THE ORIGIN OF EVIL
The Beginning of the Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
The great controversy between good and evil, that has been waged on earth ever since man's fall, had its origin in heaven. Certain angels rebelled against God and His government.
"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." Rev. 12:7-9.
Thus came the forces of evil into this world, which have been working through all the ages to draw men from allegiance to God, and to infuse into human hearts the same spirit of disobedience which wrought the ruin of Satan and his angels.
The Cause of the Downfall
Christ stated the principle: "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" Matt. 6:23.
The principle finds its utmost application in the great reversal, by which Lucifer, the light bearer in heaven, became Satan, the adversary, the prince of darkness.
In the pride and self-exaltation of Tyre, of old, the Lord saw manifested the spirit of the god of this world; so, in declaring His message of rebuke to the prince of Tyre, the Lord describes the cause and history of Satan's fall:
"Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God.... 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." Eze. 28:13-17.
Likewise, in the swelling pride of Babylon the Lord recognized the spirit of the leader of the rebellious angels. In one of the messages to Babylon is this reference to the vaulting ambition of Lucifer in heaven:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer ["day-star," margin], son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 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." Isa. 14:12-14.
Lucifer, his powers now perverted to evil, deceived many of the angels, persuading them to join him in rebellion against the government of God; with the result that Satan and all his host were cast out. Christ said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Luke 10:18.
"Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky."
The Earth as the Battle Ground
Then the great controversy which began in heaven was transferred to this earth, and now centers around man. For "that old serpent," the leader of the fallen angels, deceived man, and persuaded him to distrust God and to choose his own way in preference to God's way. Thus came sin and death into the world. And Satan, who had overcome man at the forbidden tree, became by his own usurpation and by man's perfidy, "the prince of this world."
But Christ gave himself to save man, to deliver him from the bondage of sin, and to restore him to the glorious liberty of the sons of God. The same mighty power that overcame Satan and his angels in heaven is able to overcome his power in human hearts and lives. The controversy is still between Christ and Satan, and man's salvation or destruction is the aim of the contending forces.
There is no neutral ground. Every soul must choose as to which side he will yield allegiance. In this choice lies his eternal destiny.
"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Rom. 6:16.
Therefore the Lord pleads with men, "Choose life." Every soul that chooses life has the promise of it, for Christ "is able ... to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him." Heb. 7:25.
The Judgment upon Satan
From the time of Satan's rebellion it was assured, by the very omnipotence of God, that there would come a last judgment when evil would be destroyed from the universe. This execution of judgment upon the fallen angels is thus referred to by Jude:
"The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." Verse 6.
The evil spirits themselves know that this day is coming. When Christ was about to cast certain of them out of one who was possessed, they cried out, "Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?" Matt. 8:29.
Though the judgment of that last day was originally set for Satan and his angels, unrepentant men will have a part in it, because they have joined Satan in his lawless rebellion. To the wicked it will be said:
"Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt. 25:41.
Satan sees that the day is hastening; and the shorter the time in which to work, the greater his fury in seeking to draw souls to perdition.
The warning comes to us in these last days:
"Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Rev. 12:12.
Christ's second coming ends the reign of Satan in this world. The wicked are slain by the consuming glory of Christ's coming (2 Thess. 2:8); and the righteous are taken to heaven, beyond the reach of Satan's arts (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). The archenemy and his angels are thus left upon an earth devoid of human beings. Here he is chained for a thousand years, in this pit of desolation (Rev. 20:2, 5), his only companions the angels who fell with him, his only occupation the contemplation of the ruin he has wrought and the destruction that still awaits him.
By the second resurrection—that of the wicked dead, after the thousand years—Satan is again set free to ply his arts upon his subjects. As the holy city comes down out of heaven from God, with all the saints, Satan gathers his angels and all the forces of the lost of all the ages, to make an assault upon the city. The result was shown to the prophet in vision:
"They went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceiveth them was cast into the lake of fire." Rev. 20:9, 10.
That is the fate awaiting the author of sin. In the account of Satan's pride and self-exaltation, uttered by the prophet in the message to Tyre, there occurs also this prophecy of the utter destruction that awaits him, when he shall bring his forces against the city of God in that last conflict:
"I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more." Eze. 28:18, 19.
This is the final victory of Christ over evil, in the great controversy that began in heaven. Satan exalted himself—and lost. Christ humbled Himself, even unto the death—and won the eternal triumph.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." Heb. 2:14.