The concept of justice is extremely important in understanding the war between God and Satan. Why? Because it was in this particular point that Lucifer first deviated from God in the opening of the great controversy.

As we study the word “justice” in the Bible, it becomes apparent that, just as there are two types of judgment, there are also two types of justices—God’s justice and Satan’s justice. There is a justice according to Good and Evil (iniquity) and there is a justice according to agape love, which is righteousness. We must be able to differentiate between the two, otherwise we will fall into the human error of interpreting “justice” according to the law of Good and Evil. Again, the Bible must be our interpreter and definer of terms. God’s justice is never divorced from mercy:

God’s love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of His throne, and the fruit of His love. It had been Satan’s purpose to divorce mercy from truth and justice. He sought to prove that the righteousness of God’s law is an enemy to peace. But Christ shows that in God’s plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist with- out the other. ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ Psalm 85:10 {DA 762.3, emphasis added}.

Mercy and God’s law of love are inseparable. Satan sought to prove that God’s agape love cannot keep order—that His righteousness “is an enemy to peace.” But mercy is God’s true justice:

Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts:
true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother’” (Zechariah 7:8-9, emphasis added).

In Moses’ Sanctuary, God’s mercy was represented by the lid that covered the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments. That lid was called the “mercy seat.” What is this mercy seat? In essence it is God’s “throne” (seat) of mercy. God instructed Moses how to build the mercy seat:

“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel” (Exodus 25:17-22, emphasis added).

The cherubim were to be made of one piece with the mercy seat. They faced each other, and their faces were to be directed toward the mercy seat. This is highly illustrative of the position Lucifer occupied and its significance in heaven before his rebellion. When he broke trust with God, he turned his face away from the mercy seat. In doing so, he rejected the concept that mercy and justice are inseparable. The Psalmist states:

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

God’s righteousness, justice, mercy and truth are intrinsically intertwined with His law of love and do not, in fact cannot, contradict each other. They are a harmonious package, as Jesus revealed in His own life and death.

Because mercy is the “foundation” of God’s throne, it is not surprising that from the very beginning of Satan’s rebellion, the focus of his attack on God had to do precisely with the issues of justice and mercy. When talking to the Pharisees, Jesus indicated that justice and mercy were the “weightier matters of the law:”

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone (Matthew 23:23, emphasis added).

As we read earlier, “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.” Take another look at this quote:

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}.

What could Satan have meant by the statement “justice was inconsistent with mercy?” Did he mean that God’s justice was indeed inconsistent with mercy? Or did he mean that, according to his own opinion, justice could not be consistent with mercy? If we weigh the words “justice was inconsistent with mercy” against the statement “every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan,” we have to conclude that the latter is the case—Satan was creating a new concept of justice. If the reader recalls, one of the Hebrew words for iniquity, âvôn, also means punishment. When iniquity was found in Lucifer the concept of punishment came into being.

At a certain point in his rebellion, Satan came to perceive justice as the equivalent of punishment, and as he rebelled against love, he began urging that God should accept his new definition of justice. To him, punishment became central to the concept of justice.

As one in holy office, he [LUCIFER] manifested an overbearing desire for justice, but it was a counterfeit of justice, which was entirely contrary to God’s love and compassion and mercy {RH September 7, 1897, par. 4, emphasis added}.

His [SATAN’S] object is to instigate evil, and when he has succeeded, throw all the blame upon the tempted one, presenting him before the Advocate, clothed in the black garments of sin, and endeavouring to secure to him the severest penalty. He would urge justice without mercy. Repentance he does not allow. The penalty, he argues, can never be remit- ted, and God be just {RH September 22, 1896, par. 7, emphasis added}.

If we take these statements and compare them to Ezekiel’s description of Lucifer’s fall, we shall gain a new insight into the nature of Satan’s attack on God’s law:


You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned” (Ezekiel 28:15-16).

Now we can interpret this passage to mean that Lucifer was perfect in his ways until this new concept of justice, the idea that “every sin must be punished,” arose in his mind. Thus the iniquity found in him was a new understanding of what justice should be, a penalizing justice, a justice which according to God is not justice at all.

Now we are confronted with two types of justices—one from God and one from Satan. To tell them apart we must sift through the Scriptures in order to identify which justice is of God and which is of Satan. Satan’s justice filled him with “violence within;” his sense of justice naturally caused him to become violent. Thus his justice uses violence.

