The predominant belief among students of the great controversy is that Lucifer’s original sin was pride. Was pride his original sin or was it something else? The view that pride was his original sin is based on the following verses:

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).

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendour (Ezekiel 28:17, emphasis added).

What incredible words! What ambition, what presumption, what pride indeed! “I will ascend… I will exalt my throne… I will sit on the mount of the congregation… I will ascend above… I will be like the Most High!”

This was the first time a sinless being had ever rebelled against God. The universe must have been astir—what does Lucifer mean, he wants to ascend into heaven and exalt his “throne” above the stars, the angels of God? This is utterly out of harmony with God, whose heart is humble, meek, unselfish, loving, and eternally joy-giving. Lucifer was completely deviating from this path, which is in opposition to Jesus’ humility:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

There is no question that Lucifer became proud. The texts are clear. But what was involved in his desire for exaltation? What caused his pride? Was pride the heart of his problem, or was it a by-product of something else?

Lucifer wanted to exalt his throne. Now here is something specific we can look at—a throne. What does “throne” mean? Does it mean that he wanted to exalt himself over God in the sense that he wished to rule the universe? Did he desire to do away with God’s government so that he could elevate his own? Indeed, it appears that all this is symbolized by the words “I will exalt my throne.” What’s in a “throne?”

A throne is a symbol. Literally speaking, it is simply a piece of furniture, the chair upon which a king sits. This chair has become symbolic of a king, his kingdom and his laws. The word “throne” is synonymous with sovereign power, sovereignty, rule and dominion.

A king must have subjects—people to populate his geographic realm. He also needs rules and guidelines—laws that ensure harmony and peaceful coexistence among his people so that order may exist. The symbol the Bible uses for a king’s laws is the “scepter.” The word “scepter” in the Bible is often interchangeable with the words “rod” and “staff;” but their symbolic meaning is the same—law.

Jacob’s prophecy that the Messiah, the Lawgiver, would come from the tribe of Judah clearly connects the “scepter” with “law:”

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

Other texts associate “throne” and “scepter” with “righteousness,” which is God’s law of agape love:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom (Psalm 45:6, emphasis added).

Jesus Himself is portrayed as ruling with a “rod of iron:”

Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15, emphasis added).

“A rod of iron” is the Bible’s way of saying that God’s law is strong—it is as strong as iron. It does not mean that God rules with force or violence. It is a way of saying that Lucifer’s attempt to get rid of God’s law will never succeed because His law is an everlasting, eternal law.

As a covering cherub, as a protector of the law, Lucifer was well acquainted with the fact that God ruled the universe through a law. His desire to ascend into heaven and exalt his throne above the angels of God meant he wanted to put God’s law aside and implement his own. He developed a desire to be the lawgiver of the universe. He hoped that his method of governance would not only rival but also surpass God’s law of agape love. But his was a “throne of iniquity,” not righteousness. Notice what the Psalmist says:

Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, have fellow- ship with You (Psalm 94:20, emphasis added)?

This verse tells us something extremely important—the “throne of iniquity” “devises evil by law.” What does this mean?

The Hebrew word yâtsar—devise—means “to mould into a form; especially as a potter” (Strong’s Concordance). The idea is that of squeezing something into a shape. Lucifer squeezed evil into a form, a shape, a framework. That framework is a moral law. Evil is embed- ded in this law—thus the law itself is evil.

The question the Psalmist asks is: Can an evil throne that uses an evil law have any fellowship—châbar, to join—with God? And the answer is “no;” it cannot. Jesus, the defender of God’s law, “loved righteous- ness” but “hated” Lucifer’s law of iniquity:

You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness [INIQUITY, KJV]; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of glad- ness more than Your companions (Hebrews 1:9, emphasis added).

Satan wished to change the government of God, to fix his own seal to the rules of God’s kingdom. Christ would not be brought into this desire, and here the warfare against Christ commenced and waxed strong. Working in secrecy but known to God, Lucifer became a deceiving character. He told falsehood for truth {CTr 208.2, emphasis added}.

