Freedom to Die
In the beginning, long before this world was created, there was Love. In this love was intense joy, gladness to be together which is the very definition of joy. One reason that we believe there are three persons in the godhead at the center of this universe is because selfless love inherently requires at least three to allow love to fully exist. The very nature of giving and receiving cannot be fully healthy unless there are three involved, for with only two love has the potential to become self-serving.
True love is naturally expansive, so in order to increase its capacity for joy, Love – the original Three who are the very embodiment of love – began to create other beings so as to make room for the expansion of the joy that they shared with each other. As they created, the very design of all creation had embedded within it the principles reflective of the reality that makes up their love.
These principles that govern how all things operate and interact has one thing in common; they all operate on the basis of cause and effect. This most fundamental of principles allows us to understand every other principle in nature and science. God's so-called laws are all inherently natural and all operate by cause and effect to interact with all other principles expressing the very nature of God.
Love produces joy – an experience that brain scientists now recognize as that deep inner experience one feels when someone is genuinely glad to be with you no matter what you are feeling or what is happening. This phenomenon lies at the deepest level of our psyche and is what is required most for us to feel fulfilled, satisfied and connected and healthy. The state of joy is how we were designed to live as our normal state of being. Experiencing joy is one of the most necessary requirements for healthy brain growth, and our brain's capacity for this growth has its highest potential around nine months old when the most important part of our brain can grow the most rapidly.
This healthy development and growth in the brain is contingent on what is now known as joy cycles. A joy cycle is when we experience the up and down emotional curve where we go between intense gladness interacting with another mind followed immediately by times of secure, peaceful times of loving closeness. Loss of the quiet parts of this cycle are now known to be the greatest precursor for mental illness and later instability. Constant emotional stimulation without respect for the quiet togetherness part is a recipe for emotional imbalance and dysfunction. It is easy now to see why Satan wants to keep us stirred up and stimulated constantly, for it is reflective of the very methods he used in heaven to disrupt the peace and harmony that God designed for everyone to live in His joy.
In the very first moments of the appearance of sin long before this earth was created, Lucifer began to feel jealous of Michael, the other archangel, for being included in councils of the godhead while not inviting Lucifer in to participate. Initially no created beings realized that Michael was not actually created but was part of the eternal godhead. But even after God announced the truth about Michael and declared that Michael was to receive the same honor and worship as Himself, Lucifer chose to continue indulging his feelings of jealousy. As a natural result, feelings of loneliness and isolation began to rob his own soul of the joy that was supposed to be his natural state.
By continuing to believe that God was unfair and that He was showing undo favoritism to another created being whom Lucifer felt was equal or maybe even a little inferior to himself, he was led by his own distorted thinking to blame God for all the emerging problems springing up from his own wrong choices. And even though God did everything possible to draw Lucifer back from the dangerous path of rebellion he was slipping into, God also had to respect the freedom He had always provided everyone to choose to live out of harmony with the perfect principle of love. For without this foundational freedom to choose any alternative, it is impossible for love to truly exist.
Every intelligent being has been created to participate in the joy of the godhead to the extent that their capacities allow. Loneliness and sadness were never meant to be a part of anyone's experience, so these feelings at first were completely new and foreign in the universe. But as Lucifer resisted the appeals of love by God to win back his own heart, he began experimenting with new ideas he was developing as a supposed improvement over God's ways of governing. As he did so, strange and uncomfortable feelings and impulses multiplied rapidly in the hearts of all who began to share in Lucifer's discontent. Yet as Lucifer saw how easy it was to exploit the vulnerable hearts of trusting angels open to his suggestions, he became more and more emboldened that he could actually succeed in somehow exalting himself to win worship and admiration and power that currently was afforded to Michael, the one he had come to see as his competitor. As pride increasingly blinded him and hardened his heart against the tenderness of God, sin rapidly spread in the vulnerable areas of his own mind and then quickly spread in the hearts of all who were coming into sympathy with him.
Lucifer could have easily returned to worshiping freely the God who had created him for joy in the early stages of his fall, and in doing he could have been set free from all the discomfort and pain from the loss of joy he was experiencing inside himself. But instead, his growing pride prevented him from humbling himself to admit he was wrong, so instead he chose to harden his heart against repentance. Hardness of heart amplifies the pain of loneliness and fear, for a hardened heart is neither open to share joy with others or is it capable of sharing love with other hearts. But it does seek to spread around its pain in negative ways by seeking to convince others to become infected with similar toxic thinking.
