Original Sin is Unbiblical

The doctrine of original sin is one of the most damaging lies ever inflicted on the human race. Developed by Tertullian and popularized by Augustine, original sin says we all inherited Adam’s fallen nature.

You were born spiritually dead and rebellious at heart. From the moment you drew your first breath, you were inclined towards sin, utterly depraved, and hostile towards God.

What is original sin?

This is how John Calvin (1509–1564) defined original sin:

Original sin may be defined a hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature, extending to all the parts of the soul, which first makes us obnoxious to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which in Scripture are termed works of the flesh.

The key word is hereditary. Original sin says you inherited a rebellious streak from your forefather Adam. Adam was a rebel which makes you a rebel. Before you were born, you were inclined to sin and disobey God. You were born bad to the bone and bound for hell.

“Men are born vicious,” said Calvin, as a result of the sin that Adam inflicted on upon his descendants.

The Lutherans agreed saying that all men, “from their mother’s womb, are full of evil desire and inclination, and can have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God.”

I disagree.

Like you, I grew up believing I was a natural born sinner inclined to rebel. It was obvious, wasn’t it? Just look at how I struggled with sin.

But around the time my children were born I began to question this teaching. “Is this little treasure really a hell-born brat?!”

After more than 15 years of studying this, I have come to the conviction that original sin is a manmade and thoroughly unbiblical teaching.

(If you’re interested in how I got here, check out my new ebook entitled Original Sin: What Does the Bible Really Say? This 12-chapter book is available now on Patreon.)

To clarify, the issue is not whether people are depraved, corrupt, and defiled, but whether we are born that way. Were we born corrupt or did we become corrupt? Did we enter the world sinning and rebelling against God, or did we go astray along the way?

Those who preach original sin swing for the hereditary answer. Our sinful nature is essentially a sin gene, an inherited disposition towards sin, and we are all born with it.

There is no question that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and there is no doubt that Adam’s transgression had consequences that affect all of us (see Romans 5). My issue is with Augustine’s suggestion that after the Fall humanity was essentially remade or rewired to sin.

Scriptures used to support original sin include Gen. 5:3, 8:1, Ps. 51:5, 58:3, Jer. 17:9, Mark 7:23, Rom. 3:10–12, 5:12, 19, 7:18, and Eph. 2:1 and 3. I address these scriptures in my new book, but today I want to look at some other scriptures.

Scriptures refuting original sin

Original sin says you were shaped by sin in your mother’s womb. You were born defective and rebellious on account of Adam’s bad genes.

The Bible paints a different picture. Many wonderful scriptures show that you were handmade by God. Here’s a taste:

Your hands shaped me and made me. (Job 10:8).

You have been my God from my mother’s womb. (Ps. 22:10)

Your hands made me and formed me… (Ps. 119:73)

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and he who formed you from the womb… (Is. 44:24)

God made you. He shaped you, fashioned you, and knitted you together, and he did a great job:

I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well. (Ps. 139:14)

Augustinian tradition says you are defective and broken, but the Scriptures declare you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

You are a one of a kind special.

Where does the sin gene figure in this? It doesn’t. Adam’s sin affected the ground and everything that comes out of the ground, and this is why death is experienced in our physical bodies.

But your body is merely a home or earthsuit that you wear and which will one day be upgraded. The real you – your spirit and your mental faculties – comes from God (Job 32:8).

For you formed my inward parts. You wove me in my mother’s womb. (Ps. 139:13)

Your outward parts may be aging and broken, but your inward parts are first-rate because God doesn’t do shoddy work. You are not a mistake because God doesn’t make mistakes.

“If original sin is not true, why is the world such a mess?” This verse explains it:

Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. (Ecc. 7:29, NKJV)

God did a good job making humanity, but we ran after evil schemes and corrupted ourselves. We are not born corrupt but we become corrupted by the deceitful desires of the old self (Eph. 4:22), the pollutions of this world (2 Pet. 2:7, 20), and tradition and religion (1 Pet. 1:18–19). Behind all these sources of corruption we see the influence of the devil (see Eph. 2:1–2).

