The track of truth lies close beside the track of error, and both tracks may seem to be one to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit, and which, therefore, are not quick to discern the difference between truth and error {1SM 202.2}.

Christ is the “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). As through Christ every human being has life, so also through Him every soul receives some ray of divine light. Not only intellectual but spiritual power, a perception of right, a desire for goodness, exists in every heart. But against these principles there is struggling an antagonistic power. The result of the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man’s experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist. To withstand this force, to attain that ideal which in his inmost soul he accepts as alone worthy, he can find help in but one power. That power is Christ. Cooperation with that power is man’s greatest need {RC 106.5, emphasis added}.

We have finally arrived at the place where we will discuss in greater detail the principle Lucifer devised when he went against God’s law of agape love. We will address this law by various names, including iniquity, the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the moral law of Good and Evil, or just Good and Evil.

The Bible doesn’t come right out and say exactly what Lucifer’s issue was at the beginning of his rebellion. The puzzle must be assembled one piece at a time. Nuggets of truth have to be mined from the Bible, as described by the prophet Isaiah:

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little (Isaiah 28:9-10, KJV).

“Knowledge” and “doctrine” are understood by “them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts,” and are to be mined “precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” What is “solid food,” and how does one become “weaned from the milk”?

The writer of Hebrews states that to be “weaned from the milk” is to become spiritually mature:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:12-14).

According to this verse, becoming spiritually mature has to do with discerning “both good and evil.” How hard is it to discern good and evil? Don’t we all know the difference between the two? Doesn’t even a child? Apparently not; because according to Paul, discerning “both good and evil” is what constitutes spiritual maturity—“solid food” for “those who are full of age.” Furthermore it is implied in this text that maturity means to be skilled in the “word of righteousness,” as opposed to being skilled in iniquity.

Then what did Paul mean by the words “discerning both good and evil?” How do we discern them? Was he talking about the Good and the Evil of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? If so, we can run into some problems… because the Tree of Life is good—no one can dispute that. But the Tree
of the Knowledge of Good and Evil has to be evil since it causes death. It is poison—God said so. And yet, this Tree has Good in it too… doesn’t it?

If the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil causes death, then the Good of this Tree has to be a component of that poison. As such, can it be good? The answer is no, it can’t.

It is simple, then: the Tree of Life is good (“there is no one good but God,” Matthew 19:17) and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is evil (“the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” Genesis 2:17). This is essentially what Moses says in Deuteronomy:

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…” (Deuteronomy 30:15, emphasis added).

Jesus’ warning we read earlier about false prophets can help us to understand this further. He said:

Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:17-20).

A Tree that causes death is a “bad tree.” Therefore, it cannot “bear good fruit” in spite of all appearances. Remember the false prophets—they came in sheep’s clothing but were really ravening wolves. And the Scribes and Pharisees had a beautiful façade, but inside were full of death:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27, emphasis added).

Lucifer’s proposed changes to the law of God could not have been good, by the sheer fact that they deviated from the perfect law of life and as a result caused death:

Since “the law of the Lord is perfect,” every variation from it must be evil. Those who disobey the commandments of God, and teach others to do so, are condemned by Christ. The Saviour’s life of obedience maintained the claims of the law, and showed the excellence of character that obedience would develop. All who obey as He did, are likewise declaring that the law is “holy, and just, and good” {ST March 29, 1910, par. 11, emphasis added}.

Satan’s law is a “variation” of God’s law; thus it is evil. His law cannot have any true good in it. Spiritual maturity, therefore, is being able to discern between these two Trees. One is life—good; the other is death—evil (Deuteronomy 30:15).

Here is the problem. We have all been trapped inside the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We have looked at its Good thinking that it is of God. We must think outside of this Tree in order to see what true good is—we must look to the Tree of Life. Then we will be able to “discern both good and
evil.” And the only person that can show us the Tree of Life is Jesus Christ.

The two Trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden represented the two principles “contending for supremacy” in our hearts. Consider this quote again:

The Bible is its own expositor. Scripture is to be compared with scripture. The student should learn to view the word as a whole, and to see the relation of its parts. He should gain a knowledge of its grand central theme, of God’s original purpose for the world, of the rise of the great controversy, and of the work of redemption. He should understand the nature of the two principles that are contending for supremacy, and should learn to trace their working through the records of history and prophecy, to the great consummation. He should see how this controversy enters into every phase of human experience; how in every act of life he himself reveals the one or the other of the two antagonistic motives; and how, whether he will or not, he is even now deciding upon which side of the controversy he will be found {Ed 190.2, emphasis added}.

