New Testament Scriptures Used to Support Original Sin
Augustine’s doctrine of original sin says you were born bad to the bone and hostile to God. You inherited Adam’s rebellious and sinful nature and your kids are going to hell.
Contrary to what you may have heard, original sin is not Biblical. This manmade teaching comes straight out of Judaism and was introduced into the church by Tertullian and Augustine. It has been preached by just about everyone (including me).
In my last article I looked at several Old Testament scriptures which are used to support original sin. In this article, I will briefly survey those New Testament scriptures which are (mis)used for the same purpose.
Every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:17)
Here Jesus is teaching us how to recognize false prophets. “By their fruit you will recognize them.” Good fruit means a good tree; bad fruit means a bad tree. But what makes a tree good or bad in the first place?
Augustine would say all trees are born bad, but Jesus said some trees are made bad (see Matt. 12:33). If you can be made bad, you could not have been born bad. By the same token, if you can be made good, you could not have been born good.
A young child who does not know right from wrong cannot be judged good or bad. They become good or bad as a result of the choices they make.
That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. (Mark 7:20–23)
The religious Jews were worried about what they were putting into their stomachs, but Jesus told them to watch what comes out of their hearts. When temptation is received, it gives birth to sin and this happens in the heart.
This has nothing to do with original sin and everything to do with hearts that have become corrupt. Jesus is talking about trees not acorns, men not babies. Babies aren’t tempted to fornications, thefts, and murders. These are grown-up sins for those who have been raised in a world of sin.
No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:18)
God’s definition of goodness far exceeds our own. There are good people in the world, but no one is as good as God. We all fall short of his glory, we all need divine grace. This is different from saying everyone is born corrupt and bad to the bone.
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
What kind of person prefers darkness to light? Some might say it is those who were stained with original sin, but that’s not what Jesus said. Those who prefer the darkness are those whose deeds are evil.
Think of Adam and Eve hiding in the garden. They weren’t hiding because they had a sinful nature. They hid because they had done an evil deed. “Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:20). Evildoers prefer the darkness because they are afraid of being exposed by the light.
As it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10–12, NIV)
None of us is born righteous, but that doesn’t mean you were born a hell-bound rebel. On the day he drew his first breath, Adam was neither righteous nor sinful, and neither are we. Like Adam, we all get to choose the path we will follow.
Note the words “as it is written.” Paul is quoting the psalms. It was David who said there is none who seeks after God (Ps. 14:2–3). Which is a terrific piece of prose but it is not literally true, for David himself sought the Lord. “I sought the Lord and he answered me” (Ps. 34:4). People like David have always looked for God. We need to take care that we don’t turn beautiful psalms into blanket statements about the hearts of men.
In context, Paul is speaking about the Jews who sought to be righteous through the law (see Rom. 2:17). He is saying that our righteousness falls short of the Lord’s righteousness (Rom. 3:21–23). Compared to God, “there is none righteous.” We all need the righteousness that comes through faith to those who believe (Rom. 3:22).
Paul also says that all have become worthless. (Worthless in the sense that we are unfit for the kingdom of God.) We are not born worthless, we become worthless. We are not born astray, we go astray.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Paul says all have sinned in the same way he says all have turned aside (Rom. 3:12). Which is very different to the claims of original sin.
Again and again the scriptures declare that we have all gone astray (see Ps. 14:3, Heb. 3:10, 1 Pet. 2:25). “All of us, like sheep, have gone astray” (Is. 53:6). Again, this is not proof of original sin but humanity’s lostness and need for God.
In context, Paul is comparing the Jews who have the law and the Gentiles who do not (Rom. 2:14). Although the Jews have some advantages over the Gentiles (Rom. 3:1), in the final analysis it makes little difference because all of us fall short of God’s glory. We all sin. We all go astray. We all need a Savior.
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 (Romans 5:12)
Paul wrote more about sin than any other New Testament writer, yet he never said we were born with a sinful nature. What we inherited from Adam was a death sentence. “Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men” (Rom. 5:18).
The key phrase in Romans 5:12 is “all sinned,” which means when Adam sinned we were in him. Adam put himself and his unborn offspring on Death Row. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned” (Rom. 5:14).
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners – (Romans 5:19a)
To be made a sinner is to be made a slave. “You were slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:17). Religion says you were born a rebel, but the Bible says you were born a slave. “The whole world is a prisoner because of sin” (Gal. 3:22, NIrV). There are numerous scriptures showing that sinners are prisoners or slaves to sin (e.g., John 8:34, Rom. 6:6, 16–20, 22, 7:4, 14, Gal. 4:7, 2 Pet. 2:9).
Religion says your greatest need is to be forgiven for the crime of being born, but your greatest need is to be free. “I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin… Who will set me free?” (Rom. 7:14, 24).
Jesus did not come to convince rebels to change sides. He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18).
Perhaps you have heard it said, “You’re not a sinner because you sin, you sin because you’re a sinner.” But what makes us sinners in the first place? It is not a sinful gene; it was Adam’s disobedience. “Through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” Your disobedience doesn’t come into it. Humanity was condemned because Adam sinned.