In the Bible, God’s justice is often paired with His righteousness. If justice is done in the spirit of righteousness, then it is of God. Central to God’s justice are the concepts of goodness, loving-kindness, truth and mercy. That is His righteousness. Conversely, if justice is achieved through violence then it is of Satan.

The case of the adulterous woman is a clear example of both Satan’s and God’s justice. The Pharisees wanted to give her Satan’s justice and as such were prepared to stone her to death. Jesus gave her God’s justice: mercy. The adulterous woman received God’s justice and her life was transformed from that moment on. Consider, then, the following verses about justice:

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 33:5, emphasis added).

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

The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed (Psalm 103:6, emphasis added).

Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her penitents with righteous- ness (Isaiah 1:27, emphasis added).

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).

Also I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plum- met; the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place (Isaiah 28:17, emphasis added).

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice (Isaiah 32:1, emphasis added).

The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness (Isaiah 33:5, emphasis added).

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness

and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy” (Hosea 2:19, emphasis added).

According to these verses, God’s justice equals goodness, mercy, truth, loving- kindness and righteousness. Righteousness being rightness, rectitude and moral virtue, it has to be aligned with God’s agape love and all its attributes, otherwise it is not righteousness. There is never any mention of violence in God’s justice.

The word “justice” also refers to that which is right. In reference to God’s law of agape love, it indicates equity, which is by definition impartial and unconditional. Again, God’s justice has to be exercised within the parameters of His agape love. Justice that steps outside of agape love is a false justice—it is Satan’s perversion of justice.

Satan created a new type of rightness, rectitude and moral virtue, a new justice that operates outside of agape love. His justice is not filled with goodness, mercy, truth, and loving-kindness. Rather, it is cruel, mean and destructive—it is violent. Consider the following words:

The condemning power of Satan would lead him to institute a theory of justice inconsistent with mercy. He claims to be officiating as the voice and power of God, claims that his decisions are justice, are pure and with- out fault. Thus he takes his position on the judgment seat and declares that his counsels are infallible. Here his merciless justice comes in, a counterfeit of justice, abhorrent to God {CTr 11.4, emphasis added}.

Satan instituted “a theory of justice,” a counterfeit justice, that is “inconsistent with mercy.” This means that his justice is “merciless”—devoid of mercy. Not only that, but he deceived the universe into thinking that his justice was coming from God—“he claims to be officiating as the voice and power of God.” And he insists that his justice is the correct one, that his “decisions are justice, are pure and without fault.” “Thus he takes his position on the judgment seat and declares that his counsels are infallible.”

This is “abhorrent to God,” because God is the personification of mercy. In fact, to God, Satan’s justice is actually injustice—and this injustice done through a false justice is what iniquity in essence is. This explains why “Jesus loved righteousness and hated iniquity,” as stated in the Book of Hebrews:

But to the Son He says:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness [INIQUITY]; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions” (Hebrews 1:8-9, emphasis added).

The counterfeit justice of Satan is a “censuring” kind of justice that judges and condemns others:

The counterfeit justice that Satan advocates is abhorred by God. His censuring must not be imitated by any who are partakers of divine mercy and love. Guard your own soul, my brother, my sister; watch closely for the first jealous thought, the first suggestion to question or judge others. We must not be severe with the infirmities of others, but attend zealously to our own individual case {SW September 25, 1906, par. 10, emphasis added}.

Questioning and judging others are part of the package of Satan’s counterfeit justice. There is nothing positive in censuring and criticizing others; rather, criticism only reveals a harsh spirit that seeks to accuse and indict. This is what Satan has done to our moral make up. This spirit is far removed from God’s impartial goodness, mercy, and love.

Consider the following verses—they show that to use violence in the context of justice is a contradiction, a perversion:

If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them (Ecclesiastes 5:8, emphasis added).

In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter (Isaiah 59:13-14. emphasis added).

God’s justice can be traded off and blocked by a false, violent perversion of His justice. Thus it is that justice “stands afar off,” “is fallen in the streets,” “and equity cannot enter.” The next verses show how violence and justice are incompatible, but that often justice and righteousness are perverted into something they should not be:

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘Enough, O princes of Israel! Remove violence and plundering, execute justice and righteousness, and stop dispossessing My people,’ says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 45:9, emphasis added).

