Sin did not enter the world through Adam

Who was the first sinner?: Lucifer’s Forgotten Legacy

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Contrary to popular belief, Adam should not be held responsible for the introduction of sin into this world. To that effect, Paul was wrong to claim that it was Adam’s fault that sin came to earth. He mistakenly writes,“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12; NLT)* According to the biblical record and the Catholic tradition, the sin of a fallen angel preceded Adam’s very existence. The fallen angel was none other than Lucifer and it was this being, not the human Adam, that caused sin to enter into the world for the first time according to Isaiah 14:12:

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”

Though quite a number of commentaries such as Ellicott’s Commentary have interpreted the passage to mean the King of Babylon, many classical commentators and even modern commentators maintain that the passage is referring to the fallen angel Lucifer.

Celebrated Christian evangelist and preacher Billy Graham identifies the person in Isaiah 14:12 as the devil Lucifer and brands him the first sinner. Graham’s entry on Lucifer begins with the title ‘The First Sinner Commits the First Sin.’ After clearly having identified Lucifer as the first ever sinner, Graham writes:

“Lucifer (meaning “morning star” in Hebrew) was an angel created to glorify God, but this was not the role he wanted. His heart’s desire was to be the chief authority; he wanted to sit on God’s throne and rule the universe. Isaiah 14:12-14 tells us: “”How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

When Lucifer asserted his desire to be more than God, a great revolution took place in the universe. Many angels joined with Lucifer and became his rebel army. Evidently when God judged Lucifer’s crimes, God changed his name to Satan, the Evil One, and sentenced him to eternal exile.” [1]

Graham gives us a good and concise summary of the traditional view of Lucifer where unlike Ellicott, he is regarded as a supernatural entity that began as a good angel but fell from grace and eventually became the devil. Thus, the first sin entered into the world. And this as we have mentioned at the beginning contradicts Paul’s assertion that sin came into this world via Adam. But what was Lucifer’s sin? According to Isaiah, his offense against God was that of arrogance and this seems to parallel the Islamic accusation levelled against the devil (known as Iblees in the Qur’an) when he refused– out of his superiority complex — to show obeisance to Adam as God’s new creation, which he perceived as inferior.

Along with Graham, many other modern Christian commentators and writers have come to the same conclusion when it comes to the Isaiah passage in question and designated Lucifer, the fallen angel, as the first sinner that brought sin into this world.

Christian writer Craig T. Feigh writes:

“Lucifer, a Cherub, had the privilege and responsibility of being placed at the very throne of God and all heavenly worship emanated through him. That is until the first sin entered into him. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!… (Isaiah 14:12-15) Lucifer was the first sinner and pride was the first sin. ” [2]

Similarly Mary E. McDonough writes:

“”I will be like (or equal to) the Most High,” plainly shows us that equality with his [Lucifer’s] Creator was his objective. Nay, more than this–he would hurl God from His throne and take His place. No wonder, then, that those solemn words rang through the universe–“Thou hast sinned.” Never had those words been uttered before, for this was the origin of sin, and in Lucifer, we behold the first sinner.” [3]

The respected Christian minister and author [Dr.] Herbert Lockyer writes:

“…let us clarify the teaching of the Bible concerning him who was “the first sinner, the first rebel, and the first to consecrate himself to self-gratification and to wage war against society.”

