Original Sin

The Doctrine of Original Sin Examined in Scripture

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Introduction

In this study we will examine the common doctrine that since Adam we are all born sinful or with sinful natures. I was raised in church and I grew up believing this as well. However, in recent years the Lord has brought some things to my attention that have lead me to reevaluate my understanding and stance on this subject. After further study I have come to realize that we are not born sinful, we are not born with a fallen or sinful nature, we are not inherently sinful, but we are born innocent and we sin for the same reason Adam did. We are tempted and choose to yield to that temptation. I realize that at the present time, I am in the minority here. However, prior to the 5th century, for the first 400 years of early church history, I would have been among the majority.

My hope is that those who do believe all men are born sinners, would at the very least read and consider the things I present. I apologize in advance for the length of this study. I have never been one to forgo clarity for the sake of brevity, but this is by far the longest study on any one topic that I have written.  I will attempt to be as concise as possible and pray you are willing to patiently examine this thoroughly with me!   

Why Does It Matter?

First, I would like to start by listing a few things that I am not teaching. I am not claiming we are born holy, or divine in any way. What I intend to show in Scripture is simply that we are born innocent and not guilty of sin via Adams disobedience.  I am not saying that we as humans can live holy lives apart from the grace and Spirit of God.  The fact of the matter is we were not created to live apart from God, but are designed for fellowship with Him. It is sin that separates us from Him. Holiness and relationship with God are inseparable; it is impossible to obey the command to love Him with all we have without being in communion with Him. Obedience and loving God are synonymous.

We are all in need of a Savior! The fact that all have sinned, as Romans 3 declares, is not what I am debating. The question is not if we need a Savior but why. Why have all sinned? And who is this “all” that the bible is referring to? Does it include the unborn and infants?

If we all agree that all men are in need of the grace of God and the atonement of Christ, then what difference does it make if we believe sin to be the result of our sinful nature or our own free will choices? It may seem like a frivolous argument or hair splitting to some, but I believe it is important for several reasons. First, all truth is relevant. We should aim to press into God and allow Him to lead and guide us into all truth. If we hold as truth any beliefs which are in fact man made doctrines, contrary to the Truth of God’s word, as lovers of Truth we should want God to reveal it. I am confident that those reading this today would agree that something contrary to Scripture should be rejected on those grounds alone.

Secondly, the question of the cause of sin is important because with it comes some serious implications. If our belief, when carried to its logical end, makes God the author of sin or creator of evil, it is to be rejected. Such beliefs are an accusation against the Holiness of God and Righteousness of His judgments. I would not want to hold to any thinking that maligns the character of God. As Paul defends the righteous judgments of God in Romans 1, I contend for the same truth today. Not because God needs any man’s defense, but because all sinners should understand that they are in fact without excuse! This universal rebellion of man is where the gospel message begins.  Without a clear understanding of the problem of sin we will not come to fully appreciate the beauty of God’s solution of grace. We are not the victims of sin but the criminals.

Many will argue that inheriting a “sinful nature” does not excuse sin. Depending on their definition of, and explanations for “sinful nature,” their personal definition may be said to lean towards a propensity to sin rather than a necessity. Still, they conclude that sin is inevitable because of an inheritably sinful nature. They assert that we sin because we are born sinners and point to man’s “bondage to sin” as evidence of a “sinful nature.” So, in my opinion their argument is inconsistent, but we will get to that later. I believe, and hope to show, that we are sinners because we sin. Not because an inherited propensity to sin, or because of inheriting sin itself, but because of a willful yielding to temptation. 

Lastly, the question of guilt or innocence before God at birth raises questions about the spiritual condition of babies, young children, and the mentally impaired.  There are various views that offer explanations for the spiritual condition of baby born a sinner, how God views them, and what happens when a baby dies before having the opportunity to accept Christ. I will try to address why these views are problematic, but I may not be able to cover them all in one note.   

There is a lot of diversity regarding how this subject of infants is understood, even among those who have accepted the doctrine of original sin as truth. I realize not everyone who believes we are born with a sinful nature agree upon some of the points I will address. So, I ask that you be patient, and not assume I am putting words in your mouth or arguing against things you do not believe. I am addressing those who have made certain arguments. If they do not all apply to you, then praise God, we are in agreement on certain points. 

