for example in the cases of Job (Job 1:9, 10) and Joshua (Zech 3:1).  Revelation, therefore, refers to Satan as the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). Since he specifically accuses God’s people, rather than his own followers, Satan, by implication, accuses God of applying grace where grace is not justified.

God had condemned Satan and his angels to the lake of fire (Matt 25:41). To defend himself and his followers, Satan attempts to convince the universe that God judges arbitrarily and that He is severe on those who do not receive grace.

Furthermore, Satan has myriads of angels on his side (Rev 12:7).  This implies that Satan claimed that his rebellion against God will be to the benefit of all God’s creatures; that his strategies will elevate their existence and happiness.  Satan’s ways did not appear to be evil at first. 

Obviously, God wants to make an end of sin as soon as possible.  But if God destroys Satan his accusations against God were refuted and the true nature of rebellion was revealed, doubt over God’s goodness will linger, even with His loyal angels. God had to allow sin to develop to demonstrate the real nature and consequences of evil.

SEPARATION FROM GOD KILLS.

As stated, the purpose of the plagues is not to punish, but to reveal the truth. More specifically, the purpose of the plagues is to demonstrate that it is not God who kills sinners, but that separation from Him NATURALLY causes degeneration and eventually destruction.  This concept can be argued as follows:

God is our life.  All the energy and all the wisdom that created all things came OUT OF God.  He also continually upholds everything by His power (Heb 1:3; Col 1:17).  He is not somewhere out there, while we carry on down here.  He is, rather, continually upholding every aspect of His creation; even Satan himself. For that reason, it would conceptually not be wrong to say that only God exists and that we are part of Him.  We must not underestimate the meaning of the fact that God is Almighty.  He really can do anything, and our existence, from second to second, depends fully on Him.  Therefore, to reject God is to reject life itself, for God is the life of the universe and of every living being.  

Satan disconnected himself from the Source of life.  That is the cause of the degeneration which we currently endure on this planet. The purpose of the plaques is to demonstrate that it is not God who destroys, but that separation from God destroys.

THE WORLD WILL SELF-DESTRUCT.

The plagues will show what happens when the world is disconnected from God. It will self-destruct:

We see evidence of this in Rev 17:16, where the beast, which always carried the woman, will tear her apart. 

Further support for this idea comes from the reference to the “Gog and Magog” in Rev 20:8, which brings with it the words of God against the “Gog of the land of Magog” (Ezek. 38:1) that they will be “a great assembly and a mighty army,” but “every man’s sword will be against his brother” (Ezek 38:15, 21).

We have no need to be afraid of God. It is of sin that we must be afraid. 

ANGELS NEED ANSWERS.

Many people think that sinless heavenly beings (including angels) do not need more information to understand that rebellion against God is bad. That, however, is not true.  Revelation 5 symbolizes the uncertainty among the inhabitants of heaven, of whether God’s judgments are perfect, as a sealed book (See Book of Life).  To understand why angels need answers, we need to understand a little about how sin developed.

THE ORIGIN OF EVIL

Sin existed before man was created, and was brought from heaven to earth by the Serpent of old (Gen 3; Rev 12:9).

Sin originated in Satan.  God said of him: “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezek 28:15). 

Satan was (is?) the most beautiful being ever created (cf. Ezek 18:13).  He was adored by all, but he wanted to be adored equal to God (Isa 14:13, 14).  Logically, evil did not suddenly spring up in Satan one day; it developed slowly over a long period.  Given how God deals with sinners on earth, we can safely assume that God warned Satan clearly and repeatedly of the consequences of the direction he was taking.  But, eventually, Satan became fully committed to the path he chose.

EVEN LOYAL ANGELS WERE NOT SURE.

Sin did not remain only with Satan.  He succeeded to lead many of the perfect angels away from God (Rev 12:7). 

