The Great Controversy - Teachers Comments

2024 Quarter 2 Lesson 03 - Light Shines in the Darkness

Teachers Comments
Apr 13 - Apr 19

Key Text: John 12:35

Study Focus: Rev. 12:7–9, John 8:44, Prov. 23:23, Prov. 4:18, John 12:35, Ps. 119:30, Acts 20:27–32, 2 Thess. 2:7–12, John 8:32.

Introduction: This week we watch as the apostolic, and the post-apostolic, church enters the great controversy between God and Satan.

Born of Jesus, the church joined the great controversy on His side. However, the church soon would face the same temptation as Adam and Eve: to doubt Jesus’ Word and to desire a compromise between His authoritative commands and Satan’s delusive doctrines.

This week’s lesson emphasizes that the great controversy is comprised of two unequal and irreconcilable sides. These sides are unequal because of who God is and who the devil is. While God is the Eternal One, the Creator, and the loving and righteous King of the universe, the devil and evil have a beginning and, thus, will have an end. The devil, sin, and evil are temporary aberrations that, though affecting God and the entire universe, will be extinguished by our all-powerful, all-loving, and all-just God. Consequently, the two parties engaged in the great controversy, God and Satan, simply cannot compromise.

The Bible depicts the great controversy in terms of a conflict between two radically opposite forces, such as light versus darkness or truth versus lies. True, the side of evil clamors for a compromise with the truth, for such compromise is evil’s only chance of survival. The side of evil seeks to secure its survival at any cost in order that it might destroy that which is good or of God. That is why the devil has continually been at work to lure the church into compromise. Unfortunately, the church fell into compromise, as did humanity’s first parents. The effects of these compromises are seen and felt to this day. God, however, who is the Source of truth and light, will never compromise. Trust in God and faithfulness to the truth, as revealed in Jesus through Scripture, will safeguard the church from compromise and prevent us from falling prey to the devil.

Lesson Themes: This week’s lesson highlights four major themes:

  1. In depicting the great controversy, the Bible uses diametrically opposed terms, such as light and darkness, to highlight the fact that God and His people cannot compromise the truth in any way with error and falsehood.
  2. From the earliest days of Jesus’ ministry and in the subsequent work of His apostles, the devil relentlessly pressured the church to slide into error or, at the very least, to compromise God’s truth.
  3. To compromise truth, however, is tantamount to the betrayal of God and the destruction of truth itself. Ultimately, such compromise constitutes siding with Satan.
  4. The only way the church may emerge victorious in the great controversy is to remain faithful to the divine revelation in Jesus Christ and in God’s Holy Word.

Part II: Commentary


In various social contexts, such as family life and politics, compromise is considered acceptable and, in many situations, even desirable. Generally, the word “compromise” refers to reaching an agreement, to settling, by mutual concession, for the middle ground between the positions of two or more parties. The key to such an agreement lies in “concession”: each side must cede something so that both, or all, sides can continue to coexist or live together. In some cases, each side compromises because none has the strength to convince, or overcome, and control the other side by force. In other cases, the parties compromise simply because they want to live together peaceably as neighbors, or as family, in love or mutual respect.

In the context of the latter perspective, compromise certainly has a positive connotation, appearing as a solution to conflict and as an opportunity for peaceful coexistence. These types of compromises are common in our daily lives and involve negotiation or tolerance. However, in general, compromise is perceived as a negative phenomenon, implying the loss of an essential value, principle, truth, or quality. A compromised lot of medicine, immune system, national identity, education, morality, reputation, harvest, or military position are all undesirable and unacceptable compromises because they threaten our very way of life or existence.

How about God? Could not He compromise with the rebel angels or with fallen humans to avoid the war in heaven and to allow all to coexist peacefully? Could He not, at least, tolerate the opposing party? If the opposing side wanted independence or autonomy, could not God grant this request? Could He not simply give the rebels a region somewhere in a corner of the universe where they might live by themselves instead of being exterminated?

The answer is complex. Several points, however, may help elucidate it.

No Compromise by God

First, there is a qualitative difference between our daily negotiations and the compromise that Lucifer was desirous of achieving. God created us with all the freedom necessary to express ourselves, to interact and negotiate with others, in love and in righteousness. However, there are some physical and moral limitations that cannot be compromised because these limits constitute the very foundation of our existence. This foundation is comprised of the truths that God is our Creator, our Provider, our Lawgiver (and as such, reveals how we should live our lives in order to be happy), and our King. God is the Source of our life. We simply cannot exist without Him. Lucifer wanted to change this very foundation. He challenged God’s character, status, and authority and claimed that humans are gods (Gen. 3:4), having existence in themselves and having ability to create their own meanings of, and standards for, life and happiness.

Second, and closely related to the point above, is the nature of sin. Sin is not merely holding a dissenting opinion. Sin is the conscious and deliberate rebellion against, and rejection of, God’s claim that He is the only Creator, Provider, Lawgiver, and King. Sin cannot tolerate the existence of such a God. The foundational impulse of sin is to topple this God from His throne and install self as the king. The devil, however, offers a compromise. He would be willing to renounce his call for a total rejection of God’s existence as long as he, Lucifer, was also recognized as a god. God, on the other hand, allows no room for such a compromise or negotiation with sin. What can He concede on His part? To say that He is not the Creator? To say He is not the Provider? To say that He is not the Source of life and standard of happiness and morality? To say that angels and humans can have life without Him? Any of these would be a lie. While compromise would be a triumph for the devil, compromise would mean capitulation for God.