Once Lucifer devised his law of iniquity he began promoting it, “peddling” it to the intelligent beings in the universe—this was his traffick, his merchandise, the corrupt principles of his administration.

It must have been something like an election campaign. In fact, the Greek word for “war” used in Revelation 12:9, “there was war in heaven,” is polemos—polemic in English. Lucifer instigated a massive po- lemic, which is still wildly raging on, even now, here on earth.

Lucifer’s highest ambition was to “sit on the mount of the congregation” (Isaiah 14:13). What “congregation” is this? We read about it in the Book of Job:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present them- selves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it” (Job 1:6-7, emphasis added).

Here is described a congregation of the “sons of God” coming to “present themselves before the Lord.” Satan also came. In what capacity did he come? He came in the capacity of one who ruled the entire earth—one who is “going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

This gives us an indication of who the “sons of God” were, and in what capacity they came to this meeting. They too came as representatives of other kingdoms scattered throughout the universe. Why did they come to present themselves before God?

“Present”—yâtsab—means “to place (any thing so as to stay),” (Strong’s Dictionary). Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon reveals that yâtsab also means “to set oneself, to take a stand,” or “to stand up for, to stand by anyone.”

This gives a whole new understanding of this meeting between God, the “sons of God,” and Satan. This “congregation” was a meeting of heads of state. Satan, the adversary and accuser had stood up against God and His law, and the sons of God were standing up in God’s defense.

Lucifer’s desire to “sit on the mount of the congregation” meant that he desired to be worshipped as the lawgiver. He wanted to eventually rule the universe, “the congregation,” by his own law. This was the foundational reason for his rebellion.

Lucifer coveted a position that only God could fill—the covering cherub did not have the ability to take on the job of lawgiver. The Creator designed His creatures for life—not death. But life is conditional upon their living by the moral law of life—agape love. A battery-operated toy functions only when the correct battery is used. If one inserts a different battery the toy may not function properly, or not function at all. Likewise, if we are to have life we must be in harmony with the law of life—God’s law. Lucifer’s law is a law that destroys life. We will explain how this works in the chapter titled “Fear.”

But you may say… Lucifer’s heart was lifted up because of his “beauty,” so it was all about pride. Yes, but the text also says that he corrupted his “wisdom” for the sake of his “splendour.” Is his wisdom referring to his outward appearance, his physical beauty?

What does “wisdom” have to do with physical appearance? Nothing really. But it has all to do with intellect. So then the words “beauty” and “splendor” are descriptive of Lucifer’s intellect, which had authored this thing called “iniquity.” He must have thought that his “throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law” was something so brilliant, so wise, that it placed him on an equal footing with God—“I will be like the most high.”

So how does pride come into the equation? The previous quote which said, “In this place ‘traffick’ is the emblem of corrupt administration,” is followed by another statement:

It [TRAFFICK] denotes the bringing of self-seeking into spiritual offices. Nothing in spiritual service is acceptable to God except the purposes and works that are for the good of the universe. To do good to others will redound to the glory of God {4BC 1163.7, emphasis added}.

What does “the bringing of self-seeking into spiritual offices” mean? How is it related to iniquity? We will understand this better if we look at an example.

Take the Pharisees. They were proud and filled with self-exaltation and Jesus characterized them as “workers of iniquity.” Thus they are a perfect example for us to understand this. Through them we should be able to recognize the real cause of Lucifer’s pride:

…the principles cherished by the Pharisees are such as are characteristic of humanity in all ages. The spirit of Pharisaism is the spirit of human nature; and as the Saviour showed the contrast between His own spirit and methods and those of the rabbis, His teaching is equally applicable to the people of all time – {MB 79.2; emphasis added}.

In the days of Christ the Pharisees were continually trying to earn the favour of Heaven in order to secure the worldly honour and prosperity which they regarded as the reward of virtue. At the same time they paraded their acts of charity before the people in order to attract their attention and gain a reputation for sanctity – {MB 79.3; emphasis added}.

