Satan began his work by doing just as men who ought to know better are doing today. He complained of the supposed defects in the management of heavenly things, and sought to fill the minds of the angels unfallen with his disaffection. Because he was not supreme ruler, he sowed seeds of doubt and unbelief against Christ. Because he was not as God, he strove to instil into the minds of the angels his own envy and dissatisfaction.
Thus the seeds of alienation were planted, afterwards to be drawn out and presented before the heavenly courts as proceeding, not from Satan, but as originating with the angels. So he would show that they thought as he did. Satan whispered his disaffection to the angels. There was at first no pronounced feeling against God. But the seed had been sown, and the love and confidence of the angels was marred. The sweet communion between them and God was broken. Every move was watched, every action was viewed in the light in which Satan had made them see things.
That which Satan had instilled in the minds of the angels, a word here and a word there, opened the way for a long list of suppositions. In his artful way he drew expressions of doubt from them. When he was interviewed, he accused those whom he had educated. He laid all the disaffection on the ones whom he had led. As one in holy office he manifested an overbearing desire for justice, which was entirely contrary to God's love and compassion and mercy. It was most difficult to make the deceiving power of Satan apparent. His power of deceiving increased with practice. If he could not defend himself, he must accuse in order to make himself appear just and righteous, and the Lord God arbitrary and exacting.
Just such transactions are taking place today. Many place such confidence in their own ideas that they present their theories as if they could make no mistake. Once their words are spoken they never go back, never repent, never feel that they need forgiveness. They feel that they are simply infallible. Thus it has been in past history; thus it will be again. Religious confidence becomes infallibility. How can these deluded ones think that they are the only ones led and taught of God? When this spirit is manifested, what can be done? You cannot convince them, because they say, "God has led me." They will not acknowledge that they have acted from wrong principles. They maintain that they have moved rightly. The only course that can be pursued is to leave them to develop their principles. They may never see their errors, but others may be convinced and saved. To attempt to unmask them would be to call sympathy to their side.
Great efforts will be made by those who suppose their own wisdom to be supreme, in exactly the same lines on which Satan worked, and which caused so much mischief in the Paradise of God. The very same working is revealed in 1896. The very same principles are upheld. When a man is elected to a position of trust, to preside over important interests, large and broad, or interests of less consequence but still important, Satan stirs up the minds of those who are selfish, who are not consecrated to God's service with an eye single to His glory. He puts into their hearts the spirit of criticising and accusing. If they are not specially advantaged, they will tell others of the mistakes and errors of the one against whom they are working. This step taken, Satan, whose special business it is to create alienation and strife, will place matters before these persons in a most deceiving way, and they will bring against those in positions of trust the most unjust and false charges, in order to discourage and destroy God's servants.
The principles of the character of God were the foundation of the education constantly kept before the heavenly angels. These principles were goodness, mercy and love. Self-evidencing light was to be recognised and freely accepted by all who occupied a position of trust and power. They must accept God's principles and convince all who were in the service of God, through the presentation of truth and justice and goodness, [that] this was the only power to be used. Force must never come in. All who thought that their position gave them power to command their fellow men and control conscience, must be deprived of their position.
These principles are to be the great foundation of education in every administration on the earth. In every church the rules given by God are to be observed and respected. God has enjoined this. His government is to be moral. Nothing is to be done from compulsion. Truth is to be the prevailing power. All service is to be done willingly and for love of the service of God. All who are honoured with positions of influence are to represent God, for when officiating they act in the place of God. In everything their actions must correspond with the importance of their position. The higher the position, the more distinctly will self-sacrifice be revealed, if they are fit for the office.
Satan's representations against the government of God, and his defence of those who sided with him, were a constant accusation against God. These murmurings and complaints were groundless. Yet God allowed Satan to work out his theories. He could have handled Satan and all his sympathisers as easily as one can pick up a pebble and cast it to the earth. But by this He would have given a precedent for the violence of man which is so abundantly shown in our world in the compelling principles. The Lord's principles are not of this order. All the compelling power is found under Satan's government. God would not work on this line. He would not give the slightest encouragement for any human being to set himself up as God over another human being, and cause him mental or physical suffering. This principle is wholly of Satan's creation.
