Isaiah asked the question, "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 into 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." Isaiah 14:12-14).
All Christians understand this scripture to be talking about the war in heaven, where Lucifer, along with one third of the hosts of heaven, rebelled against God and were cast out. When it comes to understanding this war, very few Christians have any idea of what it was about except that, according to Isaiah, Lucifer's sin was his attempt to exalt himself above that of God but they have no idea what caused Lucifer to do that.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, have a greater understanding of this event. The Lord has revealed that, before the earth was created, God, our Father in heaven, called us, His children, together and presented a plan whereby we could become just like Him. Back then, there were a number of ways in which we were different from Him. One was that our Father had a gloried, resurrected, physical body while we only had a spirit body. He knew the difference between good and evil, while we only understood good and had no real concept of evil. He had proven Himself worthy to become an exalted being through being tested and overcoming all manner of temptations while we had not been tested at all. Therefore our Father convened a council to explain to us how we could learn what He knew and be tested as He had been so we could become a gloried, exalted being as He now was.
Although we all shouted for joy at this opportunity, the plan God presented to us was not without danger. Only those who endured well the tests and overcame the temptations of evil, as God had, would we be able to return and live with and be like our Father, possessing all that He possessed. Those who did not successfully pass the test would not be allowed to return to their celestial home but, instead, would spend eternity living somewhere else.
Being unfamiliar with evil, it is certain that most of us had the attitude that we would easily pass the test and thus, we dismissed the danger. In our innocence, our attitude was no doubt full of optimism and confidence. After all, if our Father had passed the test, there was every reason to believe that we could likewise pass it.
However, our Father informed us that all of us would sin and that no one would completely pass the test. That news must have come as a shock to us. But, God explained there was a way to wash away any sin we committed but it had to be done through someone who would need to live a sinless life. In that way, it would allow that person to then atone for all of our sins which would wipe them away and allow us to return to our celestial home. What this plan would do was, when we stumbled in overcoming evil, we could repent and keep struggling to improve ourselves. This no doubt calmed some of our concerns but it's certain that we were beginning to catch a small glimpse that this test was not going to be quite as easy as we originally imagined.
The question God asked was, "Whom shall I send to be this person who will save and redeem my children from their sins?" Obviously, the person who was to fulfill this assignment had to be someone of tremendous spiritual capabilities. Our eldest brother, and our Father's most beloved Son, Jehovah, step forward and said, "Here am I. Send me." We must have breathed a sigh of relief when we heard him say those words because we too had a great love for him.
But then, someone else stepped forward and said, "Here am I. Send me." His name was Lucifer, which means Light bearer or Son of the Morning. It was a glorious name because Lucifer was a glorious and much beloved son, both of God and us, who stood second only to Jehovah is his spiritual capabilities. To have two such magnificent brothers of ours to trust our salvation to must have been very comforting.
Yet, the scriptures tell us that Lucifer sought to modify the Father's plan. What he proposed was to force all of us to live a sinless life, thereby assuring that not one person would be lost but that everyone would return to live with God forever. For this act, Lucifer wanted all the glory for himself. At least, that's what we know from modern revelations. (see Moses 4:1-4).
Isaiah asked the question, " How art thou fallen O Lucifer?" In other words, if Lucifer was such a spiritual giant and we lived in a place where there was no evil or any evil influence (heaven being a place of perfect righteousness), then how did Lucifer become so evil? What made him decide to challenge our Father and go in open rebellion against him?
It's been said it was the sin of pride that caused Lucifer to do this, but where did that prideful thought come from? Since he was living in a place of perfect righteous and he had been living more righteously than all of us, what produced that kind of feeling in him that was so strong that he was willing to lose everything rather than humble himself? And if this feeling of pride was somehow a weakness in his character, how come one-third of our Father's children chose to follow him and lose everything along with Lucifer?
Although the scriptures don't give us a clear, definitive answer, there are many examples in life where we can observe how good people have become bad. The French philosopher and author, Albert Camus explained: "The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance and good intentions and may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding." Author Ernest Hemmingway wrote: "All things truly wicked start from innocence," and Nobel prize winner, Max Born stated, "The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world." Famed psychologist Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in all the process he does not become a monster."
This is what happened to Lucifer and it can happen to all of us if we don't guard against it. Therefore, it's important to examine how this attitude took hold of Lucifer and what it did to him.
The Scriptures tell us that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosever should believe in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Our Father would not have presented a plan for our exaltation that was not for our total and complete good. His plan was motivated out of a feeling of pure love for His children. Jehovah, whose name would later be changed to Jesus Christ, to reflect His new status as the anointed Savior, also gave His life out of pure, selfless love. If Lucifer was a very righteous being, he too would have been concerned for the welfare of those who would not pass the test and be lost. In that case, the conversation between him and God would have gone something like this:
Lucifer: Father there has to be a better way, a way that will insure that everyone will return home.
