What was Lucifer trading? Does “trading,” in the early stages of his rebellion, refer to the creation of an economic system? Is there any indication of such in the context of these verses we have been studying?

The Hebrew word doesn’t tell us much—rkullah simply means “trade (as peddled): merchandise, traffic,” (Strong’s Concordance). What can this merchandise be, in the context of what we have seen so far?

“By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: … thou has defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick.” In this place “traffick” is the emblem of corrupt administration {4BC 1163.7, emphasis added}.

The word “traffick” in this verse is an “emblem,” a symbol of Lucifer’s “corrupt administration.” His administration was corrupt because, as we have discussed, it was ruled by corrupt principles that he had devised in heaven.

There is only one thing Lucifer could have been “peddling” at this stage of his rebellion: his corrupt principle or moral law—iniquity, which, as we saw, is the principle represented by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Ezekiel’s own choice of words point to iniquity as the thing that Lucifer was peddling. Notice how the word “abundance” is used twice in this passage. In verse sixteen Ezekiel says:

By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned

Then in verse eighteen Ezekiel writes:

You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading

The English words “abundance” and “multitude” are translated from the same Hebrew word—rôb, Strong’s H7230. Rôb is used first to qualify Lucifer’s “merchandise” and then to qualify “iniquity,” the thing that was found in him. Thus we can deduce
that iniquity is what is meant by the word “merchandise.” Lucifer peddled his merchandise (a set of corrupt principles which he used in his corrupt administration) to the entire universe. Because God’s
agape love is a principle founded upon freedom, not
only did Lucifer have the freedom to market his new idea, but every intelligent being in the universe also had the freedom to make a decision either for or against it. Other inhabited planets also have the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:

The Lord has given me a view of other worlds. Wings were given me, and an angel attended me from the city to a place that was bright and glorious. The grass of the place was living green, and the birds there warbled a sweet song. The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes; they were noble, majestic, and lovely. They bore the express image of Jesus, and their countenances beamed with holy joy, expressive of the freedom and happiness of the place. I asked one of them why they were so much more lovely than those on the earth. The reply was, “We have lived in strict obedience to the commandments of God, and have not fallen by disobedience, like those on the earth.” Then I saw two trees, one looked much like the tree of life in the city. The fruit of both looked beautiful, but of one they could not eat. They had power to eat of both, but were forbidden to eat of one. Then my attending angel said to me, “None in this place have tasted of the forbidden tree; but if they should eat, they would fall.” {EW 39.3}

The words “corrupt administration,” however, have enormous implications. First of all, how did Lucifer even begin to have an administration of his own? Wasn’t he employed in God’s administration? Wasn’t he working for God as a light-bearer, as a promoter of God’s law?

From this little bit of information, we get the impression that Lucifer was doing something underhanded, perhaps even using his God-given authority to attempt to secretly change the law in the minds of the angels. We already know he used the power and influence which God had given him, to push his deceptive agenda.

It was a being of wonderful power and glory that had set himself against God. Of Lucifer the Lord says, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Ezekiel 28:12. Lucifer had been the covering cherub. He had stood in the light of God’s presence. He had been the highest of all created beings, and had been foremost in revealing God’s purposes to the universe. After he had sinned, his power to deceive was the more deceptive, and the unveiling of his character was the more difficult, because of the exalted position he had held with the Father {DA 758.4, emphasis added}.

Lucifer was using his position in order to deceive. It even appears that he was giving out a corrupt version of the law—in effect running a rebel administration right there, in the presence of God, undermining His law. His whole purpose was to get rid of God’s law:

From the very beginning of the great controversy in heaven it has been Satan’s purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator, and though he was cast out of heaven he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress God’s law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the same. He that offends “in one point,” manifests contempt for the whole law; his influence and example are on the side of transgression; he becomes “guilty of all.” James 2:10 {DD 28.1, emphasis added}.

Lucifer used subterfuge and manipulation to gather a following. He cunningly created discontent with God’s law and claimed that his proposed changes were all for the good of God’s government.

