Ten minutes spent watching or reading the news or scrolling through social media will quickly reveal numerous tragedies and atrocities. In fact, in today’s age of technology, so much information can be gathered and consumed that the weight of the world’s pain can be overwhelming. There is simply so much difficulty and tragedy that our hearts and minds cannot keep up with it all, especially when we are often dealing with our own personal difficulties: sickness, financial hardship, divorce, and death of loved ones are only a few struggles we face.
How did we move from a pristine, beautiful world to the one we know now? All worldviews seek to find a satisfying answer to the question of where suffering comes from. There is the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people, and conversely why good things happen to bad people. Our sorrow and anger in the face of tragedy shows that we know innately this is not how life is supposed to be; perhaps this is an echo of Eden in our hearts. But if we weren’t meant for it, why must we suffer? From a biblical worldview perspective, we know that at the fall, the second act of the great controversy, everything suddenly changed. It is this part of the story that answers these difficult questions.
The Fall of Lucifer
Although we may often associate the fall or introduction of sin with the story of Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit, this part of the account actually begins in heaven, where trouble was brewing long before any human act of disobedience. Lucifer, the covering cherub who was described as “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezek 28:121), was experiencing a change in his heart. He had walked and talked with God, had enjoyed the glories of heaven, and had experienced nothing but goodness for all of his existence. But Ellen G. White writes that, “Little by little, Satan came to indulge a desire for self-exaltation.”2 Seeing how God received all praise, glory, and honor, Lucifer became jealous. He was not content living the perfect life God had given him. Instead he wanted more: he wanted to be God.
“You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’” (Isa 14:13–14, ESV). This was the dark jealousy in Lucifer’s heart.3 He yearned to be like God. In this passage we can see how Lucifer’s eyes were locked onto himself, saying, “I will ascend,” “I will set,” “I will sit,” and “I will make myself like the Most High.” It was this pride and selfishness that festered in the heart of the beautiful angel. God offered the perspective of complete and perfect beauty, but Lucifer did not trust this divine view. Rather, he believed that God was being unfair with His authority. From Lucifer’s worldview, he thought that he deserved to be in a higher place than God, and this was the message he began spreading among the angels of heaven.
Ellen White writes of Lucifer’s work of sowing discontent among his fellow angels.
Since their natures were holy, he urged that the angels should obey the dictates of their own will. He sought to create sympathy for himself by representing that God had dealt unjustly with him in bestowing supreme honor upon Christ. He claimed that in aspiring to greater power and honor he was not aiming at self-exaltation, but was seeking to secure liberty for all the inhabitants of heaven.4
Lucifer’s deception was that God was unjust, unfair. Gone was the trust in their merciful Creator. There in heaven, a new worldview began to develop, darkened by pride and selfishness. This worldview said, “I know better than God. I am more just than God. I am better than God.” And so by choice, Lucifer fell away from God and His compassionate heart. This is ultimately where sin entered into the story: this is the fall. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!” (Isa 14:12, ESV). Lucifer fell from heaven, and just as he had weakened the nations above, now he sought to weaken the new nation of earth.
The Fall of Humanity
After God created the entirety of the garden of Eden, “the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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’” (Gen 2:16–17, ESV). In their forming worldviews, earth’s first man and woman saw no reason to mistrust God. He was their Creator and Sustainer, and there was no doubt in their minds to cause them to question His character or actions—until Eve happened across the fallen Lucifer, now called Satan, disguised as a serpent.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?’” (Gen 3:1, ESV). Right away, Satan started his work of sowing doubt in what God had said.
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die’” (vv. 2–3, ESV).
Although she did not truly understand what death was, she trusted in what God had told them. But then came the first lie told on earth: “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’ (vv. 4–5, ESV).
With these words, suddenly Eve’s world changed. Suddenly there was such a thing as deceit, a concept she had never known before. Unfortunately, Eve chose to believe what the serpent told her: God was being untruthful. What was more, He was being unfair, lording His knowledge and supremacy over Eve and working to keep her beneath Himself. And so, Eve chose to abandon her trust in the Creator and instead disobey the only thing He had asked of her. Adam, seeing his life partner eat of the forbidden fruit, moved towards the tree himself, and ate of it out of his love for Eve.5 Thus the first man and woman brought sin into the world.
Satan entered into hearts, in heaven as well as on earth, through trickery and lies. The very same tactics of deceit and doubt that Satan used in heaven also worked in Eden to tempt Adam and Eve. Satan is a mastermind of deception. Through millennia, his words have shaped the worldviews of many people, causing them to believe “you will be like God,”6 twisting their perceptions on reality too. There was then and continues to be now a struggle over the hearts and minds of people. This struggle is between God and Satan, good and evil.
When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, tragedy entered the grand story. This is where all that was beautiful was ruptured. By Adam and Eve taking this disobedient action, everything changed. The perfect world created in the first act of this metanarrative was suddenly plunged into the darkness of sin, shame, and pain. “For as in Adam all die” (1 Cor 15:22, ESV). Now we are all under sin’s effects. Romans 5:12 states, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Thus, each human being begins life with a natural tendency to sin.
Through Lucifer’s dissenting heart, false perceptions entered the universe. With them was introduced worldviews born out of messages contrary to God’s truth. Here is where we begin to see different assumptions made, as trust is placed either in God or self.
Now we are all under the weight of the fall. This is our plight. But where is God in the midst of all this? In our next article, we will discuss God’s presence in a sinful world, for despite our sinfulness, “he is actually not far from each one of us (Acts 17:27, ESV).
- Until the nineteenth century, there has been a general assumption within Christianity that Ezekiel 28:11–19 and Isaiah 14:12–15 refer to Lucifer. Some more recent biblical scholars diverge from this position. For further discussion connecting the description of the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 to Lucifer, see Jose M. Bertoluci, “The Son of the Morning and the Guardian Cherub in the Context of the Controversy Between Good and Evil” (PhD diss., Andrews University, 1985).
- Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1911), 494.
- Lucifer’s name, “Day Star” is mentioned once in the Bible: Isaiah 14:12. The name Satan appears fifty-four times, and “the devil” appears thirty-three times.
- White, The Great Controversy, 495.
- Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts (Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1858), 21–22.
- This is at the heart of nonbiblical worldviews.