Third, and closely related to the first two points, the situation described above is not only about truth and honor but constitutes the ultimate life-and-death situation. Let us imagine for a moment that we are Adam and Eve. We are in a setting in which Satan and God explain their positions to us prior to the fall into sin. Satan claims that God lies to us, that we are autonomous, that we are gods, and that we are immortal. Furthermore, he asserts that we can reject God’s claims and will not die (Gen. 3:4) because we contain life, original and underived, within ourselves. Further, Satan accuses God of using His claim of being the Source and standard of life to control us all; this divine claim, for Satan, is dictatorship, autocracy, abuse, deception, and injustice. According to Satan, the fact that God does not want to compromise corroborates his allegations. For this reason, Satan calls us to break free from God’s “lies” and “abuse” and experience a new consciousness and autonomy, wherein we discover and enjoy our infinite and eternal divine potential. But aren’t these just allegations and speculations? Do we not run the risk of dying or disappearing from existence if we disconnect from God? Is it worth trying, just to prove a theory empirically? Lucifer certainly thought it was worth taking the risk.

God, on the other hand, tells us that He is the only Creator and Provider, and thus we cannot exist without Him. He tells us that if we do not believe Him, if we reject Him and His affirmations, we will disconnect from Him, the Source of life, and we will die, that is, disappear from existence. God explains to us that this outcome is not mere speculation but a fact because He is our Creator. We did not create ourselves, and we are not eternal. This fact alone, based on His Word, must be sufficient for us to believe Him. However, God points out that His claims are also evidenced by our past and present life: that is, as long as we have believed Him and lived with Him, everyone has been happy. The entire universe has been running smoothly, and no one has died. God further explains to us that He cannot compromise not only because He is right but also because if He renounces His throne, all of us and the entire universe will disappear from existence since He is the only Provider or Sustainer of existence and life. For this reason, God calls us to believe Him, to trust Him, to stay with Him, and to live happily with Him forever.

If you witnessed such a debate, whom would you have believed?

Fourth, unfortunately for humanity, our primeval parents accepted Lucifer’s speculation. Was the risk worth taking? No. The choice of our first parents turned into a tragedy for them and for the entire human race. Moreover, this conclusion is not mere speculation but is based on historical and empirical evidence. Instead of feeling divine and living forever after disobeying God’s law, humanity felt empty, naked, full of shame, their hearts and relationships broken (Gen. 3:7, 8). Moreover, the human race began to suffer and die. However, Lucifer did not stop his speculations against God’s government; he proposed more compromise. We are immortal, he now claimed, because we have an immortal soul, which, after death, goes to a spiritual, ethereal sphere. Tragically, most people have fallen into the trap of believing that falsehood. Moreover, Lucifer now began calling on God and humanity to accept the reality of the existence of sin and death as the new normal. In the many nonbiblical religions that have prevailed throughout human history, Satan has proposed to redefine and reinterpret suffering and death in order to avoid their pervasive presence, which constantly undermines his lying claims.

Fifth, God remained true to Himself. He explained that Adam and Eve remained alive after rejecting Him, not because Satan was right in his claim that we are immortal, nor because God compromised. Rather, Adam and Eve did not die because God, in His eternal love for humanity, had a plan of salvation, which started operating as soon as humans fell into sin. According to this plan, God, far from compromising, gave us a new opportunity to choose to be saved, live, and stay with Him. But this new opportunity and salvation were not the products of compromise. We must not confuse compromise with God’s patience, love, and grace. Rather, salvation and the new opportunity for life spring from God’s sacrifice. Precisely because God did not, and could not, compromise, He sacrificed. But He did not sacrifice us. Rather, He sacrificed His own life. If compromise were possible, He would not have needed to die in our place. But because He did not compromise, He chose rather to die in our place in order to uphold His truth, to manifest His love and righteousness, and to save us from the guilt and power of sin. Moreover, He did not compromise because He knew the consequences of compromise: suffering, misery, and death of the entire humanity and universe.

For the same reasons, God’s true people do not compromise. True, traditional Christianity compromised the revelation of God’s truth in Scripture. However, God worked to restore His truth in order that He might save as many as possible. For this reason, His faithful remnant church happily collaborates with Him to help spread His truth by reflecting His light.

Part III: Life Application

  1. What criterion or criteria does your culture appeal to in order to determine what is truth? What are the sources of truth in your society, religion, or culture? In what ways, if any, does your society or culture view the Bible as the source of truth about the origin, meaning, direction, and destiny of our world?
  2. In what ways can you share our Adventist understanding of the Scriptures as the premier trustworthy source of truth? How does this understanding of Scripture help us develop the correct worldview and path to salvation?
  3. Examine your life. Do you think there are areas in your life that are the result of compromising God’s truth? If yes, what are they? What can you do to rectify this situation?