Some Suggestions and Disclaimers

Anyone who has previously participated in biblical discussions or debates can attest to the sad fact that they can become unloving.  I believe with all my heart that sound doctrine or correct theology is important. However, if we “understand all mysteries and all knowledge” and have not love, we are “nothing.” I realize that we can have some strong convictions and a passion for truth, both of which are good things. Still, if our  motives are wrong and we don’t remain in the Spirit and in love, we end up doing no good and possibly doing more harm than anything.  

As we reason the Scriptures together I ask that you need keep in mind that while I disagree with this doctrine I am in no way attempting to bring into question the intelligence, sincerity, salvation, or character of those who believe it. It is not my desire to belittle or demean anyone. I believed Original Sin myself for many years, all while loving the truth, studying the word and serving the Lord sincerely.  I now believe I was wrong and feel no shame in saying so. I simply did not have any reason to believe otherwise until God challenged my thinking.

I realize that as you read through this study, and maybe even at this moment, you will have questions, arguments, thoughts and rebuttals. Some of you may even have a series of scriptures ready to list off in defense of the idea that we are born with sinful natures. I ask that you bear with me. Many have already made up their mind; they already know what they believe. However, I’d like to invite you to examine why you believe what you believe. The purpose of this study is to come to an understanding of why I do not believe the doctrine of original sin is biblical. I encourage you to be open to at the very least hearing me out, even if you disagree when we are finished.

I suggest you make a list of all the verses you believe teach that we are born sinful or with sinful natures. As you read through the study check those verses off your list if you feel they are adequately addressed in the study. As I discuss the verses on your list, if you believe my interpretation is flawed, make a note explaining why or how my hermeneutics is flawed. We can then be prepared to discuss the Scriptures not just randomly quote them.

I encourage you to jot down thoughts and questions as you go through this study. Hopefully, by the end of the study you will find that your questions have been addressed, check them off as they are answered in the study. Keep a list of any remaining questions at the end of the lesson so we can discuss them later.

If your list contains a Scripture that is not addressed in this note, I would like you to also include commentary. What do you believe the verse means and why?

Lastly, if you are not willing to consider some basic rules of hermeneutics, then you will probably neither add to nor benefit from a discussion about rightly dividing the Word.  God invites us to come and reason together with Him. He does not expect us to check our brains at the door or hang up our God given ability to reason. So, I ask that you wouldn’t expect anything different. Paul was known to reason with men from the Scriptures. I pray you are willing to reason with me from the Scriptures and discuss what they actually say and mean, and apply good hermeneutics. If you are not familiar with the differences between exegesis vs. eisegesis I recommend you look it up. If you would like some resources about the basis rules of good biblical hermeneutics please don’t hesitate to ask. I will be more than happy to provide some helpful resources. We are all learning and growing and it is very important that we learn how to study the Scriptures effectively for ourselves.

The History of the Doctrine of Original Sin

Adam’s first disobedience to God in the garden is what we refer to as “original sin.” We all agree that this event took place and that it had some real repercussion and affected all of humanity, in actuality, even all of creation. However, when speaking of the “doctrine of original sin,” we are discussing a theory regarding Adam’s sin, the fall, and what affect it had on humanity; more specifically, humanities moral state and ability. So, I of course believe in Adam’s original sin as recorded in Genesis, I just don’t agree with Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin.

I posted a meme on Facebook a while back that said, “What if I told you that you were not born a sinner?” I commented that this doctrine is a Calvinist doctrine, and want to clarify what I meant by that. I did not say that because I think attributing it to Calvinism or to Calvin himself lends credence to my position, but because in my understanding the two are connected in origin. I believe it is the result of Augustine’s influence, as is all of what we call “Calvinism” today. Although it pre-dates Calvin, it is still the basic theory that all the doctrines of Calvinism are built upon. The doctrine of total depravity as Calvinism would define it, the T in TULIP, is built upon the presupposition that all of humanity is born guilty and sinners.  Do some Arminians also believe that all men are born sinners? Yes, but I don’t agree with them either. What the bible teaches is inherited physical depravity as a result of physical death entering the world, and not inherited sin, guilt, or moral corruption.