One thing that is important to understand is that all pain, suffering, fear and every other negative feeling that sin induces in us are not actually substantive. Like darkness or cold or any other similar concept, these feelings are simply descriptions of the lack of something that makes up God's system of healthy life. It is a vacuum created by the absence of basic elements of life and joy and happiness that produces all the negative things associated with sin. These words are simply descriptions of the absence of something positive, not new things operating outside God's design of living in love. And while they feel very real, in reality they are simply symptoms that alert us to the fact that we need to return to the Source of life to receive what we were designed to have in the first place. Thus death is the ultimate symptom of absence, for in the end, our choice to remain disconnected from the only Source of life in the universe will be the absence of life which is what we call death.
As Lucifer's discontent intensified, his perception that God was to blame for making him feel uncomfortable was recycled into even deeper jealously of Michael, which in turn intensified his own sense of isolation, which increased his jealousy and so on. Sin is a self-fueling frenzy of selfishness that fosters pride which hardens the heart against the only solution possible to this crazy cycle – a fundamental change in what God is really like and how one perceives the real source of their problems. In deceiving his own heart Lucifer began blaming God for all the resulting problems appearing among the angels, rejecting responsibility for perpetuating either his own inner pain and all the external growing turmoil in God's creation. Thus Lucifer became transformed into Satan, the greatest accuser of God and the father of all lies. By creating an ever more complex matrix of lies relying on his superior intellect, Satan was able to infect myriads of others with his own spirit of discontent and rebellion and thereby elevate himself in their thinking as the one with better ideas than God.
Because Lucifer had the most brilliant mind of any created being in the universe, the subtlety and attraction of his web of lies still holds many under its spell. It is this massive yet compelling system of self-reinforcing lies that blinds us to remain suspicious of God and eager to explore for ways to live outside of a humble trust in the Father's heart. By inventing supposed ways to live apart from a heart relationship with the Creator, the brilliant mind of Lucifer offered new ways of thinking that insist that life can be lived apart from dependence on God and selfless service to others. And part of this development of alternatives was to develop substitutes for every natural principle of God's government, replacing them with arbitrary rules that he claimed were superior to God's weak methods of control.
Satan's entire rebellion is based on the lie that God can't be trusted to supply everything we need. Now, infected by distrust of God from birth, we are predisposed to feel that we must provide for our own needs, that we need to look out for ourselves because God cannot be trusted to care for us consistently, if at all. This system of self-reliance, of seeking pleasure as a substitute to replace our built-in design for living in joy, is now wired into our very psyche like a virus causing us to experience the same feelings of loneliness and emptiness that plagued Lucifer's mind when he first became fascinated with the sin produced by his jealousy of Michael.
Satan's jealousy over the joy that was so obvious between Christ and the rest of the godhead became so intense that ever since that time Satan's fiercest hatred and attacks have been targeted at Christ in whatever form He has been found. Originally in heaven Christ was seen as Micheal, the archangel who with Lucifer served to cover the very throne of God. With Lucifer, Michael's role was to convey to all created beings the intense passion of God's love and His infinite wisdom in ways that would be comprehensible for their level of understanding. It is quite possible that Michael served more as a right-brain reflection of the Father while Lucifer could have represented more the left-brain, logical, technical aspects of God. This would explain why the brilliant cognitive abilities of Lucifer led him to try to invent a system based on external solutions disconnected from a heart relationship with God.
This differentiation between two covering cherubs was never meant to become competitive but was designed to be complementary. The two covering cherubs were to be a pair, ever revealing the love and wisdom of the godhead ever attracting others into a deeper appreciation of His infinite love and beauty and glory. The two sides of logic and emotion as expressed through Lucifer and Michael were never supposed to be seen as competitive but were to reinforce and amplify each other. But by inserting the spirit of competition, Lucifer broke the trust the God had placed in him and sin was the outgrowth of that decision. By refusing to accept that Michael was not a created being like himself but was really God, Lucifer placed himself on the path that eventually will lead to his own self-destruction.
