Dear brothers and sisters,
My husband recently wrote this study for our magazine in French. As this has been a real blessing to me and our readers we thought that you might also be interested to read. It has also been published in the magazine "Old Paths" from Smyrna Gospel Ministries.
May our Father richly bless you during these Sabbath hours.
The Spirit of God—what a subject! It has raised many debates. Yet, truth is for the poor in spirit. They, at least, are simple and humble enough to understand and to accept the truth as little children.
In this article my goal is to show the contrast that exists between Jesus’ holy spirit and the devilish spirit of Satan. I would like to begin by sharing some contrasting thoughts about Jesus and Satan and then share some thoughts about those who have walked in their footsteps, showing by their lives and by their words, the master they have chosen.
Let us begin by studying Jesus and Satan because it is between the two of them that the first jealousy was born, that the first conflict arose, and that the two currents of thoughts, words, and actions were really differentiated—the current of good and the current of evil.
Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. From the days of eternity, he has been one with the Father, not as a two-headed god like the pagan god, Janus, for example, but a true Son, begotten of the Father in the days of eternity, having inherited from him his divine nature and his name, as you and I have inherited our human nature and our name from our parents.
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:5, 6)
But in God’s plan of love, his dear, begotten Son was not the only one to come to life. God wanted to share his love with myriads of angels, who were going to be created from nothing but the word alone. By the will of the Father, his Son, Jesus, created all the angels—seraphim and cherubim—from whom the most glorious being was Lucifer, the crowning act of creation up to this point. God is love, and he couldn’t accept from his creatures a forced obedience; thus, he gave them complete freedom, showing his desire of freedom and happiness for them.
But a change came over this happy state. There was one who perverted the freedom that God had granted to His creatures. Sin originated with him who, next to Christ, had been most honored of God and was highest in power and glory among the inhabitants of heaven. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 35)
Here we come to the root of evil itself. The spirit of God was only love, joy, and peace—the three distinctive characteristics of the sacred spirit of God (see Early Writings, page 55), but the “son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12), bathed in the rays of divine glory, permitted the most terrible thing to originate in his heart—evil! It is thus that with the liberty God and Jesus had given to Lucifer, he chose to be the source of this devilish spirit of hatred, sorrow and anguish. How is it possible that such a thing could happen? This is impossible to explain.
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.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 35)
Christ, God’s dear Son, had the pre-eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created. Lucifer was envious of Christ, and gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone. The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that He might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon His Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. The Father then made known that it was ordained by Himself that Christ, His Son, should be equal with Himself… His Son would carry out His will and His purposes but would do nothing of Himself alone. The Father’s will would be fulfilled in Him. (The Story of Redemption, p. 13)
Here we see that our God, the great Creator, is a unique being, having supreme authority. His authority is even greater in nature than his Son’s because he himself ordained that his Son might be equal with himself. More than that, his Son would do nothing of himself alone, but would fulfill the will of the Father. I then ask: Is this in accordance with the pagan dogma of a three-in-one god? Who was the third one in heaven? The first false god in history—Satan himself.
Let us now return our reflections to Lucifer. Despite his great culpability, God, the Father, had not yet rejected him, and Jesus was still willing to keep him as the head leader of his angels. What goodness! But Lucifer, whose heart had been corrupted by pride, was hardened, and from that point on, he became Satan, the chief of rebels.
The angels joyfully acknowledged the supremacy of Christ, and prostrating themselves before Him, poured out their love and adoration. Lucifer bowed with them, but in his heart there was strange, fierce conflict. Truth, justice, and loyalty were struggling against envy and jealousy. . . . Unutterable love thrilled his entire being; his soul went out, in harmony with the sinless worshippers, in love to the Father and the Son. But again he was filled with pride in his own glory. His desire for supremacy returned, and envy of Christ was once more indulged. (Patriarchs and Prophet, p. 36)
It is thus that he positioned himself definitively on the side of falsehood, rebellion, and evil. With this Lucifer brought a third of the holy angels with him in his rebellion. How was that possible? You see, beloved, evil is a most fearful thing. The devil makes us believe that we are victims from a God of love, but we are responsible for our sins because of our wrong choices in thought, word, and deed. Ambition, envy and jealousy were the first three sins that existed in the whole universe. They have their roots in the spring of the devilish spirit of Satan, quickly manifested in opposition with the holy spirit of God in two very distinctive classes of people: those in whom love abides, who are wishing the good, the repentance, and the forgiveness of sinners, and those who harm them, in whom dwells hatred that desires evil, condemnation, and the death of the saints, of those who love and do good.