Taking advantage of the loving, loyal trust reposed in him by the holy beings under his command, he had so artfully instilled into their minds his own distrust and discontent that his agency was not discerned. Lucifer had presented the purposes of God in a false light—misconstruing and distorting them to excite dissent and dissatisfaction. He
cunningly drew his hearers on to give utterance to their feelings; then these expressions were repeated by him when it would serve his purpose, as evidence that the angels were not fully in harmony with the government of God.
While claiming for himself perfect loyalty to God, he urged that changes in the order and laws of heaven were necessary for the stability of the divine government. Thus while working to excite opposition to the law of God and to instill his own discontent into the minds of the angels under him, he was ostensibly seeking to remove dissatisfaction and to reconcile disaffected angels to the order of heaven. While secretly fomenting discord and rebellion, he with consummate craft caused it to appear as his sole purpose to promote loyalty and to preserve harmony and peace {PP 38.2, emphasis added}.

How underhanded, secretive and clever were his activities! Notice how his strategy was the same he used in the Garden: he created the problem but then hid himself, making it appear as though he had nothing to do with it.

Lucifer had at first so conducted his temptations that he himself stood uncommitted. The angels whom he could not bring fully to his side, he accused of indifference to the interests of heavenly beings. The very work, which he himself was doing, he charged upon the loyal angels. It was his policy to perplex with subtle arguments
concerning the purposes of God. Everything that was simple he shrouded in mystery, and by artful perversion cast doubt upon the plainest statements of Jehovah.


And his high position, so closely connected with the divine government, gave greater force to his representations {PP 41.3, emphasis added}.

From the very beginning, the controversy had been about the law of God. We must ask ourselves: Why was Lucifer trying to change God’s law? The only possible reason is that somehow, at some point, little by little he came to regard the law of love as ineffective, faulty. So, he set about to fix it. Notice the following statement carefully:

Satan claimed to be able to present laws which were better than God’s statutes and judgments, and he was expelled from heaven. He has made a similar attempt upon earth. Ever since his fall he has put forth efforts to deceive the world, to lead men to ruin, that he might be revenged upon God because he was overcome and thrust down from heaven. His efforts to put himself and his devices where God should be, are most persevering and persistent. He has taken the world captive in his snare, and many even of the people of God are ignorant of his devices, and they give him all the opportunity he asks to work the ruin of souls. They do not manifest a burning zeal to lift up Jesus, and proclaim to the perishing multitudes, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” {RH, June 17, 1890 par. 12, emphasis added}!

“Satan claimed to be able to present laws which were better than God’s statutes and judgments.” Satan was presenting “laws?” What laws? Have we ever heard before that he has a law? Again, notice the following quotes carefully:

God’s dealings with rebellion will result in fully unmasking the work so long carried on under cover. The fruits of setting aside the divine statutes will be laid open to the view of all created intelligences. The law of God will stand fully vindicated. Satan himself, in the presence of the witnessing universe, will confess the justice of God’s
government and the righteousness of His law
{EP 237.1, emphasis added}.

But how shall the universe know that Lucifer is not a safe and just leader? To their eyes he appears right. They cannot see, as God sees, beneath the outward covering. They cannot know as God knows. To work to unmask him and make plain to the angelic host that his judgment is not God’s judgment, that he has made a standard
of his own
and exposed himself to the righteous indignation of God, would create a state of things that must be avoided {CTr 11.5, emphasis added}.

Satan set “aside the divine statutes” and “claimed to be able to present laws which were better than God’s” laws and in doing so he “has made a standard of his own.” But we have never heard that he has a law or “a standard of his own.” Why not? Because his work has been “long carried on under cover.” How has it been carried on under cover? It has been “long carried on under cover” because we have thought that “his judgment” is “God’s judgment.”

The next question we must ask is this: Why did Lucifer think that God’s law was ineffective? Didn’t God’s law make heaven a paradise? After all, heaven had only known peace and harmony—from eternity past. What possible fault could there be in something that brought such peace and joy? The next statement reveals something very important:

God Himself had established the order of heaven; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonour his Maker, and bring ruin upon himself {DD 2.2, emphasis added}.

“God Himself had established the order of heaven;” how? Through His law; and Satan was “departing” from the order of heaven. How? Through the laws that he claimed were better than God’s “statutes and judgments.” We just read a few paragraphs earlier:

While claiming for himself perfect loyalty to God, he urged that changes in the order and laws of heaven were necessary for the stability of the divine government {PP 38.2}.