The Pharisees “were continually trying to earn the favour of heaven.” Why? In order to secure “the reward of virtue.” They believed that if they were virtuous, God would reward them with worldly honour and prosperity. Notice that this way of thinking is “characteristic of humanity in all ages.” This is “the spirit of human nature,” which we know is empowered by the spirit and wisdom of Satan and his Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.


The Pharisees believed God’s kingdom functioned by a merit/de- merit system—they didn’t understand God’s grace. This one misunderstanding led them onto the wrong path entirely.

But God’s agape love is impartial and unconditional—merit or demerit do not come into play here. There is nothing we can do to earn or lose God’s favour. His love for us is not based on how good or how bad we are—His love is based on who He is, and God is love. God simply loves us—period. God never rejects us; this is so because His character is un- conditional and impartial. We are the ones that either accept or reject Him and His ways of life. God is absolute—this puts the ball in our court.

From where then did this concept of earning God’s favour arise? It came from the “throne of iniquity that devises evil by law.” Lucifer rejected God’s law of un- conditional, impartial love. He rejected God’s very essence and nature of agape love and this rejection included a discarding of unconditional love.

From here on we will see a series of consequences, one following another. If the law Lucifer devised was intrinsically antithetical to God’s unitary, un- mixed, indivisible law of unconditional agape love, then it stands to reason that his law mixed opposite concepts, and was divisible and conditional.

A rejection of agape meant that the principle he introduced had to be diametrically opposed to grace, which is freely given. If you remove grace, what you have now is a system of merit and demerit— now one has to earn their way to God, earn their way to heaven. One has to do something for it, thus one has to deserve it. Now “Good” works earn points, and “Evil” works lose points. Losing points trans- lates into punishment—“Evil” works have to be punished.

Simply put, this is the principle behind the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—a reward and punishment system. So here is the crux of the matter, in terms of pride: iniquity is focused not only on what I can do, but what I can do better than others. This system is the source of competition, which results in pride and selfishness. The system itself is the root of Satan’s pride and self-exaltation. Thus it was by the sheer nature of his own moral law that he became proud and selfish.

Iniquity is what “was found” in Lucifer. Thus it has to be a principle that is diametrically opposed to God. As such, it was a distortion of God’s principle of unconditional agape love. As a reaction against agape love, it is its very opposite. Thus iniquity has to be conditional, partial, and selfish rather than selfless.

The moment Lucifer removed God’s unconditional and impartial love as the rule of law for the universe he introduced an arbitrary system imposed by an arbitrary ruler—himself. The moment he introduced an arbitrary system, he created force, violence. The result is the removal of freedom. Thus iniquity removes liberty, freedom; it enslaves us.

Then, the moment he created conditions he also created hierarchy—if one meets certain conditions, one will attain certain privileges. Inversely, if one doesn’t meet certain criteria, one will suffer certain punishments. Iniquity created a pyramid, a scale of merit based on the balances of Good and Evil. This is the foundation for all hierarchies and religions that are based on works. The moment Lucifer created hierarchy, pride came into being.

As soon as he introduced his law, Lucifer (and subsequently the angels that followed him, as well as the human race who also adopted it) acquired and developed a dual character of Good and Evil. He and his followers now vacillated back and forth between two apparent polar opposites. A dual character was the inevitable consequence of this rebellion against God’s in- divisible law. Lucifer and all his followers no longer have an “entire” or “perfect” character—we are all two-faced schizoids in varying degrees.

Pride is also the inevitable condition of every heart that is controlled by Lucifer’s moral law of reward and punishment. There is no escaping it, outside of Jesus Christ’s principle of unconditional love; we are driven by pride. Only Jesus and His teachings can save us from this evil law residing in our hearts. Jesus’ instruction to do our good works in secret, to not seek worldly recognition, is eye-opening—it reveals just how far removed from iniquity God’s principles are.