It has been asked, “Where the devil did the devil come from?” God is the Creator of all, even of angelic beings. Therefore, God created the Lucifer, the highest of the order of the Seraphim. God did not create him a devil. The devil made himself a devil. By his own free act he lost his original supremacy and dignity…” [4]

We have thus far supplied a handful of scholarly and lay references that take Isaiah 14:12-15 as a passage that speaks of a real entity that fell from grace and thus became the first sinner. From this some might get the impression that such a view of Isaiah 14 is new and one that is just a modern innovation. That cannot be farther from the truth. It is a historical fact that many of the early Church authorities interpreted the passage to mean precisely what the above cited references forward. One such authority is the greatly revered scholar in western Christianity named Saint Augustine (AD 350-430) who hails from the patristic era. He writes:

“A certain one was named Lucifer, who fell; for he was an angel and became a devil; and concerning him the Scripture said, “Lucifer, who did arise in the morning, fell. And why was he Lucifer? Because, being enlightened, he gave forth light. But for what reason did he become dark! Because he abode not in the truth.” [5]

From the expert and lay Christian witness evidence above, one should be persuaded to subscribe to the traditional view concerning Isaiah 14 with Lucifer as a fallen angel and the first sinner. Insofar Christianity is concerned, the veracity of this view is proven by virtue of its rather long history dating back to patristic times. Had it been a contemporary innovation or one that was conceived in medieval times, evidence for it would not be found in the ancient patristic era, which it is.

As we have established Lucifer as the first sinner through whom sin first entered into the world, which is the meaning gleaned from the wording of Isaiah 14:12, we conclude with some important issues to reflect upon:

1. Both Muslims and Christians would not disagree, conceptually, that Lucifer as Satan may have had an influential hand in the fall of men due to the temptation that it excercised upon Adam and Eve, but, of course, it is noteworthy, that in the Bible, Eve is seen as the main victim of said seduction. Since Lucifer, i.e., Satan, is seen as the source of temptation (e.g., Genesis 3:1-6; Matthew 4:1-11), who then tempted him when he fell and became the first sinner? This question is so pertinent that Christians have been asking about it all the way back in 1996. In its 1996 publication, the Bible Study magazine ‘Prophecy Flash!’ by Triumph Prophetic Ministries asks the question as follows:

“Who tempted Lucifer to rebel against God? Since he was perfect in his ways, and there was no being to tempt him, as there was for Adam and Eve, who tempted him?” [6]

2. Because sin first entered into the world through Lucifer, Paul must be seen as a misguided preacher for wrongly teaching in Romans 5:12 that it was through Adam that sin first came to earth.

3. If God in the Judaic-Christian tradition is absolutely all-Loving, then where is the mediating sacrifice to save Lucifer from the sin that he committed that caused him to fall from grace? The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is only efficacious for mankind and is not applicable for angels, therefore, Lucifer, who was once upon a time God’s beautiful doting angel, is left without a way out and becomes forever condemned. How can an all-Loving God show bias towards one race of beings over another when both equally belong to Him as His creatures? Since Satan is seen as a creature that has the freedom to obey or rebel just like his human counterpart, how would he return to God should he ever desire to repent, which in the Christian angelic paradigm is a real possibility? Who will shed blood for him or is there some other means of intervention that God could institute apart from simply forgiving– an idea that Christians eschew –so that like rebellious men, rebellious angels might have forgiveness, too?

 

Notes:

* An alternative rendering of Romans 5:12 which is more emphatic in its wording in capturing the key point that a single human being in the person of Adam was the singular conduit by which sin entered the world is as follows:
 
“Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death resulted from sin, therefore everyone dies, because everyone has sinned.” (International Standard Version)

[1] Graham, B. (2004). The Enduring Classics of Billy Graham. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Feigh, C. T. (2008). The Sure Way to Him: What is the most important thing you can do in your lifetime? Florida: Xulon Press. p. 74

[3] McDonough, M. E. (1999). God’s Plan of Redemption. California: Living Stream Books. p. 6

[4] Lockyer, H. (1954). All the Doctrines of the Bible: A Study and Analysis of Major Bible Doctrines. Michigan: Zondervan. p. 133

[5] Augustine (2007). On the Gospel of Saint John. In Philip Schaff (ed.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7. New York: Cosimo Classics. p. 21

[6] Dankenbring, W. F. (1996, August). Questions and Answers. Prophecy Flash! 9-10(n.d.), 84.

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