Is Man Born In Sin? (Part 2)

Many teach that man is born in sin.  Consider: (1) Catechism of the Catholic Church Second Edition – “(Adam) has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the ‘death of the soul.’  Because of this certainty of faith, the church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal.  How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants?  The whole human race is in Adam ‘as one body of one man'” (403, 404).  (2) The Westminster Confession of Faith – “They (Adam and Eve – B.H.) being the root of all mankind, the guilt of sin was imputed… conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation” (6.3).

Let us continue considering some passages which some say teach this doctrine.

4.  1 Corinthians 15

“For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

“Death” in context refers to physical death (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20).  Adam’s sin resulted in not only his, but all of humanity, being cut off from The Tree of Life (Genesis 3).  The consequences , not the guilt, of Adam’s sin is still with us.  “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

“Alive” in context means more than just a return to life.  Both the righteous and the unrighteous will be raised (John 5:28-29).  The resurrection in view is for those who are in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23).  It is a resurrection to glory that is in view.

There is a comparison being made.  Just as all who physically die can credit such to Adam; even so, all who are raised to glory can credit such to Christ.

“It is sown a natural body.  It is raised a spiritual body.  There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit… The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Corinthians 15:44-49).

The comparison continues.  Man, through Adam, receives a body suitable for this earthly existence.  This body is similar to that of Adam’s.  The saved, through Christ, will receive a body suitable for a heavenly existence.  This body will be similar to Him (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2).

This chapter is similar to a more controversial chapter.  Let’s next look at –

5.  Romans 5

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death spread to all men, because all sinned – ” (Romans 5:12).

The one man is Adam (Romans 5:12 cf. 5:14).  Sin entered the world through Adam.  True, Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6).  However, Adam was with her (Genesis 3:6b), and he was not deceived by Satan’s words (1 Timothy 2:14).  He could have, and should have, tried to prevent sin.  Instead, he followed his wife into sin.

Death came into the world because of sin.  Does this refer to physical death or spiritual death?  (a) Physical death certainly came to man, as he was cut off from the Tree of Life.   (b) Some believe that spiritual death is in view (cf. Romans 5:19).

Death spread to all men.  Why?  Because all sinned.  (a) Those who believe that physical death is in view, suggest that “all sinned in Adam being in him” (Lard, Commentary on Romans, p. 167).  It is much like Levi paying tithes to Melchizedek, being in the loins of Abraham (Hebrews 7:9-10).  It is possible to hold this view and believe that we inherit the consequences of physical death, and other earthly matters, without inheriting the personal guilt.  (b) Those who believe that spiritual death is in view, suggest that the reason that death spread to all men is because all have sinned, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

This is a difficult section of Scripture.  I believe that this probably refers to spiritual death (I will treat the rest of the article according to this view).

This does not teach that man inherits the guilt of Adam’s sin.  The Bible teaches against such (Ezekiel 18:20).  It is personal sin which separates a man from God (e.g. Isaiah 59:2; Colossians 2:13; etc.).

(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law…) (Romans 5:13).

“For” (gar) connects this with the previous verse.  Roy Deaver explains, “What follows is intended to prove that spiritual death passed to all men” (Deaver, Romans: God’s Plan for Man’s Righteousness, p. 176).

Sin is a violation of God’s law (Romans 4:15; 5:13; 1 John 3:4).  It did not start with the law of Moses.  Sin has existed since Adam.

(…Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come…) (Romans 5:14).

Death’s reign began with Adam and passed to all men, even to those who did not sin according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam.  Roy Deaver comments, “But if all men sinned in Adam, then their sin would be after the likeness of Adam’s transgression – in fact, it would be the same sin!  The sins of these people were not like the transgression of Adam.  Remember that if we had sinned in Adam our sins would be after the likeness of Adam’s transgression… Adam’s transgression was of a specific positive divine law relating to the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden of Eden.  Only to Adam and Eve was this law ever given” (Deaver, Romans, p. 178).

“(…But the free gift is not like the offense.  For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ abounded to many.  And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned.  For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free  gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.  For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through one, much more those who received abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)” (Romans 5:15-17).

This contrasts the action of Adam and the action of Jesus.  Adam allowed sin to enter the world (the offense).  He did nothing to try to stop it.  Jesus did something to justify men from many offenses (the gift of God cf. Romans 6:23).

Moreover, the gift is greater than the offense.  (1) It is greater in scope.  Roy Deaver comments, “Christ died because of ‘many trespasses’ – not because of Adam’s ‘one’ trespass” (Deaver, Romans, p. 180).  Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “The free gift of Calvary… was not designed just to cover the destructive damage of Adam’s transgression. Christ at Calvary made provisions for the possible pardon for all sins of humanity” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, pp. 102 – 103).  (2) It is greater in effect.  Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “It is true that what man lost in Adam is gained back through Christ but those who view Calvary’s gift as JUST co-extensive in Adam, have not begun, even in surface fashion to understand what Paul is describing here” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, p. 102).  God wants to make known to us “the exceeding riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:7).

“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men resulting in justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19).

This returns to the thought which was being introduced in Romans 5:12.  This provides the “even so” to the “just as.”  Verses 13 – 17 were parenthetical.

Adam’s sin had consequences.  The Tree of Life and The Garden of Eden were lost (Genesis 3:23-24).  A state of enmity would exist between Satan and man (Genesis 3:15).  Innocence was lost (Genesis 3:7-11).  Life would become much more difficult (Genesis 3:16-19).  Physical death would come (Genesis 3:19).  In this environment, temptation and sin abounded.

Jesus, unlike Adam, was obedient to God.  His obedience has positive consequences.  Man can be counted righteous.

This does not teach that man directly inherits Adam’s sin (cf. Ezekiel 18:20); nor does it teach that man directly inherits Jesus’ righteousness (cf. Hebrews 5:8-9).  Robert Taylor Jr. remarks, “Adam’s disobedience did not make any of his descendants sinners without their choices to sin and participate therein.  Christ’s obedience does not make any righteous without their choice to obey” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, p. 105).

Does this teach that all will be saved?  Guy N. Woods comments, “He does not argue that as many will be saved, as were involved in the effects of Adam’s sin, all that is intended is that the provision which he makes is as widespread in its application and in its effects as the sin of Adam.  Men must embrace God’s  plan to be saved; some will not thus do, and hence, remain lost.  But, the plan is here, and is available to all men; if all men are not saved, it will be because they do not accept and follow the plan” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, pp. 104-105, quoting Woods, G.A. Adult Quarterly, Winter, 1968).

Moreover, the law entered that the offense abound.  But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

God gave Israel the law of Moses.  It “entered” (pareiselthen, came in besides – Vine’s).  It came in besides the rest of the world (non-Israelites).  The law did not change man’s spiritual condition.  Sin reigned from Adam to Moses (Romans 5:14), and it continued to reign under the law of Moses.  In fact, it entered that sin might abound (Romans 5:20).  (a) Some take this to mean that one of the reasons God gave the law of Moses was to make obvious man’s condition (cf. Romans 7:7, 13).  (b) Others believe that “that” denotes effect and not purpose (cf. Matthew 23:34-35; John 9:39; 12:40, etc.).  More legislation means more opportunities to sin, and more transgressions.

However, God’s grace is more than capable of covering all of man’s sins through Jesus Christ.  “Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see” (Song: Amazing Grace by John Newton).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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