God: No, Lucifer my son. It is the only way. They must choose for themselves whether they want to return home or not.
Lucifer: Father, we all want to come back home. You know that so how can you say they must choose for themselves? They've already made that choice.
God: And how would you keep them from making a wrong choice and thereby sin?
Lucifer: You could make them not sin.
God: And how would I do that?
Lucifer: Maybe you could… I don't know… prevent them somehow from doing wrong.
God: The only way I could do that is to take away their agency and force them to do what is right.
Lucifer: Then force them. But at least they'd be able to come back home.
God: Lucifer, I understand your concern but I can't force them. They must decide for themselves.
Lucifer: Then if you won't force them then let me for I will surely do it.
God: You can't do that because you don't have the power to do so.
Lucifer: Then give me your power and I'll do it! You can't just let your own children leave home forever.
God: Lucifer, you don't understand.
Lucifer: Don't treat me like a little child. I understand more than you think I do.
God: Lucifer, I do not consider you a child but there is much you still need to learn.
Lucifer: I know enough that your plan will cause some, if not many, of my brothers and sisters to never come home again. Jehovah, make Father understand that His plan is not good.
Jehovah: Lucifer, I share your concerns but I trust Father.
Lucifer: And do you trust yourself? What if you don't live a perfect life? Then nobody makes it back home.
Jehovah: Father believes I can do it and I have faith in His judgment. After all, this is the same plan by which Father became exalted and if it was a good plan for Him then it is good enough for us.
Lucifer: And what if He made it by luck? Are you willing to jeopardize all of our brothers and sisters based on luck?
Jehovah: Lucifer, I share your concern. I don't want to see a single person be lost but neither does Father. If He says that this is the only way, then I trust Him.
Lucifer: Well I don't believe it's the only way. I refuse to believe it.
Jehovah: Lucifer, if there was a better way Father would have told us.
Lucifer: Well, we'll see about that.
It is easy to see Lucifer acting on principle and, thinking he knew the truth and therefore\ began behaving like a rebellious teenager who thinks he knows more than his parents. In Lucifer's mind, he might have thought that if the agency to choose was so sacred to God, he would devise a way where he could use that agency to force God to change His mind. Using all of his powers of persuasion, coupled with his passion of what he thought was the best way to save his brothers and sisters, Lucifer tried to convince as many of them of the rightness of his plan. Perhaps he thought that if enough of them rejected the Father's plan, God would respect the agency of His children and let them follow Lucifer's plan.
However, as much as Lucifer had already spiritually progressed, there were still many things he did not understand. This situation would be similar to a teenager who lived all of his life at home and had never had to work for a living, thinking he knew as much about life as his father did. Therefore, in his ignorance and naivety, Lucifer was convinced that his plan was better than the Father's and the more he argued for his plan the more convinced he became of his ideas. As such, no matter how much God or anyone else tried to show him the defects of his own plan, Lucifer would have turned a blind eye to them, refusing to see what didn't agree with his ideas.
It was in this process that Lucifer began to experience the feelings of pride. Having put so much effort into proving his position, he would have reached a point where it became difficult for him to admit that he was wrong. At that point, a sense of arrogance would have begun to set in as he fought to defend his position against all attacks, for to lose the argument would have been humiliating.
Yet, no matter how many of our Father's children choose to follow Lucifer's plan, God could not allow it to be implemented because it wouldn't work. In fact, it would only make things worse for His children. (For a fuller understanding of why it wouldn't work read, The Big Lie ) This would be like a son telling his father that he wanted to try jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. No matter what logic the son might use to argue that he would land safely, no wise father would agree to let their son try such a foolhardy jump. If a son tried to convince their father to let all of his children jump out of plane with him without a parachute, the father would be even far less inclined to allow such a thing to happen.
When God announced His decision to reject Lucifer's plan, it must have been a severe disappointment. After putting so much effort into rallying so many of his brothers and sisters to his side, only to be told it was all for nothing, Lucifer must have felt devastated. The first normal reaction of people who have had such an experience is to feel a sense of anger. In time, this anger can dissipate and the person can get over their sense of frustration but at other times, a person can continue to harbor their resentment and keep feeding it so it doesn't die. This is apparently what Lucifer did.
It's one thing to disagree with God on an issue but it is quite another thing to disregard a decision God has made. When God issues a command, He expects it to be followed. Lucifer not only chose to disobey his Father's decision but he convinced one-third of his brothers and sisters to do the same. Now Lucifer was in open rebellion against God.
