Category: Sin, Word: ORIGINAL SIN
September 18, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
The term “sin” has been relegated to the backwaters of public conversation. Failings, weaknesses, illegal activities, and flaws are still permissible for discussion, but not sin. Only the most scandalous of crimes (terrorist activities, for example, or child molestation) even warrant the description “evil.” By contrast, the Bible assumes sin on virtually every page. It is the human predicament that Jesus Christ came to remedy. Right away the Christian vocabulary is at odds with the “sin-less” vocabulary of current culture.
Yet what exactly is the quandary that Scripture (and every generation of Christian preachers and thinkers) calls sin? Are people basically good, with sin as an occasional aberration, and the gospel simply the means of getting back on track? On this view, the Bible can function as a self-help manual. Or are human beings basically sinful, prone towards evil, and unable to become truly good apart from Christ? With this perspective, the gospel is good news of God's intervention in Christ. It is help for those unable to help themselves.
Even so, we must ask deeper questions about the sin problem. Has sin merely weakened and sickened the human spirit so that the gospel is like medicine? Or has sin actually deadened the spirit so that it must be given new life? Such issues are explored as we look at the six terms explored in the following section.
21. ORIGINAL SIN
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to one’s account when there is no law. (Romans 5:12-13)
DEFINITION: When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden in the fall, their nature was damaged or distorted, and their descendants (all humans after them) have been born in a sinful condition.
Thinking about original sin best occurs in the context of three presuppositions. First, all humans have descended biologically from a single human couple (Adam and Eve). Second, Romans 5, the most extensive New Testament passage on the effects of Adam’s sin, makes sense only if there was a historical fall. Third, original sin means that the effects of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin are passed from one generation to the next. One way to think about this is that “faulty spiritual DNA” is continually passed down, and parents have no more say about passing on that “DNA” than they do about passing on, say, the DNA for brown eyes.
Original sin is the biblical explanation for why human beings died between the time of Adam and the time of Moses. During that period, nobody violated any specific law of God, because He had not given any such commandments. Why then did people die if death comes only as the wages of sin? Because they were already considered sinners “in Adam.” This also at least partly explains why babies die: “through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone” (Romans 5:18)
Original sin as a concept was by no means invented by Paul. David reflected this understanding in his poignant poem: “indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). In no way was David suggesting that the sexual activity that brings about conception was itself inherently evil, anymore than that the birth process is sinful. Rather, David understood that he committed acts of sin because he was by birth a sinner (instead of being called a sinner because he had done evil deeds). In other words, the sinful nature preceded the sinful deeds.
Bible scholars have continued to debate the implications of original sin. In the medieval period, one reason babies were baptized was to remove the stain of original sin. Among Protestants, two differing view have emerged. On one hand is the perspective that God judges humans guilty not because of original sin but for their own acts of sin. Granted, all humans are born in sin, but God’s grace has met this deficiency in everyone, and persons are condemned only for their own evil acts. On the other had is the view that indeed God does consider each individual guilty before Him because he or she is “in Adam.” Everyone who has been born—except for Jesus, who had no human father---is therefore under divine displeasure, not only because of their own acts of sin, but because “by nature we were children under wrath” (Ephesians 2:3)
REFLECTION: Why does modern society have so much trouble talking about it? Do you think humans are born good or born sinful? What do you base your opinion on?
PRAYER: Holy Father, I confess that sin has tainted and haunted me all my life. Thank You that there is now life in Christ, even though there was death in Adam. Thank You that by Your grace, You call the vilest of sinners to forgiveness and new life in Christ. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.