Satan is the master accuser (Rev 12:10).  He is able to confuse anything that is clear.  He did not openly admit his intentions, but covered his motives under a cloak of lies, masterfully flattering the angels when they agree with him but, when they disagree, accusing them of not willing to suffer for the goodwill of the universe.  The angels did not understand what the end result of Satan’s strategies would be.  Even the angels that remained loyal to God did not understand.  Therefore, even the loyal angels need answers.

GOD IS NOT THE JUDGE

Freedom is without fear of punishment.

If we fear that God will punish us if we sin, then we are not completely free, and our obedience is forced.  Therefore, God’s intelligent creatures are free to do whatever they wish, without fear of punishment!  GOD WILL NOT PUNISH EVILDOERS. 

God will eventually destroy evil and all beings that have become permanently committed to evil, but it will not be a punishment for past evil deeds. He will destroy evil to protect the future safety and happiness of the universe.

God knows and understands all things, and He knows what is best. But the destruction of evil will only be to the benefit of the universe when God’s angels and people agree that the destruction of evildoers is the only option.  In particular, they must understand why He will destroy some of the people whom they love. If unanswered questions remain, if a lingering doubt with respect to God’s goodness remains, that doubt can become the seed in the future eternities for another rebellion.  Only when all questions with respect to the nature and consequences of evil have been answered, to the satisfaction of God’s intelligent creatures, can God safely eliminate the destructive forces from the universe. 

Sin will never again arise.

In the new heavens and new earth, which God will create, God’s intelligent beings will have the freedom to sin, but there will never again be any sin because all intelligent beings will understand what the end result of selfishness is.  Then we will live in complete safety and trust in the wonderful, perfect new world which He will create:

Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5).

That is the reason for the delay.  Time is required to provide answers to Satan’s accusations against God. (See also, The book which not even God can open.)

God, therefore, is not the judge.  For example: 

In the judgment scene in Daniel, many thrones are set up, and the books were opened (Dan 7:9).  It is therefore not only God that judges and God does not need books. 

The judgment will be given to the saved (Rev 20:4). 

CHRIST’S DEATH

Why did God not make an end to sin after Jesus won the victory on the cross? After all, according to the interpretation of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 by this website, one of the goals of Christ’s death was “to make an end of sins” (Dan 7:24). In support of this, in Rev 1:5 we read that Jesus Christ “released us from our sins by His blood.”

JESUS OVERCAME

There are many theories of the atonement (why Christ had to die).  This website supports the view which the church held in the first few centuries, namely that Christ’s life and death was a battle between good and evil, and He overcame evil with good (see Why Christ had to die).  Jesus’ death demonstrated God’s righteousness:

Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood … This was to demonstrate His righteousnessso that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:24-26)

In other words, Christ’s death demonstrated God’s righteousness.  His death proves that God is just when He justifies sinners who have faith in Jesus Christ.

WHAT ELSE IS REQUIRED BEFORE
GOD CAN MAKE AN END OF SIN?

But if Christ’s death on the cross was all that was required to eradicate sin from the universe, God would not have allowed sin to continue there-after.  Since evil and its consequences are still thriving 2000 years later, we must conclude that, to make a complete end to evil, God needs more than the cross. 

That is explained by the Seven Seals of Revelation. Jesus has overcome to be regarded worthy to open the sealed book (Rev 5:5,9) but He is still breaking the seals. That means that He directs events on earth to reveal the perfection of God’s judgments through the deeds of people. The sixth seal has the signs of His return (Rev 6:12-15). In other words, Christ will return and God will execute His judgments as soon as the final seal is broken.

THE GOG AND MAGOG

As stated, the plagues will provide answers.  But even after the plagues, unanswered questions will remain, for sinners will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium (Rev 20:5).  Then Satan will also be released from his prison (Rev 20:7).  The purpose of the war of the Gog and Magog (Rev 20:8) is still the same, namely to provide answers to the questions raised by Satan.  Only when all these questions have been answered, will the devil be exterminated in the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev 20:10).