Before God imposes punishment He always warns people of the consequences of their disobedience. There is no reason to believe that He did not do the same with Lucifer, therefore it is certain He warned Lucifer what would happen if he continued his rebellious behavior. Since heaven is a place of perfect righteousness, unless Lucifer and his followers changed their unrighteous attitude they could no longer remain in heaven. That wasn't a threat or an act of punishment on the part of God, it was the law. Heaven would not be heaven if unrighteousness were allowed to exist there, so God had no other choice but to expel anyone who acted in an unrighteous manner.
Lucifer's stated goal was to make sure that all of his brothers and sister would be allowed to live in heaven forever but now he and his followers were guaranteeing that they would be cast out of heaven with no possibility of ever returning unless they obeyed God's decision. If Lucifer had repented of his pride and arrogance there is reason to believe he would have remained in heaven and been allowed to participate in the plan God had announced, but by this time Lucifer didn't care about the consequences. All he cared about was winning his argument, no matter what the cost.
When Lucifer didn't repent, he and his followers were cast out of heaven and Lucifer's glorious name was changed to Satan. In both Hebrew and Greek the word "Satan" means "adversary." However, Satan didn't feel remorse for his act of defiance. Despite his fall from glory, he didn't sit around mourning his great loss and wishing he could go back and do things differently because he had crossed a line of no return where he was now beyond having the ability to repent.
Instead of feeling sorry for his action, all he could feel was deep bitter anger which expressed itself in a feeling of intense hatred. The idea of repenting was something that will never cross his mind throughout all of eternity because in his mind he feels he was only doing what was best for his brothers and sisters and therefore thinks he has done nothing wrong to deserve what God has done to him. For that act of injustice, Satan now feels nothing but an all consuming, burning desire for revenge.
The path Lucifer took that led him from being one of the most faithful followers of God in heaven to becoming the strongest hater of God is instructive because if it could happened to someone of Lucifer's stature then it can happen to anyone because each of us face many different opportunities to take that same path.
In politics, there is much debate over what is best for our country and people have divided themselves between liberal and conservative philosophies. While there are very real differences between these two ideologies, it's how people seek to resolve those differences that determine how we relate to one another. Each side often feels very passionate about the correctness of their own views and it is easy for such a conversation to escalate into a shouting match that becomes increasingly more heated and more vitriolic.
The same situation exists with the subject of religion. Even among those who believe in Jesus Christ as the only Savior of mankind, there are many different opinions about what the Bible teaches. Because each side has strongly held beliefs, they tend to feel that their ideas are the only correct ones and that anyone who has a different viewpoint is more than just wrong but are teaching false doctrines that are taking people away from Christ and leading them down to hell. For this reason they seek to convince people of the rightness of their own position with great vigor. And yet, while denouncing Satan, they tend to adopt the same attitudes and tactics of Satan. Thus, they become just the opposite of the person they claim to follow while following the very person they claim to flee from.
Marriage is another place where husbands and wives can fall into this same trap. Although they each love one another, nevertheless most marital arguments happen because of differences of opinion. This is especially true when the issue of family finances comes up. One person may feel that the best way to manage their combined money is to be frugal while the other person in the partnership may believe that their spouse is being too frugal. Each side wants what is best for the marriage but each side has their own ideas about what is best. In most cases, both sides are expressing their own personal preferences rather than making wise, informed decisions based on sound money management but, in most cases, neither side wants to see the faults of their own argument.
The same is often true between parents and their children. Teenagers, especially, think they know as much or sometimes more, than their parents and often refuse to listen to their counsel. Yet, at the same time, parents tend to enforce rules they think are best, sometimes without fully understanding what their child is feeling.
And there are many other kinds of examples that could be cited where people find themselves innocently acting out of ignorance but with the best of intentions to do what they think is right and best. While it is natural to behave in this manner, it is the way people choose to resolve their differences that will determine whether their relationship resembles that of heaven, where love and peace abide, or whether their association looks more like hell where bitterness, revenge, and hatred exists between them
The biggest mistake people make in situations like this is the same initial mistake that Lucifer made and that is not putting their trust in God. There is only one Person who knows the full truth about all things, including what is the best way to go about doing something but, like Lucifer, many people depend on their own wisdom to guide their decisions. Our goal is to return home, to heaven, and inherit all that our Father has, which is the same desire God has for us. Although we have left our celestial environment, God has not left us to struggle alone.
While granting us the freedom to choose for ourselves what we want to do, God stands ready, as He always has, to give us all the counsel, direction, and help we need if we are willing to receive it. The difference between Jehovah and Lucifer in that grand council in heaven was that Jehovah trusted in His Father's wisdom and followed His ways while Lucifer didn't want to accept what God had to say and, instead, relied on his own ideas of what he thought was right. When we make that same mistake we put ourselves at risk of taking the same path that Lucifer took.