Lesson 5

April 24 - 30

The Origin of Sin

READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: : Isa. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:12-19; Rev. 12:7-9.

MEMORY TEXT:  "And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Revelation 12:11, NKJV).

KEY QUESTIONS: What are the two main mysteries in the Bible? How does each mystery affect the nature of humankind? And what are the results of each mystery?

Sabbath Afternoon   April 24

BIBLICAL PICTURES OF LUCIFER. From Scripture, we have only glimpses into the existence of Satan as Lucifer, the mighty angel, the covering cherub, standing in the presence of God. But we have ample information about the devastating effects of sin on the human race, not to mention on the universe, and the pain it has brought to the heart of God.

We need always to remember that while the words of Scripture are those of the writers, it was the Holy Spirit who planned and unified the Scriptures in all essential points, including the history of Lucifer. Also, it was the Holy Spirit who determined when, how, and by whom the revelation should be given.

The prophecy about the king of Tyre also represents the history of the real king of Tyre, who was Satan himself. The prince of Tyre had so remarkably imitated the example of his leader, the devil, that lie was controlled by the same principles as Satan. (See SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 675.)  

Sunday  April 25

THE KING OF BABYLON (Isa. 14:12-15; Dan. 4:18-37).

Explain why the passage concerning the fall of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-15 appears in the middle of a chapter dealing with the fall of the king of Babylon.  

It is quite appropriate to apply the language addressed to the king of Babylon to Satan, "for the pride of the king of Babylon was truly satanic. When Satan works his malign will through rulers of this world, lie reproduces his own wicked qualities in them so that they become virtual shadows of which he is the substance." This passage clearly points to Satan in the same way the kings of the line of David point to Christ.—The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 105.

Compare Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the tree (Dan. 4:1-37) to Lucifer's pride mentioned in Isaiah 14:12-15. 

Both the king of Babylon and Satan, the king of spiritual Babylon, were filled with the same pride and turned against God. The king of Babylon was warned about his pride in a dream. He was told he would be cut down unless he "broke off his sins by being righteous and by showing mercy to the poor" (Dan. 4:27). But one year later Nebuchadnezzar said with pride, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (v. 30). Then, however, after losing his throne for seven years, he became king again and praised God and "honored Him who lives forever" (v. 34). Unfortunately, Lucifer did not repent.

Contrast the unyielding pride of Satan (Isa. 14:13, 14) with the humility of Christ (Matt. 20:28; Phil. 2:5-11).  

"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. "—The Desire of Ages, p. 435.

What do you desire most?  Why is it wrong to desire God's power as Lucifer did?  

What relationship should there be between wanting God's power and His character?  How is God's character a part of His power? 

Monday  April 26

WAR IN HEAVEN (Rev. 12:7-9).

Describe the outcome of the war in heaven between Michael and the dragon. Rev. 12:7-9. Show from the following texts that Michael is another name for the Son of God. Dan. 10:13; 12:1; John 5:25; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; Jude 9.  

The word archangel comes from the Greek word meaning "chief angel," "first angel," or "high angel." It can be translated "chief of the angels" since according to the above texts, Michael is another name for Christ.

What does the following text imply about the kind of behavior that led to Satan's expulsion from heaven? John 8:44. 

"Lucifer's covert actions blinded many angels to God's love. The resulting discontent and disloyalty to God's government grew until one-third of the angelic host joined him in rebellion (Rev. 12:4). The tranquility of God's kingdom was shattered and 'war broke out in heaven' (Rev. 12:7). The celestial warfare issued in Satan, depicted as the great dragon, the ancient serpent, and the devil, being 'cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him' (Rev. 12:9). "—Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . . , p. 100.

Underline the false reasoning of Satan in the following quotation: 

"He began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that though laws might be necessary for the inhabitants of the worlds, angels, being more exalted, needed no such restraint, for their own wisdom was a sufficient guide. They were not beings that could bring dishonor to God; all their thoughts were holy; it was no more possible for them than for God himself to err."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 37.

What examples of false reasoning can you think of? Would the belief "once saved always saved" be based on false reasoning?  Explain. 

Can you think of times when you used false reasoning to argue your position, either for God: or away from Him?  What were the results of your reasoning. 

Tuesday  April 27

THE SEEDS OF SIN (Matt. 13:36-43).

Lucifer used the same subtlety in the Garden of Eden to lead humans into sin that he used in heaven with the angels. Those seeds sown in the hearts of Adam and Eve soon sprouted and produced a harvest of false worship, hatred, and murder (Gen. 4:1-8). As the years passed, sin intensified as did its tragic consequences.

