Since publishing my article attacking the doctrine of original sin, several readers have asked “What about this scripture?” Some people seem to think original sin is biblical. It isn’t. Original sin is an old Jewish teaching wrapped up in Christian jargon. Augustine taught it, not Paul, and we would do well to get rid of it.
For those who came in late: Original sin says you inherited Adam’s sinful nature. You were hardwired to rebel. (Too bad if your parent’s were believers with a new nature.) Before you drew your first breath, you were hostile towards God and bound for hell.
“This is why we need Jesus,” say some. “This is why we need to be born again.”
Except the sin gene is a myth. Jesus did not come because you inherited a bit of bad code. He came because you were dead in sin and in need of new life. The difference is subtle, but the implications are massive.
Original sin has got us speaking lies over our children. This diabolical teaching cripples people with guilt.
Let’s take a quick look at some of those scriptures that are used to prop up original sin.
When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:3)
Adam was made in the image of God, but Seth was made in the image of his sinful father, or so says original sin. Adam started out in the likeness of God but was remade into something sinful and satanic. From then on humanity has been made in the image of Satan. This is blasphemous. Jesus was “made in the likeness of men” and there was nothing sinful or satanic about him (Php. 2:7).
“According to his image” means the same thing as “after their kind,” a phrase which appears repeatedly in the creation account (e.g., Gen. 1:24). Cattle give birth to cattle, and humans give birth to humans.
Adam had no earthly father so he was made in the likeness of God (Gen. 5:1). Seth was different. He had a dad. To say he was made in Adam’s likeness is to imply he was made in the likeness of God, as we all are. “Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38).
I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth… (Genesis 8:21)
After the Fall of man, humanity became obsessed with sinning (Gen. 6:5), and by the time of Noah the world had become so wicked that even young people were practicing evil. Does this prove that babies and children inherit a sinful nature? It proves they do not. If children were born hardwired to sin, their evil behavior would not have been remarkable. They would’ve been evil from birth, not youth. This verse teaches that sinful inclinations are learned and in the days of Noah people learned to sin from a young age.
There is no man who does not sin… (1 Kings 8:46, 2 Chr. 6:36)
This passage is the Old Testament version of Romans 3:23: “All have sinned.” The scriptures consistently declare that all have gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God. We wander, we drift, we fall. Scriptures about our propensity for sin do not prove the existence of a sin gene as much as they portray humanity’s lostness and need for salvation.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
David does not say he was born with a sinful nature but that he was brought forth in iniquity or in a state of sin. Like the rest of us, David was born on Death Row, a prisoner in need of a Rescuer. In essence, David is saying the same thing Paul says in Romans 5:19. “Through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.”
David wrote Psalm 51 after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband. He knew he was a sinner. But instead of making excuses – “It was my sinful nature that made me do it” – he cried out to God for grace and mercy. “Be gracious to me, O God, according to your loving-kindness” (Ps. 51:1). These are not the words of a rebel. This is the cry of a man who had relied on the Lord from the womb (Ps. 71:6).
The wicked are estranged from the womb. These who speak lies go astray from birth. (Psalm 58:3)
Apparently this verse proves that all of us are born with a sinful nature and estranged from God. Only the passage says no such thing. It’s the wicked who are estranged from the womb. Read this verse literally and it sounds like some people start out bad while others don’t. Which is like saying some people are descended from Adam but others aren’t.
Psalm 51 and 58 are often used to prop up original sin, but the man who said “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” would have been repulsed by this doctrine. David did not see himself as a born rebel. Unlike the wicked who are estranged from the womb, David came out of the womb praising God (Ps. 22:10). He understood that we are shaped in the womb by God and not sin. God alone is our Maker.
You have been called a rebel from birth. (Isaiah 48:8)
“You were born corrupt and a rebel from birth. Isaiah says so.” Read this passage in context and you will see that Isaiah is not talking about babies but the nation of Israel. Jacob was a rebel, his sons were rebels, and the new nation of Israel rebelled against the Lord almost as soon as he brought them out of Egypt.
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. (Jeremiah 17:9)
A heart that distrusts the Lord is a treacherous heart, but when does the heart become treacherous? Does it happen in the womb or later? Jeremiah answers this question in verse five: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” Our hearts mislead us when they lead us away from the Lord.
Adam had a choice to follow God and so do we. But if we turn away or depart from the Lord, we set ourselves up for disaster. When we sow to the flesh we reap destruction (Gal. 6:8). But the moment we turn to the Lord, he gives us a new heart with new desires (Eze. 36:26).
There are no passages in the Old Testament that say we inherited Adam’s sinful nature, but there are plenty of scriptures refuting original sin.
In my next article, I will look at those New Testament scriptures which are (mis)used to support Augustine’s bad doctrine. If you can’t wait, or if you want to go deeper, check out my new book, Original Sin: What Does the Bible Really Say? This book is available now on Patreon and on my supporters’ page.
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