“Seek the Lord and live, lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, with no one to quench it in Bethel— you who turn justice to wormwood, and lay righteousness to rest in the earth” (Amos 5:6-7, emphasis added)!

Do horses run on rocks? Does one plow there with oxen? Yet you have turned justice into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (Amos 6:12, emphasis added).

True justice is the fruit of righteousness. But Satan has turned this word into “gall” and “wormwood”—both noxious and poisonous plants. Satan’s justice is filled with violence and oppression—it is not equitable.

We all know Satan’s type of justice quite well and have experienced its punishing and destructive nature. Nothing good comes out of his style of justice, even if it may appear that way for a time. The eventual end-result of his system is alienation, rebellion, pain, strife, destruction and death.

Lucifer was the first sinner and according to his own reasoning, God should have punished him. Isn’t that the logical conclusion? But God did not do any such thing. Lucifer’s banishment from heaven was not an arbitrary act of God; he banished himself by being completely out of harmony with every inhabitant of heaven. They stopped listening to his cunning deceptions—heaven rejected his “wisdom.”

Furthermore, it was his own mind, his own thinking that banished him from the favour of God. Lucifer became the first unbeliever. Because of his new concept of justice, he could not believe in pardon whether for himself or for anyone else. Ellen White states:

Satan, the chief of the fallen angels, once had an exalted position in heaven. He was next in honour to Christ. The knowledge which he, as well as the angels who fell with him, had of the character of God, of His goodness, His mercy, wisdom, and excellent glory, made their guilt unpardonable {Con 21.1}.

Lucifer rejected mercy itself, and by doing so he committed the un- pardonable sin. This is so, not because God could not pardon Lucifer—no, from God’s point of view he is pardoned already. If God’s love is unconditional and impartial then even Satan has been forgiven. But notice:

There was no possible hope for the redemption of those who had witnessed and enjoyed the inexpressible glory of heaven, and had seen the terrible majesty of God, and, in presence of all this glory, had rebelled against Him. There were no new and wonderful exhibitions of God’s exalted power that could impress them so deeply as those they had already experienced. If they could rebel in the very presence of glory inexpressible, they could not be placed in a more favourable condition to be proved. There was no reserve force of power, nor were there any greater heights and depths of infinite glory to overpower their jealous doubts and rebellious murmuring. Their guilt and their punishment must be in proportion to their exalted privileges in the heavenly courts {Con 21.2, emphasis added}.

If Satan could rebel against the embodiment of mercy and love, what hope was there for him to come back to God? He had already been exposed fully to the God of love—and he rejected Him. Thus he was caught in his own trap. He would have to eventually suffer the very punishment he had formulated for others—not because God demanded it, but because his own mind set it so. His condemnation will come solely from his own law of Good and Evil—from his “evil heart of unbelief.” Consider the following verses:

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:12-15).

“An evil heart of unbelief ” is the only thing that separates us from the God of unconditional love. None of us has fallen so low that God cannot forgive us. None of us has become so treacherous and evil that God cannot reform us. The only sin that cannot be pardoned is the sin of unbelief in the true character of God—and again, not because God won’t pardon it, but because unbelief itself cuts us off from the God of mercy.

In the Koran, the Devil is called Iblis. Notice the definition of this word, according the Encyclopedia Mythica:

Iblis is the name for the devil in the Qur’an. Although the term “devil” comes from the Greek diabolos, the Muslims derived the name from the Arabic, balasa, “he despaired,” which can be interpreted “despaired of the mercy of God” but he is also al-Shairan, Satan, and “the enemy of God.” The latter aspect of Satan is a commonly shared belief of both Muslims and Christians. According to one tradition, when Allah ordered the angels to bow down to the newly created man, Adam, Iblis refused to do so because he, being made of fire, thought himself superior to a creature made of earth. He continues tempting humans, especially through the whisper (waswas, “he whispered”) and false suggestion (haiif). In the end, it is believed, he will be cast into Jahannam (Hell). Another commonly shared belief held by both religions is that the universal existence of evil in personal lives is usually experienced as a consequence of a personal agent, the devil. Although both Satan and al-Shairan are identified, Shairan also has a distinct existence, perhaps as the leader of the jinns, a personification of temptation. This coincides with the Muslim belief that each individual is accompanied by two personal spiritual entities; an angel records all the good deeds the person performs, and a shairan who records the bad deeds (“Iblis.” Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. <http:// www.pantheon.org/articles/i/iblis.html> [Accessed March 02, 2016]).

