The doctrine of original sin is biblical

by Mike Ratliff

16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17 (NASB) 

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:1-6 (NASB) 

19 By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19 (NASB)

The doctrine of original sin is a vital part of genuine Christian orthodoxy. For a long time I didn’t really appreciate how important it is in our concept of the depths of our guilt before our Sovereign and thrice Holy God. However, as I have become involved in ‘discussions’ with those who reject this doctrine, God has revealed to me, through my studying His Word in order to answer certain ‘arguments,’ that when this doctrine is not part of one’s theology then their concept of their salvation is more self-centered and, in some cases, is understood that one is a Christian based solely on religious acts they have done. Let’s look again at the Apostle Paul’s thesis on our salvation, which none of us deserve.

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:12-14 (NASB) 

12 Διὰ τοῦτο ὥσπερ διʼ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰς τὸν κόσμον εἰσῆλθεν καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος, καὶ οὕτως εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὁ θάνατος διῆλθεν, ἐφʼ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον· 13 ἄχρι γὰρ νόμου ἁμαρτία ἦν ἐν κόσμῳ, ἁμαρτία δὲ οὐκ ἐλλογεῖται μὴ ὄντος νόμου, 14 ἀλλʼ ἐβασίλευσεν ὁ θάνατος ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ μέχρι Μωϋσέως καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς μὴ ἁμαρτήσαντας ἐπὶ τῷ ὁμοιώματι τῆς παραβάσεως Ἀδὰμ ὅς ἐστιν τύπος τοῦ μέλλοντος. Romans 5:12-14 (NA28)

This passage begins with “therefore” in the NASB, but it is translated as “wherefore” in the KJV.  This is not the same Greek word that Paul used in 5:1 that is translated as “therefore.” In fact, it is two words, Διὰ τοῦτο. The direct word for word translation into English of these two Greek words is, “because of this.” Because of what? Paul is referencing Romans 5:1-11. He is telling us that because of our justification by faith alone apart from works in which we received Christ’s atoning work on the cross, we must understand how the act of one man plunged all mankind into sin and how that validates the veracity of the atoning work of one man who is Christ, “the one who was to come.”

The word sin in this passage is the Greek word ἁμαρτία (hamartía). It means, “sin, missing the true goal and scope of like. Offense in relation to God with emphasis on the resulting guilt. “ In other words, this is not referring to individual sin which is a different Greek Word, “hamártēma,” which is “sin as an individual act.” The Holy Spirit is telling us here through Paul that the sin that entered the world through Adam is the inherent propensity to sin. This is referring to the fact that at the fall in Genesis 3 the human race became a race of sinners by nature. All are born with their sin nature already present. It is not learned behavior. This makes it impossible for any person to live in such a way that pleases God and this makes them all guilty before God.

The word death in this passage is the Greek word θάνατος (thánatos). This word can refer to all three forms of death; the first being spiritual death, which is separation from God (Ephesians 1:1,2;4:18). The second form of death is physical death (Hebrews 9:27). The third form of death is the second death (Revelation 20:11-15). All three forms of death entered into the world and the human race through the fall in Genesis 3. Paul emphasizes this horrible truth in v12 saying, “just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” The Greek word Paul used here for “sinned” is ἥμαρτον (hēmarton). It means, “to sin, to miss; one who keeps missing the mark in his relationship to God.” It is clear that all men have hēmarton because they have the sin nature that they inherited from Adam whose fall allowed hamartía into the world. Because of this, mankind is plagued by thánatos.

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB) 

15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:15-17 (NASB) 

Salvation is by Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Greek word Paul used in v15 that is translated as “free gift” is χάρισμα (chárisma). This a very interesting Greek word. It is derived from the word cháris, grace, and the suffix ” –ma” indicating the result of grace. This is describing a gift that is a completely undeserved benefit from God.  Therefore, our salvation is that and cannot be obtained by any work that we do or be deserved by quality on our part. It is a gift.

However, the trespass, the act of missing the mark, is not like the free gift. Why? The trespass by Adam caused many to die in all three forms. However  the grace of God and the chárisma by the grace of Jesus Christ have abounded for many.  The Greek word translated as “abound” means “to superabound.” This is telling us that God’s grace that by which we are saved through faith is in itself a miracle beyond our comprehension. This abounding is not describing numbers, but quality. The trespass brought judgment unto condemnation while the chárisma  brought justification. All born of Adam are under the condemnation of this judgment, but those who receive the abundance of grace and the chárisma of righteousness, reign in life through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated as “reigned” describes the rule of a king. Whereas those who are under the condemnation of judgment are ruled by sin, the ones who have received grace have eternal life, which is spiritual life.

18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:18-21 (NASB) 

This is very clear my brethren. The doctrine of original sin is biblical and it is key to understanding the reason our Lord is the Lamb of God. Unless God Himself interceded on our behalf then all men, being dead in their trespasses and sins, were under the condemnation of God’s righteous judgement. Death came into the world because of Adam’s sin. All born of Adam inherited his sin nature. All are spiritually dead and do not seek God. Therefore, God provided the only way for man to be reconciled to Him, which is by receiving the free gift of salvation by God’s grace through the faith that God gives to those whom He regenerates. Only the regenerate have this faith and they believe and repent.

God has commanded all who know Him to preach the word and make disciples from all parts of the world. Therefore, we know that it is through the preaching of the word that men hear and believe. From this we understand that the Holy Spirit works through this preaching of the Gospel to draw men unto salvation. Shouldn’t we be obeying this command?

Soli Deo Gloria!

8 thoughts on “The doctrine of original sin is biblical

  1. I received notice today that most seminaries are actually starting Bible courses at Genisis chapter 12. This skips the Original Sin and several other issues. Was it true? I suspect it to be so. Your core statement tends to add credence to the information.


  2. I haven’t heard that, but it would not surprise me at all since so many of those in the ‘New Evangelism’ came out of those seminaries and are not grounded in God’s Truth at all. Those are the ones I was referring to who disagree with us on this.


  3. When I was studying the covenants in the Bible, I came to the same conclusions: many people fail to comprehend their identity in Adam and the import of what that means. Politicians and preachers tell us man is good and just needs education and a second chance at life. This rails against the truth of what is wrong with the world.

    Once we think we’re pretty good, we’ve dropped a veil over the eyes of those who are perishing, teaching them they’re OK and so am I. May God keep us from falling into that trap.


  4. Reblogged this on Just Walking Together and commented:
    Curiously, this past Sunday I had a chance to visit the small United Reformed Church not far from my town. The Pastor had a summary of doctrines worked out in the early 1600’s, known as the Canon’s of Dort. Being Presbyterian I’ve spent much more time with their standards that came a few years later. But I was impressed by the Canon’s simplicity in addressing the very issue you discuss. One can find the summary at:

    Here is a quote from the first point….

    1. Total Inability or Total Depravity
    Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not–indeed he cannot–choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ–it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation–it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.

    I love the way it’s written: “..not the sinner’s gift to God.”

    It gets better as you read on to all five points.


  5. Pingback: Canons of Dort – Rainbow Trout

  6. So then, what shall we do? Insist upon Bible Studies begin at the beginning? I fear it will take much more than that. Prayer is needed, fervent, earnest Prayer with Fasting. I think there will be resistance, gui;t, anger, and a lot of shouting. WE must be steadfast in our resolve but know that you are not alone in this effort.


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