In the councils of heaven it was decided that principles must be acted upon which would not at once destroy Satan's power, for it was His purpose to place things upon an eternal basis of security. Time must be given for Satan to develop the principles which were the foundation of his government. The heavenly universe must see the principles which Satan declared were superior to God's principles, worked out. God's order must be contrasted with the new order after Satan's devising. The corrupting principles of Satan's rule must be revealed. The principles or righteousness expressed in God's law must be demonstrated as unchangeable, eternal, perfect.
Every heart that is controlled by these principles in 1896 will be loyal. When those who are in God's service resort to accusation, they are adopting Satan's principles to cast out Satan. It never will work. Satan will work. He is working upon human minds by his crooked principles. These will be adopted and acted upon by those who claim to be loyal and true to God's government. How shall we know that they are untrue, disloyal? "By their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:20.
The Lord saw the use that Satan was making of his power, and he set before him truth in contrast with falsehood. Time and time again during the controversy Satan was ready to be convinced, ready to admit that he was wrong. But those he had deceived were ready also to accuse him of leaving them. What could he do--submit to God, or continue in a course of deception? He chose to deny truth, to take refuge in misstatements and fraud.
The Lord allowed Satan to go on and demonstrate his principles. God did establish Himself, and He carried the worlds unfallen and the heavenly universe with Him, but at a terrible cost. His only begotten Son was given up as Satan's victim. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed a character entirely opposite to that of Satan. As the high priest laid [off] his gorgeous pontifical robes, and officiated in the white linen dress of a common priest, so Christ emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, and offered sacrifice, Himself the Priest, Himself the Victim.
By causing the death of the Sovereign of heaven, Satan defeated his own purposes. The death of the Son of God made the death of Satan unavoidable. Satan was allowed to go on until his administration was laid open before the worlds unfallen and before the heavenly universe. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he uprooted himself [from sympathy], and was seen by all to be a liar, a thief, and a murderer.
God sees that the same course of action is being pursued the world over. Men and women come to the place where the road diverges: it is either right or wrong. Thousands upon thousands clothe themselves in what they suppose to be an impenetrable disguise, and choose the wrong. To make their course plain to others by abrupt disclosures would only cause a larger number to choose the side of wrong. Thus the wrongdoers would be sustained and many souls would be ruined. God does not force anyone. He leaves all free to choose. But He says, "By their fruits ye shall know them." The Lord will not write as wise those who cannot distinguish between a tree that bears thorn berries and a tree that bears olives.
I beseech of all who engage in the work of murmuring and pitying themselves because something has been said or done that does not suit them, and that does not, as they think, give them due consideration, to remember that they are carrying on the very work Satan began in heaven. They are following in his track, sowing unbelief, discord, and disloyalty, for no one can entertain feelings of disaffection, and keep it to himself. He must tell others that he is not treated as he should be. Thus others are led to murmur and complain. This is the root of bitterness springing up, whereby many are defiled.
Thus Satan works today through his evil angels. He confederates with men who claim to be in the faith; and those who are trying to carry forward the work of God with fidelity, having no man's person in admiration, working without partiality and hypocrisy, will have just as severe trials brought against them as Satan can bring through those who claim to know the truth. Proportionate to the light and knowledge these opposers have, is Satan's success. The root of bitterness strikes down deep, and is communicated to others. Thus many are defiled. Their statements are confused and untruthful, their principles are unscrupulous, and Satan finds in them the very helpers he wants.
Through dissension and alienation Satan reaps his harvest of souls. He leads those who are ambitious for money, ambitious to be first, too proud to be anything but the highest, to murmur and complain. These poor souls have not overcome their natural and hereditary tendencies, and he leads them into sin.
As the end draws near, Satan will stir up minds, in proportion to their capabilities and knowledge, to sow seeds which will produce a harvest they will not care to garner. He works in so deceiving a way that he himself is not detected, and then he reaps the benefit of the disaffection of those he had tempted. He is all prepared to hurl charges through them against those whom God would have stand stiffly for the truth.
