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    §4. WHY SUFFERED TO EXIST

    The question has arisen in many minds. Why does God suffer Satan to exist? God is almighty in power; He can destroy Satan; why, then, does He permit him to continue to exert so great power for evil?ATNM 64.2

    To anyone who has carefully considered this subject, these questions present no difficulty whatever, although they involve the whole question of the existence of evil in any form. If we deny the existence of the devil, we cannot deny the existence of evil. Were there any difficulty, it would appear in regard to the existence of any evil-not alone with the greatest evil.ATNM 64.3

    As to the question of the possibility or impossibility of evil entering into a well-ordered and wisely-governed kingdom, one fact meets us at every step, as far as the universe is concerned, and that is, evil has entered. It is useless to theorize against a fact as evident as this. We may try to ignore its existence, but it will not try to keep out of sight. We are obliged to acknowledge its existence, and we know that whatever is, is possible. We have to deal with facts, not mere speculations.ATNM 64.4

    There is really no more difficulty in admitting the existence of a devil than in admitting the existence of those qualities in others which make up the character of a devil. Evil in a man who was created very good is as incomprehensible as in an angel. In either case it is the perversion of naturally good qualities. We also see in this world that wisdom, knowledge, and great opportunities, are no safeguards against wrong doing. Many of the ablest men of the world, of the brightest intellects, and the largest opportunities, are very wicked. And all know that the wiser and stronger a man is, the greater is his power to do evil, if his heart is set to do evil. In like manner, we should conclude that if angels sin, they will be capable of doing more evil than man, because they are a higher order of beings; they are possessed of greater intelligence and power. Even so, if the “covering cherub,” a being created full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, sets his heart to do wrong, his power, his wisdom, his beauty, all combine to give him influence over others, and enable him to become the greatest sinner of all. It is not surprising that such a being, having fallen, has earned the titles of Satan, Apollyon, and devil, or Diabolus.ATNM 65.1

    How Satan fell we are plainly informed in the Scriptures. He became proud of his wisdom and beauty, and ambitious of greater exaltation. This led him into rebellion against the appointments of God. He aspired to be “like the Most High,” where he should acknowledge no superior-perhaps the Most High alone excepted. God had declared that all the angels should worship His Son (Hebrews 1:6), and this, to the proud heart of Lucifer, was too humiliating. But if the question be asked, Why did he thus rebel against the appointments of God, who had already conferred upon him such honor and glory? we readily answer, There was no reason. Sin is a causeless, unaccountable thing. His own being, his wisdom and beauty, his exalted position, and his capacity for enjoyment, all were evidences of the goodness and love of his Creator; and all must coincide with our answer: There was no reason why he should rise up in rebellion and thus risk the loss of all. Sin in every form is unreasonable. There is no reason why anyone should sin. On this subject Dr. Charles Beecher has some very sensible remarks. He says:-ATNM 66.1

    “If such was the original condition of the universe, the question arises how sin could possibly enter. Some minds have felt the difficulty on this point so strongly that they have rejected the Bible account of the matter, and denied the existence of any such sinless state of the universe. But the answer to the question is simple. Sin is, in its own nature, anomalous, and therefore mysterious; it is, in its own nature, an unaccountable thing; for, the moment that we admit that it is properly accounted for, i. e., the moment we have assigned a good and sufficient cause for it, that moment it ceases to be a sin. A good and sufficient cause is a good and sufficient excuse; and that which has a good and sufficient excuse is not sin. To account for sin, therefore, is to defend it; and to defend it is to certify that it does not exist. Therefore the objection that it is inconceivable and unaccountable that sin should enter into such a perfect universe, amounts to nothing but saying that sin is exceedingly sinful, inexcusable, and destitute of the least defense or justification. Sin is a violation of all law, a departure from all original nature, a thing essentially lawless, anomalous, and mysterious. We can identify the fact of its existence, we can describe the manner, we can discover the occasion, but the cause, the good and sufficient cause, God Himself and the judgment seat will demonstrate cannot be shown, for it does not exist.”—Redeemer and Redeemed, pp. 82, 83.ATNM 66.2