Original sin is one of those doctrines that sounds biblical but isn’t. It combines words and phrases from the Bible in ways that contradict the Bible.

The key differences between this manmade doctrine and what the scriptures actually say are summarized in the Table below (click on the pic for a bigger version).

Original sin has been around so long it’s hard to imagine an alternative, but the Bible has been around longer and the picture it paints is clear as day.

—–

Paul’s new book on Original Sin is available now on Patreon.

Other articles on original sin:

28 Comments on Original Sin is Unbiblical

  1. Romans 5 speaks of the difference between Adam and Jesus. How through one man’s disobedience death and condemnation went to all under him and how through another Man’s obedience life and justification went to all under Him. Under Adam we are not free of sin externally nor internally. Paul explains well in Romans 7 that the law only produced all sorts of sin from within. Showing that we are not born good by any means under Adam, we can only sin from the heart. Jesus was born without sin because He did not come from Adam but was sent by the Father from heaven and born of the Spirit in Mary’s womb. His humanity was a new creation in that He is the Last Adam.

  2. Thanks Zack for how you put your comment, it answered a question I asked in a recent post about righteousness and now I see with Holy Spirits help that before the fall even though Adam and Eve ended up rebelling against ABBA God they were in right relationship with Him until they rebelled and lost,forfeited their righteousness,glory by listening to and believing the devils lies that God is not good somehow because He was withholding things from them and thus Jesus came as the last Adam – thedifference was He was fully God,fully man to restore the righteousness and glory they had with God through His bloody sacrifice,payment for us at the cross and yes He His righteousness was more better than that that was lost because Jesus representing “ man”was not just a ( perfect) man He was perfectly God and came to “ give birth again to a new man, creation for,in us a righteousness returned again with,from
    ,God that is incorruptible,irreversible and unrepentant eternally from God as a free gift through Jesus a perfect man as,in us that is incorruptible and unpersuadableunmovable from any temptation to doubt ABBA God.

    • Brandon Petrowski // December 2, 2022 at 3:22 pm // Reply

      Yeah, Adam and Eve’s sin wasn’t disobedience. It was unbelief. They chose to believe the serpent over God, and that was their downfall.

  3. Is not that the greatest sin though – our unbelief in not believing that ABBA God is completely good and thus completely good for and to us and that causes us to disobey ( is not our error of disobedience due to not believing Him not sin or is it classed as misunderstanding ))Him in a way as it causes us to mistrust Him and doubt His heart intentions and motives and desires and blessings to / for us His grace so we disobey Him due to our mistrust of Him/ His goodness by trying to get,obtain,aqquire things for ourselves in our own power,might,strengthworks,labour as we do not trust or believe and struggle with the truth that He is a good God ,has good things for us and even sacrificed His own Son for us to save us because we could not.? An honest question- not being sarcastic

  4. Thomas Howard // December 3, 2022 at 2:20 am // Reply

    Right, but Adams sin should be seen more as, “also unbelief”, as sure, sin is unbelief. Spurgeon wrote; “Virtues without faith are whitewashed sins. Obedience without faith, (if it is possible), is a gilded disobedience. Not to believe, nullifies everything…” He also wrote; “God hates it; God has dealt hard blows upon it: and God will ultimately crush it. Unbelief dishonors God. Every other crime touches God’s territory; but unbelief aims a blow at his divinity, impeaches his veracity, denies his goodness, blasphemes his attributes, maligns his character; therefore, God of all things, hates first and chiefly, unbelief, wherever it is.”
    But still, after all that truth, the word say’s Adam’ sin was called, disobedience; “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,”. Romans 5:19.

    • Brandon Petrowski // December 3, 2022 at 1:20 pm // Reply

      You have to remember that is an English translation. The root wording of the original language refers to unbelief, and unbelief leads to disobedience as you already suggested.