Arminius (1560 – 1609) taught Original Sin in an Augustinian fashion, speaking of humanity being in Adam’s “loins” etc. Given the timing and history of this doctrines development and Augustine’s influence, it is not surprising that he did. Arminius developed his teaching in response to Calvinism, but not without first being influenced by it. He was a Calvinist until he realized that he could not adequately defend the doctrines of Calvin. So, while he rejected the five points of Calvinism, he held on to Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin. However, the other tenets of Arminian theology are not dependent upon Original Sin, and not all who claim to be Arminian today teach Original Sin. Without the idea of total depravity, due to an inherited guilt and sinful nature, the whole Calvinistic system falls apart. Which is why, as could be expected, Calvinists are some of the most passionate defenders of this doctrine.  It is important to note that there is a lot of diversity even within each of these two theological frameworks (Calvinism and Arminianism). When I speak of Calvinism I am referring to the five points of Calvinism, even though there is some variation in how these points are explained (from moderate to hyper) and not all “Calvinist” hold to all 5 points. A lot of teachings that would now be considered Calvinist predate Calvin and were developed by Augustine. Hyper Calvinism can be shown to mirror the later writings of Augustine, and what would be called moderate Calvinism is consistent with “early” Augustine. Early and late Augustine writings were in contradiction. I am neither a Calvinist nor Arminian. I don’t reject Original Sin because I associate it with Calvinism, but because it is not biblical. It’s not my intention to defend Arminianism but to know, live and teach the truth.

In recent days I have heard the argument that rejection of Original Sin is a “modern Judaistic teaching” or “Pelagianism.” These statements seem to imply that Original Sin has always been the “orthodox” teaching of the Church and opposition to it is either some new wind of doctrine or one that has been longed condemned. However, the idea that we are born innocent with the God given ability to choose good or evil is something neither modern Judaism nor Pelagius invented. Pre-Augustine church fathers did not believe that we are born inherently sinful or with corrupted natures but said we were born innocent with free will.

What Did the Jews Teach about the Nature of Man?

They taught the two yods, in vayyitzer found Genesis 2:7, speaks of two parts or impulses of the human nature. Neither of which were inherently evil.
 
The yetzer hatov and the yetzer hara. They believed the yetzer hatov is the our God given conscience. As Paul teaches, God writes His law on our hearts (even the hearts of the Gentiles). The yetzer hara is the impulse to satisfy natural needs and desires.
 
Natural needs and desires are not in and of themselves sinful. The early church called them “natural affections” and taught that if you satisfy them in the way God intended they become virtues and if you satisfy them in a way contrary to God’s intention (sinning against your moral conscience) they become vices.
 
The Jews did not believe a child was sinful, nor were they held accountable for wrong doing until they came of age. Which is what the bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah were. Which literally mean they become a “son of the law” or “daughter of the law.” They believed that the soul matured along with the natural body and around the time of natural puberty a person was capable of comprehending and obeying the law and therefore held accountable for keeping it.
 
Which is why the scripture talks of men being sinful from their “youth.” Which speaks of adolescence not infancy.

The Early Church Fathers on the Nature of Man,
Pre-Augustine

You could definitely save a lot of time by skipping these quotes but I believe they are worth the time investment. This is not an exhaustive list; there are many more quotes like these.  I am in no way saying the writings of the Early Church Fathers are authoritative, or inspired as Scripture, or that all their doctrine was always correct. These quotes simply shed some light on what the early church actually believed concerning the nature of man and the spiritual condition we are born in. Reading what the disciples of the first apostles believed and taught gives us insight into how the Scriptures were first understood. When we see a clear consensus among these early church leaders regarding sinful or corrupted natures, it is clear that this was not at first the predominate or “orthodox” view.  Studying the development of and spread of the idea of fallen natures helps in determining the source of this Original Sin teaching.

The Ante Nicene Church Fathers Refute Original Sin

I have included links (as much as possible), to places you can read the texts I am quoting from in their entirety. I do not believe a denial of Original Sin is a departure from Christian orthodoxy but a return to it, or restoration to truth in this regard.  

Ignatius of Antioch, c. 35-107 AD

A disciple of John the apostle, Ignatius served as a bishop in Antioch. He was said to have succeeded Peter and Evodius.

