The Importance of Original Sin
In the concept of original sin, it is understood that all humanity fell in Adam and, from the point of conception, are corrupted in their nature because of sin. Because Adam sinned, all humans are born guilty and corrupted. Over the centuries, many have rejected this doctrine and found it hard to stomach. However, it is vitally important for Christians to be clear on this particular issue. Possessing a correct viewpoint of humanity is necessary for us to live faithfully before our God. If you believe that humans are basically good, that claim will have drastic implications for other areas of your theological positions.
As one example, you might be willing to give absolute governmental authority to a select group of individuals because you trust human nature. On the flip side of the coin, if you assert humanity hates the ways of God from the womb, then you will be wary of giving absolute power to any human being. In fact, you just might design a system of checks and balances like America’s Founding Fathers with the intention of doing everything possible to prevent that danger from ever occurring because you know the corrupt capacity of humanity. This conversation is not an unimportant issue, but quite central to many discussions and your view on original sin will dictate where you stand on other subjects. With that being said, let’s dive into some biblical considerations around this matter.
Examining The Text of Scripture
Biblically speaking, one of the primary passages to consider when discussing this doctrine is the fifth chapter of the book of Romans. Romans 5:12 states, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (ESV).” This passage clearly teaches that mankind fell into sin when Adam fell. Every human being is born into sin. Original sin must be seen as the truth that mankind is born in sin and rebels against God from the womb.
The impact of original sin is immense in the post-Fall world. David records his mother conceiving him in sin according to Psalm 51:5. This doctrine means that no human being is innocent before the eyes of God. They are depraved and need to be saved in Christ. None of us are born with a blank slate but instead are against God and His ways from the beginning. Romans 3:10-11 records the truth that no one is good or righteous and none seek God. The only way we can be made right with God is by His sovereign grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. Original sin leads us to see that humanity is not owed anything by God but indebted to His grace. We must not underestimate the evil or wickedness of mankind since we are born in sin. Some will object to the “fairness” of being born in sin because Adam fell. However, this point assumes, that first of all, any of us as humans would not have fallen just as he did, an assumption which I believe is faulty. Secondly, and more convincingly, if you are going to reject original sin then you must also reject the righteousness of Christ being given to you. You are born in sin because Adam fell, but you are born again unto righteousness if you are a Christian because Christ took up the work of redemption. There is a parallel here, and if you reject being in sin because of Adam, you must reject the righteousness of Christ to be consistent. Biblically speaking, this objection is thereby made mute.
Implications of This Doctrine
By understanding original sin, we can see that restraints such as sound governmental authorities, law, and others are used by God to hold back humanity’s wickedness in a common grace way. Because of sin, these authorities do not always function as they should, which is why we must not simply follow authority with blinders in place failing to evaluate their rules. Rather, we must rest everything by the standard of Scripture and obey where we can while disobeying where obedience to God dictates. It is certainly true that authority is a common grace blessing from God, and we should call the authorities to act biblically as servants of God.
This doctrine also carries the implication for us as believers to see that when we preach the Gospel, we are proclaiming it to dry bones, as the prophet Ezekiel said in Ezekiel 37. We are completely dependent upon the Spirit of God to act. Consequently, we must dedicate ourselves to preaching the truth of God, for the Gospel alone is the power unto salvation (Romans 1:16). In other words, I as a preacher, do not have the ability to save anyone. I must proclaim the truth with faithfulness to Christ while understanding it is He who saves souls.
I expect the doctrine of original sin to come under increasing attacks over the coming years. We shall see if that prediction plays out or not. However, I will contend this point is vital for us to understand as Christians. We must proclaim the biblical truth and see humanity as God says in His Word. It will be vital for us in the future to be clear on this issue, may we do so for the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord!