Romans 5 does not teach that man is born sinful, nor that we have inherited Adam’s sin
If man is born with a sinful nature (original sin) one would assume this would be indicated somewhere in the Bible, and preferably in a clear way since this is a MAJOR teaching about the constitution of man that we would not want to miss. If man is born with a sinful nature, that would make us sin whether we want to or not and we would have great excuses on judgment day when we are being asked why we have sinned. ”Because of our sinful nature, of course!” we could reply. If Romans 5 is the best place to look for this doctrine, then it is not a very good one because this teaching is nowhere to be found. The fact is that 1) the Bible nowhere teaches that man has inherited Adam’s sin, and 2) none of the old church fathers taught this doctrine the first 300 years AD. Only the gnostics taught it.
Romans 5:12 tells us the reason why death (not sin) spread – because we sinned
The wages of sin is death – not just in our past but this is still a reality today. Spiritual death spread to all men because each and every man sinned himself. If a man would not have sinned, he would not need to die spiritually but he would still die physically just like innocent babies do and just like Jesus Christ did. Physical death is not the result of our sin because physical death was decreed when Adam sinned, and physical death also applies to innocent people like Jesus who have never sinned.
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
SIN entered the WORLD through Adam because he was the first to sin. No one sinned before him. DEATH (not sin) passed upon all men and why? FOR (because) ALL HAVE SINNED! There you have the reason! If death spread to all men because Adam sinned and because sin is something that can be inherited in the DNA, then Paul had a chance to clarify this but he did not. What Adam did still caused a great stir on all mankind because we all die physically due to him (even little babies) because we cannot reach the tree of life due to him, and the ground is cursed due to him. Romans 5:12 could also have been translated like this:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, also in this manner death passed (traversed) into all men, since all have sinned
James says that ”sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (1:15). The specific effect of death James is talking about is a separation from God. We know that the condemnation spoken about in Rom. 5 concerns spiritual death, for those who are justified still die physically. Rom. 5:14 makes the point that even while sin was not imputed because there was no law, death reigned.
What about the ”all” have sinned?
Who are included in ”all”? Animals? Angels? Jesus? We have to look at the context in order to discern who ”all” are. ”All” does not always include little babies. ”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, just like the usage of the English words. The Bible provides many examples where ”all men” could not possibly include babies, and we should therefore not do cherry-picking when it comes to this word but carefully check the context. (There are two words in Greek which mean ”man”: anēr, which refers to a specific male individual, and anthrōpos which is the racial/generic term and which has the general idea of mankind.)
Romans 5:18-19 must be read together
If Adam’s sin automatically and universally causes all mankind to receive condemnation for something they did not do or had any choice in, then Christ’s dying on the cross also automatically and universally causes all mankind to be saved – Rom 5:18-19. Clearly this is not the way to understand Rom. 5:18-19. The truth is that all are condemned when they commit sin (V.12) and all are saved when they obey Jesus.
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 justified and righteous through Jesus. We all know this could not be the case and it is not proper hermeneutics to read ”all” in two different ways in the same sentence – when reading ”even so” indicating a valid comparison. Adam’s disobedience does not make everyone born lost anymore than Christ’s death automatically makes everyone being found. If we were all born separated from God because Adam sinned, then we would all be spiritually alive (saved) because Jesus obeyed until death. But we cannot be saved unless we choose to follow Christ. Likewise, we do not die spiritually until we choose to disobey God.
Again, if all die in Adam, then all are saved in Christ. We cannot make one absolute and the other conditional. In other words, IF Romans 5 says SIN (and not death) is passed down from Adam in the unconditional sense, then the same chapter also teaches that the very same entire race of humans are ALL saved unconditionally, because of what Christ did. This would be universalism!
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Also this sentence must be read in the same way on both sides of the word ”but”. If an individual sins, the wages of that sin is (spiritual) death, BUT for the same individual he is promised eternal life though Jesus IF he repents and believes in him. So IF he sins = death, and if he believes = life.
It says ”The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life…” To determine which ”death” Paul is referring to we can check what he compares it with and see that he opposes it with eternal life. Even if we will get eternal life, we will still die physically. Jesus says in John 11:25 ”He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
The prodigal son went from life, to death, to life again. He was first alive, dead and alive again.
What is sin? Transgressing the law!
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law
The Bible tells us that sinning is transgressing the law of God. If that is so, it follows that we must first be able to distinguish right from wrong before we can be condemned for our actions. We must first have a brain and other body parts before we can choose to break the law of God. If we are sinners by conception (or by birth), then we would be sinners before we even had a heart, but the Bible says that it is our heart which might condemn us:
Matt. 15:18-19 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Hosea 4:8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.
Ps. 41:6 And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.
Ps. 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me
Is. 32:6 For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
We do not sin by being born or being conceived. Why would being conceived offend God to such a great extent, and even cause him to separate himself from us? Does he not know that we have no choice in the matter and should not be condemned for something our parents did? And what did our parents really do that caused God’s wrath?
Many verses show that man is not born with original sin
Rom. 2:12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Matthew 5:19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Ezekiel 18:20The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin
Isaiah 59:2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Psalm 5:4For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. 5The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. 6Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.
Isaiah 7:15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the
wrong and choose the right,
Romans 9:11 For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil
Romans 7:8But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
Deut 1:39 Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims,
who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to
them I will give it, and they shall possess it.
Job 31:15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?
Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.
Deut. 31:29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you.