“He urged that changes in the order and laws” of God were necessary. Necessary for what? “For the stability of the divine government.” Why was he doing this? Did he really believe that God’s law was ineffective in creating order? Was he attempting to establish a new “order” based on a new moral law? Did he think that “iniquity” was better than agape?

The prophet Isaiah says of Lucifer:

For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt
my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:13-14, emphasis added).

Lucifer was in the process of exalting his throne above God’s throne. He put himself on equal footing with God, and claimed to have the same authority as the Most High, wanting to be like like Him. But how did Lucifer want to be like the Most High? The Bible says that God is the Lawgiver:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people (Genesis 49:10, emphasis added).

(For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us) (Isaiah 33:22, emphasis added).

There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another (James 4:12, emphasis added)?

There is one Lawgiver—only one true Lawgiver in the universe—He is the Creator.  How does the Creator save? He saves by giving us the truth about His character of agape love through His law, the law of life. How does He destroy? He destroys by establishing the order of things, which as a Creator He has the right to do. If He creates beings who, in order to remain alive must breathe, then in a sense He destroys those beings who choose not to breathe. He does not actively or arbitrarily destroy those who reject His law—their rejection of the law of life, this in itself brings them to destruction. We are destroyed if we
reject God’s law of mercy, so in this sense God destroys through His law.

Through false philosophy Satan has a widespread influence over many minds that are loyal to God’s commandments in sentiment but not in practice. What is the character of 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 by no means clear the guilty.” Here we have the character of the Lord Jesus plainly set forth, and the principles upon which He acts as Lawgiver {Ms45-1894 (November 1894) par. 9, emphasis added}.

Jesus “acts as Lawgiver.” But Lucifer said, “I will exalt my throne”—a new government, a new set of laws… “I will be like the Most High”—“I will be like the Law-giver, I will have my own moral law…” He was perfect in his ways till iniquity was found in him—until a set of “corrupt principles” filled his heart. A new law… A new world order—an order that was supposedly better than God’s order… A better law, with the sole purpose of preserving harmony and peace… of preserving the stability of God’s government… astonishing… Who would ever believe this, so absurd it is?

But now we must ask the inevitable question: why did Lucifer think that God’s government was unstable? What was his evidence? What made him start thinking that way?

Let’s reason for a second. We know from the Bible, that the wisdom of the world is equivalent to the wisdom of Satan. With this in mind, consider the following passage taken from 1 Corinthians:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, emphasis added).

These verses clearly indicate that there are two wisdoms—“the wisdom of the world” and “the wisdom of God.” The worldly wisdom is Satan’s wisdom; he is “the disputer of this age.” He is also the “god of this age,” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus it is
Satan who informs the world as to what
conventional “wisdom” ought to be.

The above passage is saying that it is impossible to know God through Satan’s worldly wisdom. Why? Because the wisdom of God is utter foolishness and weakness in the eyes of “the world.” If this is how the world sees God’s wisdom, then could it be that this is also how Satan saw it, and the reason why he rebelled against it?

From the first the great controversy had been upon the law of God. Satan had sought to prove that God was unjust, that His law was faulty, and that the good of the universe required it to be changed. In attacking the law he aimed to overthrow the authority of its Author. In the controversy it was to be shown whether the divine statutes were defective and subject to change, or perfect and immutable {PP 69.1, emphasis added}.

Lucifer saw agape as “faulty,” “defective,” “subject to change,” flawed. Could it be then, that at some point he began to view God’s law of love as foolish and weak? Could this be the reason he attacked it?

It would seem that Lucifer came to regard agape love as ludicrous and in need
of reform or outright replacement. He claimed that God’s administration, which
was based on the law of
agape love, could not govern the universe, especially if it
was ever confronted with evil. In his mind, order could not exist if it was based
solely upon love. As we will see shortly, he introduced force and violence as the
power behind his law. Think carefully about this; aren’t we conditioned to think
the same? Don’t we believe we need force and violence in order to impose “order?”


While he lived by God’s moral law of love Lucifer knew no violence—he was “perfect.” But the text is clear: he became “filled with violence” once iniquity “was found in him.” These words clearly show that iniquity and violence originated within him. It was by the “abundance” of his iniquity, his corrupt principles that he “became filled with violence within.” Since violence is embedded in iniquity then violence is a direct result of iniquity, and all who live by this moral law are also “filled with violence within.”