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

It was possible for sin to arise, despite the fact that God is almighty and good, because God creates intelligent beings with the freedom to love or hate.

If God exterminated the first sinner, the intelligent creatures would have concluded that Satan’s accusations are true. God had to allow sin to develop further to reveal that separation from Him NATURALLY causes degeneration and eventually destruction. 

Even some loyal angels doubt the perfection of God’s judgments because Satan masterly covered his true motives under a cloak of lies.

God is not the judge. He will only destroy evil and evildoers when God’s angels and people agree that that is the only option.

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

Introduction
     Revelation 15
First four plagues
Not interpreted individually
Overview – refuse to repent
Fifth Plague
The Throne of the Beast
The Mighty Angel of Revelation 18.
Conclusions
Sixth Plague
The Great River, the Euphrates, dries up.
The Kings from the East
Armageddon
Does “coming like a thief” support a secret rapture?
Why the Euphrates has to dry up
Summary & Conclusions
Seventh Plague
Purpose of the Plagues
To show that God judges perfectly
      Why is it necessary to show that God’s judges perfectly?

For further reading on Revelation, Jon Paulien’s commentary is recommended. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

Why Jesus had to die to save people: What problem did His death solve?

Why Jesus had to die to save people – What problem was solved by His death? Did He die to pacify an angry God? HOW did His death reconcile all things to God?

SUMMARY

The Qur’an teaches that some Israelites conspired to kill Jesus, but Allah rescued Jesus. In other words, Jesus never died. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that people are saved to eternal life only through the death of the Son of God. If Jesus was not killed, then the entire Christian faith is in vain. The purpose of this article is to explain why Jesus had to die.

GOD IS ONE.

The Qur’an and the Bible agree that God is one. The Bible clearly distinguishes between God and Jesus and depicts Jesus as completely dependent on God.  But the Bible also teaches that God created all things through Jesus and still upholds all things through Jesus. Jesus has all the fullness of Deity in bodily form, is the Judge, has life in Himself and gives life to whom He wishes.  This apparent contradiction is discussed in a series of articles on this website. See Who is Jesus?

WOULD GOD ALLOW PEOPLE TO KILL HIS SON?

A Muslim would disagree with the notion that God would allow His Son to be killed.  However, one of the fundamental principles of the Christian religion is self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. This is a Christian principle because that is how God is.  When we see Jesus, we see God, and Jesus humiliated Himself to become a human being, and even humiliate Himself to die in the hands of evil man (Phil 2). 

WHAT PROBLEM DID JESUS SOLVE?

Christians agree that Jesus had to die, but disagree on how His death saves us.  His death was the solution to a problem. To understand why Jesus had to die, we need to know what the problem was. The typical Christian understanding of the problem is that our sins made God angry and that Jesus died to placate His anger.  But the Bible is clear that it was God who sent Jesus, and that God did this because of His love for the world.  This article, therefore, explains the problem as follows:

1 Sin originated in heaven as a rebellion against God. This rebellion later spilled over to earth.

2 God allowed sin to developed because He created His intelligent beings with the ability to choose against Him, for the only worship which He accepts is the worship of love. He, therefore, grants His creatures full freedom, which is freedom without fear of retribution.

3 Sin caused terrible conflict in heaven. To defend himself against God’s judgment, Satan argued that God’s laws are deficient; that it is not possible to comply with His laws in all circumstances, and that it is, therefore, unfair of God to forgive some (human) sinners but condemn other sinners.

God was not able to prove conclusively to the heavenly beings that Satan’s accusations were false. He, therefore, had to allow Satan to continue until Satan’s character and purpose were fully revealed.

5 To protect creation, God must destroy sin and sinners.  God wishes to make an end of rebellion once and for all. However, since God is accused of unfair judgment, rebellion would erupt again in the future if sin and sinners are destroyed before His intelligent creatures fully understand the nature of the rebellion.  

