Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

58. WHY WERE YOU BORN WITH A SIN NATURE?

One of the core beliefs of Christianity is that:

 

Every person since Adam and Eve, except Jesus Christ, was born with a sin nature and no person, except Jesus Christ, has lived a sinless life.

  • Every person since Adam and Eve (Gen 3:6-19; Rom 7:14-25), except Jesus Christ (Luke 1:35), was born with a sin nature
  • and no person (Rom 3:23, 5:12-18, 6:23; 1 John 1:8-10), except Jesus Christ (John 8:46; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 1:18-19, 2:21-22; 1 John 2:1, 3:3), has lived a sinless life.

 

Sin is that evil which resides in the soul of man.  Theologians have grappled with the origin of evil for millennia but the deep complexity of the human soul may make the origin of sin virtually incomprehensible to the mind of man.  For perspective, selected Biblical commentary is given in the following bullet items.

 

  • Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.  But the free gift is not like the transgression.  For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.  And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.  For if by the transgression of one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. (Rom 5:12-18)

 

  • But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

 

  • The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

 

  • And the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Gen 8:21)

 

  • The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)

 

  • Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)

 

  • The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth. (Psalm 58:3)

 

  • The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick: who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)

 

  • And He was saying, That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. (Mark 7:20-23)

 

  • So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but the sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.  But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (Rom 7:17-20)

 

Many explanations about the origin and transmission of original sin have been put forth over the centuries including: the Realistic Mode, the Representative Mode, the Genetic Mode and a plethora of associated variations. Some teach that Adam’s sins are imputed directly to his posterity; Adam’s descendants are automatically guilty of committing his actual sins because of their genetic connection.  Others teach that Adam became the divinely appointed representative of the race so that his transgressions are simply assigned to his posterity as their own regardless of whether they actually committed a particular transgression.  All such theories illogically assign the sins of Adam to the entire human race.  Conversely, the Bible does indeed appear to teach that each person has a sin nature at birth!  Consider the following explanation as ‘food for thought.’

God created the universe with such precision that the slightest change in any one of its properties would preclude our existence and God designed the earth as a home for man.  God placed certain powerful angels in charge of his creation and instructed them to be good stewards.  Some angels began to oppose God under the leadership of Satan, the most powerful and intelligent of all rebellious angels.  Satan exercises a pervasive, structural and diabolical influence, on whatever he touches, which caused all creation to be captured by the bondage of evil.  That which God created as good began to exhibit a pain-ridden, bloodthirsty, sinister and hostile demeanor.  “Mother Nature,” became an inherently violent and terrifying system dominated by disease, suffering and death – a system red in tooth and claw.  Man had not yet been created.

God set aside some real estate for the Garden of Eden and restored it to its condition prior to Satan’s diabolical influence.  He then created Adam and Eve to live in this Garden.  In full view of all the angels in Heaven, Satan demanded unrestricted access to Adam and Eve and, although they were created sinless, Satan won them over.  Evil had taken up residence in the soul of man, that particular evil called sin.  The will, intellect and heart of Adam and Eve had been possessed and permeated by sin.  But what about us, the descendants of Adam and Eve?

God is just.  God does not impute to us the individual sins of Adam and Eve.  But He knew it would be pointless to allow the offspring of Adam and Eve to be born sinless.  He knew they would follow exactly the same path as their created ancestors.  So He allowed the generations of Adam and Eve’s offspring to be born with a sin nature.  We are all born corrupt, averse to God and inclined to evil.  However, for this depraved nature we are not responsible and no guilt or demerit attaches to it.  We become responsible for this sin nature only after attaining the age accountability and ratifying it as our own.  The age of accountability is not the same for all persons and, for many, it may be very young indeed.

God knew, before the creation of the universe, that all this was going to happen.  On one hand, God knew sin would prevent Him from fellowship with man; on the other hand, God knew He would love each individual unconditionally and would not want eternal separation to be the inevitable consequence of sin.  But sin could not simply be overlooked; a price had to be paid for every crime.  Unfortunately, if you and I paid the price for our own crimes, our souls would spend eternity in Hell.  Before the universe began, God chose an incredible, astounding and magnificent solution to this dilemma.

Two of the three persons who are God have a Father/Son relationship.  The Father sent the Son to earth to be incarnated as a man.  If this man could live a sinless life culminating in humiliation, torture and execution for crimes He didn't commit, that punishment would pay the price for every sin throughout the history of the human race.  This “substitutionary atonement” is exactly what transpired about 1970 years ago.  Jesus paid the price for the sins of every man and woman who ever lived.  But there's a catch.  No one has been or will be simply handed the gift of salvation automatically.

The gift of salvation cannot be received until your heart is right with God.  “Getting your heart right with God” cannot be accomplished by joining a particular Church, faithfully participating in Church activities, tithing, dedicating your life to Christian service, becoming a pastor, living what you and your friends consider to be a holy life, making life-risking sacrifices for Jesus or exercising some spiritual gift.  To get your heart right, you must make something like the following statements to God and mean them to the depths of your soul:

Father, I come into Your presence confessing my sin nature and behavior, having remorse in my heart, wanting to repent, asking Your forgiveness, forgiving those who have sinned against me, asking for Your mercy, receiving from You the far greater gift of salvation and believing I am saved by faith, the grace of God and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.  I can stand before You redeemed from eternal punishment, forgiven my sins, justified as sinless, adopted into the family of God, regenerated from the death of sin to a life of righteousness, guided along the path of sanctification, reconciled with fellow believers, united in the Church of Jesus Christ and looking forward to glorification only because Jesus died on the cross for my salvation.  I accept the undeserved gifts of reconciliation with You, reconciliation with fellow believers and unification in the church.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will occupy and purify my heart, help me discern the truth, make known to me the will of God, be Lord of my life and keep me on the path of repentance, faith and obedience continually reaffirmed and renewed.