Seeing, then, all things have an end, and there is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. For I remark, that two different characters are found among men—the one true coin, the other spurious. The truly devout man is the right kind of coin, stamped by God Himself. The ungodly man, again, is false coin, unlawful, spurious, counterfeit, wrought not by God, but by the devil. I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but that there is one humanity, sometimes belonging to God, and sometimes to the devil. If any one is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice.  (Letter to the Magnesians – long version, Chapter 5; ANF Vol. I p. 61; emphasis added.)

Irenaeus of Lyon, c. 120-202 AD

Irenaeus was a bishop of Lyons, and disciple of bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp (c. 69 – 155 A.D) a disciple of John the apostle.

Men are possessed with free will, and endowed with the faculty of making a choice. It is not true, therefore, that some are by nature good, and others bad. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXVII; emphasis added.)

Those who do not do it [good] will receive the just judgment of God, because they had not worked good when they had it in their power to do so. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for they were created that way, nor would the former be reprehensible, for that is how they were made. However, all men are of the same nature. They are all able to hold fast and to go what is good. On the other hand, they have the power to cast good from them and not to do it. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXVII; emphasis added.)

This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward us) is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves…

If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things and to abstain from others? But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXVII; emphasis added.)

Man is endowed with the faculty of distinguishing good and evil; so that, without compulsion, he has the power, by his own will and choice, to perform God’s commandments. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXIX)

And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God. He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness; and separation from God consists in the loss of all the benefits which He has in store. (Against Heresies, Book V, Chapter XXVII; emphasis added.)

Justin Martyr, c. 110-165 AD

But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Apology I, Chapter XLIII; emphasis added.)

But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds, while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]. And this also is shown by those men everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others. Even the Stoic philosophers, in their doctrine of morals, steadily honour the same things, so that it is evident that they are not very felicitous in what they say about principles and incorporeal things. For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things, and will appear to have had a comprehension only of things that are destructible, and to have looked on God Himself as emerging both in part and in whole in every wickedness; or that neither vice nor virtue is anything; which is contrary to every sound idea, reason, and sense.” (Apology II, Chapter VII; emphasis added.)

Tatian the Assyrian, 120–180 AD

We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault.  Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able to reject it again.” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II, Chapter XI)

And each of these two orders of creatures was made free to act as it pleased, not having the nature of good, which again is with God alone, but is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice, in order that the bad man may be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault, but the just man be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice he refrained from transgressing the will of God. Such is the constitution of things in reference to angels and men(Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II, Chapter VII; emphasis added)  

Hyppolytus of Rome, 170 – 235 AD

God, who created [the world], did not nor does not, make evil….Now, man (who was brought into existence) was a creature endowed with a capacity of self-determination, yet he did not possess a sovereign intellect….Man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity for self-determination, brings forth evil….Since man has free will, a law has been given him by God, for a good purpose. For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason. Only a bridle and whip will be given it. In contrast, man has been given a commandment to perform, coupled with a penalty.”(Ante Nicene Fathers , Volume 5, Chapter 29; emphasis added) Hoodwinking therefore multitudes, he [Marcus, the Gnostic heretic] led on (into enormities) many (dupes) of this description who had become his disciples, by teaching them that they were prone, no doubt, to sin, but beyond the reach of danger, from the fact of their belonging to the perfect power. (Refutation of all Heresies, Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, Chapter 36)

Origen, (Adamantius) 185 – 253 AD

The Scriptures emphasize the freedom of the will. They condemn those who sin, and approve those who do right. We are responsible for being bad and worthy of being cast outside. For it is not the nature in us that is the cause of the evil; rather, it is the voluntary choice that works evil” (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 289)

the heretics introduce the doctrine of different natures (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 291)

The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62)

Certain ones of those [Gnostic’s] who hold different opinions misuse these passages. They essentially destroy free will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation and by introducing others as being saved in such a way that they cannot be lost. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, Chapter 1.8)

To be fair, I have to admit that Origen (who historically is known for his gnostic influence) did talk out of both sides of his mouth on this issue. Often times those who are in error contradict themselves. However, it is interesting that here he seems to acknowledge that it was the Gnostics (who he is speaking of in context) who “destroyed free will” by introduced the teaching of fallen natures. He also says they taught that is was possible to be saved in such a way that their salvation cannot be lost. Sounds a whole like Augustine’s and Calvin’s teachings on Original Sin and once saved always saved ideas.