WHAT CHRIST’S DEATH DEMONSTRATED

The problem is therefore much larger than simply human sin.  The problem affects the entire universe.  Christ’s death, which is the solution to this problem, similarly has much wider consequences than merely for this earth. The Son of God became a human being to make an end to the war in heaven. Christ’s life demonstrated:

(a) That it is possible to comply with God’s law in all circumstances.  In other words, there is nothing wrong with God’s law.
(b) Satan’s cruel nature; and
(c) The self-sacrificing nature of the Son of God, and therefore of God.

– END OF SUMMARY –

PAKMAMIN WROTE:

Picture of the Qu'ranThe Qur’an tells us that some of the Israelites rejected Jesus, and conspired to kill him, but Allah (God) rescued Jesus and raised him to Himself by swapping him.  Allah says in Qur’an that they neither killed Jesus nor crucified him, but it was made to appear so unto them.

Muslims believe that Allah changed the face of the person who betrayed Jesus to a face resembling Jesus.  So, they crucified that betrayer instead of Jesus.

RESPONSE

Since this article responds to a comment by a Muslim, it does not provide full Biblical evidence for the concepts discussed, but explains certain very complex Christian concepts as briefly and as clearly as possible.

The Bible teaches that people are saved to eternal life only through the death of the Son of God.  If Jesus was not killed, as claimed by the Qur’an, then the entire Christian faith is futile. 

A Muslim would object to a number of issues in the Christian point of view.

IS JESUS GOD?

The Bible teaches that God is One.A Muslim would not agree that Jesus is God.  The Bible teaches that God is one (Deut 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-30; James 2:19) and clearly distinguishes between God and Jesus (e.g. John 17:3; 1 Timothy 2:5).  The Bible, on the other hand, also refers to Jesus as “God” (e.g. John 1:1).  

The Bible also describes Jesus as completely dependent on God.  On the other hand, Jesus existed before He became a human being, has all the fullness of Deity in bodily form, has authority over all flesh, has life in Himself, gives life to whom He wishes and must be worshiped as we worship God.  God created and still upholds all things through Jesus.  How do we understand these things?

UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND GOD

Firstly we have to say is that humans are unable to understand God.  He exists outside time, space and matter.  He is simultaneously in all places and in all times; past, present, and future.  He exists without cause. In fact, He is that which exists. Things exist because God exists. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. It is our privilege to study about Him, but we must do it with humility, for “the secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deut 29:29).

The universe, consisting of time, space, and matter, was brought into being by the Father’s will. God the Father is, therefore, not limited or defined by time, space and matter. He is everywhere in the universe, but also everywhere outside the universe. Humans are not able to conceive of something that exists outside the universe, but the Intelligence and Power that created the universe exists outside the universe.

CREATED AND MAINTAINS THROUGH JESUS

God created and still maintains all things through Jesus. We do not have the faintest idea of what this may mean. Therefore, please forgive me for speculating. Jesus is “the Beginning“ of time, space, and matter.  He is the immense explosion of Energy of the “big bang” that brought this universe into being and still maintains it.   

This speculation may be completely wrong. It is simply the best sense I am able to make out of the data in the Bible. During the millions of years ahead of us, we will continually learn more about God. But since He is infinite, we will never be able to understand Him fully.

GOD ALLOWED PEOPLE
TO KILL HIS SON.

The Cross of ChristA Muslim would also disagree that God would allow His Son to be killed.  However, that is one of the fundamental principles of the Christian religion, for it is consistent with God’s character that He would humiliate Himself to become a human being, and even humiliate Himself to die in the hands of evil man.  Paul wrote to the Philippians that Christ Jesus “existed in the form of God”, but “emptied Himself … being made in the likeness of men” and further “humbled Himself … to … death on a cross” (Phil 2:5-8).

