God's dealing with sin proves His love and justice.
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 God's word and essential to salvation.
No reason for sin origin
Before the entrance of evil there was peace and joy throughout the universe. 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.
God's government based on His law
Sin originated with Lucifer
Little by little, Lucifer came to indulge a desire for self-exaltation. 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. Yet the Son of God was the acknowledged Sovereign of heaven, one in power and authority with the Father. "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 unnecessary restraint. Since their natures were holy, he urged that 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.
Rebellion allowed to develop
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 of setting aside the divine law.
In His dealing with sin, God could employ only righteousness and truth. Satan could use what God could not—flattery and deceit. Therefore it must be demonstrated before the inhabitants of heaven, as well as of all the worlds, that God's government was just, His law perfect. 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. His own work must condemn him. The whole universe must see the deceiver unmasked.
Sin continues on earth
In the contest between Christ and Satan, during the Savior's earthly ministry, the character of the great deceiver was unmasked. It was Satan that prompted the world's rejection of Christ. The prince of evil exerted all his power and cunning to destroy Jesus; for he saw that the Savior's mercy and love, His compassion and pitying tenderness, were representing to the world the character of God. 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.
Calvary reveals Satan's character
The cross of Calvary, while it declares the law immutable, proclaims to the universe that the wages of sin is death. In the Savior's 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 evil 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).
Never will evil again be manifest. 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.
"I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).
When Satan heard the declaration that enmity [hostility] should exist between himself and the woman, and between his seed and her seed, he knew that his efforts to deprave human nature would be interrupted; that by some means man was to be enabled to resist his power.
Controversy within individuals
The antagonism that exists between the spirit of Christ and the spirit of Satan was most strikingly displayed in the world's reception of Jesus. The purity and holiness of Christ called forth. against Him the hatred of the ungodly.
The same enmity is manifested toward Christ's followers as was manifested toward their Master.
Satan is continually seeking to overcome the people of God by breaking down the barriers which separate them from the world. Conformity to worldly customs converts the church to the world; it never converts the world to Christ. Familiarity with sin will inevitably cause it to appear less repulsive.
From the days of Adam to our own time, our great enemy has been exercising his power to oppress and destroy. All who seek to follow Jesus will be brought into conflict with this relentless foe. The more nearly the Christian imitates the divine Pattern, the more surely will he make himself a mark for the attacks of Satan.
Christians can conquer through Christ
Life After Death?
In the midst of Eden grew the tree of life, whose fruit had the power of perpetuating life. Had Adam remained obedient to God, he would have continued to enjoy free access to this tree and would have lived forever. But when he sinned he was cut off from partaking of the tree of life, and he became subject to death. Immortality, promised to man on condition of obedience, had been forfeited by transgression. Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there could have been no hope for the fallen race had not God, by the sacrifice of His Son, brought immortality within their reach.
Satan begins natural immortality error
After the Fall, Satan bade his angels make a special effort to inculcate the belief in man's natural immortality; and having induced the people to receive this error, they were to lead them on to conclude that the sinner would live in eternal misery. Now the prince of darkness, working through his agents, represents God as a revengeful tyrant, declaring that He plunges into hell all those who do not please Him, and causes them ever to feel His wrath; and that while they suffer unutterable anguish and writhe in eternal flames, their Creator looks down on them with satisfaction.
Thus the archfiend clothes with his own attributes the Creator and Benefactor of mankind. Cruelty is satanic.
God will punish unrepentant sinners
God has given to men a declaration of His character and of His method of dealing with sin. "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 be no means clear the guilty" (Exodus 34:6, 7).
God does not force the will or judgment of any. He takes no pleasure in slavish obedience. He desires that the creatures of His hands shall love Him because He is worthy of love.
Rebellious life unfits for heaven
A life of rebellion against God has unfitted them for heaven. Its purity, holiness, and peace would be torture to them; the glory of God would be a consuming fire. The destiny of the wicked is fixed by their own choice. Their exclusion from heaven is voluntary with themselves, aud just and merciful on the part of God.
Mankind inherits death
Since it is impossible for God, consistently with His justice and mercy, to save the sinner in his sins, He deprives him of the existence which his transgressions have forfeited and of which he has proved himself unworthy.
Dead people are not conscious
What says the Scriptures concerning these things? David declares that man is not conscious in death. "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish," "The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything" (Psalm 146:4, Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6).
All are to be judged according to the things written in the books and to be rewarded as their works have been. This judgment does not take place at death. Mark the words of Paul, "He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
But if the dead are already enjoying the bliss of heaven or writhing in the flames of hell, what need of a future judgment? Will the righteous after the investigation of their cases at the judgment, receive the commendation, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," when they have been dwelling in His presence perhaps for long ages? Are the wicked summoned from the places of torment to receive sentence from the Judge of all the earth: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire"? (Matthew 25:21,41). Oh, solemn mockery! shameful impeachment of the wisdom and justice of God!
The Bible clearly teaches that the dead do not go immediately to heaven. They are represented as sleeping until the resurrection. See I Thessalonians 4:14; Job 14:10-12. Blessed rest for the weary righteous! Time, be it long or short, is but a moment to them. They sleep; they are awakened by the trump of God to a glorious immortality. When they arise from the tomb, their first glad thought will be echoed in the triumphal shout: "0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave where is thy victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Spirits of the New Age
The doctrine of man's consciousness in death, especially the belief that spirits of the dead return to minister to the living, has prepared the way for modem spiritualism. Here is a channel regarded as sacred, through which Satan works for the accomplishment of his purposes.
He has power to bring before men the appearance of their departed friends. The counterfeit is perfect; the familiar look, the words, the tone, are reproduced with marvelous distinctness. Many are comforted with the assurance that their loved ones are enjoying the bliss of heaven and without suspicion of danger, they give ear "to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."
Spiritualism supported by supernatural deceptions
It is true that spiritualism is now changing its form and, veiling some of its more objectionable features, is assuming a Christian guise. Even in its present form, so far from being more worthy of toleration than formerly, it is really a more dangerous, because a more subtle, deception. The Bible is interpreted in a manner that is pleasing to the unrenewed heart while its solemn and vital truths are made of no effect. Love is dwelt upon as the chief attribute of God, but it is degraded to a weak sentimentalism, making little distinction between good and evil.
Those who oppose the teachings of spiritualism are assailing, not men alone, but Satan and his angels. Satan will not yield one inch of ground except as he is driven back by the power of the heavenly messengers. Those who would stand in this time of peril must understand for themselves the testimony of the Scriptures.