The following is by no means authoritative and should definitely not be viewed as "from the mouth of God" or even as true, necessarily. It's really just pondering questions that are pinging off the insides of my head. I've always enjoyed philosophy, so questions are natural but answers are scarce. That's what's great about a weblog though: I don't have to have the answers and I don't have to be right either.
I said in the devotional from John 1:1-2 that God had a plan for our salvation even before He created the world. I think that's true, but it raises a lot of interesting questions.
1. Can we really be perfect? God created us with a plan for salvation in place, so he must have known, long before our fall, of our imminent failure. We like to say that we were created to be perfect but messed it up, but is that really true? Could Adam and Eve have remained perfect? Could they have overcome sin? Or was this whole creation just a way for God to show off his amazing grace and salvation? This leads me to think of Paul's defense to the Christians in Rome: "You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?' On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make me like this," will it?"
2. Where does Satan really fit in this picture? This whole issue raises some problems with Satan. First, did God create Satan? I think the answer to that is yes. I don't think the angels are eternal like God, otherwise they would be gods. That leads to, "did God create Satan knowing what he would become?" I think you have to say yes to that too, otherwise you are left with saying that either God did not know, a direct blow to God's omniscience, or that Satan outsmarted God, in which case, this whole world is doomed. That leaves us to believe that God created Satan knowing exactly what he would become. I wonder further if God did not create Satan specifically for this purpose. What if God's plan from the beginning was to create a race of people (us) who could bring Him glory, and the best way to do that was to offer them the choice between Him and something else? Is Satan, perhaps, a necessary evil, that God created as His antithesis (not that Satan is God's opposite, because that would make them equals)? All this really leaves us in uncharted waters, because the next logical step is, "God created sin." Well, ok . . . maybe that's not the next logical step (and not exactly accurate either); I think I may have skipped a few steps, but I think you can see how I got there. God wants to bring glory to Himself so he decides to create a race of beings that can do that, but it's not very glorifying if they don't have any other options so He creates Satan - and remember, He created Lucifer as a good angel - knowing that he would rebel and lead His creation astray, giving them an option other than Himself so that, when they do choose Him, it would be more glorifying. So God did not directly create sin. He just created the potential for rebellion (that is, He created choice - all the Calvinists out there will lynch me after this); Satan created sin, at least, he was the first to do it and is the one who tempts us to do it.
3. What does this mean in terms of everyday temptation? I read in a devotional book once that "every temptation is a chance to wave our Savior's victory flag." I don't think I can say it any better than that. If all that I said above is true (mind you, that's a big if), every temptation is a device of God's ultimate plan to bring Himself glory. He foresaw the rebellion of Satan, and created him anyway, and he foresaw the fall of mankind, but created them anyway, and he foresaw all of your own individual failures, but he created you anyway. Why? Because we don't fail every time (perhaps only by His grace and binding of Satan - remember the story of Job) and when we don't, we bring Him glory, and that is our ultimate purpose. Every temptation is a chance to glorify our Maker. With that in mind, let me leave you with three lines from a song that can change the way you view yourself, sin, guilt, shame, fear, love, grace, etc. Consider these three things, and the amazing fact that they are all true. The combination of the three is almost unsettling.
And you know who I am,
And you made who I am,
And you love who I am.