I have always been fascinated by stories. Not necessarily by the stories themselves, but rather because there is always something exciting to find if one reads between the lines.
The Story Behind the Story
By Keldie Paroschi
I have always been fascinated by stories. Not necessarily by the stories themselves, but rather because there is always something exciting to find if one reads between the lines. What lies behind the character’s course of action; what are the unspoken consequences of a particular decision; what is the author not telling us, but expecting us to understand? As much as I enjoy happy endings, unanticipated, strange endings intrigue me more, because I have to stop and think about the twist of the story that led to such a surprising finale.
When it comes to life on earth, a real saga you and I play a part in, we encounter the most fascinating story of all. There is much more to the conflicts and issues concerning humankind than we notice at first glance. To understand why people suffer, why there are so many different conceptions of what truth is, why our worst struggles are often within us, we have to understand the story behind the story.
It all began in the heart of an angel in heaven. It’s a mystery how sin could appear within a perfect being living in a perfect place.1 But since God’s government is administrated on the basis of love (1 John 4:8; Matt. 22:37-40), all His subjects must have the freedom to worship God because they love and fully appreciate Him and His character.2 Unexplainably, Satan began to pride himself in his magnificence, which then developed into a wish to become like God (Isa. 14:13, 14; Eze. 28:12-19). This was an affront to God’s law, which is “holy, righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). In doing so, he was casting doubts on God Himself. Why do God’s subjects need to obey the law? Is God really a God of love? How can God be both loving and just at the same time? With such suspicions propagating through heaven, harmony was disrupted, and serious measures had to be taken.
“Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven” (Rev. 12:7, 8).3 God certainly had the power to destroy Satan then and there, but that wouldn’t have solved the problem. The questions concerning God would still be hovering in some hearts, and the foundation of love of God’s kingdom would have been replaced by fear. The best solution was to let the universe witness the practical consequences of evil.4
The moral war between God and Satan intensified when Adam and Eve sinned. By eating the forbidden fruit, they doubted God’s word and His authority, thus declaring their independence from God (Gen. 3:1-6). This permitted Satan to seize the dominion of earth (John 14:30), and so, turned humanity into God’s enemies. The battlefield moved to this earth, where from then on the devil has worked diligently to misrepresent God, causing endless pain and suffering, spreading lies, and inducing all the immorality we see around us. But just as in every good story, there’s a protagonist and an antagonist, God was also active in the story of the Great Controversy, a spiritual, moral battle that impacts every aspect of life on earth. God had a strategy, and He fought back.
How should God’s love be reconciled with His justice? How could He save sinners without letting sin go unpunished? Though it seems like an impossible task, every single part of God’s strategy was ingeniously thought out. Even before the war began, the plan of salvation was already set in the heart of God (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 6:19): the death of Jesus Christ would be the ultimate act of love, making it possible for rebellious sinners to be reconciled with God, and, at the same time, proving the legitimacy of God’s law.
But the war is not limited to the cosmic level. It is also a battle within the hearts of people. Our natural, sinful mind-set is opposed to God and His law (Rom. 8:7). But the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who accept Christ breaks the power of Satan. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12; cf. Rom. 3:21-26). Throughout earth’s history we hear, read about, and encounter men and women whose lives have been changed by the touch of divine love. This doesn’t mean that we are fully free from the bondage of sin; on the contrary, it creates a miniature conflict within us (Gal. 5:17), making it imperative that we submit ourselves to God on a daily basis (James 4:7).
When Christ died on the cross, Satan’s evil character was made plain to the entire universe. God’s plan of salvation was firmly established and His character confirmed (John 12:31, 32; Rom. 3:25, 26). Jesus’ cry of victory still resounds to this day, and will continue to echo through all eternity: it is finished! “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters . . . has been hurled down” (Rev. 12:10).
But the story did not find its end yet. It was still necessary for the contrast between the victorious Christ and the evil prince to be brought to light.5 Still, God revealed to us the ending beforehand. Satan will be destroyed, and the entire universe will serve God out of love.
There is, however, a twist to this story: while we know the ending of the big story, for you and me it is open-ended. Though we are active participants in the story, no author, no narrator, not even God, can determine whose side we will be on when the time comes. It depends entirely on us. Have you made your decision?
1 Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. 493.
3 Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from Scripture in this article have been taken from the New International Version.
4 Ibid., pp. 498, 499.
5 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 761.
All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God’s adversary, and led into rebellion a portion of the angels. He introduced the spirit of rebellion into this world when he led Adam and Eve into sin. This human sin resulted in the distortion of the image of God in humanity, the disordering of the created world, and its eventual devastation at the time of the worldwide flood. Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the universal conflict, out of which the God of love will ultimately be vindicated. To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect, and sustain them in the way of salvation. (Rev. 12:4-9; Isa. 14:12-14; Eze. 28:12-18; Gen. 3; Rom. 1:19-32; 5:12-21; 8:19-22; Gen. 6-8; 2 Peter 3:6; 1 Cor. 4:9; Heb. 1:14.)
Keldie Paroschi is a third-year theology student at Brazil Adventist University in Engenheiro Coelho, São Paulo. She enjoys reading and being around good-humored people.