For many, the existence of sin is a great mystery. They cannot understand how a God who is loving and kind would allow something that causes so much misery and hurt. But there should be no mystery over how sin began and continues to exist in our world.
The Bible teaches us that “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” 1 John 3:8.
Sin originally arose in the heart of Lucifer. The prophet Isaiah tells us that Lucifer or Satan or the devil was once a beautiful heavenly angel of light.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” Isaiah 14:12.
The name “Lucifer” means “light bearer.” This gives us some idea of his original glory. Though he is now a fallen being, he is not the hideous creature he is frequently portrayed to be.
The apostle Paul tells us that Satan is able to transform himself into an angel of light when it best suits his purposes (see 2 Corinthians 11:14-15). And it is Satan's plan to make his work, along with the work of his agents, to appear like the work of God. Thus he can deceive more people.
Ezekiel spoke of Satan (referred to as the king of Tyre) as having been a being of unsurpassed beauty.
“Thou has 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....Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness…” Ezekiel 28:13-15, 17.
Though an angel of glory, Satan became lifted up in his own beauty; and in his conceit, he decided that he no longer needed to be subject to God's rulership. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:13-14.
Dissatisfied with his position as the covering cherub, Lucifer desired to be equal with God. But this involved changing the perfect order of heaven, which could only be brought about by charging God with making a mistake in His government. The underlying issue being: If God should be less than perfect, then why follow His laws and commands? Lucifer went about deceiving as many angels as he could to help him rebel against God. Thus every angel had to choose whom to believe and whom to follow and vindicate--either God or Lucifer.
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9.
By starting war in heaven, Satan revealed that he would stop at nothing short of achieving his goal to be equal with God; and any obstruction to this goal must be forced out of the way--including God Himself.
Though defeated and cast out of heaven, Satan was not then destroyed. Why? If God would have destroyed Lucifer, it still would not have answered the charges he made against God. Hence, Satan had to be given an opportunity to show the whole universe just what type of government he would establish, as well as revealing what would be the final result of choosing a course of rebellion against God. The security of the entire universe depended upon this demonstration and it's final outcome. No question must remain as to who was telling the truth--God or Lucifer. Both would be known by their actions or the fruits they produced.
It was pride that led Satan to desire equality with God, and this same desire he now sought to foster in humanity. Approaching Eve, he tempted her to believe that equality with God was an obtainable goal—but only to be reached through disobeying God.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5.
As soon as she followed the Devil's suggestion to disobey God, Eve was in harmony and union with the enemy of God; and she became Satan's agent to help bring the downfall of Adam.
Man, created to be a reflection of God (see Genesis 1:26-27), came under the control of a power that was in opposition to God's rule and authority. Man was once in harmony with his Creator, but he was now a rebel, antagonistic to God's will and commands.
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7.
The Devil claimed all humanity to be under his power, and never would they be obedient to God and prove Him to be true in this controversy. God could have instantly destroyed man because of his rebellion; but instead, He lovingly came closer to man by sending Jesus to become one of us and to die in our place.
When Jesus came to this earth, He came as our Teacher. As our Teacher, He lived a life of unselfish obedience to God, setting us a perfect example of what we may become through Him. By His fruits, Christ was shown to be the truth and the way to salvation and freedom from sin. By living an obedient life in our humanity, Jesus not only vindicated God by proving God’s law and kingdom of righteousness to be perfect, but He also revealed that it was possible for all mankind to follow His example and also be obedient. Thus Christ showed that there is no reason for any of us to continue in bondage to sin.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth…” 1 Peter 2:21-22.
When Christ died on the cross, Satan stood unmasked; he had revealed himself to be a murderer, and that under his government everything good and honorable would be swept away. He had forever removed himself from the sympathy of the onlooking universe and had made certain his own destruction. By his fruits, Satan was shown to be a liar and the way to bondage and captivity to sin and death.
By allowing the principles of sin to be fully developed, God has given every being in the universe the opportunity to see just what sin leads to. Having seen sin's awful results, each being can now make an intelligent decision as to whom they will obey and seek to vindicate in this controversy--God or Satan.
Speaking of Satan, Jesus told His listeners:
“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.
While Satan was in heaven seeking to establish a new order of things, the end result of sin was not apparent. God saw what created beings could not--He saw to what extent sin and selfishness would lead. In putting Christ to death, Satan revealed that which was inherent in sin all the time. Calvary was just the revelation of sin fully manifested. Our sinful actions are but a reflection of the rebellion inside. Thus all sin, whether we regard it as small or large infractions, makes us captives to Satan's rule and thus a sharer in the guilt of killing Christ!
Not only was Satan filled with hatred for Christ, but also against all who choose to follow Him and vindicate God. It was true that Jesus, as a man, had overcome Satan; but if Satan could keep God’s followers from making Christ’s victory a reality in their own lives, all might not yet be lost. Thus Satan, through his agents, continued the controversy and warfare against God by attacking His followers.
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.
Though the devil may disguise his voice, his many deceptive theories always lead to the same thought; that “Somehow God is advantaged at our expense when we obey His commands, and there is something to be gained by disobeying Him.” This deceptive lie was accepted by Adam and Eve, which allowed sin and death into this world. But Christ came to this earth to help you and me escape from sin through His grace and strength and thus to gain eternal life when He comes again.
When we love Christ and submit ourselves to Him, He promises to unite our heart with His heart; our will is then merged with His will; our mind becomes one with His; and God’s law becomes our delight.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind; and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Hebrews 8:10.
“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalms 40:8.
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalms 119:11.
By this process, even our thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ, allowing us to follow His example of obedience and to live His life in our own.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
The salvation Jesus brings us is not a salvation in disobedience. But He brought us deliverance from the power of sin, so that through the power of Jesus we could and can live a life of obedience, show God to be true, and prove Satan to be a liar.
"...thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21.
"And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him..." Hebrews 5:9.
Thus by our actions, or the fruits we produce, we are known to be either the followers of God, or the followers of Satan—we either vindicate God or vindicate Satan.
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin in the transgression of the law. And ye know that he (Jesus) was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin...In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil…” 1 John 3:4-10.
May God help each one of us to come fully to Christ and allow Him to live His life through us, that we will no longer be the servants of sin unto death, but become the servants of righteousness unto life eternal.