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THEOLOGY > Sin > Reality of Satan > Sin in Heaven


Frequently Isaiah 14:12-15 is said to describe Satan’s original sin; it reads as follows:

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

“Day Star” (v. 12) is translated “Lucifer” in the KJV and NKJV; for comments on the name “Lucifer” as well as support for interpreting this passage in terms of Satan, see: Creation of Lucifer.

God gave Isaiah a “taunt against the king of Babylon” (14:3), and the taunt continues from verse 3 through verse 11; and then reference is made to “Day Star, son of Dawn.” Is this another designation for the king of Babylon, or is this a reference to a spiritual being, the evil power behind the earthly ruler? Is this an example of the blending of two subjects? Do we have here a historical person and the evil being behind the historical person?

The wording in verses 12-15 perhaps justifies such an interpretation. Consider the following phrases:

you have said in your heart (v. 13);

I will ascend to heaven (v. 13);

above the stars of God I will set my throne on high (v. 13; “stars” – Dan. 8:10);

I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north (v. 13);

I will ascent above the heights of the clouds (v. 14);

I will make myself like the Most High (v. 14);

you are brought down to Sheol (v. 15).

It is possible, but one cannot be dogmatic, that such statements go beyond the earthly king of Babylon to the empowering spirit being behind the temporal ruler.

Sin begins on the inside, and this point is explicitly made in the text. Regardless of whether the passage is describing the king of Babylon, the sin of Satan, or both, reference is made to the inward resolve of Day Star to do what he preferred: the repetition, “I will,” manifests the determination of Lucifer to have his way. The two words complement the first phrase listed above: “you have said in your heart” (v. 13). Inwardly Satan was in rebellion against God before his rebellion manifested itself in an outward act (see: Pattern of Rebellion, Out of the Heart, and Sinful State and Sinful Acts).

Ezekiel insightfully states the origin of Lucifer’s sin in the phrase, “till iniquity was found in you” (28:15). All sin is “in” before it reveals itself “out”; the progression of Lucifer illustrates the progression of sin in every man—the problem of man is a problem of the heart. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matt. 15:19-20).

“I will” is the evil ruminating of one who is going to become the evil one. On the inside Lucifer rejected the rule of God, rejected his position before God, and rejected the purpose for which he was created. In this inward act of Lucifer is a glimpse into the character of sin: sin is the secret denunciation of God—it is self-assertion at the expense of the One who is Sovereign. “I will” in the present assures open evil in the future.

That which begins on the inside manifests itself on the outside; “I will” is asserted five times; the words reveal what he was determined to do and reveal what he did—he sinned against God by open rebellion against God. He sought to usurp the prerogative of Deity; that which he contemplated he initiated. Lucifer and those angels who followed him refused to accept their position; they asserted self at God’s expense. Their initial act reveals the essential nature of sin—it is the creature doing what the creature desires apart from any consideration of God.

Other Scriptures record this initial rebellion in heaven.

I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven (Lu. 10:18);

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment (II Pet. 2:4);

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority but left their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day (Jude 6);

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon,with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth (Rev. 12:3-4).

“I will” is the assertion of the creature over the Creator, the creature’s will over God’s will, the horizontal over the vertical; the words reveal the inner thoughts, the rebellion and exaltation of self over God residing secretly and awaiting exposure. The sentiments expressed in Isaiah 14 accurately reflect the sentiments of every creature who is in opposition to God.

Lucifer sinned before any human sinned on earth; he sinned in heaven—becoming, therefore,  the originator of sin. The Scriptures assert: “the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (I Jo. 3:8; “the beginning” being his own beginning or the beginning of everything, the point of creation revealed in Gen. 1:1), so evidently not much time elapsed between his creation and his sin. The rebellion of Lucifer must have occurred between Genesis 1:31 (everything that had been made was “very good”; this would not have been uttered if Lucifer had already sinned) and the events of Genesis 3.

The profound question—the unanswerable question—is: Why the sin? Why did Lucifer sin? Why did God tolerate the sin? Why did God ordain the sin? Why was sin allowed to appear? Why did God create Lucifer, knowing what would transpire? Why didn’t God create him without the capacity for sin? The form of the question does not matter—permission by God or determination by God. The issue is still pressing.

The sin of Lucifer is veiled in mystery. If the cosmos and the heavenly angelic host that had only recently been created were characterized by goodness and righteousness, then what occasioned the sin? Is it true that there was no external temptation for Lucifer? How could an evil thought spontaneously originate within the thinking of such a high and holy creature? No evil existed exterior to him and no evil existed within him, but within him sin began. There was no temptation from that which was outside of him, and nothing within him it would seem should have precipitated the sin. But sin he did, first privately and then publicly.

And the sin of Lucifer was not unknown to God prior to God’s creation of him, nor was it unexpected by God after his creation of this exalted creature. God created him knowing the sequence of events that would develop. So God created Lucifer with full knowledge that he would become Satan, and He still created him (see: The Problem of Evil).

One must be willing to affirm that sin is not outside the purpose of God for His creation and that sin is consistent with the eternal will of God. But to affirm more is to run the risk of blasphemy.

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