Some may ask, "Why must it be so?" Let me answer that by asking you a question. Do you believe in the law of cause and effect? If you do, you must know these two simple facts: 1) If there is a problem, there must be a cause, and 2) If there is a cause, the effect must follow. We cannot sow wild oats and garner in golden wheat. We cannot drink the beverages of drunkenness and remain sober. As surely as there is a God in heaven, the cause produces the effect. If we sow health, we will reap health. If we sow illness, we will reap illness. If we sow trouble, we will reap trouble every time. We cannot sow wild oats all week long and then pray for a crop failure on the weekend.
A visitor, walking through the workshop of a state prison, passed an inmate who was sewing canvas mailbags for the government. Their eyes met for a brief moment. The visitor, wishing to be friends, simply asked, "Sewing?" "No, reaping," was the reply. Yes, it works that way. Every time. It works with mathematical precision. "For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7.
We do make some of our own troubles. But even in these, Satan, the enemy of God, is the instigator. He is the originator of all evil. What we need to keep in mind, of course, is that Satan has no power to force us to do wrong. We decide.
Now our questions may be, "Why did God allow sin in the beginning, and why didn't He destroy the devil as soon as he sinned? Wouldn't this have prevented the situation into which our world has been plunged?"
This is a big subject. First, we are all aware that there are two rulers in the world: God, who made all things, and Satan, a fallen angel who rebelled against God in heaven in the ages of the past. Later he came to this earth to usurp the dominion and rulership of this world. Since that day he seems to have had it much his own way in our world, and what a way it has been! The Bible has termed him "the adversary," "the prince of this world," "the prince of darkness," "the prince of the power of the air" and two-score other names, indicating the diabolical character of this ruler and his work. He is the sworn and avowed enemy of Jesus Christ and His followers, and will stoop to any depth to overcome them.
How did this conflict between two heavenly beings find its way to this earth? The story is told in Revelation 12:7-9: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
So the war which began in heaven between God and the devil found its way to earth. The devil and his angels were cast out of heaven, and came to the earth and entrenched themselves here. The devil overcame Adam and Eve, and led them into sin and disobedience. But man was still the work of God's hand, and when Adam was led into sin, it was God's love for man that made Jesus Christ come to redeem sinners. This made it possible for man to return to God. Think of it for a moment, friends. God in the person of Jesus Christ flung Himself into the battle on this earth, on the side of man. These two leaders came to grips in person during the ministry of Jesus Christ in this world. They met in the wilderness where Satan faced Jesus and sought by guile and intrigue to overcome Him. Although Satan withdrew in defeat after that conflict, he returned and made other attempts. He had lost a battle, but the war was still on.
Satan thought his master stroke would be to nail Jesus Christ to the cross as a vile and wicked criminal. So three and a half years after the wilderness battle, he struck so hard a blow that Jesus lay dead in a tomb. Now he had surely triumphed, or so he must have felt.
Just before Jesus was crucified, an angel spoke to Him saying, "Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out." John 12:31. When Christ was born, Satan set to work to destroy Him, and when God's own chosen people led Christ out to be crucified it looked as though Satan had succeeded. They could lay Him in the tomb, but no power in earth or hell could hold Him there, for He had never sinned. He arose from the grave a conqueror, and thus the devil was defeated and dethroned. From that day on, Satan was confined to this earth, and here he is now reserved in chains of darkness until the great day of final judgment (see Jude 1:6).
On the resurrection morning when Jesus came forth leading with Him a multitude of captives, a loud voice was heard in heaven saying, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." Revelation 12:10. Then in verse 12 we read, "Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
The devil can no longer roam through the universe to tempt and molest its inhabitants. The cross of Christ and His resurrection settled that. Now the devil knows he is fighting a losing war. In this old earth to which he is confined he is doing his utmost to destroy the church of God. He does it by guile and cunning, by force and persecution, by war, and every conceivable method.