Lucifer’s desire to “ascend into heaven” was the first instance of self-exaltation, pride and self-seeking. This began the institution of a hierarchy based on merit, with him, heaven’s brightest angel, at the top. Here is the onset of the survival of the fittest concept. There is only one winner in this race, one gold medalist. And any means to become “number one” are fully justified.

If it were possible, Lucifer would have destroyed God without a second thought so that he would have no opposition in becoming the one and only monarch of the universe. Why? Because inherent in his new law there was room for only one at the top. Besides, didn’t he eventually at- tempt to do exactly what he had desired from the beginning, that is, to kill his competition? Isn’t that what he did to Jesus at Calvary?

A merit-based system of government promotes self-exaltation and breeds hierarchy. Pride is embedded in hierarchy. Satan’s hierarchy produces power, pride, covetousness, ambition, deception, corruption, profligacy, fear, greed, rage, bigotry and malice. All of these are opposed to the fruits of God’s Spirit. Hierarchy forces people into submission, thus removing freedom of conscience. It uses fraud and forgery in order to accomplish even so-called high ideals, and stops at nothing to achieve its goals. It resorts even to cruelty and murder—many times in the name of a greater good, as in the case of Caiaphas’ verdict: “it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish” (John 11:50).

Lucifer would want nothing more than for us to believe that his original sin was pride. Why? Because by believing this, we will remain ignorant of his law of Good and Evil. And as long as we are ignorant of his law that permeates the entire world, we will continue to be estranged from God, and will be transgressing His eternal law of agape love.

When Jesus said the Devil was a “liar and a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44), He was referring to the moral law Lucifer had authored in heaven. His law of merit and demerit is what creates pride, selfishness and desire for power:

Lucifer desired God’s power, but not His character. He sought for himself the highest place, and every being who is actuated by his spirit will do the same. Thus alienation, discord, and strife will be inevitable. Dominion becomes the prize of the strongest. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force; every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement, or a steppingstone on which he himself may climb to a higher place {DA 435.2, emphasis added}.

Satan’s law is the reason why all earthly governments are plagued by widespread corruption. Characters built on merit-system-principles become proud, self-seeking, self-centered and arbitrary. In this environment it is usually the strongest, the brightest, the greediest, and the most ruthless that survive.

God is so completely different from this. He has no pride, no selfishness and no desire to be at the top by Himself. In fact, Jesus is even willing to share His throne with humanity:

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne (Revelation 3:21).

Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast tells the story of “a certain king who arranged a marriage feast for his son.” The story tells how the king’s servants went out to invite various guests to the wedding but how each found an excuse not to come. The parable ends with an astonishing statement:

‘Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests (Matthew 22:9-10, emphasis added).

What is Jesus saying here? Why would God invite both the “bad” and the “good” to His wedding feast? Isn’t Jesus saying that God’s law of grace is unconditional and impartial? Realizing this grace, these guests were transformed. Isn’t that what Jesus did when He was on earth? Didn’t He eat and drink with the bad and the good? Didn’t He extend God’s kingdom of mercy and grace to everyone alike?

Satan’s throne of iniquity, on the other hand, creates a ladder of worth based on a merit system, albeit a false merit; thus it promotes pride. The proud are just as spiritually sick as everyone else, if not more—but they do not see their own disease. They are blind to it—they are in need of nothing.

Jesus said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance’ (Mark 2:17).

Throughout the Scriptures, God shows His concern for those who see their own spiritual need:

The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, their tongues fail for thirst. I, the Lord, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them (Isaiah 41:17).

Since iniquity is the transgression of God’s law, iniquity is therefore contrary, opposed and completely separate from God’s law of agape love. This is extremely important to understand. We must not confuse God’s throne of grace with Lucifer’s throne of iniquity. They are worlds apart and have nothing in common.

Lucifer believed that conditions, the opposite of “unconditional,” were necessary for a more stable kind of “order” to exist. This is the ultimate reason he created the reward and punishment system we are living in. We must ask the question: is this system working?