The question is often asked, How is the existence of sin reconcilable with the government of a wise, merciful, and omnipotent God. Why was sin permitted to take up its abode in the earth to cause suffering and discord?
It certainly was not God's purpose that man should be sinful. He created him pure and noble, with no bias to evil. He placed him in the garden of Eden, surrounding him with every inducement to remain true to his allegiance. He placed His law around him as a safeguard.
There is no excuse for sin. It will be the final condemnation of Lucifer and his angels that when God shall ask, "Why have ye done this?" they will be able to assign no reason. And when at the last great day sinners are confronted with their sins, and are asked, "Why did you transgress?" every mouth will be stopped. The sinful will stand speechless before God.
Evil originated with Lucifer, who rebelled against the government of God. Before his fall he was a covering cherub, distinguished by his excellence. God made him good and beautiful, as near as possible like himself. Of him it is written, "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee." [Ezekiel 28:15] But self-exaltation entered his heart. Inspiration records the charge against him: "Thine heart wast lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness." "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." [Ezekiel 28:17; Isaiah 14:12-15]
When God placed Adam in Eden, He told him that he might eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden save one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Thus Adam's obedience was to be tested. God left him free to obey or disobey. He could have held him back from touching the forbidden fruit, but had He done this, Satan would have been sustained in saying that God's rule was arbitrary. Adam was left perfectly free.
Looking upon the sinless pair in Eden, Satan saw an opportunity for carrying on the work which he had begun in heaven. Entering the garden in the disguise of a serpent, he told Eve that God was mistaken, that the fruit of the forbidden tree would not bring death, but wisdom. "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." [Genesis 3:6] They fell under the temptation, and disobeyed God. Henceforth they could not live in Eden. God drove them forth, placing at the gate of the garden a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Through all the ages Satan's work has been the same,--to make of none effect the law of God, to lead men and women to transgress the divine commands. God requires of human beings today what He required of Adam,--perfect obedience. Satan strives to lead them to mistake darkness for light, and error for truth. He tells them that God has abrogated His law, and that all they have to do is to believe. Were this so, Satan would have accomplished on earth what he attempted to do in heaven, and he would therefore be entitled to the throne as ruler of the universe. But today, as in the beginning, his assertions are false. God's law is unchangeable; and though by human beings it has been slighted, scorned, and rejected, it will ever stand as firm as the throne of Jehovah.
Many cherish the false hope that God will change to suit their sinfulness. But He who rules the world in wisdom and love is a God who changes not. He governs the world in omnipotence, and all that His love inspires He will execute. Now, as ever, the only way in which we can gain admittance into heaven is by conforming to His standard of righteousness.
Of His law God says, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." [Psalm 19:7-11]
Satan declared that human beings could not keep the law. Christ has proved this statement false. He came to this earth, and lived among men the law of God. He died on the cross to bear witness to the unchanging character of the law. This law had been broken, and only by the offering of Christ's blood could the penalty be paid.
Christ came as a man, that He might meet men where they are. Had He come in all His glory, human beings could not have endured the sight. "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." [2 Corinthians 8:9] He planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. "It is enough," He said. "The atonement is complete."
Could the law have been changed, Christ need not have died. But it was impossible for God to change. The penalty of transgression must be borne. Therefore, that the human race might not perish, the Son of God came into this world to live in our behalf a life of perfect obedience, and by the sacrifice of himself to meet the demands of justice.
See the Saviour, sinless and undefiled, yet bearing the penalty of sin. Why?--That we might be spared. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." [John 3:16] God could not do more than He has done for us. He has left us without excuse.