The Bible does not reveal God as an authoritarian. He does set laws and He does execute judgment, but His motive is always love. He so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Jesus was genuinely humble. On one occasion, He washed the feet of His disciples, a service usually performed by a lowly servant.

WHY JESUS HAD TO DIE

Christians generally agree that the Son of God had to die to save people to eternal life, but they do not agree on HOW the death of the Son of God saves people. His death is the solution to a problem. To understand why Jesus had to die, one needs to know what the problem was.

Many Christians define the problem as that our sin made God angry, and that He needed a sacrifice to placate His anger. This principle is often softened as that the righteousness of God required death as a penalty for sin, and that Jesus became a human being so that He Himself would die in our stead so that our sins can be forgiven.

This website objects to this teaching. God does not demand a penalty for sin. Rather, the purpose of His laws is to protect His creatures.   God does punish people for their sins, but the purpose of such punishment is to teach them. His punishment is forward-looking; to ensure a better future.

God is Love - His every motive is loveThis website also objects to the idea that God is angry.  That seems to be a horrible distortion of the Bible message. Throughout the Bible, we find evidence that it was the Father who loved the world and sent His Son to die for us, that we may live (John 3:16).

The following is a different explanation for why Jesus had to die for people to be saved to eternal life, based on a different definition of the problem.

1. SIN ORIGINATED IN HEAVEN

Sin originated in heaven in a large rebellion against God, with Satan as the leader of the rebellion.  This rebellion did not originate on earth but later expanded to earth when our first parents were tempted into sin (Gen 3).  The Bible is essentially a history book of events on earth, written by many different authors over thousands of years. The Bible, therefore, gives very little information about events in heaven. But sprinkled throughout the Bible one finds evidence of the heavenly source of evil, for instance:

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against … the spiritual forces of wickedness
in the heavenly places“ (Eph 6:12).

God made peace with things in heaven,
by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20). 

Please refer to the article Origin of Evil for a discussion of the evidence from the Bible. 

Sin is defined here as anything that harms the well-being of God’s creation. Since God’s laws are designed to ensure the happiness of His creation, one can also define sin as disobedience to God’s law. 

2. SIN RESULTS FROM FREEDOM.

Some think that God decides who will be saved irrespective of what the person is or wantsGod, who has all power and all knowledge, allowed sin to develop in heaven, allowed the rebellion to spread to earth because He grants His intelligent creatures full freedom, which is freedom without the fear that God will punish sinners. He created them with the ability to choose against Him, for the only worship that He accepts is the worship of love.  That is why He did not destroy sinners immediately and why He even allowed Satan access to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Many Christians would object to this idea.  They believe that God decides who will be saved and who will be lost.  In their view, God controls the minds of people, and that people (and angels) have no real freedom.  But if God controls intelligent beings in that manner, then it also follows that God created evil; that sin was God’s invention. This we cannot accept.

Lucifer understood that full freedom means freedom without fear of punishment.  He had a very high position in God’s kingdom. He was God’s main spokesperson to His creatures, and he knew that God will not punish His creatures for their sin.

WHY THE WARNINGS OF PUNISHMENT?

If that is so, why do we find the warnings of punishment in the Bible?  Why did God say to Adam and Eve that, if they eat of the tree, they would die?  It is proposed here that that was not a threat, limiting their freedom, but a warning intended to protect their freedom.  As already stated, God’s laws are not arbitrary but designed to ensure the happiness of His creatures.  Created beings have the freedom to act contrary to His laws, but there are natural consequences.  The cruelty, sickness and death that we see around us today are not God’s punishment for disobedience, but the natural consequence of acting contrary to His commands.  God, therefore, warned Adam and Eve against the natural consequences of sin.

3. WAR IN HEAVEN

The rebellion caused war in heaven, represented in Revelation as Michael and his angels at war against Satan and his angels (Rev 12:7 ff.). This was a terrible war, not fought with physical weapons, but with much more terrible weapons than we can imagine.