    Because Satan harbored evil thoughts, was tempted, and fell, it does not follow that God created him with an evil inclination. The Bible contradicts such an idea, for the Lord says of him, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”ATNM 67.1

    All intelligent creatures, capable of reasoning concerning right and wrong, are moral agents. It is impossible that God should confer a moral character on any of His creatures. He creates them perfect, endows them with full capacities to do His will, to walk in the way of righteousness, but He cannot so compel them to do right as to destroy their power of choice; for to deprive them of choice would be to destroy the moral quality of their actions. Deprived of choice, they would be mere passive machines, and machines cannot develop character. All acknowledge the force of this reasoning as applying to men, but it is equally applicable to angels and to all created intelligences.ATNM 67.2

    Were the present world and the present life the finalities of man’s existence, there would then be difficulties attending this subject which do not exist. Angels and men were endowed with capacities to will and to reason; their actions have moral qualities, and they have responsibilities corresponding to these powers. They alone can form their characters, and they must bear the responsibility of their actions. The fact, great and of infinite importance, is plainly revealed, that “God shall bring every work into judgment.” Ecclesiastes 12:14. The judgment day will make many things clear which have appeared mysterious in this world.ATNM 68.1

    Some have assumed the very dangerous position that God is the author of evil; that evil is a necessary counterpart to positive good, by which alone the good is made to appear good. The judgment day will correct this fallacy. God may be just and good, with the issues of the judgment in view, and temporarily permit evil to exist; but it would be impossible to set up a defense if He originated moral wrong, or perpetuated it,-if He gave it an eternal lodgment in a creation which included no evil. Sin is an intruder; it has no rights; it has no claim to favor; it is not entitled to an existence.ATNM 68.2

    It may be said there is a difference between the case of Satan and that of man. Satan and his angels had all the joys of heaven in their possession; they had a high experience, a knowledge in the ways of God, that man did not possess; and they sinned by their sole choice, while man was tempted and beguiled into sin. There is some justice in this remark, and God has recognized it in the provisions of His grace. Salvation was provided for man, but not for the angels. But, though there was no provision made for their salvation, there may be good reasons why they should be suffered to still exist and continue to pursue their way of evil. We do not wonder why God does not destroy every incorrigible sinner here, even if they have done such despite to the Spirit of Grace that, as the Saviour said, they can have no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come. We may not understand all the reasons of the decisions made in heaven.ATNM 69.1

    When God promised the land to Abraham and to his seed, he said that he could not then inherit it, because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Genesis 15:16. The Lord would give them an opportunity to fill up the cup of their iniquity.ATNM 69.2

    This proves the long-suffering of God. And no sin was ever so great but that it found sympathy somewhere. Satan so wrought upon the sympathies of the angels that legions of them denied the justice of God, and took their stand by his side. Had the Lord then destroyed him, it is highly probable that myriads more in the universe might have doubted the wisdom or justice of the action. Perhaps they could not yet realize the enormity of his guilt. But at the final judgment, when every cup is full, and Satan has fully convinced every creature that he is the only personification of malignity and all that is evil and hateful, all will approve the justice of God in his destruction. And no doubt Satan himself, seeing the issue of many generations of rebellion, and the causeless ruin he has wrought, will realize that God is just, and that he was altogether wrong in his pride and ambition, and, above all, in instigating the murder of the meek and lowly Son of God.ATNM 70.1

    When Satan sees the city of God descend from heaven, and the hosts of angels with whom he once worshiped in blessed union, and the glorious Son of God, their loved Commander, at their head, and the millions of glorified ones from this world, purchased by His blood, even he himself will be compelled to confess the utter failure of his ambitious plan, the goodness of Jesus in dying for His creatures, and the wisdom and justice of God the Father in exalting His Son over such a vicious spirit as he has proved himself to be. We verily believe that this will be the case, and that in this will be found the fulfillment of the words of inspiration: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10, 11.ATNM 70.2

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