God created Lucifer, now known as Satan, as one of the three top angels in Heaven. Lucifer had responsibility for the angels assigned to worship, while Michael leads the warrior angels who oppose evil and unrighteousness, and Gabriel guides the angels assigned to bring God’s messages to people.
As part of his creation, God gave angels a certain amount of free will. They didn’t get as much freedom as the humans God created, but they got some.
It’s not news that letting people–and angels–make their own decisions means some dreadful decisions get made. And so it was with Lucifer. His position went to his head.
As he led his angels in worshiping God, Lucifer decided some of that worship should be coming his way. As he saw it, he was as good as God and deserved equal honor. In fact, he decided, he should be God.
That decision cost Lucifer everything.
Now, cut to the idyllic Garden of Eden, paradise on earth and God’s gift to Adam and Eve. The Garden included every possible delight–without the need for hard work to maintain it. And God walked with Adam and Eve each evening.
Adam and Eve had only one restriction: They couldn’t eat the fruit from a single tree in the middle of the Garden. Since they were surrounded by miles and miles of trees and plants bearing every imaginable delicacy, it wasn’t a burdensome limitation.
One day, as Adam and Eve eyed the forbidden tree with interest, Lucifer, now Satan, showed up. Eternally angry at his loss of position–for no good reason, as far as he could see–Satan embarked on his lifetime quest: Turning people against God.
Whenever you deal with temptation, you realize Satan is a smoothy. And shrewd. He makes disobeying God and doing the wrong thing seem logical, even attractive–not to mention wise, clever and sophisticated. That last one gets to a lot of people.
Appearing as a beautiful angel of light, Satan engaged Eve in a conversation. He persuaded her that eating the forbidden fruit would be a good thing. It would, Satan purred, give her all knowledge and make her like God. How could it possibly be wrong to be as wonderful and as wise as God? Satan neglected to mention the fearsome price he’d paid for that idea.
Convinced, Eve bit into the fruit, then told Adam to eat it, too.
That forbidden misuse of their free will cost Adam and Eve dearly. Put out of the Garden, heavy labor and painful childbirth became their lot.
What does this have to do with us all these thousands of years later? And how can it matter when there’s no Heaven or Garden of Eden from which to get the old heave-ho?
Well, it has to do with us because it’s still happening. We joke about people thinking they’re God, then casually grab for God’s prerogatives.
We decide God’s truth–absolute truth–no longer holds. We develop our own “truth,” a better, although variable, truth to lead our way–straight into chaos. Without a standard to rely on, societies collapse.
And we decide we’re destroying the world God created. The implication, of course, is that we have the power to thwart God’s purposes. Shouting and finger-pointing supposedly prove we can trump God.
But for all our bravado and certainty, we fear tomorrow. Loneliness hollows us out. Insecurity and defeat filter in. We live far below God’s intentions for us.
We’re reaping the consequences of our actions, words and attitudes, the consequences of grabbing for God’s authority. We don’t recognize our situation, though. We assume the life we’re experiencing is normal.
But it’s not. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.
The solution is simple: Let God be God. Figure out what he’s up to, then get with the program. You’ll do a whole lot less heavy lifting that way. My book, How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying, can get you started.
Bette Dowdell grew up in The Salvation Army, then worked in high tech–as an IBM Systems Engineer, consultant and software company owner–and also taught the Bible to anybody who would listen. Learn more about Bette and her books, articles and speaking at
© 2008 by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved.