We are told that Satan made war against God in heaven and that he continues to make war upon God’s remnant people on earth (Rev. 12:7, 8, 17). Therefore, it makes sense to examine what happened in heaven long ago, so we can resist the devil’s assaults today.
LESSON ONE: WAR BROKE OUT IN HEAVEN
Brothers and sisters, we are at war with Satan and need to “put on the full armor of God” that we “may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). God’s people will be defeated if they fail to realize that these are days of battle.
LESSON TWO: SATAN IS REBELLING AGAINST GOD
“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" (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 33). Don’t miss that key word, rebellion. It is critical to understand that we are fighting forces that are in rebellion against God’s love, His law, His will, and His ways.
LESSON THREE: REBELLION INITIATED BY AN INTELLIGENT AND HONORED ANGEL
“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” (White, 35). Therefore, we who are weak, fallen, and degenerate are NO MATCH for him who was once highest in power in heaven. Our only hope is to humbly rely on God and His word and “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save [our] souls” (James 1:21). If we do, we will be “more than conquerors through Him [Jesus] who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
LESSON FOUR: SELF-EXALTATION LEADS TO REBELLION
“Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation … ‘Thine heart was lifted up’” (White, 35). Pride is insidious and those infected by it usually don’t recognize their own sin because it is hard to detect, especially in one’s own heart. It’s easy to think we are right, when in fact, we are wrong. Therefore, in order to discern our own pride, we need a standard with which to compare ourselves. That standard is God’s Word, His law, and especially, His loving character revealed in Jesus Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can show us our sin (see John 16:8).
LESSON FIVE: DISCONTENT WITH POSITION GIVEN BY GOD
We are told that Lucifer was not content with his position and “though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator” (White, 35). This was part of Lucifer’s sin. Though Lucifer was an angel, he wanted more. Likewise, our Creator has assigned each of us a position in His sight. We should be content with His will because God knows what is best.
LESSON SIX: LUCIFER DISPUTED AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST
Lucifer’s dispute against the supremacy and the authority of Jesus Christ “[impeached] the wisdom and love of the Creator”, and became “the purpose of this prince of angels” (White, 36). Sadly, Lucifer “was determined never again to acknowledge the authority of Christ” (White, 40-41). Practically speaking, we submit to Jesus Christ’s supremacy and authority when we submit to His word, the Bible. Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (NASB, John 8:31).
LESSON SEVEN: LUCIFER ATTACKS THE SIMPLE WORDS OF GOD
“Everything that was simple he shrouded in mystery, and by artful perversion cast doubt upon the plainest statements of Jehovah” (White, 41). Therefore, it is essential that Seventh-day Adventists remain people of the Book. “God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms … Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, 595).
LESSON EIGHT: REBELLION OFTEN PRETENDS LOYALTY
Rebellion against God often conceals itself under a pretense of loyalty to God. “While claiming for himself perfect loyalty to God, he [Satan] urged that changes in the order and laws of heaven were necessary for the stability of the divine government” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 38). “Satan had made it appear that he himself was seeking to promote the good of the universe” (White, 42). This is critical information. “I’m not rebelling,” states the rebel. Our only hope is that we must not be ignorant of his Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).
LESSON NINE: EVEN PERFECT ANGELS WERE DECEIVED
“Many of the angels were, however, blinded by Lucifer's deceptions … His power to deceive was very great” (White, 38,41). Think about it. If sinless, super-intelligent angels were deceived by “the bewildering sophistry by which rebellion would seek to justify itself” (White, 36), what chance do we have? Again, our only hope is in trusting God and His Word first and foremost. “It is written,” was Christ’s method of conquering the devil (see Matthew 4:1-11). This is our safeguard too.
LESSON TEN: LUCIFER SAID HE WAS DEFENDING THE ANGELS’ RIGHTS
Satan positioned himself as defender of angelic rights. “Rejecting with disdain the arguments and entreaties of the loyal angels, he denounced them as deluded slaves. The preference shown to Christ he declared an act of injustice both to himself and to all the heavenly host, and announced that he would no longer submit to this invasion of his rights and theirs … The only course remaining for him and his followers, he said, was to assert their liberty, and gain by force the rights which had not been willingly accorded them” (White, 40).