When Jesus escaped Satan's master plot by ascending back to heaven after the resurrection, Satan turned his anger upon the followers of Christ. The warfare will become hotter and more intensely bitter until the end. The final issue in this giant struggle of many millenniums will be keeping the commandments of God. For in chapter 12 of Revelation, verse 17, we read: "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." When the warfare ends, there will be only two sides among men: Those on God's side, who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus; and those on Satan's side, who ignore and reject them. Mark this down and never forget it, the test of obedience to God's commandments was the issue Satan faced when in heaven itself he became the devil. It will be the great testing issue for every human being as we near the end of time.
Professing to be a follower of Jesus Christ will be of no value if it does not make one obedient to the commandments of God. Even though some preachers may declare it is not necessary to keep the commandments of God, that they are a yoke of bondage to be avoided, the Good Book says, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20. The apostle Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 11:13, 14, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." Few realize that Satan will perform miracles and work dazzling wonders to lead the world astray.
There is only one sure way of discerning those on God's side in the great war. It will not be in loud profession or in boasted sanctity. Jesus warned that men would draw near to Him with their lips while their hearts would be far from Him. The one way by which we may recognize God's true servants is by their fruits. They will keep His commandments. If they live not according "to the law and to the testimony," which is the Bible, it is because there is no light in them. Make no mistake about this law. It is the law of ten commandments. I'm not talking about the 30,000 or so precepts which govern the Jewish economy and the sacrificial system. Some get confused over the ceremonial laws, and throw aside the great moral ten-commandment law in the process. There are two sets of law, two codes. One is permanent and unchanging, the other is temporary. One is eternal, the other ended at the cross.
God has never changed. He said, "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Ecclesiastes 12:13. It is still man's duty. Those who knowingly disregard God's ten holy precepts are clearly aligned upon Satan's side and are his servants, no matter what their profession.
There was a time when all ministers in all churches preached mightily the binding obligation of the ten commandments on all men, and that to transgress them willfully made men candidates for the regions of darkness. What has become of these stalwart defenders of the faith, defenders of the law and government of God? Have they become guilty of high treason by going over to the enemy and betraying God's kingdom and government, in the name and cloak of heaven? Do traitors exist within the ranks? The Bible says there will be such in the last days.
The time has come when all men must declare themselves on one side of the conflict. We are nearing the climax of this great controversy, and neutral we cannot be. That which will mark God's followers in the last days, which will designate the people who have aligned themselves with Jesus Christ in the struggle, is the fact that they "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12. Of them it is said, "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14. These people will be the targets of Satan's fury.
But the enemy's side will also be filled with people. Some of them are of high degree and high profession, but they disregard God's law. The vile and open sinner, who does not care and has no desire to obey God, and makes no pretense, is certainly enlisted in the army of the great adversary. But these alone do not make up the army of his satanic majesty. Men of boasted sanctity are in it, men who have turned their ears away from hearing God's law. In fact, such persons will be foremost in making war on those who keep the commandments of God. Satan knows the most effective means. Count on him to use them.
We must remember that we are either helping to vindicate the righteousness of God, or helping to swell the original revolt against God and His government. God is looking for men and women to espouse His cause of love and truth, and to live for Him and make Him known, that they might thereby hasten the final triumph of right.
Salvation is dependent upon two wills. Namely, the will of God and the will of man. God wills the salvation of all mankind (1 Timothy 2:4). Jesus Christ proved that fact when He tasted "death for every man." Hebrews 2:9. But the fact is, not all men will their own salvation. Man's "won't power" can frustrate God's "will power," for God will never force salvation upon an unwilling sinner. He is not a dictator. "If any man will" is the only "if" in God's plan. Therefore, no man can evade personal responsibility in the great controversy between good and evil.
The lesson for all of us to learn is that all human experiments in sin have been a failure. The only hope of salvation is to yield to Christ and find in Him personal victory over sin (1 Corinthians 15:57). It is not necessary for God to kill the devil in order for people to live right. God has provided a solution for all who will accept His provisions. Will you let Him put an end to sin in your life now, and prepare you for that glorious victory day when God shall make an utter end of all evil and establish a new earth kingdom "wherein dwelleth righteousness"?