These are profound words. They place the controversy over these two principles directly into each of our lives—every act of life “reveals the one or the other of the two antagonistic motives.” And “whether we will or not,” we are “even now deciding upon which side of the controversy” we “will be found.” Spiritual maturity is being able to discern between these “two antagonistic principles.”

This is easier said than done, because the moral law of Good and Evil is very deceptive—so deceptive that it is hard for us to grasp its wickedness. It stands on a very high deceptive moral ground. Furthermore, as fallen human beings, our moral identity is completely in harmony with it. This is why, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God said that He would put enmity between the serpent and the woman.

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).

Why would God have put enmity between the serpent and the woman? The answer can only be because there was complete sympathy between the two from the moment Eve ate of his Tree. “Enmity” would come through the woman’s “Seed,” another metaphor referring to Jesus Christ.

In the sentence pronounced on Satan in the garden, the Lord declared, “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. This was a promise that the power of the great adversary would finally be broken. Adam and Eve stood as criminals before the righteous Judge, but before they heard of the toil and sorrow which must be their portion or that they must return to dust, they listened to words that could not fail to give them hope. They could
look forward to final victory {EP 33.1, emphasis added}.

Jesus was the “Seed” that would bruise Satan’s head:

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ (Galatians 3:16).

Unless we look to Jesus as the only true model of righteousness, we cannot see the deceptive nature of Satan’s law. In fact, what we often believe to be “truth” in terms of human morality turns out to be false and part of the rebel’s law. For this reason, many of us cannot accept the real truth when it is given to us, and sadly turn away from the true God.

The prophet Isaiah describes the human condition under the moral law of Good and Evil:

Alas, sinful nation,
A people laden with iniquity,
A brood of evildoers,
Children who are corrupters!
They have forsaken the Lord,
They have provoked to anger
The Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away backward.

Why should you be stricken again?
You will revolt more and more.
The whole head is sick,
And the whole heart faints.

From the sole of the foot even to the head,
There is no soundness in it,
But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;
They have not been closed or bound up,

Or soothed with ointment (Isaiah 1:4-6).

And the apostle Paul states:

For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;

They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:11-18).

This is not a pretty picture, and yet it is our reality—whether we like it or not, we are all described in the above verses. Why are we like this? Because of the moral law of sin which is our inner compass. “The poison of asps,” the serpent’s principles, are “under” our “lips.” “Destruction and misery” are in
our ways of thinking, which are ordered by Satan’s moral law. “The way of peace,” that is, God’s law of
agape love, we “have not known.”

However, we need not lose hope because God is able to get us out of this pit of darkness where we are gasping for air at the moment. But our minds must be turned completely upside down before this can happen. This is the “repentance” God is seeking for in us. This is metanoia—a complete change of mind, a reversal of our way of thinking. This is being “born again,” this is the “new man.”

Since Lucifer has so deceived us, to the point that we are in agreement with him, we must be able to first see his deceptions before we can reject them. Our hearts must be melted by God’s love. And we must daily commune with that “Vine” that gives us light and truth so that we don’t walk back into darkness again.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going” (John 12:35).

We will begin to understand Good and Evil when we realize the foundational reason for Lucifer’s rebellion against God’s law. We already know that Lucifer considered God’s law weak and foolish. But why did he think that?

In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God, and defied His will, Satan exulted. It was proved, he
declared, that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven. Because he, after his rebellion, had been banished from heaven, Satan claimed that the human race must be forever shut out from God’s favour. God could not be just, he urged, and yet show mercy to the sinner {DA 761.4, emphasis added}.

These words are filled with meaning. “The opening of the great controversy” mentioned here parallels Ezekiel’s statement, “You were perfect in your ways till iniquity was found in you.” Both statements are a reference to the beginning of Satan’s rebellion against the law of love. If we put these passages together, we see that the “iniquity” that was “found in” Lucifer at the “opening of the great controversy” was a new concept of “justice:” the idea that “every sin must meet its punishment.” This was his foundational reason for rising up against God in the “opening of the great controversy,” the very beginning of his rebellion.

Isn’t this a correct description of our moral make up? When we hear of crimes in the news, don’t we believe that the perpetrators must be punished accordingly, in proportion to their crime? We even have some expressions that describe this sentiment—“they had it coming to them,” or “they deserve every bit of it.”

Lucifer’s announcement that justice is “inconsistent with mercy” reveals a new way of thinking about “justice”—his way, not God’s. Mercy is God’s justice—this is the foundation of His throne. In the tabernacle, the law was covered by the mercy seat, where the two covering cherubs sat. The mercy seat (a throne) is a symbol of God’s kingdom of mercy—mercy being the foundation of His law.

