Man’s idea to add original sin to the Bible
The idea of original sin, or the sinful nature from birth, was first pushed by Augustine who was a former gnostic. Augustine is guilty of having introduced many unbiblical ideas into church, and some of them were later also taught by both Luther and Calvin. The old church fathers before Augustine did not teach the sinful nature (see here), and most importantly the Bible does not. Below are some of the most common verses used as an attempt to prove the sinful nature.
Example 1) Romans 5:12
Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man SIN entered into the world, and death by sin; and so DEATH passed upon all men, FOR that all have sinned
Comment: Sin entered the world the first time through Adam, because no one had sinned before him (him and Eve). The verse does not say that SIN passed upon all men but DEATH passed upon all men, and it also explains why this is: Because all have sinned! Not because all have inherited sins from Adam. Notice that “all men” is a translation from the Greek word ἄνθρωπος (anthrópos, Strong’s 444) and could mean 1) men, 2) men and women, or 3) mankind, people, human beings. It may or may not include babies depending on context. Since the verse claims that we die (spiritually) because we have sinned, this verse cannot be used as support for another idea – like the idea that we die spiritually because we have inherited someone else’s sin. Dying physically is something different, and even Jesus Christ died a physical death. It is possible to say that we die physically due to Adam, because we cannot reach the tree of life due to him.
Example 2) Romans 5:18
Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation — 19 so by the obedience of one shall MANY be made righteous.
Comment: The entire context is this:
Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation; EVEN SO by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL men unto justification of life. 19For as by one man’s disobedience MANY were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall MANY be made righteous.
If ALL are automatically condemned through Adam, then ALL are automatically made righteous through Jesus. Are 100% of all ALL PEOPLE automatically righteous in Jesus? No, that would be universalism. It is not proper hermeneutics to read “all” in two different ways in the same sentence – an “even so” indicates a valid comparison. If ALL die in Adam, then the very same ALL are saved in Christ. If “many” (not all) were made righteous, then “many” (not all) were made sinners. We cannot make one absolute and the other conditional. If, however, we add conditions on both accounts (we die spiritually if we sin like Adam, and we become alive in Christ if we choose to believe in him) then we have solved all contradictions. Rom. 5 does list conditions, just like the rest of Romans and just like the rest of the Bible.
Example 3) 1 Corinthians 15:22
1 Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive.23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Comment: If all people are automatically dead in Adam, then the very same “all people” are automatically saved in Christ. But this interpretation leads to universalism, and we know this is not true. The context makes it clear that the subject is the RESURRECTION and what will happen when Jesus returns. Most importantly what will happen to those in Christ. They will die physically just like Adam (even Jesus Christ once died physically), and they will be made alive to get their judgments and rewards.
Example 4) Ephesians 2:1
Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins
Comment: What makes us dead? Sinning makes us (spiritually) dead! It is not being born (or being conceived) which makes us dead, but it is transgressing of his law:
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law
Is. 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Eph. 2 does not say that we are BORN dead in trespasses and sins. How can newborn babies choose to transgress the law of God?
The solution to the problem of sin is to repent, which explains why Paul in Acts 17:30 says that God “now commandeth all men every where to repent”.
Example 5) Ephesians 2:2-3
Eph. 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Comment: Do not get fooled by the term “children of disobedience” or “children of wrath” because these terms refer to those who follow Satan – as the text indicates. Likewise the term “children of God” (or sons of God) does not necessarily refer to little toddlers, but to those who have chosen to believe and follow God. The text certainly does not claim that people are BORN as children of wrath – merely for the “crime” of existing. It is crystal clear that those spoken about in Eph. 2:2 are adults. They:
- have a need or reason to be ”quickened”
- perform TRESPASSES and SINS and through them be dead
- walk according to the world
- walk according to Satan (the prince of the power of the air)
- are disobedient through following Satan
- walk in the lusts of their flesh
- fulfill the desires of their flesh
- fulfill the desires of their mind
Example 6) 1 Corinthians 2:14
1 Cor. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned
Comment: It is a bad idea to be a natural man, which is a man who lives of the world. If someone is a natural man (which is no obligation), he cannot please God. It is impossible for a person to please God if he at the same time chooses to walk in darkness.
“Natural” is a translation from ψυχικός (psuchikos, Strong’s 5591) and could also be translated “worldly-minded” or “sensual”. It describes the behavior of a carnal man who lives of the world. The word can be contrasted with “spiritual” (pneumatikós, Strong’s 4152).