But what was the war about?  I do not think human beings are fully able to understand what the angels disagreed about.  It was a being of wonderful power and glory that had set himself against God.  The Lord says of Lucifer, “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezek 28:12). He was “the anointed cherub who covers” (Ezek 28:14), which means that he stood in the light of God’s immediate presence. He was the highest of all created beings. He was the one who taught the universe about God. How could we hope to understand the arguments which Satan presented to the angels?

GOD JUDGES UNFAIRLY.

However, we have some indications in the Bible of what the war was about.  In Revelation 12, Satan is called the accuser of the brethren.  In Zechariah 3, he stands next to the high priest to accuse him.  It is therefore implied that there was disagreement about God’s judgments.  God judged Satan and his angels as guilty but forgave certain sinners, such as Moses. Therefore, the once-mighty angel Lucifer, now called Satan, accused God of inconsistent and unrighteous judgment. He seems to argue that the sins of God’s people cannot be forgiven; that mercy was inconsistent with justice; and if God should cancel the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice.  Please see the article Disarmed the rulers and authorities for more information.

IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPLY

There are also indications in the Bible that Satan argued that it is impossible for created beings to always and fully comply with God’s laws:

The oldest book in the Bible tells the story of a man named Job.  He was a “blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil”, but Satan said to God “touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face”.  God then allowed Satan to destroy everything that Job owned, even his children, but Job remained faithful. 

Then Satan went back to God and said: “put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.”  Satan obtained permission from God and “smote Job with sore boils.”  Satan also incited Job’s wife to say to Job, “Curse God and die.”  This is what Satan hoped Job would do.  Satan also sent Job’s friends to him to tell him that God has rejected him (Job).  The purpose of this message was to sever the link of faith and trust that joined Job to his Creator. 

But “in all this Job did not sin with his lips”.  Satan’s purpose with this test was to show that, given the right circumstances, everybody will lose his hold on God and sin against God.

That was also the purpose of the test which Adam failed.  When Adam defied the will of God, Satan exulted.  It was proved, he declared, that the law could not be obeyed, and since man cannot be forgiven, that the human race must be forever shut out from God’s favor.

SATAN’S ARGUMENTS

Satan’s arguments were, therefore:

● That God’s laws are deficient;
● For that reason that it is impossible for created beings to always and fully comply with God’s laws.
● That it is therefore unfair of God to forgive some sinners but condemn others.

In summary, the War in Heaven is about God’s judgments.

4. SATAN WAS ALLOWED TO CONTINUE

As already stated, God does not force His beings to accept His judgment.  But neither was He able to conclusively prove to the loyal angels that the accusations of the super-brilliant accuser are false.  Satan claimed that his principles are superior to God’s principles.  Since God’s purpose is to secure the eternal safety of the universe, He had to allow Satan time to continue until the principles of Satan’s system of government have been fully developed, that they might be seen by all the universe. 

If God destroyed Satan and his host of angels at that point in time, before Satan’s character and purpose were fully revealed, it would not have been apparent to heavenly beings that the destruction of Satan and his host was the inevitable result of sin. Doubt of God’s goodness would have remained as an evil seed, and rebellion would arise again in the future.  God wishes to make an end of rebellion once and for all.

This was a terrible time in heaven.  It seemed as if evil would exist forever.  The last book of the Bible symbolizes this inability to understand as a closed book (sealed scroll) that nobody was able to open (Rev. 5).  See the discussion of the Introduction to the Seven Seals for more information. 

5. GOD WILL DESTROY SIN
WHEN ALL AGREE.

To protect creation, God must eventually destroy sin and every creature that is permanently corrupted by sin. He will not destroy sin as retribution or as a penalty for sin.  He will destroy sin to prevent further pain.  As stated in Revelation, He will make all things new.