Identify the sin or sins that brought on the following tragedies:

Genesis 4:1-8  ______________________________________________________

Genesis 6:1-8  ______________________________________________________

Genesis 11:1-8  _____________________________________________________

Genesis 19:1-29  ____________________________________________________   

How does Hosea's prophecy against Israel in Hosea 8:7 explain the increasing nature of sin? Compare this passage with Psalm 126:6, 2 Corinthians 9:6, and Galatians 6:7.  

Hosea is warning Israel of coming destruction because of their continued rebelliousness. Using agricultural metaphors, Hosea tells them that they will reap not only disappointment and utter want but distress and trouble and finally be swallowed up by Assyria and scattered among the surrounding nations.

There is a cumulative quality in evil. The seeds of sin we sow are alive and produce a harvest (Matt. 13:36-43). Unfortunately, we have a strong. tendency to ignore the fact that we live in a moral universe in which justice, while blended with mercy, must be carried out to maintain the kind of society that such a universe demands. When the privileged abuse their privilege, when the wealthy squander their wealth while ignoring those in need, when the powerful misuse their power, trouble lies ahead. Continued and prolonged abuse sets the stage for tragedy.—The Interpreter's Bible (New York, NY: Abingdon Press, 1956), vol. 11, pp. 649, 650.

We witness the tragic results of sin in the death of Jesus, who gave His life to contain and eventually eradicate sin.  Soon there will be a new heaven and a new earth where dwells righteousness.  Spend some thoughtful minutes just now considering the Cross and the new heaven and new earth which you will be able to enjoy as a result. 

Wednesday  April 28

DEFINING SIN (Rom. 3:20; 7:7-12; 14:23; 1 John 3:4).

The Old Testament defines sin in broad strokes. The New Testament defines it more precisely. The prophets of Israel speak of sin as a rupture of a personal relationship with God, a betrayal of His trust, the breaking of the covenant He made with us. We become most aware of sin and our own sinfulness in the presence of the holy God (Isa. 6:5; Ps. 51:1-9). For Paul, sin is not only a conscious transgression, it is a malignant condition of the human heart. (See Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 1012.)

What is your understanding of Romans 3:20 in the light of Paul's experience in 7:7-12?  

Romans 7:8. "Paul personifies sin as a principle and power antagonistic to the law of God.... Sin is represented in the New Testament as an enemy that is ever seeking to bring about our ruin and takes every occasion to accomplish it. It is described as surrounding and besetting us (Heb. 12:1), bringing us into bondage (Rom. 6:12), enticing us, and thus working our death (James 1:14, 15)."—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 549.

Paul states unequivocally that without God's law, seen in nature (Rom. 1:18-21) or written (Rom. 2:12-16), there would be no sin (Rom. 5:12, 13). John echoes Paul when he says, "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4, NIV).

Reconcile Paul's definition of sin in Romans 3:20 with his definition in 14:23.  

Describe the relationship between faith and law. 

The essence of sin is the absence of faith, or not trusting what God says. But the law gives an advantage to faith, for it provides us with a knowledge of sin we do not see in nature alone (Rom. 3:1-4). Faith and works are related in that we show our faith in what God says by what we do (James 2:17-20). Disobedience is unbelief.  But true faith always leads to an obedience that serves as a witness to our trust in God.

A friend believes your Sabbath keeping is quite legalistic.  Based on John 14:15 and 15:14, how would you explain to this person that obedience to God's commands is not legalism? 

Thursday  April 29

THE ERADICATION OF SIN (Gen. 3:15; John 3:14, 15; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:23-28).

Define the word seed as used in Genesis 3:15. Then compare its use in that verse with its use in Galatians 3:16.  

The serpent is only able to "bruise" the heel of the seed. But the "seed" of the woman is able to "crush" the serpent's head. Bruising is temporary, while the crushing is permanent. In this one verse is compressed the entire record of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, which began in heaven and will terminate on earth (Rev. 20:10). The critical battle was fought while Christ was on earth and culminated in the defeat of Satan at Calvary (Heb. 2:14). Christ did not emerge from this battle unscathed. The nail marks in His hands and feet will be with Him forever (Zech. 13:6). But from Calvary on, the demise of Satan was certain (Rev. 12:12). (See SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 233.)

When speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:14 and 15, to what did Jesus compare His mission?  What did He expect Nicodemus to understand from this?  Num. 21:4-9; John 12:32. Relate your conclusion to 2 Corinthians 5:21. 