Example 7) Job 25:4 + Job 15:14
Job 25:4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? 5 Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. 6 How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?
Job 15:14 What is man, that he should be CLEAN? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?15 Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.16 How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?
Comment: The first comment is from Bildad, and the second one is from Eliphaz. They did not always provide good advice to Job. On top of this, the book of Job is replete with poetic expressions. See for instance Job 1:21 and see if you read it in a literal sense.
Example 8) Romans 3:10
Rom. 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Comment: Paul, who made the above statement that no one is righteous, called HIMSELF righteous, along with Silas and Timothy (see 1 Thess. 2:10) and he constantly requested that people should avoid obeying their flesh and be righteous. Paul also said (Acts 23:1) that he had lived “in all good conscience before God until this day”. (NASB: ”perfectly good conscience”). Paul urged his readers to “sin no more”! Was Paul a hypocrite or a man of God who we can trust?
Paul was in Rom. 3:10 referring to a couple of well-known psalms where we can read “there is none righteous ….” and if we go to these psalms (Psalm 14 and Psalm 53) we can see the proper context to this phrase. There we can read about unrighteous people, called FOOLS, who do not seek God but we can also read about righteous people who DO seek God. Psalms contain poetic expressions which are mirroring the truth, so we should carefully keep this in mind.
We can read in Acts 17 that we are created precisely to seek God, even though he is not far away from any of us. We can also read verses such as:
Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart
Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you
Below are more psalms, and it would be unwise for us to start new doctrines (which are not supported by non-poetic verses) based on such poetry. Poetic expressions can of course teach us things and be encouraging, but it is not always correct to read poetic texts in a literal sense.
Example 9) Psalm 51:5
Ps. 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me
Comment: This verse is not about all people in the entire world but concerns only David and his mother. It could be understood both figuratively (the way also king David has battled with dark powers and obstacles very early on) or literally (David’s mother was indeed sinning during the conception) but either way, this verse does not say that we have all inherited Adam’s sin and have a sinful nature from birth. David starts out speaking about his own transgression (not sins inherited from another), and we can read claims from David which could not possibly be understood in a literal sense:
Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice…
Example 10) Psalm 58:3
Ps. 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, SPEAKING LIES
Comment: Naturally newborn babies cannot speak, much less speak lies. This is just a poetic expression to describe that the wicked man go astray very early on and usually continue on this path. The psalmist starts out addressing a ”congregation” and apparently they are old enough to SPEAK since they are asked if they speak righteousness. They are also old enough to JUDGE, they are able to WORK WICKEDNESS in their hearts and WEIGH the violence of their hands. Babies are unable to do any of that, and it is the WICKED who ”are estrange”. If someone goes astray, it means he must have started from a position where it was not ”astray”. In verse 10 and 11 we can read about righteous people who do NOT go astray:
10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.
Some people might ask: “If we are not born with a sinful nature, why do we sin?” Well, why did Adam and Eve sin? Certainly not due to a sinful nature. They might also ask “If we are not born with a sinful nature, why did Jesus have to die for us?”. Because we have chosen to sin – despite that we did not have to. This is what makes us guilty.
If we are born with a sinful nature (which would provide an excellent excuse for sin), why does the Bible not disclose this important piece of information anywhere? Why can we read the exact opposite story? Moreover, the idea of the sinful nature actually reduces the great deeds that Jesus Christ did for us, when we accuse him of not having to struggle with a sinful nature as the rest of us. In reality, Jesus was tempted in all things just like us and he did not get an advantage.
The Bible says that babies are innocent
While there are no Bible verses which say we are born with a sinful nature (or born depraved, which is not even a word included in the KJV Bible), the Bible does say that we are wonderfully made.
Zecharia 12:1 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and FORMETH THE SPIRIT OF MAN WITHIN HIM.
Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, NEITHER HAVING DONE ANY GOOD OR EVIL, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God AS A LITTLE CHILD, he shall not enter therein.
Isaiah 7:16 For BEFORE THE CHILD SHALL KNOW TO REFUSE THE EVIL, AND CHOOSE THE GOOD, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
Isaiah 42:5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and SPIRIT to them that walk therein
Job. 31:14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?15 Did not HE THAT MADE ME IN THE WOMB make him? and DID NOT ONE FASHION US IN THE WOMB?
Ps. 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.14 I will praise thee; for I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
Ps,73 Thy hands have made me and FASHIONED ME: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that GOD HATH MADE MAN UPRIGHT; but THEY they have sought out many inventions.