      • Thomas Howard // December 4, 2022 at 12:48 am //

        Don’t know any translations that refers to disobedience as unbelief. The covenant of obedience was given to both by a command, and they broke that covenant.
        Obey, and have eternal life, disobey and death and separation from God would come to them.
        Disobedience is the evidence of unbelief, conversely, when a man obeys God, he gives the only possible evidence that he believes God.
        One would not say someone unrelieved the contract, rather, it would be said, they disobeyed it, as Adam did in response to Gods command, Genesis 2:16,17.
        Faith is of the heart, invisible to man, obedience is of the outward conduct, and maybe observed. Adam and Jesus were so related in this evidence based conduct, that Jesus was even called the last Adam, were in Romans 5:19 show’s; Adam’s “act” was act of disobedience eating the forbidden fruit, Christ’s “act” was act of obedience, dying on the cross. I like the saying; WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO US WAS WHEN ADAM “DISOBEYED”, ATE THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO (Romans 5:19). Likewise, THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO US WAS WHEN JESUS CHRIST “OBEYED”, DIED ON THE CROSS ABOUT 2000 YEARS AGO (Romans 5:19).

      • Brandon Petrowski // December 4, 2022 at 9:02 am //

        I didn’t say any translations refer to disobedience as unbelief. I said the root word of the original language refers to unbelief. Before Adam chose to disobey, he had to choose to believe the serpent over God. Unbelief is what triggered his disobedience. Conversely, Jesus belief or faith in his Father led to his obedience.

      • Thomas Howard // December 5, 2022 at 5:35 am //

        If the “root wording of the original language refers to unbelief,” then why does every translation refer this “root word” as disobedience? I am not trying to be argumentative, only trying to show as per scripture that Adam and Eve’s sin was disobedience, and was their downfall. Even James (James 1:14,15) shows us this progression; “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (deceived). Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” This is were Adams disobedience comes into view of; “by one man’s offence death reigned by one” and “as (Adam’s) sin has reigned unto death” Romans 5:17,21. Adam was tempted, drawn away and enticed, but unbelief is not an act, disobeying Gods command was the very act that was revealed as sin and it was finished (brought to fruition) that very day, for in “that day you shall die”, Genesis 2:17.
        Contrast the actions of Adam and Jesus. Adam’s action was one of disobedience. He and Eve disobeyed God’s direct and clear command to them. The result of that disobedience, was that many were made sinners. Jesus’s action, on the other hand, His death on the cross, was also an act, but of obedience ,which then ensured that many would be made righteous.

      • Brandon Petrowski // December 5, 2022 at 4:57 pm //

        I do believe you aren’t trying to be argumentative. Same here. I just believe the distinction is important. Unbelief is what condemns us, and belief is what opens the door to confession of Jesus as Lord which brings salvation. Romans 5:19 doesn’t say that disobedience was the first sin. It simply says that one man’s disobedience is what caused us to be made sinners. Adam’s sin was birthed in unbelief which led to disobedience. In this verse, Strong’s concordance describes disobedience as imperfect hearing or inattention. This amounts to Adam ignoring or not listening to what God directed which stemmed from his unbelief. All sin is birthed in unbelief.

      • Thomas Howard // December 7, 2022 at 2:00 am //

        Still, it was your saying; “Adam and Eve’s sin wasn’t disobedience”, that got my attention and responding, for since (disobedience) was what Paul used to compare (on the other hand) to the obedience of Christ, would it also be true to say, Christ righteousness wasn’t obedience? No.
        Adam’s sin was disobedience, and is explained in terms of deliberately choosing to disobey God’s plain and express command, causing many to be made sinners, yet in comparison, by the obedience of one (the second Adam), are many made righteous. This truth the apostle inculcates, and repeats it again and again, as a truth of very great consequence.
        If Christ’s righteousness, is brought in by his obedience, then in comparison, Adams disobedience brought in sin. The disobedience of the first Adam ruined us, the obedience of the second Adam saves us. These were both “observable acts”, in response to God. Death entered in through disobedience, just as Life was brought to light through obedience.
        Best I can do explaining it, . Thanks

      • Brandon Petrowski // December 7, 2022 at 12:58 pm //

        Then I should clarify. Disobedience was not their first or “original” sin. The sin of unbelief is what led to their disobedience.

