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What is the Great Controversy?

How did the great controversy between Christ and Satan begin?

When Lucifer (an angel of light) lived in heaven, he became jealous of Christ. How such thoughts and feelings entered his heart in a perfect atmosphere, we cannot know.  The prophet Isaiah describes it this way:

“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, NKJV).

“Little by little, Lucifer indulged the desire for self-exaltation.  The Scripture says, ‘Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness’ Ezekiel 28:17.  ‘Thou hast said in thine heart . . . I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. . .I will be like the Most High’ Isaiah 14:13-14.

Although his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself.  Not content with his position (honored above the heavenly host), he ventured to covet worship due to the Creator alone.  Instead of making God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was Lucifer’s endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself.  Coveting the glory with which the infinite Father had invested in His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power that was the prerogative of Christ alone.”1

The angels pleaded with Lucifer to make God supreme in his affections.  God Himself had established the order of heaven; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonor his Maker and bring ruin upon himself.

God is a God of mercy and He bore long with Lucifer.  The Lord begged him to repent and be satisfied with his position, but Lucifer took this as weakness.  He decided that if he pressed the matter, he would gain his goal.

Lucifer set his mind to deceive the angels.  He was loved and admired by the other angels and they were accustomed to carrying out the orders given to Lucifer by God. Lucifer worked in such a manner as to make it appear that he was trying to remove dissatisfaction among the angels. He spread lies about God and His Moral Law. Lucifer claimed angels needed no Law; they would always do right, he said.  The other angels were surprised there was a Law. Up to this point, they always obeyed and were perfectly content.

Lucifer asked the question, “Why should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He honored above me?”

In the book Patriarchs and Prophets, the author gives a detailed account of Lucifer’s insurrection:

“The angels joyfully acknowledged the supremacy of Christ, and prostrating themselves before Him, poured out their love and adoration. Lucifer bowed with them, but in his heart, there was a strange, fierce conflict. Truth, justice, and loyalty were struggling against envy and jealousy. The influence of the holy angels seemed for a time to carry him with them. As songs of praise ascended in melodious strains, swelled by thousands of glad voices, the spirit of evil seemed vanquished; unutterable love thrilled his entire being; his soul went out, in harmony with the sinless worshippers, in love to the Father and the Son.

“But again he was filled with pride in his own glory. His desire for supremacy returned, and envy of Christ was once more indulged. The high honors conferred upon Lucifer were not appreciated as God’s special gift, and therefore, called forth no gratitude to his Creator. He gloried in his brightness and exaltation and aspired to be equal with God. He was beloved and reverenced by the heavenly host, angels delighted to execute his commands, and he was clothed with wisdom and glory above them all. Yet the Son of God was exalted above him, as one in power and authority with the Father. He shared the Father’s counsels, while Lucifer did not thus enter into the purposes of God.

The spirit of dissatisfaction thus kindled was doing its baleful work. While there was no open outbreak, division of feeling imperceptibly grew up among the angels. There were some who looked with favor upon Lucifer’s insinuations against the government of God. Although they had heretofore been in perfect harmony with the order which God had established, they were now discontented and unhappy because they could not penetrate His unsearchable counsels; they were dissatisfied with His purpose in exalting Christ. These stood ready to second Lucifer’s demand for equal authority with the Son of God.”2

Lucifer had fully set himself against God and His government of love.

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and His angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9, NKJV).

Lucifer, (light bearer), became Satan (adversary).  Both he and the angels that sided with him were expelled from heaven.

The Father and Son at once began creating the earth.3 Lucifer desired to spread discontent among the other worlds God had created and sadly, our first parents gave in to his deception.

Since the Fall, humanity has grown smaller, weaker, and less intelligent.  Now Satan has an easy time deceiving people. This is especially true because parents can only pass on to their offspring what they possess.  After sin took over the world, we can only pass on a sinful nature.

This is why we must be born again

“By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4, NKJV).

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'” (John 3:3, NKJV).

So the bad things we see happening in the world today are the result of sin.  Satan made the charge that his method of ruling the universe would be better than God’s way. Satan has pretty much his way in this world. If God were to prevent the bad things Satan desires to do, Satan would make the plea to other worlds and the holy angels that God is afraid to let him work his manner of government.  So to a certain extent, God must let Satan show his method of ruling. The result is sorrow and pain today on earth.

But God will not allow Satan to do his dirty work forever. God speaks of Satan, referring to him as the king of Tyre:

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God:

“You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
You were the anointed cherub who covers;
I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
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;
Therefore I cast you as a profane thing
Out of the mountain of God;
And I destroyed you, O covering cherub,
From the midst of the fiery stones.
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;
I cast you to the ground,
I laid you before kings,
That they might gaze at you.
You defiled your sanctuaries
By the multitude of your iniquities,
By the iniquity of your trading;
Therefore I brought fire from your midst;
It devoured you,
And I turned you to ashes upon the earth
In the sight of all who saw you.
All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you;
You have become a horror,
And shall be no more forever”‘” (Ezekiel 28:11-19, NKJV).

“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10, NKJV).

There is suffering in the world because Satan, the enemy of God, wants to bring nothing but ruin, pain, and death. Though we cannot fully explain the origin of evil, we can understand one thing; God is love and He will not let Satan continue his evil work much longer. God wants us all to be saved and He wants to completely eradicate every trace of sin. But destroying sin would also mean that He would have to destroy you and I. In His infinite love and wisdom, God created a plan so that sin would be destroyed and we would be saved. He sent Jesus Christ to take on our sin and die, hence freeing us from sin and its curse. This means, that when God is doing His final work of justice, we will be protected and safe.

One day, the great controversy, this terrible war will end and God will be victorious. We can be sure that we will be on the winning side if we choose Christ. The book titled The Great Controversy gives the reader a glimpse of world events in light of the battle between good and evil.

[1] Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1890) p.35.
[2] Ibid., pp. 35-39.
[3] White, Story of Redemption, (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1947), p. 19.

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