Lactantius, 240-320 AD

For we must be free even from moderate vices [sin-immorality]; yea, rather, it ought to have been at first effected that there should be no vices [that we should not sin at all]. For nothing can be born vicious [sinful or immoral]; but if we make a bad use of the affections they become vices [sinful or immoral], if we use them well they become virtues [moral, righteous or good]. (Divine Institutes, Book 6, Chapter 16, emphasis added and definitions in brackets are mine)

Lactantius explains how the Stoics (Gnostics) argued that all natural affections, desires, emotions etc. were “diseases of the soul” and how they wished these “diseases” could be eradicated completely by suppression. They admitted that natural affections couldn’t be fully eradicated so they taught that they should be regulated with moderation.  Gnostics viewed all things natural or physical as evil, to the extent that the Manicheans taught that the natural world (including man’s flesh) had another (evil) creator, different from the creator of all things spiritual. They attempted to reconcile how man can be naturally wicked or born evil, with the fact that their creator was Good and Holy. So they conclude that there was another creator. Calvin later acknowledges the agreement with the Manicheans regarding the sinfulness of man’s nature. He states that they take it too far in assigning another creator, but the truth is they are simply carrying this flawed idea to its logical end, which in fact maligns God’s character.

Lantantius argues that vice or sin should not just be regulated by moderation but that there should be no vices at all. He refutes the argument that natural desires and emotions themselves are wicked. He argues that they are neither good nor bad but when we make bad use of them they become sinful, and when we make good use of them they become virtuous. He declares that nothing is born vicious (immoral or sinful)! His argument is consistent with Scripture. We are instructed to be angry and sin not (Psalm 4:4, Eph. 4:26). Anger itself is not sinful, but when used wrongly it can be, such as being angry without a cause (Matthew 5:22)! Sex and desire for intimacy is also not sinful, seeking to fulfill those desires outside of God’s will or entertaining thoughts of lust is sinful. The marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4) contrary to Augustine’s issues with it. It is fornicators and adulterers God will judge. This is the case with hunger and gluttony, etc. Our human nature itself is not “sinful” it is just “human.” It is when we give into the temptation to gratify our natural desires sinfully that our nature becomes tainted with sin and we are “defiled.”

We see this gnostic influence in Augustine’s view of sex, and the human libido. He had a hostile attitude towards both women and sex, believing orgasms to be “shameful” even between man and wife.

He saw all sex as problematic to those who desired to be holy and “dangerous.” He wrote “I have decided that there is nothing I must more carefully avoid then the marriage bed. I find there is nothing which more certainly cast a man’s mind out of its citadel than female blandishments and bodily contacts which are essential to marriage. So if it is part of the duty of the Sage, which I have not yet learned, to have children anyone who has intercourse with women for this purpose only seems to me worthy of admiration rather than achieving imitation. The danger of attempting it is greater than the happiness of achieving it. Accordingly in the interest of righteousness and the liberty of my soul, I have made it my rule not to desire or seek to marry a wife, I am completely free from desires of this kind and recall them with horror and disdain.,” (Augustine, Soliloquies 10,17)

He wished there was some way to procreate with no pleasures at all, this “passion” he deemed a punishment as a result of the fall when he believed Adam and Eve lost control over their own bodies. He argued that since the fall it is impossible to engage in sex without also experiencing the shame of lust (see The City of God, Book 14, Chapters 15-21). He believed that it was by this shameful pleasure of orgasm that the original sin is transmitted to all humanity. While he did argue against Gnostics on many points, I do not believe he ever fully surmounted their influence. Sadly, Augustine’s influence concerning both sex and women is something most Christians have yet to surmount! We will talk more about Augustine later, but just wanted to note where he and the Stoics agree. 

Eusebius, 263 – 233 AD Bishop of Caesarea

The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again, making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature! (The Christian Examiner, Volume One, Published by James Miller, 1824 Edition, p. 66)

Methodius, 260-312 AD Bishop of Olympus

Now those [pagans] who decide that man is not possessed of free will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate…are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause or author of human evils. (The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse 8, Chapter 16)

The Divine Being is not by nature implicated in evils. Therefore our birth is not the cause of these things. (The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse 8, Chapter 16)

If then, any are evil, they are evil in accordance with the wants and desires of their minds, and not by necessity. They perish self-destroyed, by their own fault.’ (The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse 8, Chapter 16)