  5. Unbelief is definitely the root of all sin. As we were created to live in total trust and dependence in God. So all acts that are done out of disbelief are acts of sin and disobedience towards God. As a man Jesus lived in perfect love and trust in the Father. But as a man He also lived in perfect communion with the Father without sin and therefore did not live by faith or hope in comparison to us because He lived in full realization of the things to come. He didn’t live blindly like we do, with the consequences of sin where we now only know things in part and can only see things in part until all things hoped for are finally realized. (1Corinthians 13:8-13, Hebrews 11:1) Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith in that our faith starts in Him and He brings all things hoped for to perfect completion. We live currently saved by our faith in Him now but He will bring our salvation to completion in our Glorification to come. (Hebrews 12:2)

  6. Thanks that was the “ phrasing” I was looking for to help me -unbelief in “ man” ( led) leads to disobedience and thus “ rebellion” and why/what it does,cause I can relate grasp it. now more fully. Thus I can understand,appreciate more Romans 5:19 that through Jesus’ obedience many were made righteous as Jesus not sinful in any way being fully God/man always believed ABBA God and so always obeyed in all ways and could not be tempted,corrupted deceived at all by the devil and so was able to give us His “ intact” righteousness redeem our righteousness of ABBA God in Him in us that can never be corrupted,deceived,tempted by the devil again because we are not having to use,rely,depend on our righteousness that is “ faulty” unreliable,untrustworthy , we now have the Lords righteousness in us that is beyond doubt,fear,unbelief. This makes me feel so safe and secure understanding this more

  7. All these comments have really helped me. I have done a lot of “ well everyone else seems to get almost straight away this amazing news/thing that ABBA God and Jesus has done for us I must act like I do too as I was too “ afraid and ashamed”to ask/ admit I did not “get it”.So unbelief/ disobedience are two sides of the same coin really. We are born due to the fall with the inability to not believe therefore we are in disobedience so we disobey as we do not believe/trust that God is good/for us which all is sin and so we start behaving more and more how the devil wants us to ( even though unaware)(because the unbelief spreads into all areas of our life to the point that we can’t believe/obey anymore about anything even if our life depended on it so that’s why Another had to come and save us and it had to be by His grace as try as we might even after we are “saved” we still can’t believe,obey perfectly we still need Someone perfect not of “fallen us” representing us,as us to do the believing and obeying for us before God so our “ inability”( obviously not in or born again spirits) is covered by grace and also we have overcome the devil and our “ falleness”( with Holy Spirits help ) to believe/ say yes to a need of a Saviour provided by God who has done what we could not do what God required us to do for us. And it’s also about getting our minds renewed from our new spirits with Holy Spirit to agree,believe the good news about God through Jesus.

  8. Kevin Barnett // December 9, 2022 at 3:11 am // Reply

    WOW! Paul Ellis you are rocking my “world”! I have never even stopped to consider whether the doctrine of original sin was biblical or not.
    As I read your book my brain hurts (in a good way) as renewal and transformation are in process.
    Once again, your gift of shaking things up regarding traditional/religious thinking is encouraging me to desire/seek Jesus more and more.

  9. Tell me: what’s the difference between being born a sinner and being born spiritually dead in a way that causes me to have a 100% chance of sinning no matter his much effort of faith I attempt to have? Worst of all, why is faith more important than love?

    • Sorry, I don’t understand your question. Can you rephrase it? It sounds like you’re saying why be born?