We know the sad history of the temptation and the fall of our first parents, when Satan succeeded in the fall of humanity. He could not stand to see the happiness of the man and the woman created by Jesus. Besides, he had not been consulted on the subject of the creation of man, who was going to live on the earth. This is all the more reason why those happy beings had to share his fate. But once man and woman had eaten of the forbidden fruit, the true greatness of the character of Jesus was manifested:
The whole family of Adam must die. I saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, He is in close converse with His Father. The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with His Father. Three times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time He came out from the Father, His person could be seen. His countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and doubt, and shone with benevolence and loveliness, such as words cannot express.
He then made known to the angelic host that a way of escape had been made for lost man. He told them that He had been pleading with His Father, and had offered to give His life a ransom, to take the sentence of death upon Himself, that through Him man might find pardon; that through the merits of His blood, and obedience to the law of God, they could have the favour of God and be brought into the beautiful garden and eat of the fruit of life. (The Story of Redemption, pp. 41–42)
Here is the contrast between the character of Jesus and the character of Satan. While Satan accuses Jesus of his (Satan’s) own defects of character, Jesus is willing to give his own life in order to save man, who was led by Satan to fall into sin and rebellion. Jesus gives his life to save man, who is a rebel, to fill his heart with thanksgiving, and to obtain from him free submission based on love. Satan desired to take the life of the Son of God in order to maintain men in forced slavery and rejoice in the slavery of those he had dominated.
Even though it seems possible at times to hide our true character, the identity of the master we have chosen sooner or later comes to light. If not on this side of eternity, it will be clearly seen on the other side. Of course, those who walk in the footsteps of the first great apostate have no misgivings in using the same methods as their master. They seem to have the advantage over the saints of God, but the Father is faithful and always gives his children an opportunity to show the world on which side they stand.
In heaven itself, where the first great conflict took place, the angels had to take a stand for God and Jesus on one side or for Satan, the fallen angel, on the other side. And very rapidly, there were two spirits, influences, or characters manifested. The angels of God were filled with the love of their master:
At first the angels could not rejoice, for their Commander concealed nothing from them, but opened before them the plan of salvation. …The angels prostrated themselves before Him. They offered their lives. Jesus said to them that He would by His death save many, that the life of an angel could not pay the debt. …Jesus bade the heavenly host be reconciled to the plan that His Father had accepted and rejoice that through His death fallen man could again be exalted to obtain favour with God and enjoy heaven.
Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven. And the heavenly host sang a song of praise and adoration. (Ibid., p. 44)
On the other side, inspired by the spirit of their new master, the fallen angels started, from the beginning, to work with Lucifer’s spirit. The fallen angels tried to seduce the greatest number possible of angels like themselves, and then to cause the fall of as many human beings as possible and, if possible, even cause the fall of the only begotten Son of God! Evil comes to us in such an imperceptible way that even the angels who were perfectly holy and innocents fell into this trap. And not only one! A third of the heavenly host! But what tactics did the fallen angels use to deceive others?
Angels were expelled from heaven because they would not work in harmony with God. They fell from their high estate because they wanted to be exalted. They had to exalt themselves, and they forgot that their beauty of person and of character came from the Lord Jesus. This fact the [fallen] angels would obscure, that Christ was the only begotten Son of God, and they came to consider that they were not to consult Christ. (This Day with God, p. 128)
Here we are! The same argument always comes back to us in different forms. In order to sow confusion, the tactics of the fallen angels have always been to try to obscure the fact that Christ is the only begotten Son of God. In the beginning, Satan tried to belittle Christ as a created being, in order to bring him at his level and thus justify his jealousy. This plan didn’t succeed, so Lucifer pushed men to believe that the Son of God was nothing less than the sovereign Creator, even God, sowing confusion and leading many souls astray.
Filled with the spirit of their master, the angels of Satan were finding a devilish rejoicing at the thought that, as they were provoking man’s fall, they were able to jeopardize the life of the Son of God:
Satan again rejoiced with his angels that he could, by causing man’s fall, pull down the Son of God from His exalted position. (The Story of Redemption, p. 45)
We live in the presence of these two spirits: The holy spirit of Jesus which, flowing upon repentant humanity, brings love, joy, and peace; and the unwholesome spirit of Satan which, flowing upon impenitent humanity, brings hatred, sadness, and anguish, rooted in ambition, envy, and jealousy. Which spirit dwells within you—the character of Jesus, meaning his spirit of life, his spiritual presence dwelling in the sanctuary of your soul; or the spirit of Satan, his fiery, wayward, and stubborn character, which inhabits the father of all lies and of all evil?
The question is solemn. We must consciously choose the spirit of God to lead us into the heavenly harbor. If we do not, the sail of our boat will be filled with the wild winds of Satan, and we will sink into the deep abysses of the churning ocean.
