- Love and Liberty
Sinful At Birth? Or By Choice?
God created mankind in a state of innocence. Man, being tempted by Satan, yielded, and willfully disobeyed God, becoming a sinner and incurring God’s judgment. By means of Adam’s disobedience, sin and death entered the world. The Bible teaches us that Adam’s actions have impacted his descendants - “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19a). Some people teach that all humans are born with a sinful nature that we inherited from Adam, and this explains how his disobedience resulted in many being made sinners. However, to be consistent, if the first part of the passage means that the sin of Adam resulted in all becoming sinners involuntarily, then the second part of the passage would mean that the obedience of Christ results in all becoming righteous involuntarily, for it states: “so by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19b) This is an unbiblical conclusion.
I agree with those who believe the biblical explanation is that Adam’s disobedience became the occasion and influence for the resulting constitutional depravity of his descendants (the result of being barred from the health-and life-giving Tree of Life) and corresponding increase in susceptibility to temptation, so that it can be truly said, by his “disobedience many were made sinners.” On the other hand, Christ’s obedience (his unselfish, loving sacrifice) became the occasion and influence of the repentance and obedience of his followers, so that it can be truly said, by his “obedience many were made righteous.” (Hebrews 9:14) Though in the flesh we are vulnerable to temptation, and we all at one point have chosen self-gratification over obedience to God, the flesh itself is not sinful, or Christ himself would have been born with a sinful nature for he was born of the same flesh we have. Christ, though tempted in all points as we are in the flesh, did not sin, proving to us that sin is in the will, not the substance of man.
I believe that the commission and practice of sin is the cause of moral depravity, resulting in people becoming “by nature the children of wrath”, not that we inherit a sinful nature that makes us sin, for sin is not a physical substance, it is a moral transgression. I reject the doctrine of Original Sin that was introduced into the doctrines of the Church, for the Bible teaches that each person is condemned for his own sin, and not the sin of Adam - “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Hebrews 5:12) Sinners make themselves objects of God’s wrath; God does not create us as objects of his wrath. When a person (excluding those who are mentally incapable, and babies and children that pass away before becoming morally accountable) by his own free will, chooses to disobey the moral law of God, he becomes, or is made, sinful of his own volition. When a person, through the influence of the Spirit of God, chooses to repent and follow Christ in obedience, he becomes, or is made, righteous of his own volition.