LESSON ELEVEN: WAVERING ANGELS WERE WARNED
Loyal angels “warned all [angels] to close their ears against Lucifer's deceptive reasoning, and urged him [Lucifer] and his followers to seek the presence of God without delay and confess the error of questioning His wisdom and authority” (White, 40). None of us — not even pastors, administrators or even those with doctorate degrees in theology — are a match for Lucifer’s mind. Therefore, some books should never be read and some people should never be reasoned with. At times, we should close our ears “to escape from the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:26). One of Eve’s first mistakes was talking to the snake in the tree.
Suffer not yourselves to open the lids of a book that is questionable. There is a hellish fascination in the literature of Satan. It is the powerful battery by which he tears down a simple religious faith. Never feel that you are strong enough to read infidel books; for they contain a poison like that of asps … In reading them, you are inhaling the miasmas of hell. (Ellen White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, 93).
LESSON TWELVE: GOD BORE LONG BUT PRIDE RUINED LUCIFER
Infinite wisdom showed Lucifer his error, but his pride ruined him. “In great mercy, according to His divine character, God bore long with Lucifer … such efforts as infinite love and wisdom only could devise, were made to convince him of his error … Lucifer was convinced that he was in the wrong … He nearly reached the decision to return, but pride forbade him" (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 39). Friends, if God shows us our error, we must humble ourselves and forsake that error forever, no matter the sacrifice.
LESSON THIRTEEN: WHEN UNITY WAS IMPOSSIBLE
When a third of the angels finally settled permanently on Lucifer’s side, unity with them was impossible because unity must be based on truth (see John 17:17,21). Paul asks us 2 Corinthians 6:14, "What communion does light have with darkness?" The obvious answer is none.
LESSON FOURTEEN: EVERY ONE IS A PARTICIPANT
Once every angel became settled, either on God’s side, or on Lucifer’s side, war resulted, and every angel was involved. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought” (Revelation 12:7). Significantly, it was not God alone against Lucifer and his comrades; but holy angels engaged in battle too. “Michael and his angels fought.” The same is true today. God’s people must decidedly resist every satanic attempt to undermine God’s remnant movement and His Three Angels’ Messages (Revelation 14:6-12). Neutrality is impossible. False charity is a mistake. We must actively stand for truth.
LESSON FIFTEEN: GOD’S PEOPLE EMPLOY GOD’S METHODS
“God could employ only such means as were consistent with truth and righteousness. Satan could use what God could not — flattery and deceit” (White, 42). In our efforts to counter Satan’s falsehoods, we must practice the truth, speak the truth, live the truth, and reveal Jesus Christ’s love for sinners. Empowered by His pardoning grace, true commandment-keepers must love God, and their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:36-40). If we ourselves manifest hard-heartedness, coldness and pride, we reflect the devil, no matter what we profess. Then we too must repent, before it is too late. Remember, “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" (White, 33). Jesus wants us to reflect that love which led Him to sacrifice His very life for “the sins of the whole world” to save sinners (see John 3:16; 1 John 2:2).
THE LAST CAMPAIGN IS YET TO COME
"The enemy is preparing for his last campaign against the church. He has so concealed himself from view that many can hardly believe that he exists, much less can they be convinced of his amazing activity and power. They have to a great extent forgotten his past record; and when he makes another advance move, they will not recognize him as their enemy, that old serpent, but they will consider him a friend, one who is doing a good work" (5T, 294). It already happened in heaven. Those deceived by Lucifer thought the devil was their best friend. Such misguided confidence destroyed them. "Clad in the armor of Christ's righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict" (Prophets and Kings, 725).
The signs of the times reveal that this “final conflict” is upon us. May God humble us, forgive us, purify us, clothe us in Christ’s righteousness, and then use us as polished instruments to lift Jesus and save souls, before earth’s last sunset.