Monday, February 20, 2006

If heaven is so wonderful why would some angels choose to leave?

"My husband and I were in a discussion after hearing a preacher talking about the angels fall. This opened a whole gamut of questions. If heaven is perfect and wonderful why would the angels choose to leave? I mean we will be totally perfect, complete and happy there so why aren't they? Also, if the garden of Eden was perfect how did Sin enter in (through Satan I know) but if the garden was so perfect how was evil able to get in? And one more question. . . if Satan was created as an angel and he chose sin by trying to set himself above God does that mean sin existed BEFORE the existence of angels? Or did Satan bring it in by choosing wrong?"
These are good questions for us to consider. I commend you for trying to work through the implications of these important issues. First, if heaven is so wonderful why would some angels choose to leave? I believe you touched on the answer when you said “choose.” Although the Bible does not provide us with much information concerning angels, we can imply from Scripture that angels have free will (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4; see also “Do Angels Have Free Will?”).

So we know that they could sin because of their free will but why would they choose to sin in the midst of such a marvelous place? We know that Satan was condemned for his pride (1 Tim. 3:6-7). Apparently, all that God had provided for these angels was still not enough. They, Satan especially, wanted to be equal with God (some see evidence for this in Isa. 14:4-21 although it is unclear whether this passage refers to Satan). Since the pride of Satan and the other fallen angels led them to choose to rebel even in the unimaginable environment of heaven we should take this as warning about the deceitfulness and destructiveness of sin.

If Satan and the other fallen angels were not satisfied in heaven, will we be? Yes! Our salvation and sanctification will be made complete and we will be conformed to the image of the Son (Rom. 8:28-30). We will be “holy, without blemish, and blameless before him” (Col. 1:22). Rev. 21:3-4 says, “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more – or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” Sin will be no more!

Second, how was sin and evil able to get into the Garden of Eden if it was so perfect? Did sin exist before the angels or did Satan bring into existence by choosing wrong? One thing we need to be careful to avoid is the idea that sin exists as a kind of cosmic energy that has always existed in opposition to God. Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s willful disobedience. Likewise, sin first appeared among the angels when Satan rebelled. James 1:14-15 (NET) makes it clear that each one is responsible for their sin: “But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.” Sin is not a power that influences us from without but is something we choose to do and/or think. This brings us back to free will again since Adam and Eve chose to do what they did in the garden (see "Why Did God Create a Flawed World Where Eve Could Eat the Forbidden Fruit?"). Adam and Eve’s fall in Eden is instructive for us. If they chose to disobey in the midst of the comfort, provision, fellowship and beauty of the garden, we are tempted even more in our fallen world. On top of that, we also have a sinful nature that we have inherited from Adam (Rom. 3:23, 5:12, 7:18; Titus 1:15; Jer. 17:9). Thank God, we are free from the control of sin through Christ (Rom. 6)!
J. Wright