It is extremely important to realize that iniquity is the source of violence. Violence is a product of iniquity and only of iniquity. If iniquity originated within Lucifer, and violence is its result, it is only logical to conclude that prior to his rebellion, violence
did not exist in the universe,
at all. Violence then, is entirely Satanic. Can we then attribute any violence to God? If we did, wouldn’t we be saying that He is also Satanic?

Iniquity, Satan’s law, is powered by force. Violence is embedded in it. This is a distortion, a perversion of God’s moral standard, which is His love, in which there is freedom—the opposite of force. God’s law of grace and mercy was applied across the board to everyone because it was unconditional and impartial. Lucifer began to think that this was not viable. In his mind, one had to take each case separately and deal with it either positively or negatively, according to what the circumstances demanded. He reasoned that not everyone deserved to be treated with the same grace; some should be rewarded and some should be punished.

Lucifer came to believe that if agape love was ever confronted with evil, it would be too weak to “take care” of it. In his mind, agape would fail precisely because it lacked an arbitrary system of reward and punishment—a merit and demerit system. This
is why, from Lucifer’s perspective, God’s law was ineffectual when confronted with evil. And he could prove it. “What do you mean, he could prove it?” you may ask. Look at his own case: he was rebelling against God, and what was God doing about it? Nothing. It appeared that God was letting him get away with murder.

Lucifer claimed his new law would succeed and triumph in the presence of evil precisely because it contained a mechanism of arbitrary reward and punishment. Had he been in command, he would have taken care of such an upstart as himself; he would have done away with the rebel swiftly and efficiently—end of story. Can we see how violence entered? Can we see how he was rebelling against the “order of heaven” under the pretense of helping to stabilize the government of God?

And what was God doing? For all intents and purposes it appeared that He was exactly what Lucifer accused Him of being: foolish and weak. God didn’t stop him, didn’t put him away, didn’t even secretly conduct some kind of brain surgery to erase his evil thoughts—after all God could have done that easily without anyone ever knowing. But He did no such thing; rather, He allowed Satan to develop his “system of government:”

It was God’s purpose to place things on an eternal basis of security, and in the councils of heaven it was decided that time must be given for Satan to develop the principles which were the foundation of his system of government. He had claimed that these were superior to God’s principles. Time was given for the working of Satan’s principles, that they might be seen by the heavenly universe {DA 759.2; emphasis added}.

God was giving Satan time “to develop the principles which were the foundation of his system of government,” principles which Satan had claimed “were superior to God’s principles.” No question of God giving Satan time; but He also does not use force:

God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcome by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan’s government. The Lord’s principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God’s government is moral, and truth
and love are to be the prevailing power
{DA 759.1; emphasis added}.

“Compelling power is found only under Satan’s government.” “The Lord’s principles are not of this order.” God’s “authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love.” God was not about to change His principles in order to meet this emergency. God stood by His principles of goodness, nonviolence, freedom, mercy and love because He knew they were the only safeguards for life in the entire universe.

Lucifer was trying to introduce a system where there would be “compelling power,” force, violence. His authority would therefore necessarily rest upon the opposite of God’s principles. Truth, goodness, mercy and love would not prevail in Lucifer’s government. Instead, it would thrive on lies, force, violence, wickedness, cruelty, and retributive punishment—all in the name of “order.”

Lucifer must have pondered that God was foolish in allowing him to pursue his course of rebellion. As time went on and God did nothing to stop him, he became even more convinced that there was a serious flaw with God’s modus operandi. Therefore, in his mind, for the good of the universe, agape had to go—to him it was a done deal.

Satan had declared that the law of God was faulty, and that the good of the universe demanded a change in its requirement. In attacking the law, he thought to overthrow the authority of its Author, and gain for himself the supreme allegiance. But through the plan of salvation, the precepts of the law were to be proved perfect and immutable, that at last only glory and love might rise to God throughout the universe, ascribing glory and honour and praise to Him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever {ST December 22, 1914 Par. 5, emphasis added}.

Since Lucifer believed God’s law was “faulty,” he advanced his own law as the solution to the problem. The changes he thought were necessary for the stability of God’s government entailed the removal of God’s law, and the implementation of his new law.

