Question: "Where did sin come from?"
Answer: God did not create sin, but He created beings with free will who have the ability to sin. This includes Satan, fallen angels (demons), and humans. To be clear, sin is a falling short of God’s standards. Sin is not an entity or a thing that “exists”; it has no independent being. Rather, sin is a lack of something, a failure to fully obey God’s law and live up to His glory (Romans 3:23).
When He created the universe and our world, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31; cf. 1 Timothy 4:4). This “very good” creation included humanity and the angel that would later become known as Satan. At this point, no humans or angels had yet sinned, but they had the potential to do so. God did not create any being sinful, yet a group of angels rebelled against God in heaven and became sinful.
Satan’s fall from heaven is symbolically described in Isaiah 14:12–14 and Ezekiel 28:12–19. An angel named Lucifer wanted to “ascend to the heavens” and be “above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13). Verse 14 adds he desired to make himself “like the Most High.” God judged Lucifer by removing him from God’s ongoing presence (Isaiah 14:15). That fallen angel is now known as Satan (“adversary”) or the devil (“slanderer”).
In Ezekiel, we find Satan was created as a perfect, wise, and beautiful angel (Ezekiel 28:14). But then Satan rebelled: “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you” (verse 15). That’s when the situation changed. Scripture hints at the reason Satan chose to sin: “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor” (verse 17; cf. 1 Timothy 3:6). Satan’s fall took place at some point before he came as a serpent to tempt Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. After being thrown to the earth (Ezekiel 28:17), Satan tempted humanity to sin, and he has continued that practice ever since (see Matthew 4:1–11).
Since Adam’s sin, humans have inherited Adam’s spiritual corruption and have been born with a sin nature. We are naturally inclined to sin (Romans 6 – 7; James 1:13–15). But in Christ Jesus we can be forgiven of our sins. “God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We receive forgiveness from the eternal penalty of sin when we put our faith in Jesus. We also receive freedom from slavery to sin and can learn, by yielding to the Holy Spirit, to live righteously. This process of acting less like Adam and more like Christ is called sanctification.
Some have wondered why God created beings who could sin. Why didn’t He create angels and humans without the ability to sin? The alternative would be to create beings unable to choose right and wrong. But, in that case, angels and humans would be like robots, unable to truly show love and affection to the Lord. God could either make sin impossible, or He could make beings free to choose, but He could not logically do both. Without an ability to choose, no being can have a meaningful relationship with God. There would never be a meaningful experience of His mercy and love, His justice and righteousness. The fullness of God’s nature and glory would not be on display.
The existence of sin is negative (Romans 6:23), but it is not the end of the story. Satan will ultimately be defeated. His end has been declared, and his evil will not continue forever (Revelation 20:7–10). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness of sins and restored fellowship with God (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9). This relationship provides eternal life as well as abundant life through our connection with the Lord (John 10:10). Jesus conquers sin and death and brings us to a fullness of relationship with God we can only begin to imagine (1 Corinthians 15:50–58; Revelation 21 – 22).