As Lucifer allowed jealousy to remain in his own heart by refusing to expel it, the affectionate side of his own makeup began to atrophy and as a result his ability to appreciate the side of God represented by Michael became dwarfed and eventually destroyed altogether, leaving him incapable of anything but hatred and malice toward Michael, toward God and anyone who still remained capable of enjoying the pleasure of shared joy. The only way God has to recover the damage caused by sin is to offer greater revelations of His own goodness in attempts to awaken love. But because Lucifer already maxed out his own capacity to know God and chose to reject it all, there is nothing left for God to do but to allow the course of rebellion to work its effect in his life. God's government is based on love alone, and the principles of God's government operate on natural cause and effect. By choosing any path other than living in love, one places themselves at odds with these principles and the result is always bad. God does not need to impost any punishments for rebellion for sin pays its own wages in that fighting against natural reality simply produces its own harmful results.
The previously competent revealer of the glory of God has now become the chief perpetrator of antagonism and hatred against God because of the jealousy that consumed his own heart. Sadly the very same process of self-destruction takes place in all who allow sin to go unchecked in their own heart. Our choices to continue blaming others for our problems instead of letting the Holy Spirit help us take responsibility for lives is one of the most effective ways Satan entices us to follow in his path to ruin. Satan despises joy and all who enjoy its benefits, and he does everything to keep us caught up in the blame game in small things as well as large. This is one of the most effective methods he uses to keep us blinded to our true condition and distant from the only Source that can heal and restore us to our design for living in joyful community with God and those around us.
Just as Lucifer began suffering the debilitating effects of loneliness, isolation and growing attachment pain when he allowed jealousy to accomplish its destructive work in his heart, so too will the same process rob us, not only of joy but of our very capacity to love and be loved. As we rely on pleasure instead of joy with God to satisfy our cravings, our ability to respond to the drawing of God's love in our hearts becomes increasingly damaged. If we continue to resist God's love for us and reject the light of truth as revealed in Jesus that can expose and displace all the lies about Him that keep us in darkness, we can eventually end up like Satan with such a permanently warped view of God that it makes it impossible for even God to repair our damage without violating our freedom of choice.
It is this core issue of freedom to choose that lies at the core of our ability to experience joy and love. By allowing false beliefs about God to remain unchallenged, Satan leads us on a path to eventually become as hardened as he is and incapable of restoration. Some want to believe that it is impossible to resist God's love in the long run, because just given enough time everyone could someday finally see enough light of truth to return to living under God's love. Yet this is also one of Satan's most subtle distortions about the nature of love and freedom, for it distorts a number of fundamental truths that are necessary for love itself to even exist.
It can be appealing to believe that God's love is simply so powerful and effective that it is impossible for evil to permanently maintain its hold over our hearts. I do not want to insinuate that love is more powerful than fear or hate or pain. But the fact cannot be ignored that love requires the atmosphere of complete freedom to not love or else love cannot even exist itself. The option to refuse love permanently and choose an alternative lies at the very heart of the freedom God has provided to all His creatures. To insist that love must eventually win everyone back to willing loyalty to God in essence denies that it is even possible to reject love and stay with that decision. This line of logic is actually a left-brain solution to the sin problem, which is very similar to what Lucifer proposed to start with – a left-brain solution to supposed weaknesses in God's government. But it is impossible to resolve sin by logic for sin is a right-brain problem that can never be addressed effectively with a left-brain solution.
To insist that God's love is so powerful that no one can permanently resist it given enough time to see the illogic of sin, denies God's clear warning that sin will in fact result in real death. The very existence of death is one of the core issues of contention between Satan and God. This issue was at the center of the first lie by which humanity was enticed into turning away from living in trust for God, so it should be no surprise that Satan is still employing this same lie to keep us confused as to how God will overcome sin at the end. By denying that anyone will end up dying permanently from choosing selfishness over love, Satan can entice some to embrace a deception that appears to offer potential for glorifying the love of God while actually denying the very nature of His love and our freedom. Embracing a belief that sooner or later everyone will be saved appears as an appealing alternative to the harsh, retributive views of God circulated by religion, but it contains even more subtle insinuations that can lead into embracing a life of rebellion now believing that we can still be saved even if it means we have to suffer pain in some supposed purification fire in an after-life. This teaching can actually lead to resulting in more indulgence of sin instead of glorifying God and vindicating His true character.