No one could yet fathom the effects of Lucifer’s rebellion. Violence and its ultimate consequence—death—were unknown in the universe; they were in fact yet unknown to Lucifer himself. God warned his covering cherub and tried to dissuade him from proceeding in this dangerous, disastrous path. But instead of turning back, the fallen angel went full throttle ahead.

We, however, know the consequences of his law. We are living in them. We are the theater of operations for this polemic—this war of principles. And as we look at the conditions on the earth, so far, Lucifer’s “new order” is not looking good at all.

What would have happened, had God accepted Lucifer’s proposal to implement his violent law? God would have become like Satan, which is preposterous, isn’t it? Think about it: had God been like Satan, God would have stopped Lucifer’s rebellion right then and there by using some kind of violent action against him. But He didn’t. Why not?

God is not like Satan. This is not who God is. This is not how He does things. This is not His heart, His law. Remember that God is perfect love. And remember that Lucifer was God’s masterpiece; God still loved that covering cherub.

Would you destroy your child if he/she stood up against you? What if he/she became a murderer? Would you destroy them then? Or would you do everything in your power to save that child? Would you hope till the very last second that they would turn back? And at the last second… would you still murder them?

Remember the definition of God’s agape love: agape love is patient, kind… it does not take into account a wrong suffered… it bears up under anything and everything… It is ever ready to believe the best… Its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything without weakening…love never fails, never fades out or becomes obsolete, it never comes to an end… God has never stopped loving Lucifer. He still loves him. He will always mourn the death of this son.

Taking advantage of the freedom provided by God, Lucifer went ahead with his plans to remove God’s “weak” law. And he had an advantage because he knew God had a law. But the angels were in a vulnerable position—they didn’t know. They didn’t realize there was such a thing as “law.”

The angels lived by the moral law of love without knowing it. In fact, before Satan’s rebellion, all created beings lived by God’s moral law of love without realizing it:

…in heaven, service is not rendered in the spirit of legality. When Satan rebelled against the law of Jehovah, the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something un-thought of. In their
ministry the angels are not as servants, but as sons. There is perfect unity between them and their Creator. Obedience is to them no drudgery. Love for God makes their service a joy. So in every soul wherein Christ, the hope of glory,
dwells, His words are re-echoed, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8 {MB 109.2, emphasis added}.

Lucifer reckoned that if he could convince everyone that iniquity was better than agape he would become the new ruler of the universe. But iniquity had made him cunning, and he was too clever to do things out in the open. He knew he would be shunned for aspiring to be superior to God. But if he could convince the angels that his new law was actually coming from God… then he might have a chance. As the keeper of the law he was in a strategic position. He could change the law and make it appear as though it were the true one. The angels, joyfully serving God’s law of love, would not suspect anything.

Did Lucifer really expect to get away with this? Wouldn’t God step in and unmask him? Wouldn’t He set things straight for all to see? Wouldn’t the Creator call his bluff? Apparently not, because this is exactly what Lucifer did, and he got away with it. So clever was his deception, he took half of the angels at first. Finally, only a third sided with him. But his deception reached farther than the angelic host. It encompassed the entire universe. Consider again the following words:

But how shall the universe know that Lucifer is not a safe and just leader? To their eyes he appears right. They cannot see, as God sees, beneath the outward covering. They cannot know as God knows. To work to unmask him and make plain to the angelic host that his judgment is not God’s judgment, that he has made a standard of his own and exposed himself to the righteous indignation of God, would create a state of things that must be avoided {CTr 11.5, emphasis added}.

Not only the angels, but the entire universe was taken in by Lucifer’s deceptions. In their eyes his ways even appeared “safe and just.” In their innocence, which they had under agape love, they could not fathom the consequences of Lucifer’s clever new law. He even appeared right to them. Only God could foresee the ultimate result of the use of force and violence on the creatures He had so lovingly created.

We might rightfully ask: then why didn’t God defend Himself? Why didn’t He stop Lucifer? How could He allow this to happen? Did Lucifer have a point after all? Was God indeed foolish and weak? Were His ways flawed? What about all the lives that would be lost by letting Lucifer live? Wouldn’t it be better, for the sake of the world, nay, of the entire universe, to destroy one being? Shouldn’t God have used the same argument Caiaphas used to indict Jesus:

And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish” (John 11:49-50, emphasis added).