Why do sinners sin? We might ask why do slaves act like slaves or prisoners act like prisoners? A prisoner who acts like a prisoner, doesn’t know any other way to live. He has forgotten how life was on the outside. It’s the same with us. We were born into a world captive to sin. We act like sinners because that is how the world teaches us to act.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh (Romans 7:18a)
From this verse some conclude that our flesh is evil or that we have a sinful nature or a sinful parasite. Your physical flesh is not evil. The members of your body can be used as instruments of righteousness or unrighteousness (Rom. 6:13). When Paul says nothing good dwells in me, he is saying “My flesh is incapable of living the good and spiritual life that I desire.” That which is imperfect can never achieve perfection.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3)
Augustine loved the phrase sinful flesh. The phrase appears dozens of times in his writings, but the phrase appears only once in the Bible.
To say Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh is to say he came to earth disguised as a sinful son of Adam. The Son of God was not a sinner, but he looked like one in the sense that he came in human form. The virgin-born man from heaven entered the prison of sin dressed in flesh like any other prisoner.
The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Romans 8:7, NKJV)
Augustine would say that a mind that is hostile to the things of God is proof of a sin gene, but Paul is contrasting two ways to walk. We can set our mind on carnal concerns or we can fix our minds on the things of the spirit (Rom. 8:6).
You do not need a sin gene to explain why humans sin. Consider the first woman. Like her husband, Eve was flawless and without sin, yet she sinned. With her God-given freedom Eve chose the wrong path and went astray.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins. (Ephesian 2:1)
In our natural state we are excluded, shut out, and disconnected from the life of God (Eph. 2:5, 4:18). We are born mortal which is to say we are condemned to die. “In Adam, all die” (1 Cor. 15:22). Our greatest need is to be raised from the dead to new life and this happens when we put our faith in the Author of Life (John 3:15–16, 5:24).
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 2:3)
Before we were born again we were by nature children of wrath. This is a figure of speech. We were children of disobedience; now we are children of God. We used to have one kind of nature; now we have another. Paul is not saying that babies and children are under the wrath of God.
Contrary to what Augustine might say, you do not need to repent of the crime of being born and your children are not bound for hell. It’s true that Adam put himself and his unborn descendants on Death Row, but Last Adam demolished the prison that held us.
Because of Jesus, every one of us has the same choice Adam had. We can yield to sin and become slaves again, or we can trust God and live.
If you want to learn more, check out my ebook on Patreon and E2R’s Supporters’ page.
Well said. The fact that Adam and Eve both sinned, without having a sin nature, supports your argument. They made a choice and went astray. It’s interesting that the Bible refers to Adam’s sin and disobedience as the source of corruption and condemnation, etc, when Eve was deceived first and chose to believe the serpent. Some say it was because Eve was enticed or deceived, where Adam simply chose to disobey based on his wife’s persuasion. Not sure on all that, but their fall wasn’t disobedience. Their fall came as a result of unbelief. They chose to not believe God before they disobeyed him.
Your article is not just well said, it makes sense and ties everything together that makes the various confusing verses fit together.
My apologies if I missed the answer to my question. Your previous article got me thinking, and My question was why then, did Jesus have to be born of a virgin without a male human seed?
Hi Patty, There is so much to say about the virgin birth that I have a whole chapter on it in the book. The short version: Jesus came to earth in the likeness of man, but he was not part of Adam’s enslaved race. This matters because only a free man can ransom a slave. There’s so much to dig into here. I may do an abbridged article here on E2R one day.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What is the glory of God? Is it His morality, His good behavior? His glory is much more and much higher than just His morality. God possesses a life that changes things. It brings light to darkness and transforms death to resurrection life. If sin is falling short of God’s glory, it must mean something more than just bad behavior. The first definition of sin in Strong’s is “to be without a share in”. Falling short of God’s glory is to be without a share in His eternal life. God’s life in us does produce good behavior, but that is a fruit, not the root. This also explains why no one can be justified by the law. Even if you could keep the law perfectly, it would not produce eternal life in you. If you or someone you know has a problem with bad behavior, do you think will power or God’s life would be more effective? Yet, the majority of churches are preaching about sin instead of His life. Still, bad behavior is secondary to death and good behavior is secondary to life.
THat’s it, LJP. We who were born under the sentence of death need new life, and this is what Jesus came to give us. It is very much a life-and-death issue rather than a sinful-nature-and-sin issue.
How do I order the book and pay for it without joining Patreon? Is there a way to simply order the book direct from you?
At this stage I have no plans to release the Original Sin ebook publicly. I’ve shared the book with patrons and supporters because they helped me write it. I may return to it in a year or so, beef it up and release it, but for now I’m get to get back to other projects.
I love all the scriptures and the way you actually use them to support your position, but I’m confused because at the end you said, “We used to have one kind of nature; now we have another.” Are you basically saying, “We used to have a sin nature; now we have another.”? That would go against everything that you’ve been trying to say prior to that. Please clarify what you meant by that. Thanks!
