Would there be sin in the world if Lucifer didn’t want to be as great as God?
Good question about the roots and nature of sin and evil in the world – especially because it shows understanding that Lucifer, the greatest of all the angels that God originally created, has something to do with the fall of the world from the life of harmony with God and the shared harmony among all his creatures (which we call “original innocence”), to a way of life influenced and lived out in sin, division, and pain. While I am aware that this question comes from a young person (ten years of age), I must say that my answer to this speculative question is best given to adults who can than share with their children in simpler terms than I may be able to use here. While we can not say for sure that there would have been no sin without Lucifer’s pride that led to this angel’s rejection of God with the words, “I will not serve,” we can say that because of this angel’s rejection of God, his goal became to always mock God and to lead humanity away from the promises of love that God has always had in mind for we who are made in “His image and likeness.” Such a mocking of God and leading human beings astray began with the temptation of Adam and Eve to eat from the tree from which God said not to eat, to which they did give in, leading to the first and original sin. The “Father of Lies” (as Jesus called him) tempted Eve with the “lie” that they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit. While death was not inflicted immediately upon Adam and Eve after the first bite, indeed death did enter the world through that original sin. Accordingly, the serpent (Satan/Lucifer) was effective in leading Adam and Eve to sin. Thus, we can say that Lucifer’s desire to be as great as God, rooted in his own pride, did lead to the tempting of man that resulted in sin entering the world. Had Lucifer not expressed such pride and instead chosen to serve God, it is quite possible that there would not be sin. But let’s go deeper.
This reality of Lucifer’s rejection of God’s plan was the beginning of the “spiritual war” within which we are called by God to be holy in the midst of the world that has been given over to sin and temptation. That such a spiritual war could have come about in another way outside of Lucifer’s pride seems possible. For example, it seems entirely possible that the first man and woman could have used their free will in another, unintended way without Lucifer’s temptation. However, such an unintended use of free will by man and woman would have needed to be rooted in a temptation or, in other words, in a feeling/sense of attraction away from what God had willed for man (which is always good) toward that which is not for their true good. Any such temptation would have always come from outside man and woman and not from within their own nature – as we are in the image and likeness of God, and therefore meant to do what is good. Who would be responsible for such a temptation? Only one who had the power to affect all of humanity after the manner of Lucifer’s great power that he used to tempt Adam and Eve. As there was no other angel as powerful as Lucifer, it appears that there could be no other source for such a war to have been started – and therefore no other who could have caused all humanity to fall under the power of sin.
Fr. Joel Hastings