Satan must deceive in order to lead away. "In vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird." Proverbs 1:17. Underhand work must be done; a deceiving influence must be exerted; false pretences must be set forth as truth; suspicion must be lulled to sleep. Satan will clothe temptation and sin with the garments of righteousness, and by this deception he will win many to his side. Christ pronounced Satan a liar and a murderer. Oh, that unwary souls would learn wisdom from God!
Cain and Abel are given us in Bible history to represent the two orders in humanity. Abel was faithful and loyal to God, and he was preferred by the Lord. Cain was disloyal; he wished his own ideas to prevail. Abel protested against these principles as disloyal. As the eldest, Cain thought that his methods and plans should have the supremacy. It made him very angry that Abel would not concede to his views, and his anger burned so hot that he killed his brother Abel. Here the two principles of right and wrong are developed.
Test and trial will come to every soul that loves God. The Lord does not work a miracle to prevent this ordeal of trial, to shield His people from the temptations of Satan. If they are tempted severely, it is because circumstances have been so shaped by the apostasy of Satan that temptations are permitted in order that characters may be developed that will decide the fitness of the human family for the home in heaven, characters that will stand through all the pressure of unfavourable circumstances in private and public life, and though tried by every species of Satan's temptations, through the grace of God grow brave and true, and firm as a rock to principles, and come forth from the fiery ordeal of more value than the golden wedge of Ophir. Those who have such characters, God will endorse with His own superscription as His chosen elect.
The firmness manifested by Daniel must be shown by God's children. All temptations to depart from pure and holy principles must be unhesitatingly rejected. There must be a firm adherence to right principles. As a people we are to stand unmoved by all Satan's delusions, even when he comes as an angel of light. Thus may we constantly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
All who love God and are loyal to His government will be tempted to change leaders. But God has said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." Luke 10:27. The Lord accepts no half heart. He demands the whole man. Religion is to be brought into every phase of life, carried into labour of every kind. The whole man is to come under God's control. He must not suppose that he can take supervision of his own thoughts. They must be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. Self cannot manage self; it is not sufficient for the work. Whoever tries to do this will be worsted. God alone can make and keep us loyal.
Satan contrives through evil angels to form an alliance with professedly pious men, and thus to leaven the church of God. Fallen men and fallen angels are, through apostasy, in the same confederacy, leagued to work against good. They unite in a desperate companionship. Satan knows that if he can induce men, as he induced the angels, to join in rebellion under the guise of servants of God, he will have in them his most successful allies in his enterprise against Heaven. Under the name of godliness, he can inspire them with his own accusing spirit, and charge them with evil. They are his trained detectives. Their work is to create feuds, to make charges which create discord and bitterness among brethren, to set tongues in active service for Satan, to sow seeds of dissension by watching for evil and speaking of that which will create discord.
Christ prayed for His disciples, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." John 17:17-23. God has expressed His will in this prayer of Christ for the unity of His believing people. But there is an unwearied conflict kept up upon this earth, polluted and marred with the curse. Satan works to make the prayer of Christ of none effect. He makes continual efforts to create bitterness and discord; for where there is unity there is strength, a oneness which all the powers of hell cannot break. And all who shall aid the enemies of God by bringing weakness and sorrow and discouragement upon any of God's people, through their own perverse ways and tempers, are working directly against the prayer of Christ.
All the friends of the powers of darkness, notwithstanding their jarrings and their bitter recriminations, which are continual, are linked together as with bands of steel in the great object of disloyalty to Jehovah.
The only remedy for our institutions, our churches, our families, and for individuals is entire conformity to the will and character of God. Unless God shall work through the two olive trees, His witnesses, causing them to empty from themselves the golden oil through the golden tubes into the golden bowls, His churches, and hence to the burning lamps, representing His churches, no one is safe for one moment from the machinations of Satan. He will, if possible, deprave human nature, and assimilate it to his own corrupt principles. But this golden oil will revive the Spirit of God in the heart of man. A Christlike principle will be introduced like leaven. Through the inspiration of the Spirit of God satanic agencies will be overcome.
Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 358-367.