There is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become such. So I say, says he, that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God. For this was the meaning of the gift of free will… and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience. (The Writings of Methodius, Concerning Free Will)

For a man is not spoken of as ‘murderer’ but by committing it he receives the derived name of murderer. Evil is not a substance, but by practicing any evil it can be called evil…for a man is evil only in consequences of his actions. For he is said to be evil because he is a doer of evil. It is a persons actions that gives them the title of evil. Men produce the evil and are the authors of them.  (The Writings of Methodius, Concerning Free Will)

Some later quotes:

Cyril of Jerusalem, 312-386 AD

Know also that thou hast a soul self governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator, immortal because of God that gives it immortality, a living being rational, imperishable, because of Him that bestowed these gifts: having free power to do what it willeth. For it is not according to thy nativity [i.e. because you were born that way] that thou sinnest, nor is it by the power of chance that thou committest fornication, nor, as some idly talk, do the conjunctions of the stars compel thee to give thyself to wantonness.  Why dost thou shrink from confessing thine own evil deeds, and ascribe the blame to the innocent stars?

Learn this also, that before it came into this world, your soul had committed no sin, but we come into the world unblemished, and, being here, sin of our own choiceDo not listen, I say, to anyone who expounds ‘If then I do that which I would not’ in the wrong sense, but remember who says, ‘If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword,’ and what follows.”  

There is not a class of souls sinning by nature and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature; but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only and alike in all.

The soul is self-governed: and though the Devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to thee the thought of fornication: if thou wilt, thou rejectest. For if thou wert a fornicator of necessity then for what cause did God prepare hell? If thou wert a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory? The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness; since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature.  

(Catechetical Lecture IV, 18-21)  

It is interesting that Cyril refuted both the idea that men are born sinful, stating that we come into the world unblemished having committed no sin, but also warned, “do not listen,” to those who wrongly expound on Romans 7 to teach that we sin by necessity!

John Chrysostom, 347-407 AD Archbishop of Constantinople

All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer.But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end. (On Hebrews, Homily 12, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston)

Jerome, 347 – 420 AD, Priest, historian, theologian

God has bestowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice. For when necessity rules, there is no room left either for damnation or the crown (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Conclusion Regarding Ante Nicene Church Fathers

These Early Church Fathers obviously did not believe that we are born with a sinful nature. On the contrary, they rejected this idea and said that it was the Gnostics or Stoics who introduced the false teaching of, “corrupt natures.”  There are several other quotes we can list of the Early Church Fathers that speak of children as “pure and innocent” and devoid of sin and wickedness. They did not teach that we are born morally corrupt, guilty, polluted, and deserving of wrath as Augustine and Calvin later taught, but believed in an age of accountability and taught that babies and children who die have a place in heaven (in contrast to Augustine’s doctrine). In some of these quotes they also name Gnostics as the ones teaching against the innocence of children. So to claim that this teaching of fallen or sinful natures was the orthodox teaching is false. It may be true that “Modern Judaism” denies the teaching of “original sin,” however, there is no evidence that any Jews and any time believed we are born sinners!  

Augustine’s Theory of Adam’s Natural Headship

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was no doubt an intelligent and educated man. Like most of his contemporaries he was well versed in pagan philosophies.  He had a profound influence even though his theories were inconsistent with the general consensus of the Church Fathers who came before him. It is not exactly accurate to say that Augustine “invented” his doctrine of Original Sin. The idea that man was somehow inherently wicked was not new, but was also not Christian!

However, it is evident that his skillful and articulate weaving of Stoic thought (carried over from his 9 years with Manicheanism) with misinterpreted Scripture gave the appearance of truth to the otherwise rejected Gnostic doctrine.  The Manicheanism (Gnostic) dualistic view of man is clearly carried over by Augustine’s view of man’s physical nature being corrupted and sinful, and his ideas that the human libido wounded the human will and mind. We also see Manicheanism’s teachings of determinism carried over into Augustine’s theology.

What was Augustine’s Theory of Original Sin?

Augustine’s theory of original sin is called the Theory of Adam’s Natural Headship or the Realistic Theory. He taught that all men existed organically in Adam when he sinned and therefore in Adam we all sinned and corrupted ourselves, that corruption being passed on naturally in the seed of man by the act of sex. He taught that moral depravity was physically transmitted.

