Question: I teach high school Bible classes, and here is a question from my students: “If heaven was perfect, where did the temptation come from for Lucifer to fall?”
Response: Heaven was indeed perfect, but we are told clearly that man and Satan both, having been given a choice, long ago demonstrated their capacity to fall into corruption. Consider Satan (Lucifer). In Ezekiel:28:15, Lucifer was in heaven, with all of its perfection, but the writer of Ezekiel tells us that despite his intimacy with that perfect environment, and even in companionship with the Lord, he was rebuked: “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”
So even in that place of perfection, Lucifer came to the conclusion that his exalted position wasn’t high enough. We read: “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” (Is 14:12-14).
Man is much the same: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin...bringeth forth death” (Jas 1:13-15).
In short, as creatures with the ability to make choices, we knowingly and deliberately sin. In the case of Satan, although existing in a perfect environment, in his pride he could clearly see that God was superior and thus willfully chose to rebel.
Adam, too, was accountable for his poor choices that led to sin in the wonderful place that the Lord had proclaimed to be “very good.” Man and woman were in the Garden, which was a perfect environment, and although Satan was doing the tempting, they chose to disobey the Lord of their own free will.
Some put forth the notion that we sin because Satan tempts us and, on occasion, even enters us, causing us to sin. The Scriptures don’t support this idea. As the passage in James 1 tells us, we sin regardless of the influence of Satan. When Eve sinned, and then Adam sinned, it was of their own accord, thus neither could claim, “Satan made me do it,” although they tried that.
In the original creation, which God himself had declared was “very good,” we see that Satan and mankind had the power of choice. Eve, in the Garden, was persuaded by her own will that the fruit of the tree was desirable to make one wise (Gn 3:6). Satan wasn’t controlling her—he was tempting her, but she was enticed by the desire within herself. Eve was deceived, but according to 1 Timothy:2:14, Adam was not deceived. Nevertheless, he chose to eat the forbidden fruit.
In Satan’s case, God didn’t persuade him to become prideful. We’re told in Scripture that God hates pride (Prv 8:13). His character would never lead Him to cause someone to become prideful. Nor did God deceive Eve. Again, Scripture tells us that although deception and lies work together (Ps:78:36; Prv 12:17), God does not lie, cannot lie, and will not deceive (Ti 1:2; Heb:6:18).
Satan’s own desires brought about his pride (and fall). The entrance of evil into a very good creation could not have been caused by God, in whom is no sin (1 John:3:5). God was certainly not unaware that this would happen, but He permitted it to happen. God is sovereign and acted justly by casting Satan out of heaven after he had rebelled against the Creator. In the case of man, God, in His mercy, had already set in motion the coming of a Savior, who was “slain from the foundation of the world.” By this act of love, God made it possible for any who will choose Him to escape the bondage of sin, which is rampant upon this earth—despite the worst that Satan can throw at us.