      • If we were born sinners, all else being equal, would anything actually be different? If I grew two batches of clones, one with original sin enough to make all their altruistic deeds as filthy rags in God’s eyes, and another left as a control group, what results would actually show in their behavior that would falsify original sin?
        How are survival instincts and natural fearfulness that always leads to sin (and ensure that all have sinned) any different from original sin which ensures that all have sinned?

      • I love a good thought experiment. I think you are saying, if original sin isn’t true, and we are not born with a sinful gene, what difference does it make since all go astray anyway? I sort of answer that question in the graphic above.

        Original sin affects the way we raise our children, the way we think of ourselves, and how we relate to our neighbors. If you hear every day that you are a hell-born sinner, it won’t be long before your behavior matches your (false) identity. But if you are raised believing that you are precious, a gift from God, but in need of a Savior, you’ll be primed and ready for the gospel.

      • So it’s the tone of the message? Then let me ask it this way: What’s the difference between: being born and created Dead to sin, Slaves of sin, locked in the Old Self, and having “free choice” (that by no compulsion but mere coincidence always and only leads one to sin at some point no matter what, to the degree of offense to great that God needs to burn you in hell forever) but it not being God’s fault in the slightest that you are created and born do, and are now obliged to seek the Christian salvation or else be tortured forever… and being born and created a sinner with extra steps?

      • Whoa – another long one! Maybe you should put this question to someone who believes God tortures people in hell forever.

      • Alright then, replace “torture them forever” with perhaps “lets them be tortured forever,” or even “lets them actually perish,” or “the second death” or whatever you might call the “result” or punishment for not-choosing-Christianity (or any label of “idolatry” or “dead religion” or “selfishness ” or whatever else Paul condemns the world of in Romans 2 to indirectly reference the unsaved or those obstinately (and/or made-to-be-obstinately if per Romans 9) bad people). I don’t care about labels. What is the substantial difference?
        Both original sinners and what you assert are universally stained by sin, always end up guilty of sin, can’t avoid committing sin at some point, and need a savior to rescue them from its consequences, (and/or His “consequences”) for sin. Why should I care between being born a sinner and being born dead in sin? Is it simply to word it nicely to avoid the plain horror that the Good News needs to be good?

      • You have a strange way of expressing things. Whatever people choose is not punishment; it’s a choice. (There was a punishment for sin, but Jesus bore it all.) Those who desire Life shall have it, and those who reject it shall have what they choose too. In the end, everyone gets what they want, and if some choose differently from you, that’s not their punishment. That’s their choice. No one goes to hell or wherever on account of sin, for all sin was dealt with on the cross. If some are lost its because they willingly, with eyes wide open, walk away from the Lord of Life.

        Why should you care whether OS is true or not? I answered that question in my earlier reply.

      • Your original response only answered half of my question. Whereas you wrote, “If you hear every day that you are a hell-born sinner, it won’t be long before your behavior matches your (false) identity.” This makes sense, but I could also hear every day (from your page on NT prooftexts) that I am “born a slave,” ‘born naturally excluded from the life of God’ and born “condemned to die”. That’s just as refreshing to hear as a child, don’t you think? It sounds like a technicality that only makes Original Sin a latent gene that will only metastatize a once you hit puberty or something. Further, How can all be born doomed to die in Adam if we were are not also born having sinned in Adam (Ezek 18:20)? Babies aren’t immortal, nor guilty of sinning in this life, but they still die all the time. So is it not a soul that sinneth?

      • There is a world of difference between being told you are wrong and God hates you and the world is wrong but God loves you.

      • Brandon Petrowski // January 31, 2023 at 1:28 am //

        Amen to that. Well said Paul.

        There was a point in time where I had the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mindset because I believed I was inherently bad and couldn’t defeat sin. When I understood that Jesus had defeated sin on my behalf and loved me and that there was no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, it empowered me through his grace to overcome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.