In the first half of 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul speaks of three aspects of the atonement: (1) Christ was treated as if He were a sinner when He bore on the cross the penalty and the guilt of sin; (2) Christ assumed human nature without its sin; (3) Christ became a sacrifice for sin. The first aspect speaks of substitution, the second of identification, the third of sacrifice. So completely did the sinless Christ—impeccably pure inwardly and outwardly—identify with the sinner and assume his sins that Paul could profoundly say, "God made Him to be sin for us."

In the second half of this verse, the sinner receives a right standing before God on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ and actually shares the righteousness that characterized God Himself. (See The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 10, pp. 354, 355.)

Describe how complete Christ's sacrifice is and how it relates to His second coming.  Hebrews 9:23-28 will help you. 

How would you explain to a friend the manner in which Jesus is able to counteract Satan's system and accusations?  

Friday April 30

FURTHER STUDY:  Pride was the downfall of Satan and, therefore, the soil in which sin was cultivated. Read more about pride in the following verses: Prov. 6:16, 17; 8:13; 15:25; 16:5; 26:12; 29:23; Mal. 4:1; Luke 18:9-14; 2 Tim. 3:1-4; James 4:6; 1 John 2:16.

Read The Great Controversy, "The Origin of Evil, pp. 492-504 and "Enmity Between Man and Satan," pp. 505-510.

Karl Menninger, in his book Whatever Became of Sin? (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1973), challenges us not to paint over sin by calling it what it is not. He expresses his concern over the reluctance of the helping professions to call sin by its rightful name because it brings God into the picture and holds people accountable for certain behaviors, which by nature, they are reluctant to assume. Consequently, our understanding of sin has eroded and continues to do so. Crime has been called a sickness, alcoholism a disease, and assaults on others antisocial behavior. Such categorizing absolves people from acknowledging that they also are sinning against God.

It is still true that "the greatest want of the world is the want of men,—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall."—Education, p. 57.  

1. Do you think God knew beforehand what Satan would do?  If so, why did He allow him to do what he did?  
2. Why do you think God allowed sin to continue as long as it has, causing such tremendous suffering to the human race?  Do you think Jesus could have come earlier in the stream of time to redeem us?  Why didn't He? 

SUMMARY: Scripture tells us that the mystery of sin began in the presence of God through a being called Lucifer. This resulted in a war in which God dismissed Lucifer from heaven. Through Lucifer, sin was transferred to this planet and became part of human nature. The consequences of sin are seen not only in the tragedies which followed but especially in the death of Christ, who characterizes the mystery of Godliness. While waiting for Him to return, we demonstrate our faith in God through obedience.  

Dining-Car Evangelism

J. H. Zachary

Larissa Holapova (Ho-LAH-poh-vah) grew up in Tashkent, one of the Muslim Republics of the former Soviet Union. While attending the Adventist Seminary in Zaoksky, Russia, she participated in an evangelistic series. As she watched people's interest in the gospel grow into conviction, and conviction lead to baptism, she dedicated her life to the service of God.

During vacation she planned to visit her mother in Tashkent, a three-day trip by train. As she prepared for the trip she wondered, Could I preach the gospel on the train? It would be a challenge, because most of the passengers would be Muslims. She prayed about her idea and shared it with her friends. Some of them questioned her plan, but the idea persisted.

She filled her suitcases with Bibles and literature. After boarding the train, she found the head conductor and asked if she could rent the dining car between meals. But when he learned that she planned to teach the people about the similarities between the Bible and the Koran, the conductor refused to let her use the car.

Larisa tried another tactic. She walked through the dining car carrying her Bible. Some passengers noticed and asked her, "What is this book that you are carrying?" She told them it was a Bible. A man in a railroad uniform said, "Please, tell us about the Bible."

Larissa answered sorrowfully, "But the head conductor will not let me rent the dining car to teach about the Bible and the Koran."

"I am the director of this dining hall," the uniformed man answered. "I say you may use the car between meals to speak."

With a prayer in her heart Larissa began to speak. The car soon filled with people. They were surprised to learn that the Bible and the Koran contained many similarities. Between Larissa's speaking appointments the people came to her compartment to talk to her about God. Their interest in God's Word thrilled her. She is determined to return to her homeland in Tashkent to share the truths she loves with the people there.

Larissa Holapova (left) continues her studies at the Adventist seminary in Zaoksky, Russian Federation. J. H. Zachary is international evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour in Redlands, California.

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