No one is arguing that sinners don’t have a sinful nature. The debate is whether we inherited Adam’s sinful nature (as original sin says) or whether we learned to sin from walking after the flesh in a fallen world (as the Bible says). More here.
So we are all good trees until we commit our initial sin that turns us into bad trees becoming the enemies of God and his wrath until we accept Jesus Christ by grace through faith”?
We’re just trees. Remember Jesus says a tree can be made good or bad.
Can you explain being partakers of the divine nature and being a new creation in light of what your saying? Thanks!
The moment you put on Christ, you become a partaker of his divine nature. The instant you are born again, you are made brand new. You are no longer a sinful son of Adam but a beloved child of God. More here and here.
“Before we were born again we were by nature children of wrath. This is a figure of speech.”
How can one know when to apply this method of interpretation? What if “partakers of the divine nature” is just a figure of speech?
The method of interpretation I use most is called reading in context. The previous two verses make it clear that Paul is talking to grown up Ephesians and their former lifestyles. There is nothing to hint that he is singling out children or that he has changed the subject.
I find your interpretation attractive, however, what matters is what is true.
At several points (particularly after the Romans 5:12 answer) you seem to indicate there is, in a practical sense, an ‘original sin’ that affected all people post Adam and it was inescapable. So why is that the case?, wouldn’t each person subsequent to Adam simply have both trees available to them and be free to make their own choice? why did Adams sin have an effect on all humanity? why were we all banished from the garden and the tree of life if there wasn’t an original transgression that affects us from birth in at least some way?
Perhaps the classical definition is well off the mark (and I think it is) but there seems to be more complexity to this.
Yes, Adam’s sin affects us all, as Paul says repeatedly. When Adam opened the door to sin and death, he fundamentally changed the world in which we all live. God makes this very clear when outlining the consequences of Adam’s sin in Genesis 3 and this is what Paul is unpacking in Romans 5. All of us were condemned by what Adam did.
Why be banished from the tree of life? Imagine a world where evil tyrants lived forever.
Can I buy your book on Amazon?
At this stage I have no plans to release it on Amazon.
IN your opinion, what is it that makes us sinners? it is our sinful actions that make us sinners. Or our sinful nature making us commit sins?
What makes us sinners? The rabbis would say we’re sinners because we inherit an evil inclination, and Augustine said much the same thing. But Paul said we were made sinners because of Adam’s disobedience. “Through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Rom. 5:19)?
Why do we sin? As I say in the article above, we sin because we’re sinners. We are born disconnected from God, so any direction we go – good or bad – will be walking after the flesh. On many occasions the scriptures refer to us as prisoners or slaves to sin (e.g., John 8:34, Rom. 6:6, 16–20, 22, 7:4, 14, Gal. 4:7, 2 Pet. 2:9). When a prisoner acts like a prisoner, we don’t say he’s got the prison gene. He doesn’t know any other way to live. He has forgotten how life was on the outside. It’s the same with us. We were born into a fallen world captive to sin. We act like sinners because that is how the world teaches us to act. We need a better Teacher.
Thanks! The example of the prisoner helps a lot. So could we say that we receive “the nature of sin” not through genes but through spiritual means? In fact Salvation in Christ is not transmitted genetically but spiritually
I prefer to use phrases from the Bible and the Bible doesn’t talk about a sin nature as much as it talks about walking after the flesh. What we call a sinful nature might just as easily be called human nature, since the temptation to trust in our own abilities and lean on our own understanding is universal. We are all tempted to rely on ourselves, lean on our own understanding, and be in control. There is nothing spiritual about this – it is a natural habit that we pick up from living in a natural world. This world teaches us to rely on our natural senses and tune out our spiritual senses. That’s what it means to walk after the flesh.
Yes we do and that is why we have The Holy Spirit who is the only and better Teacher for us here on earth. The more born again spirit filled,baptised in the Holy Spirit)people allow ,rely,depend on Holy Spirit that ABBA God gave us after Jesus ascended to guide,lead and teach us the better “ position” we are in to be the best influence on each other in “the church” and the better witnesses we will be to unbelievers- John 14:26, 1Corinthians 2-12-13,John 8:14,Ephesians1:16-17,Isaiah 40:13-14
Excellent! HOLY SPIRIT INSPIRED UNDERSTANDING OF ORIGINAL SIN. I AM NOW FREE…PRAISE GOD👏👏👏👏🙏✝️
Pastor Paul: There are some real problems here…
Hi Arthur, thanks for your comment. You raise a number of points that don’t seem to have any bearing on the article. My conclusions above are; (1) you were born dead in sin, and (2) you need to be raised from the dead, and (3) the good news is that Jesus raises the dead. If you disagree, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts. If you would like to discuss scriptures used to support original sin, please comment under this article.
We are born in sin, just as David had written in the Psalms: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5)…
I discuss that scripture and it’s relevance for original sin in this article.