Human wisdom would argue that it should have been expedient for God to kill Lucifer, and not that the earth “perish.” But as Lucifer’s scheme unfolded, God did no such thing—He allowed it to happen.

God did, however, warn Lucifer of the danger of pursuing his course. He showed him cause and effect. His warning had also been for the angels; and yet they all had the freedom to do as they wished. In spite of this clear warning, Lucifer stubbornly continued his rebellion.

In heavenly council the angels pleaded with Lucifer. The Son of God presented before him the greatness, the goodness, and the justice of the Creator, and the sacred, unchanging nature of His law. God Himself had established the order of heaven; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonour his Maker and bring ruin upon himself. But the warning, given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused a spirit of resistance. Lucifer allowed his jealousy of Christ to prevail, and became the more determined {PP 35.3, emphasis added}.

With all this in mind, let’s bring this issue right home. Can the harmony of the universe exist on unconditional love alone? Is unconditional love sufficient to keep order, harmony and peace on earth? Look at the world around us: could unconditional love bring peace between the nations? Could it solve all humanity’s problems?

This is a familiar polemic. That’s because we are smack-dab in the middle of it. Love versus force/fear: which is the better motivator and order-keeper?

As you see, this is not an easy question and the answer is fraught with meaning because this is exactly the issue that began the great controversy between God and Satan. How we choose to answer this question will position us either on the side of God or Satan.

Jesus said iniquity would increase in the last days—iniquity, Satan’s violent law. Since violence is inherent in iniquity, then violence would also increase. Christ also said that the last days would be like the days of Noah. Not surprisingly, the days of Noah were marked by violence:

“…every intent of the thoughts of his [MANKINDS’] heart was only evil continually…” (Genesis 6:5, emphasis added).

“…and the earth also was corrupted before God and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11).

The universe saw in the flood “the results of the administration that which Lucifer had endeavoured to establish in heaven:”

The holy inhabitants of other worlds were watching with the deepest interest the events taking place on the earth. In the condition of the world that existed before the Flood they saw illustrated the results of the administration which Lucifer had endeavoured to establish in heaven, in rejecting the authority of Christ and casting aside the law of God. In those high-handed sinners of the antediluvian world they saw the subjects over whom Satan held sway. The thoughts of men’s hearts were only evil continually. Genesis 6:5. Every emotion, every impulse and imagination, was at war with the divine principles of purity and peace and love. It was an example of the awful depravity resulting from Satan’s policy to remove from God’s creatures the restraint of His holy law {PP 78.4, emphasis added}.

The power of Satan’s law is very deceptive—it drives us to do wicked, mean, and violent acts all in the name of good, or even in the name of God. The only remedy for this is the restraint of God’s law of agape love.


By the abundance of his trade—by the abundance of iniquity, Lucifer’s new moral law—the covering cherub became filled with violence within, and as a consequence, he “sinned.” Iniquity, violence, and sin are inseparable. They are inextricably inter- twined. Violence is embedded in iniquity; therefore, those that operate by this moral law are inherently violent. To say that God has a part in any of these is to say that God has a part in all three. If God is violent, then God is also iniquitous and a sinner.

Notice that Lucifer is the first being that ever sinned in God’s universe. What is the biblical meaning of the word “sin?” We are going to look at the Hebrew and Greek definitions, and then see how Jesus defines it.

The Hebrew word châtâ’ means “properly to miss; hence (figuratively and generally) to sin; by inference to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, (causatively) lead astray, condemn,” (Strong’s Dictionary).

Properly, “sin” means to miss the mark. The Greek definition of “sin” adds a little more meaning to help us understand this: “to miss the mark and so not share in the prize. To err, especially (morally),” (Strong’s Dictionary).

To miss the mark, to err—basically to make a mistaken judgment, to get it wrong. To get it wrong in regards to what? The Greek definition says that it is in relation to morality. Sin then, is to use Satan’s moral law instead of God’s law. Quoting the Psalmist’s words about the children of Israel’s rebellion in the desert, Paul paraphrases in the Book of Hebrews:

‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways’ (Hebrews 3:10, emphasis added).

The KJV states:

They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways (Hebrews 3:10, emphasis added).