However, even though sin destroys, and even though God can very easily destroy Satan and his followers, God cannot destroy sin and sinners unilaterally because God never forces anybody to agree with Him. To compel opposition is found only under Satan’s government.  The Lord’s authority rests upon principles such as truth, goodness, mercy, and love. These are the means by which the Lord overcomes evil. The Lord can only destroy sin if His intelligent creatures, in full freedom, agree with Him and ask Him to do it.

WHY JESUS HAD TO DIE

The five points above are the proposed definition of the problem which Christ’s death had to solve.  The problem is therefore much bigger than simply human sin.  The problem affects the entire universe; not only this microscopic planet. Christ’s death, which is the solution to the problem, similarly has a much wider impact than only this earth:

The Son of God became a human being to make an end to the war in heaven. Christ’s life demonstrated that it is possible to comply with God’s law in all circumstances. In other words, there is nothing wrong with God’s law.  His death also revealed Satan’s cruel nature and the self-sacrificing nature of the Son of God, which is the nature of God.

Jesus as human babyWith the war of accusations in heaven still raging heavily, God sent His Son as a human being to this planet, which Satan claimed as his own; as a vulnerable baby in a world controlled by Satan. 

At first, Satan did everything in his power to physically destroy the little One, but God protected His Son. 

SATAN TEMPTED CHRIST.

Then Satan changed His tactics; he tried, in every possible way, to lead Jesus into sin, to discourage Him, to get Jesus to act selfishly; to get Jesus to use His power or position to benefit Himself.  The Bible records such an incident: 

After fasting for forty days Jesus was very hungry, and Satan tempted Him to use His power to turn stones into bread, but Jesus refused. 

Then Satan tempted Him to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple to prove that He is the Son of God, but Jesus refused. 

Lastly, Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world if He would fall down and worship Satan, but again Jesus refused. 

This was simply one example of Satan’s strategy throughout the earthly life of the Son of God.  The cross was the ultimate test.

GOD ALLOWED SATAN
FULL ACCESS TO CHRIST.

The story of Job helps us to understand why Jesus had to die to end the war in heaven.  (See A study of the book of Job.)

Perhaps Satan similarly went to God and said that, if you allow me full access to Jesus, including to His life, I will show you that Your Son will “curse You to Your face”.  We know from the Bible that God did give Satan full and unlimited access to Christ; including to kill Him.  God’s Holy Spirit always remained close to Jesus, but on the Cross, Jesus cried out, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?  During His last days, God withdrew His protection and support from Jesus. The “rulers and authorities” (Col 2:15), elsewhere called the powers of darkness, assembled around the cross, bombarding Christ with thoughts of unbelief, resulting in cruel depression and despair.  Just like God, on the basis of His principle of freedom, allowed Satan access to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as a test, God allowed Satan full access to the Son of God.

JESUS NEVER SINNED.

This was a test.  Could one sin be found in Christ, had He in one particular yielded to Satan to escape the terrible torture, the enemy of God and man would have triumphed. But in spite of the physical, emotional and spiritual agony, Jesus did not use His power to relieve His agony.  Satan was allowed to use every means at his disposal, but Jesus did not sin in a word or a deed or a thought. The more mercilessly Satan’s wrath fell upon Him, the more firmly did the Son of God clung to the hand of His Father, and press on in His bloodstained path.  All heaven was filled with wonder when Christ prayed in the midst of His terrible suffering,–“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Christ revealed God to the universe. 

THE WHOLE UNIVERSE WATCHED.

We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings” (1 Cor 4:9 NIV). All heaven witnessed the controversy with intense interest. They watched the Son of God enter the garden of Gethsemane, His soul bowed down with great darkness.  They heard His bitter cry, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matt 26:39). As the Father’s presence withdrew from Him, they saw Him filled with a sorrow that is worse than the last great struggle with death, causing bloody sweat to fell in drops to the ground.  Heaven saw Satan’s frenzied work, and his power over the hearts of men, causing them to deride, torment, condemn, and crucify the Son of God, while the daughters of Jerusalem wept and the mob jeered. 