Let us go back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve have sinned. What a shame! Through this first disobedience, they have made a gap in the hull of the boat of our happiness, creating an opening that let the streams of sufferings, we now know, to sadly infiltrate into our world and our lives. Even before Cain tragically killed Abel, Adam and Eve felt sin’s effects as nobody else could. Our senses today have been dulled by centuries of contact with evil of all sorts, but not so with our first parents:
As they witnessed in drooping flower and falling leaf the first signs of decay, Adam and his companion mourned more deeply than men now mourn over their dead. The death of the frail, delicate flowers was indeed a cause of sorrow; but when the goodly trees cast off their leaves, the scene brought vividly to mind the stern fact that death is the portion of every living thing. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 62)
If their mourning was great when they considered the fruit of their sin in a drooping flower or a dead leaf, how much more was it when they beheld the first murder of humanity, the murder of Abel by his brother Cain! But, how could such a thing take place? How was their firstborn son led to murder his brother? They only ate of the forbidden fruit once? You see, it is like the fetid smell of a dunghill: Once it has found a way through an opened window, there only needs a draught to quickly infiltrate all the rooms of the house. And this draught came into the life of the first family when Cain, the firstborn son of our first parents, permitted jealousy to enter into his heart.
Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering: But unto Cain and his offering he had no respect. (Genesis 4:2–5)
Being a shepherd, Abel was able to give an offering from his own flock to the Lord, while Cain had to ask his younger brother to obtain an acceptable offering. One can think that for years Cain already had let a spirit of discontent germinate in his heart. Why couldn’t he, being a tiller of the ground, simply give the fruit of the earth? Why had God asked the sacrifice of a lamb? Of course, he had understood that it was a prefiguration of the death of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. But, the spirit of Satan had entered into the world and had found an open window in Cain’s heart. Quickly the door of his soul opened to the devilish influence of the spirit of Satan, and the barrier of good that had before stopped Cain was now gone, and he went on to break the sixth commandment.
And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against his brother, and slew him. (Genesis 4:6–8)
It is difficult to imagine what Adam and Eve felt when they saw the devilish spirit of Satan increase in such a way in their lives. In re-consecrating themselves to God by faith in the promise of the Redeemer, they had thought that the gap had been sealed, but they had forgotten one thing. God has created man free, and it was the same for their children. Even if humanity was one in nature, every human being was a free moral agent, and it is to maintain this liberty that the only begotten Son of God gave his life.
Cain cherished feelings of rebellion, and murmured against God because of the curse pronounced upon the earth and upon the human race for Adam’s sin. He permitted his mind to run in the same channel that led to Satan’s fall—indulging the desire for self-exaltation and questioning the divine justice and authority. . . . Abel pleaded with his brother to approach God in the divinely prescribed way, but his entreaties only made Cain more determined to follow his own will. As the eldest, he felt above being admonished by his brother, and despised his counsel.
Abel chose faith and obedience; Cain, unbelief and rebellion. Here the whole matter rested. (Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 71, 72)
What can we say to that? Once again, the two spirits of good and evil were manifested: the devilish spirit of Satan, which is none other than his work and the work of his angels through evil in all their forms; and the holy spirit of God, which we call the Holy Spirit.
God’s word says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). The spirit of Satan, however, does not dwell upon holy thoughts.
Cain hated and killed his brother, not for any wrong that Abel had done, but “because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12) So in all ages the wicked have hated those who were better than themselves. Abel’s life of obedience and unswerving faith was to Cain a perpetual reproof. “Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (John 3:20) The brighter the heavenly light that is reflected from the character of God’s faithful servants, the more clearly the signs of the ungodly are revealed, and the more determined will be their efforts to destroy those who disturb their peace.
Whenever, through faith in the Lamb of God, a soul renounces the service of sin, Satan’s wrath is kindled. The holy life of Abel testified against Satan’s claim that it is impossible for man to keep God’s law. When Cain, moved by the spirit of the wicked one, saw that he could not control Abel, he was so enraged that he destroyed his life. And wherever there are any who will stand in vindication of the righteousness of the law of God, the same spirit will be manifested against them. It is the spirit that through all the ages has set up the stake and kindled the burning pile of the disciples of Christ. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 77)
Beloved, this study has the double goal to show the contrast existing between the spirit of Satan and the spirit of God, and to unveil the mortal heresy that consists in believing that the spirit of God is a third being, in and of itself, entirely distinctive from the Father and his Son, co-equal, co-eternal, called God the Holy Spirit. The spirit of the wicked one is nothing else than the wicked one himself living in men, through the evil dwelling in them. And when we read that this spirit has set up the stake and kindled the burning pile for the disciples of Christ, we understand well that it was not a distinct being, separated from Satan and working through his own initiative, but the wicked influence of Satan himself, his own attributes, working in the life of the wicked.
This is the same for the spirit of God we call the Holy Spirit. It is the spiritual life of Christ. As Ellen White noted:
The Holy Spirit is the breath of spiritual life in the soul. The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. It imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ. Only those who are thus taught of God, those who possess the inward working of the Spirit, and in whose life the Christ-life is manifested, are to stand as representative men, to minister in behalf of the church. (The Desire of Ages, p. 805)