God's love will indeed never fail or diminish. But love also allows the option for anyone to resist love for so long that they can effectively destroy their own capacity to respond to it. The option to destroy our own God-given mental ability to repent, to destroy our capacity to respond positively to love by choosing death as preferable to life, is part of the necessary freedom required for true love to exist at all. Just because we cannot explain satisfactorily by our left-brain logic does not mean it is not true. Scripture is clear that death will take place, and the kind of death that results from clinging to sin is non-existence, not a later option to restore us to live in harmony with God by suffering sufficient pain in fires of purification after this life. If everyone will sooner or later be saved – some by choosing to repent in this life and the rest after passing through purging fires of torment in God's presence until they finally are willing to change their minds – we in essence actually must embrace the assertion of the serpent to Eve that no one will really die. In this light, either God must be trusted to be telling the truth about this issue or Satan's assertion can be trusted and God is the liar – we can't have it both ways.
The motive to embrace this appealing option is sometimes to reject the dark views that popular religion promotes, that God tortures and/or kills those who resist His love as punishment for rebelling against Him. Teachings of Universalism certainly offer a far more positive proposed solution to these other dark, diabolical doctrines if this was the only other alternative. But truth lies elsewhere, not in choosing between an offended deity seeking revenge or a purported love that actually blocks anyone from ever choosing death over life. This good/evil only possibility of approaching this problem is a classic example of the left-brain solution style that is the essence of the entire system represented by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The lines of reasoning produced from what that tree represents very often offer only two options for any given problem while obscuring the real underlying issue. Thus Satan seeks to prevent us from perceiving the real truth about God and reality with a heart perspective and instead tries to lead us to rely on logic to resolve all the things that confound us.
The only way to discover the real truth as it is in Jesus is to embrace it with the heart. And even then it requires the presence and guidance of the Spirit of truth who is sent to guide us into all truth, for our hearts left to ourselves are so infected and deceived by false assumptions about God that it is impossible for us to come up with right answers to the important issues of eternity. While it is true that we need to allow our hearts to take the lead in finding answers to these challenging puzzles, we must also recognize that our hearts are inherently deceived already and incapable of discerning God's ways unless we are willing to test everything by the objective revelation of truth as found in the Word of God and especially the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.
God's love is certainly very powerful, but sin is also very destructive. Many will remain so enamored with the enticements of sin that they will ultimately reject God's love for them and will at last destroy all capacity for them to respond any longer to His love. The freedom necessary for His government respects the option for us to so sear our conscience that we destroy all capacity to enjoy love with others or with God. God hates sin with a perfect hatred because of this very potential, yet He will not violate our freedom to choose death by overriding that choice in order to please His own longings for us to live in His love.
The only safe way for God to ensure that sin will never rise again is to demonstrate both the full extent of the love of God as well as the awful results of the natural results of sin. As each sinner finally exercises their last moment of freedom to beg God to take back the gift of life He has given them, it will become clear that sin not expelled destroys the very ability for joy and love to exist in the sinner's own soul. As a result, in the end eternal death becomes more appealing to them than the humility required to live in heaven's atmosphere of love. As tragic and heart-wrenching as this option is both to God and to all watching this transpire, it will at last be seen that God is in no way to blame for their tragic demise.
It is true that all will at last fully realize and freely acknowledge that God is love, that He has always been completely fair and that all the problems resulting from sin in no way can be charged against Him. All will freely worship God for who He really is, but this does not repair the internal damage caused by the choices of those who rejected His offer to heal them while they still were salvagable. They see that God was right all along, but they also realize they are eternally lost because of their own choice to remain in rebellion instead of allowing His love to heal and transform and restore them to be fit to live in the atmosphere of heaven.
God will never cease to love unconditionally all who are lost, including Satan. And as much as we may love those lost ones ourselves and want to believe that there must be some other solution, it will be finally be seen in the end that the tragic result of the death of each person must be allowed because of respect for their freedom, even in spite of love. They have chosen to let sin finish its full destruction in their heart until sin in the end pays its own wages which is complete death of both body and soul – non-existence for eternity.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants. (Deuteronomy 30:19)