They “do alway err” or sin in their heart, because they have not known God’s ways, they have not known His moral law of agape love.

Ultimately, Jesus can help us understand this. But before we go there, we must understand that the Bible refers to sin in two ways: as “sin,” singular, and as “sins,” plural. Is there a difference? Yes, because Jesus seemed to be concerned primarily with the singular “sin.”

Two New Testament prophecies about Jesus say that He would save His people from their “sins.” The first was given to Joseph by an angel:

Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-21, emphasis added).

The word “Jesus” comes from the Hebrew “Jehoshua,” which in turn comes from two root words. The first is Jehovah—“the existing One”— and the second is yâsha’, which refers to a word that means to save, to succor, help, rescue. The reason the angel told Joseph to call Him “Jesus” is because “He will save His people from their sins.” He will rescue, come to our help and succor us from Satan’s law, and from the false image of God this law projected onto our minds. We thought this moral law of reward and punishment was God’s moral law when in fact it is Satan’s law. Jesus would show us that God is agape, not good and evil.

The second prophecy was given to John the Baptist’s father:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us (Luke 1:76-78, emphasis added).

John the Baptist would prepare the path for Jesus to give the “knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins.” Remission means “freedom; (figuratively) pardon:—deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission” (Strong’s Concordance). Under Satan’s moral law, sins were not pardoned—they were punished.

Traditionally, in Jewish thought, sins were only pardoned by the offering of sacrifices. John discarded that system and began forgiving sins through baptism. This knowledge of salvation then meant that the people needed to know they were pardoned. They needed to know that they were free from the condemnation of their sins. This is what would save them. This is how he prepared the way for Jesus, because when Jesus began His ministry, He didn’t even baptize; He simply announced “your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus started imparting the knowledge of salvation, the knowledge of God’s grace, pardon and forgiveness. He began telling the people that all their sins were forgiven. Were—past tense. They had already been forgiven. In fact, they had always been forgiven. The gospel is an eternal gospel—eternal good news.

This was the saving knowledge Jesus came to impart. Notice how He dealt with “sins” and how the Pharisees reacted to it:

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you…” “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” … “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” — He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” (Mark 2:5,7,9,10-11).

To the Pharisees, Christ’s words were blasphemous. They were not happy at all with these new developments. In His words of forgiveness, He was threatening their whole economy—the sacrificial system. The Pharisees kept the people under spiritual and economic bondage by leading them to think they had to earn heaven’s forgiveness through animal sacrifices at least once a year.
This kept the temple economy going, and the money flowing into their treasury. Now Jesus was undermining their very livelihood by announcing that the whole human race is pardoned and forgiven by God’s government.

The issue of forgiveness of sins is central to the war of principles that  is taking place between God and Satan. Satan, whose very name means “the accuser,” believes we all must pay for our sins in one way or another. He demands a pound of flesh. Thus he institutes all sorts of hoops through which we must jump before we are pardoned. But Jesus taught that we are already forgiven. He taught that God had never imputed our “sins” onto us. This is clear by how the Saviour dealt with the people. The adulterous woman was forgiven—point blank. So was Zaccheus. So was the paralytic mentioned above, and the thief on the cross—and everyone else too.

The spiritual leaders of Jesus’ time should have known God’s stance on sins and forgiveness. It was written in their scrolls:

… You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back (Isaiah 38:17).

You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, nor have you satisfied Me with the fat of your sacrifices; but you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:24-25).

“I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel (Isaiah 44:22-23).

Jesus, then, didn’t come to forgive our sins. He came to give us the knowledge that our sins are already forgiven. This will give new meaning to the following verses:

For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).

To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38).

How could Jesus treat sin and sinners so differently? There is only one reason—because He knew and reflected the way the Father was.

Now, there was another sin, which according to Jesus was much more serious than “sins.” This “sin” could lead to death according to the apostle John:

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that (1 John 5:16).

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now
they have no excuse for their sin (John 15:22).

If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father (John 15:24).

And when He [THE HOLY SPIRIT] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me (John 16:8, emphasis added).

Now, we all know that every man born into this world, since Adam ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, is a sinner. Then how can Jesus say things like “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin?” And “If I had not
done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin?”