The Arabic word from which his Arabic name comes from means “he despaired, which can be interpreted ‘despaired of the mercy of God.’” Iblis despaired of the mercy of God not because God doesn’t have mercy, but because Iblis stopped believing in mercy altogether. Note how he and his angels record “all the good deeds” and the “bad deeds” of human beings. This is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If, ac- cording to 1 Corinthians 13, God keeps no record of wrongs, and if our good works do not earn our salvation, then it is clear that it is the Devil and his angels who are re- cording these things. They are keeping a record so that they can accuse us before God.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down” (Revelation 12:10).

By not believing in God’s mercy and love we cut ourselves off from mercy. “An evil heart of unbelief” is the only thing that will prevent us from having eternal life. It is no wonder Paul calls it “an evil heart of unbelief!” We must hang on to Jesus’ love and mercy as if to a life raft.

Men would no longer be the slaves of sin if they would but turn from Satan’s alluring, delusive attractions, and look to Jesus long enough to see and understand his love. New habits will be formed, and powerful propensities for evil will be held in check. OurLeader is a conqueror, and he guides us on to certain victory. Our Advocate, Jesus, is pleading before his Father’s throne in our behalf, and he is also pleading with the sinner, saying, “Turn ye, for why will ye die?” Has not God done everything possible through Christ to win men from Satanic deception? Has he not given himself? Did he not for our sake become poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich? Is he not a risen Saviour, ever living to make intercession for us? Is he not ever following up his great work of atonement by the work of the Holy Spirit on every heart? The bow of mercy still arches the throne of God, testifying to the fact that every soul who believes in Christ as his personal Saviour, shall have everlasting life. Mercy and justice are blended in God’s dealing with his heritage {ST September 19, 1895, par. 2, emphasis added}.

Can you imagine this—that there is an unfathomable future eternal life being offered to every human being, not based on their own goodness or evilness, but freely given, but many will lose it simply because they do not believe? What is “the deceitfulness of sin”? It is the same unbelief that gripped Lucifer’s mind when he deviated from God’s justice and mercy. The same unbelief he has “instilled” in angels and human beings:

That which Satan had instilled into the minds of the angels ‘a word here and a word there’ opened the way for a long list of suppositions. In his artful way he drew expressions of doubt from them. Then, when he was interviewed, he accused those whom he had educated. He laid all the disaffection on the ones he had led. As one in holy office, he manifested an overbearing desire for justice, but it was a counterfeit of justice, which was entirely contrary to God’s love and compassion and mercy {RH September 7, 1897, par. 4, emphasis added}.

Satan was sowing seeds of unbelief as he was drawing expressions of doubt from the angels. The particular target of his seeds of unbelief was the justice of God. Satan was leading an entire section of the heavenly hosts into unbelief regarding God’s justice.

His success is evident by how fallen angels reacted to Jesus while He was here on earth. They often recoiled from Him in fear and typically exclaimed, “Have you come to destroy us before our time?” They too were deceived by the condemning moral law of Good and Evil, and expected that Jesus would use Satan’s counterfeit of justice. This is the only justice they now believe in, and as a consequence, this is how they see God.

The human race has been held captive by Satan’s deceptions for a long time. Ever since Adam ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil we have been exchanging God’s justice for Satan’s. We interpret everything, even the Scriptures with the same filter. The result is that we have been keeping away from God because we see Him as condemning. But all condemnation, without exception, springs from Satan’s law of iniquity, and is a by-product of his counterfeit justice.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20, emphasis added).

God’s mercy never ends because love never ends. God “is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). It is the deceptions of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, etched in our minds, that block us from seeing His mercy and appropriating it for ourselves.

When a man takes the position that when he has once made a decision he must stand by it, and never to alter his decision, he is on the same ground as was Lucifer when he rebelled against God. He held his plans regarding the government of heaven as an exalted, unchangeable theory {3BC 1161.6}.

Are we open to see the evidence and allow God to change our hearts and our way of thinking regarding His character?