1. THE CHARACTER OF GOD
a. How does God’s character stand in contrast to sin—and what does this mean for us? Daniel 9:7; Matthew 5:48.
“God will accept only those who are determined to aim high. He places every human agent under obligation to do his best. Moral perfection is required of all. Never should we lower the standard of righteousness in order to accommodate inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong-doing. We need to understand that imperfection of character is sin. All righteous attributes of character dwell in God as a perfect, harmonious whole, and every one who receives Christ as a personal Saviour is privileged to possess these attributes.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 330.
b. Since God is the ultimate in perfection, what are the only type of commands He can give? Psalm 119:172; Romans 7:12; James 1:13.
“The law of God, from its very nature, is unchangeable. It is a revelation of the will and the character of its Author. God is love, and His law is love. Its two great principles are love to God and love to man. ‘Love is the fulfilling of the law.’ Romans 13:10. The character of God is righteousness and truth; such is the nature of His law. . . . Such a law, being an expression of the mind and will of God, must be as enduring as its Author.”—The Great Controversy, p. 467.
2. Harmony in God’s Government
a. What is the relationship between the members of the Godhead? John 17:21.
“The most convincing argument we can give to the world of Christ’s mission is to be found in perfect unity. Such oneness as exists between the Father and the Son is to be manifest among all who believe the truth. Those who are thus united in implicit obedience to the word of God will be filled with power.”—Bible Training School, February 1, 1906.
“Have you thought of what this means to us; that in this prayer is included every son and daughter of Adam who will believe in Christ as a personal Saviour, and take the requisite steps [of] repentance, conversion, faith, and baptism? We are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and these three great, infinite Powers are unitedly pledged to work in our behalf if we will cooperate with them.”—Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, p. 167.
b. What principles form the basis of God’s government? 1 John 4:16, 19; 5:3.
“ ‘God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be. ‘The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,’ whose ‘ways are everlasting,’ changeth not. With Him ‘is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’ Isaiah 57:15; Habakkuk 3:6; James 1:17.
“Every manifestation of creative power is an expression of infinite love.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 33.
“God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcome by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan’s government. The Lord’s principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God’s government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 759.
“The soul that is in love with God and His work will be as candid as the day. There will be no quibbling, no evading the true bearing of scripture. God’s word is our foundation of all doctrine. Some think it is a mark of intelligence and smart in them to get up side issues, and they twist the scriptures in a certain way which covers over the truth.”—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 46.
3. Where Did Sin Originate?
a. How do we know the following passage of Scripture is not speaking of the literal king of Tyre? Ezekiel 28:11–15.
(1) If this were speaking of the actual human king and not as a symbol, what type of person would he be since he would have been born of a woman? Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23.
(2) Who was the only other being brought to view in the Garden of Eden that was once perfect and then became sinful? Revelation 12:9; Genesis 3:14.
“The first sinner was one whom God had greatly exalted. He is represented under the figure of the prince of Tyrus flourishing in might and magnificence. Little by little Satan came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. . . . Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator. Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was his endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself. And coveting the glory with which the infinite Father has invested His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power that was the prerogative of Christ alone.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1162.
b. What special role did Lucifer have in the government of God before his fall? Ezekiel 28:14 (compare the sanctuary service in Exodus 25:10–22).
c. What shows that he had special musical talent—and how does he skillfully use this in his work of deception? Ezekiel 28:13; Daniel 3:5–7.
“I feel alarmed as I witness everywhere the frivolity of young men and young women who profess to believe the truth. God does not seem to be in their thoughts. Their minds are filled with nonsense. Their conversation is only empty, vain talk. They have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind so that Christ is not desired. The spiritual longings of the soul for divine knowledge, for a growth in grace, are wanting.”—The Adventist Home, p. 407.
4. The Root of Evil
a. What was the original cause of Lucifer’s fall if we compare Ezekiel’s and Isaiah’s descriptions of that event? Ezekiel 28:16–19; Isaiah 14:12–20.
“Little by little Lucifer came to indulge 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. . . . Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator. Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was his endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself. And coveting the glory with which the infinite Father had invested His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power that was the prerogative of Christ alone.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 35.
b. What warnings can we personally take from this experience? Proverbs 16:18; 1 Corinthians 10:12.
“Had Lucifer really desired to be like the Most High, he would never have deserted his appointed place in heaven; for the spirit of the Most High is manifested in unselfish ministry. 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.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 435, 436.
“Whenever pride and ambition are indulged, the life is marred, for pride, feeling no need, closes the heart against the infinite blessings of Heaven.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 60.
c. How did the heavenly host eliminate this note of disunity from its ranks? Revelation 12:7–9.
“It was the highest crime to rebel against the government of God. All Heaven seemed in commotion. The angels were marshaled in companies, each division with a higher commanding angel at their head. Satan was warring against the law of God, because ambitious to exalt himself, and unwilling to submit to the authority of God’s Son, Heaven’s great commander.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 22.
5. The End of Evil
a. How did Satan degenerate even further after being expelled from heaven? John 8:44.
“Satan, who is the father of lies, deceived Adam . . . , telling him that he need not obey God, that he would not die if he transgressed the law. But Adam fell, and by his sin he opened the floodgates of woe upon our world. Again, Satan told Cain that he need not follow expressly the command of God in presenting the slain lamb as an offering. Cain obeyed the voice of the deceiver. . . .
“We need to know for ourselves what voice we are heeding, whether it is the voice of the true and living God or the voice of the great apostate.”—Evangelism, p. 598.
b. How and why will this root of evil finally be destroyed? Hebrews 2:14; Malachi 4:1–3; 2 Peter 3:9–14.
“The history of the great conflict between good and evil, from the time it first began in heaven to the final overthrow of rebellion and the total eradication of sin, is also a demonstration of God’s unchanging love.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 33.
c. Although it seems that evil is not being punished quickly, what promise does God give about its total elimination? Ecclesiastes 8:11; Nahum 1:9.
“The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”—The Great Controversy, p. 678.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What type of character does God possess?
2. How do the three persons in the Godhead work harmoniously?
3. Under what illustration does Ezekiel describe the origin of sin?
4. What is one of the hardest sins to overcome, being the origin of iniquity?
5. How and why does evil finally come to an end?