As we said earlier, Jesus was redefining the word sin here. “The” sin He is addressing is this: to not believe the words Jesus speaks or the works He does. In other words, this sin is not accepting Him as the final authority on the character of the Father—when they saw Him, they should have seen the Father in action. But by rejecting Him they were rejecting the Father—“they
have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.” And the Father had never held our sins against us. Rejection of this truth is the sin that leads to death.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come and convict the world of sin; why? “Of sin because they do not believe in Me.” Jesus is not connecting this “sin” to the “sins” we discussed earlier. This sin has to do with not believing in Jesus, in His words, in His works. This “sin” has to do with not believing the knowledge of salvation Jesus came to impart, through the remission of our “sins.” According to Jesus, if we reject this grace freely given to us, we will die in our “sins.”

Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come”… “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:21,24).

God is love—unconditional, impartial love. He never imputes our sins onto any of us. Remember 1 Corinthians 13—love keeps no record of wrongs. To reject this knowledge, to reject that this is how God is—this is the unpardonable sin. But even then we must understand this properly: it is not that God wouldn’t pardon even this—no; but once we reject this good news, there is nothing more God can do to convince us that we are absolved, free, forgiven, pardoned. By sending Jesus Christ He did all He could do. There was nothing more He could do or say—that was it.

“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” (Mark 3:28-29).

…so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them’” (Mark 4:12).

This is the sin. This is “missing the mark.” Not seeing, not perceiving, not understanding that we are covered by God’s love and grace; not seeing, not perceiving, not understanding that we are forgiven… This is the problem of humanity.

And this is what iniquity did to Lucifer. By “missing the mark” one forfeits the prize—the true knowledge of God and in that knowledge, the knowledge that we are forgiven, in fact considered as if we had never sinned. This is amazing grace!

Lucifer, who became Satan, “the accuser,” went astray from the true knowledge of God’s grace. He created a system of condemnation. Then he led others to join him—and they joined in his condemnation. Jesus came to bring the knowledge of salvation through the “remission of sins”—to tell us that God is not holding our sins against us—we are entirely, completely forgiven, because God is not in the business of condemning:

Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38).

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

That “missing the mark” is missing the truth that God is a God of grace is again reinforced when Jesus healed the man that was blind from birth:

“For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains” (John 9:39-41).

Christ came to reveal God’s character of agape love to those who did not know it—they were blind to it. Those that are blind through ignorance have no sin—“If you were blind, you would have no sin.” But after believing in Him, they now see God as He truly is. If they accept this good news, they are free indeed—the truth has made them free. The apostle John goes on to say:

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20).

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free ( John 8:32).

Some think they know God, but Jesus’ witness does not agree with their understanding. Thus they reject Jesus’ revelation of God—they say “we see.” But what they “see” is not in harmony with what Jesus taught.

Their sin—their “missing the mark”—remains. If we are already forgiven, then who is it that accuses us? What caused Lucifer to sin was the iniquity that was found in him. Iniquity was his trade, and by its abundance he became “filled with violence within” and he sinned. Iniquity caused him to “miss the mark.” Lucifer no longer saw God as God truly is. Instead he saw Him as one just like himself: an accuser, one who condemns. He saw God as a violent God.

Satan’s law is condemnatory and as a result his character became condemnatory. His condemning character distanced him very far away from God, because God is not an accuser. Condemnation is what transformed a light-bearer, “Lucifer,” into an accuser, “Satan.”

The work of Satan as an accuser began in heaven. This has been his work on earth ever since man’s fall, and it will be his work in a special sense as we approach nearer to the close of this world’s history. As he sees that his time is short, he will work with greater earnestness to deceive and destroy. He is angry when he sees a people on the earth who, even in their weakness and sinfulness, have respect to the law of Jehovah. He is determined that they shall not obey God. He delights in their unworthiness, and has devices prepared for every soul, that all may be ensnared and separated from God. He seeks to accuse and condemn God and all who strive to carry out His purposes in this world in mercy and love, in compassion and forgiveness {COL 167.1, emphasis added}.

God never accuses—it is not in His character to do so. Throughout this whole period of rebellion, He hasn’t even accused Satan, not even once. Michael, “in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 9).

The culprit is again, iniquity. This moral law is accusatory and violent, and it can’t help but to lead its adherents astray, away from the true knowledge of God. It is extremely important that we realize that all accusation stems from Lucifer and his law