Discussion on Origianl sin, Wayne Stealthspoon PDF Print E-mail

just wanted to share my opinion on those commonly used verses to support original hereditary sin.

Common proof text is Romans 5:12


Romans 5:12 NKJV  Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

This is how I understand it. Paul is not implying a teaching of inherited sin, but instead, inherited death. By one man sin entered the world and death came through sin. Now honestly, what I see Paul say spread to all men is Death. It does not say a sinful nature was passed down from Adam. That is the presupposition that is read into the plain text. Death was passed down from Adam. We all die because Adam sinned. We all sin on our own account or choice.

Plainly what I understand from that verse:

1.     Sin entered the world (which was formerly a foreign practice)

2.     through Adam (because he disobeyed the command to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil so God kicked him out the garden so he should surely die)

3.     and death also entered the world through sin (Adam passed on death to all of us through his sin)

4.     death spread to all men because all sinned  (Because all have sinned, Death spread to all..)

It doesn’t say sin spread to all men. All men originate their own rebellion by what they submit themselves to. Ecclesiastes 7:29 NKJV  Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes."

Is there a part here says we inherited a sinful nature from Adam? Is Adam even mentioned below?                                                                                                    Eph 2:1 ¶ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

 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.                                                                                 (4)  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  (5)  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  (6)  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  (7)  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  (8)  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  (9)  not of works, lest anyone should boast.  (10)  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  (11)  Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— (12)  that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  (13)  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

 

I think it states clearly that these Ephesians were by nature children of wrath. But to use that to say “see we inherited a sinful nature” is not merited by the plain reading. The subject of Adam is not in this chapter. I think this text actually goes against the idea of total depravity because in plain text Paul uses past tense words “were and once.” These Christians were no longer children of wrath by nature. They’ve repented from sinning, they no longer wanted to do it anymore. Original hereditary sin teaching says we can never stop sinning, not for a second. I believe we can go for periods of time without sin. But because we have conditioned our flesh in the past to sin and got really good at it we sometime still get like knee-jerk (unintentional) reactions, but we practice denying the flesh just as Jesus taught. We make this practice of righteousness become our new nature continually. It’s like re-programing the way we think and behave. We have the free will to do that. We beat our bodies into submission as Paul said. We make our flesh submit to our new mind in Christ. Our flesh won’t like it at first but with continual discipline (like the word “disciple”) our flesh becomes conditioned to our new spiritual mind.

I also say that we might stumble in the future. We don’t plan on doing it anymore. The Christian does not willfully dive into sin anymore. It’s the difference between falling in mud and diving into mud. One is by mistake the other is by willful choice. For example, being clean from mud. The Christian should avoid all temptation to dive into mud, they should stay away from muddy things too. The unconverted mind is condition to play in the mud while the Christian mind used to play in the mud but has repented of mud and no longer wants the mud and continually reconditions their flesh to reject mud and love cleanliness.

 

It seems just because the word “nature” is in that verse it supposedly makes it a good proof text to say we “inherit” a sin nature from Adam.  Don’t get me wrong that I do not believe that the unconverted person doesn’t have a “type or form” of sinful nature, but not the way “Augustine’s original hereditary sin teaching” teaches. My understanding is rather by continual practice and subjection, not by inheritance. I believe we inherit death from our grandpa Adam. Bible teaches to practice righteousness and condemns those who love and continue to practice lawlessness. When we practice something we get better at it whether it be righteous or wicked. It will become a nature to us just as it has become part of our nature to read, write, speak, drive etc. And all credit and glory is still due to Jesus because it’s what He did, taught and commanded and I willingly chose to follow and submit to His will. And of course, God gives us the strength to overcome when we need help to continue on and still its all because God that we do what we do so he is still glorified.

 

Romans 7:14 is another verse used to teach inherited sin nature. We need to remember who he’s talking to and how he talks is just like in real life when we talk to friends when we illustrate stories to get a point across. Historical present tense is used by Paul. We use it all the time when we tell stories of our past occurrences. There were no chapters and verses in the autographs.

