Monday, August 12, 2019

The Doctrine of Original Sin

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).

“Everybody makes mistakes.” We have all heard people say this and what it means is that everybody is a sinner—except that they want to excuse their sin by calling it a mere “mistake.” Secular people believe that human beings are basically good, but that every now and then they slip up and make a mistake. Christianity, however, teaches that all human beings are fundamentally evil and that everybody sins continually.

We distinguish between sin and Sin. Sin with a small “s” refers to particular acts of disobedience. With a capital “S,” Sin refers to the basic sin-nature that provokes us to sin. To put it another way: We are not sinners because we sin; rather we sin because we are sinners.

This sin-nature is called in theology “original sin.” Don’t confuse original sin with the first sin committed by Adam and Eve. Original sin is the result of that first actual sin. In fact, original sin (the sin-nature) is part of God’s punishment for Adam’s first sin. Because of Adam’s sin, all of his descendants are born into the world with a fundamentally wrong orientation, an impulse to rebel against God. This basic hatred of God that lies within the heart of every person ever conceived is what we mean by “original sin.”

While we were born slaves to sin and dead to righteousness, Adam was not. He was free from original sin. That sets his sin apart from all others. After that sin, however, he too had a sin nature.

Adam sinned as our representative. That is why we have all received punishment for his sin, which includes our sin-nature. Some have objected to the idea that Adam represented all humanity, but there is no force to their objection. If a husband hires a man to kill his wife, the husband is still responsible even though the deed was done by his representative. Thus, we are responsible for what Adam, our representative, did.

We may object, “But we did not select Adam to represent us.” No, we might not have been wise enough to pick a perfect representative. So, the infinitely good and all-wise God chose Adam to represent us. God chose a perfect representative, and Adam did exactly what each of us would have done.

The fact that God punishes sin by giving us over to more sin is clearly stated in Romans 1:21–32. Read this passage carefully, noticing particularly what verse 32 says is the ultimate end of the outworking of sin. Does this teaching frighten you? It should. Ask God for help in breaking off any evil habits that cling to you.