END OF THE WAR IN HEAVEN

Satan was defeated.  The evidence which Jesus gave through His life and death brought an end to the war in heaven (See War in Heaven).   Thereafter, the consensus of the loyal angels was that Satan is wrong and God is right, and they requested God to banish Satan from heaven. 

LESSONS FROM CHRIST’S LIFE

The Cross was the highest test that Jesus had to go through, but it still was only one of a continuum of tests during His life. His life revealed at least three things:

It showed that this human being (Jesus) would remain faithful to God’s principles in all circumstances, showing thereby that it is possible for human beings (and angels) to comply fully with God’s law under the most agonizing circumstances.  In other words, there is nothing wrong with God’s laws

Christ’s death revealed the cruel nature of Satan.  Not until the death of Christ was Satan’s character fully revealed to the heavenly beings. The exalted position which he occupied gave him the power to deceive. Satan had so clothed himself with deception that even holy beings could not understand the nature of his rebellion.  The Cross tore away his disguise. His administration was laid open.  He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he lost any remaining sympathy he still received from the heavenly beings. 

Lastly, His life and death revealed the character of the Son of God.  When nothing else was able to end the war in heaven, He was willing to humiliate Himself to becoming a human being and to run the risk of eternal loss and suffer a torturous death.  Throughout His life, His concern always was with the people around Him.  These things revealed His true character.

It was for this purpose that He became a human being and this is why Jesus had to die; not only a normal death but a voluntary and torturous death.  His death was voluntary, for if He gave the command, legions of angels would have come to His aid.

CHRIST DID NOT ANSWER ALL ACCUSATIONS.

But Satan also had another argument, namely that God is unfair when He forgives one sinner but condemns another.  Jesus’ death did not fully answer all of Satan’s accusations.  For that reason, God has not yet made an end to sin.  There is more to be revealed.  For the sake of the future happiness of the universe, Satan was allowed to continue his work, but only on earth (Revelation 12).  Man, as well as angels, must see the contrast between the Prince of light and the prince of darkness.

CONCLUSION

Sin caused terrible conflict in heaven.  Satan, the highest of all created beings, used the sins of people—their inability to keep God’s law—as evidence to prove that God’s intelligent creatures are unable to fully keep God’s law, arguing that God is therefore inconsistent and unfair when some of His sinning creatures, such as Adam and Moses, are forgiven while other people and sinful angels are condemned.  Even the loyal heavenly beings could not conclusively answer Satan’s accusations against God.  The problem is therefore much bigger than simply human sin. The problem affects the entire universe; not only this microscopic planet. 

Christ came to the earth to validate God’s judgments. Jesus, as fully human, showed that human beings (and angels) are able to comply with the Law of God under all circumstances.  If Jesus did not really die, as the Qur’an maintains, then we have no hope.

GOD’S CHILDREN

So, who are God’s children?  To call yourself a Christian does not make you His child:

The Christian that views God as an authoritarian tyrant, and is pleased with that view of God, will himself be an authoritarian tyrant and is therefore not a child of God. 

God’s people are those that admire God’s willingness to suffer for His creatures. They find joy in the thought that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to become a human being to suffer for our benefit. God’s people are those that want to be as humble as God, and those that want to serve other people, particularly lesser people. They find joy in the concept of freedom, and they grant other people the freedom to differ from them.  They do not act selfishly but are willing to suffer for the benefit of others. 

God will judge each person according to his circumstances.  To be saved by the blood (death) of Christ does not require one to know His name.  Even a person that rejects Christ, but accepts His principles, is one of His people. God does not belong to Christianity. There is only one true God, and He loves and talks to all peoples, through His written word, through nature, through other people and through His supernatural communication with each human being.  Each of us will be judged relative to what we have received.  From the one that has received much, much will be expected. 

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