“In mercy the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness” (Isaiah 16:5, emphasis added).

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face (Psalm 89:14, emphasis added).

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies (Psalm 25:10, emphasis added).

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him (Psalm 32:10, emphasis added).

But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth (Psalm 86:15, emphasis added).

For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens” (Psalm 89:2, emphasis added).

Lucifer claimed that the flaw, the weak point in God’s law of love was its lack of arbitrary punishment. He argued that agape love was doomed for failure without punishment—it was weak, inefficient and foolish. Ironically, it was precisely because there was no inherent punishment in God’s law that Lucifer himself had the freedom to bring in his law without having to fear punishment or destruction from God.

But Satan’s law is not just about punishment; if this were the case, it is highly doubtful that he would have managed to draw one third of the angels to his side. The symbol that helps us understand his moral law, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, was not called the Tree of Evil but the Tree
of the Knowledge of Good
and Evil—two opposites. This is a subtle but extremely significant nuance because it is through this mingling, this mixture of Good and Evil, that Satan has managed to deceive us so thoroughly.

To claim that there is any good in the Devil might look like absolute blasphemy to some. The natural human mind cannot conceive such a thing, and rightly so. But Lucifer’s law does have a side that appears to be Good.

We all know what he stands for. He is the Devil, after all; pure evil. It seems absurd to propose that any form of Good, even arbitrary, can originate from him. One assumes that everything about him is wickedness—and ultimately this is true. So how are we to understand this Good? Is it good, or is it evil?

When God said to Adam, “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” God declared that both the Good and the Evil embedded in this Tree are part of a death principle. Thus, this is a false Good because it also, along with its Evil counterpart, causes death. There is no
true goodness here, even though Satan would like us to think so.

Satan is God’s antagonist; therefore, he and anything that comes from him has to be totally opposite to God and His principle of agape love. The moral law of Good and Evil has to be entirely opposed to God’s Tree of Life principle—this is foundational. Furthermore, even though Lucifer’s morality is comprised of what appears to be two principles, it is really just one principle. It is a single, coalesced, and corrupt principle.

By using one tree to represent this principle, God indicated that this law of contrary ideas represents one principle composed of two contrasting sides. Good and Evil is a single principle but it is not unitary; it is dualistic—it is a hybrid principle. The two work together and cannot be separated.

Superficially, then, the Good and the Evil of Satan’s law appear to be opposites, but intrinsically they both result in destruction and death; this makes them both evil. In the context of this law, Good and Evil are two sides of the same coin and they are both violent because they are what filled Lucifer with “violence within.”

The Good in the principle of Good and Evil is a kind of love—but this “love” is entirely antithetical to God’s unconditional agape love. Ultimately, this is why this “love” cannot be good at all, since it is completely opposite to the true, unconditional goodness of the Tree of Life.

Satan has wrought with deceiving power, bringing in a multiplicity of errors that obscure
the truth.
Error cannot stand alone, and would soon become extinct if it did not fasten
itself like a parasite upon the tree of truth. Error draws its life from the truth of God.
The traditions of men, like floating germs, attach themselves to the truth of God, and men
regard them as a part of the truth. Through false doctrines, Satan gains a foothold, and captivates the minds of men, causing them to hold theories that have no foundation in truth. Men boldly teach for doctrines the commandments of men; and as traditions pass on, from age to age, they acquire a power over human mind. But age does not make error truth, neither
does its burdensome weight cause the plant of truth to become a parasite.
The tree of truth
bears its own genuine fruit, showing its true origin and nature. The parasite of error
also bears its own fruit, and makes manifest that its character is diverse from the
plant of heavenly origin
{Ev 589.1, emphasis added}.

To persons of culture and refinement the prince of darkness presents spiritualism in its more refined and intellectual aspects. He delights the fancy with enrapturing scenes and eloquent portrayals of love and charity. He leads men to take so great pride in their own wisdom that in their hearts they despise the Eternal One {HF 339.3, emphasis added}.

Lucifer fastened on to the concept of beneficence—drawing “life from the truth of God.” But “the parasite of error also bears its own fruit, and makes manifest that its character is diverse from the plant of heavenly origin.”

The “fruit” Satan’s Good bears, is death. But how is his Good, his version of beneficence, expressed through his law? Satan devised a bribe system—a system of rewards. We saw in the last chapter how the “taking of bribes” is a part of iniquity—well, here it is. Iniquity is comprised of a bribe system as well as a punishment system. In broad strokes, this is what the Knowledge of Good and Evil means.