 

Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET." But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Ro 8:1 ¶ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

(Romans 7:1-8:15 NKJV)

 

Here’s an excerpt from an article (below) that I think best explains what’s going on here. Let’s not forget to continue on to Chapter 8. The way I understand it is this is a letter that originally had no chapter and verses. Many friends and people I encountered emphasize and focus so much on verse 14-25 and overlook the part in verse 25 that Jesus is and was the answer, for Paul’s past dilemma, that He can deliver us from being wretched. Also we shouldn’t stop there because remember this is a letter. So let’s continue on to chapter 8 on to verse 15 at least, to get the full context of the topic which is the contrast between the one who lives in the flesh and the person lives in the spirit. Paul was living in the flesh but from 7:25 and into ch8 Jesus sets us free by his sacrifice and his forgiveness to those who repent and reject the flesh. The preceding chapters need to also be considered prior to reaching chapter 7. It’s a letter. There’s missing information if we start watching a movie from ¾ point and we can probably come to different conclusions of what’s happening than those who have watched from the beginning of the movie. I think letters are the similar. The article excerpt is below…

It is argued that this passage describes the total depravity of nature inherited from Adam.

1. Again, the passage nowhere mentions Adam or Adam's sin, nor does it say anyone inherited sin or depravity. The passage does describe depravity, but it is the consequence of sin the man himself practices (v15-20).

2. The passage actually contradicts total depravity. The spirit "delights" in God's law (v22), and man "wills" to do good (v18,19,21). But this is impossible according to total depravity, for it says man is wholly defiled in all parts of soul and body, opposite to all good, wholly inclined to all evil, and has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good. Total depravity has serious problems in this passage.

3. The context in v9 teaches the innocence of children (as discussed previously). Surely v14-25 does not contradict v9.

4. The passage describes the condition of men in sin, outside Christ, before conversion (especially Jews under the law, like Paul was before conversion). Paul uses first person and present tense, but he sometimes does this to show how he identifies with the people in the condition, especially if he himself has experienced the problem (cf. 1 Cor. 4:6; Rom. 13:11-13).

Yet it cannot be that Paul still had the problem he describes. He describes one who is "carnal, sold under sin" (v14), but 8:8,9 condemns those who are carnal, and 7:5 shows it is a past condition for Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1ff). He says sin dwells in him and he is captured under the law of sin (v17,23), yet he elsewhere shows that Christians must not let sin reign in their members - 6:11-19; Gal. 5:16-24; Eph. 4:17ff; Col. 3:5-14. He says he is "wretched" (v24), but that is not the state of one in Christ (Phil. 4:4ff). He says Jesus delivers people from this wretched state (v24,25).

So Paul is using the historical present tense, just as we might do to tell a story that already happened. Paul used it to express understanding of the condition of those in sin, and because he once had that condition (imagine him on the Damascus road after he knew he was wrong but had not yet been told what to do about it).

5. Why can't the passage be describing the depraved and hopeless case of one who is guilty of sin as a consequence of his own practice, before he is forgiven (like we discussed in Eph. 2)? Man has physical urges and natural instincts that are neither good nor bad, moral or immoral, in and of themselves. God's law reveals proper ways to satisfy these urges, but sometimes our natural body sees ways to satisfy these urges which are improper, but it does not know the difference so it still desires it.

As a result we all eventually sin and become a slave of sin. We do not have God's promise to answer our prayers, nor do we have other blessings in Christ to strengthen us. We know we are guilty and not forgiven, so we despair and are wretched. We have little motivation to do good because doing good of itself will not remove our past guilt. We know we are wrong, wish to be right, but can see no solution to our wretchedness.

The solution, as Paul finally states, is forgiveness in Christ. As Christians we still sin occasionally, but sin does not reign in our lives as before, and we have a means of forgiveness when we do sin (cf. chap. 6,8).

 

That’s about it for my opinion. There are other topics and verses I have examined that are used to support the teaching but it would take too long. I think this dialogue should end here. I’m gonna start enjoying the Holy-day season because school is out for me. Again, I appreciate your previous reasonable, polite response. Maybe we should meet up for some coffee sometime. Let me know if you’d be interested. I thank God you and Cruz are going witnessing.

 


 
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