Punishment is Satan’s version of “justice.” Punishment is the Evil side of Good and Evil. Reward and punishment are the primary distinguishing features of his law. To be more precise, these features are arbitrary rewards for doing Good and arbitrary punishments for doing Evil. As mentioned above, punishment was the original reason for Satan’s rebellion—he believed agape was “faulty” because it did not include any form of punishment, and so he urged that “every sin must meet its punishment.”

The Knowledge of Good and Evil uses arbitrary rewards and punishment as incentives. This is Lucifer’s wisdom. These positive and negative incentives have one goal: to generate order, to promote good behaviour. The Good and the Evil arms of this law are somewhat akin to the good cop/bad cop idea. They are opposite methods or means to achieve one common goal—order. Lucifer was competing with God for a system of universal order.

His ideas were highly organized and systematic—not some shabby or weak claim such as lawlessness or pride. These were there, no doubt, but must be understood as coming out of his dualistic moral law. His principle was so logical that one third of intelligent angels wholeheartedly bought into it. Who would ever run a political campaign with lawlessness or pride as their main ticket, and who would ever vote for such a platform?

Both reward and punishment are external motivations arbitrarily imposed upon us. As such they are violent methods of behaviour control. They remove our freedom of will and damage our relationships. They create selfishness, fear, pride and alienation. They especially damage our relationship with God because this law has made us believe that it is He who arbitrarily rewards and punishes us.

He [SATAN] will favour and prosper some in order to further his own designs, and he will bring trouble upon others and lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them {GC 589.2, emphasis added}.

Satan’s lies from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil cause us to be afraid of God, and as a result we run away from Him who is the only source of all love, joy, and life. In essence, reward and punishment is nothing more than Pavlovian conditioning—this is not God’s modus operandi. This type of conditioning dehumanizes us and removes our true identity as free sons and daughters of God.

Duality—opposing duality—is Satan’s key signature. Dual snakes are prevalent in many cultures and are a reflection of this. The American Medical Association logo is a good example. It is made of two snakes—they represent the serpent’s Knowledge of Good and Evil. The angel wings at the top of the logo, above the serpents, add another link to the fallen angel, who is a “bird,” a “dragon.” The drugs used in modern medicine are Good and Evilthey may bring healing but at the same time also cause harmful side effects. Duality is seen even in the serpent’s anatomy; the serpent has a forked tongue—is this a coincidence?

In the Book of Job, leviathan, a symbol of Satan, is portrayed as having a “double bridle:”

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?… I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion…Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle (Job 41:1, 11, 13 KJV, emphasis added)?

A “bridle” is an instrument used to direct a horse. The “double bridle” Satan uses to direct the human mind is his moral law of reward and punishment—a Dyad. A Dyad is one thing that consists of two opposed elements. Interestingly, the horse is a biblical metaphor for the church. How often have religionists in general been directed by Satan’s “double bridle,” thinking they are being led by God?

Jesus doesn’t use a bridle to direct us. He yokes us together with Him—we walk side by side in close relationship. His “yoke is easy” (Matthew 11:30), because His yoke is His law of agape love, mercy, and grace.

All of this gives us a new understanding into the perfection Lucifer had before iniquity was found in him. Remember that prior to sinning he was “entire”—he had an undivided character. Agape had made him tâmıym, perfect, morally entire, whole, complete, full, morally undefiled, without blemish or spot, upright, a being full of integrity and truth. Iniquity, with its mixture of Good and Evil, caused him to develop a dual, split personality. He became the opposite of tâmıym: divided, partial, fractured, dual, volatile, confused, confusing and violent; he became accusing and condemnatory.

Because iniquity is divided into Good and Evil, it turned Lucifer into a two-faced character—a hypocrite, a false character. It transformed him into a Jekyll and Hyde. Now Lucifer crosses easily back and forth between Good and Evil depending on what circumstance demands. This means he has an apparent Good side and an Evil side; but we must always keep in mind that his Good is still evil, because it is not agape.

God’s Tree of Life has no such duality—it is singleness Greek haplotes), a unitary, unchanging principle of love. It is a Monad, referring to the number one. Jesus’ prominent character trait is this singleness—the one thing Satan deceived Eve about. This sheds greater meaning onto “the first of all the commandments,” as quoted by Jesus:

The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord (Mark 12:29, emphasis added).

Jesus was quoting Moses, who had said:

“Hear, O Israel: ‘The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6:4, emphasis added).

The number one here—echad in Hebrew—refers to God’s singleness, His unchanging character. This is “the first of all the commandments” because it can help us distinguish the true God from all the false gods of this world who have a dual character of Good and Evil.