There were a few other attempts to explain how sin has transmitted from Adam to his posterity in the 17th century, known as the Federal Theory taught by Cocceius and the Theory of Mediate Imputation developed by Placeus.

The Federal Theory, also called the Theory of Condemnation by Covenant or the Immediate Imputation Theory, stated that Adam sinned as a Federal Head, or representative for all of humanity, so the fall of Adam was the fall of all humanity by virtue of Adam’s covenant with God as humanity’s legal representative. So, the sin of Adam is imputed by God to all of humanity as a legal consequence rather than an organic one.

The Theory of Mediate Imputation is the idea that all men are born morally depraved because of the sin of Adam and are condemned not for Adam’s sin but condemnable because of their own corrupted nature. While this is a thought that was said to be developed by Placeus, Calvin also spoke along these lines.

While most don’t actually know the origin of Original Sin, we still see these theories presented in defense of the idea that we are born sinners. Even though Cocceius and Placeus each believed Augustine’s theory to be flawed and both explained why the other’s theory was wrong, we seem to still see a combination of these ideas taught.

Here are some of the basic tenets of the doctrine that are still taught:

  1. All of humanity sinned in Adam, the entire human race, who were in Adam’s “loins” rebelled with him when he sinned.
  2. When Adam sinned human nature was corrupted and that corrupted nature is now passed down to all of his posterity, so that all humanity is born with a sinful nature.
  3. Man sins because it is in his nature to do so. We sin because we are born sinners and cannot help but do what is in our nature to do. We are therefore “slaves to sin” until we are born again.
  4. Man is born guilty, and condemned under the “wrath and curse of God” from birth.  
 

We will cover these points in Scripture below, as we review the proof text offered in support of these ideas.

Augustine on the nature of man and sin:

Our nature sinned in Adam. (Augustine,  R. Seeburg, History of Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 338.)

It was just, that after our nature had sinned…we should be born animal and carnal.(Augustine, R. Seeburg, History of Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 338.)

Our nature, there transformed for the worse, not only became a sinner, but also begets sinners. (Augustine,  R. Seeburg, History of Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 342.)

From this condemnation no one is exempt, not even new-born children.  (Augustine, R. Seeburg, History of Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 343.)

Unconscious infants dying without baptism are damned by virtue of their inherited guilt.(Augustine,  Albert Henry Newman, Manual of Church History, Vol. I, p. 366.)

Children are infected by parents’ sins as well as Adam’s and the “actual” sins of the parents impose guilt upon the children. (Augustine, Harnack, History of Dogma, Vol. V, p. 227.)

There is in us a “necessity of sinning.” (Augustine, R. Seeburg, History of Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 343.)

Whatever offspring is born is…bound to sin. (Augustine, R. Seeburg, History of Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 344.)

Calvin later reiterates Augustine’s view.

Original sin is the hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature…which first makes us subject to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which the Scriptures call works of the flesh. (Calvin, Institutes, Book Two, Chapter 1)

Calvin believed that man is born damned and guilty as a result of the fall. He taught that we are deserving of wrath upon birth because we are not born innocent but impure, born “polluted” by original sin. It was taught that all our sinful actions are just the fruit of sin, which are born out of the “seed” of sin that already resides in our nature from birth. So, according to Calvin we are subject to wrath even before ever acting out in accordance with our “sinful nature”, simply because we are already polluted and corrupted by the seed of sin in us. Augustine taught that this “seed” of sin was passed along by the act of sex, as if sin itself is a transferable substance. This was not the view of the early church, as demonstrated in the quotes above. I do not believe it is the testimony of Scripture either!

Calvin said:

Further, even though the Greeks above the rest—and Chrysostom especially among them—extol the ability of the human will, yet all the ancients, save Augustine, so differ, waver, or speak confusedly on this subject, that almost nothing certain can be derived from their writings. (Calvin, Institutes, Book Two, Chapter 2)

Although agreeing with Augustine, Calvin admits that the Early Church Fathers prior to Augustine were not in agreement with Augustine. He claims that when it comes to this subject nothing can be learned from “all of the ancients, save Augustine.” So, according to Calvin, Augustine got it right after the rest of the Early Church Fathers did nothing but “speak confusedly on this subject.” I obviously disagree with Calvin’s assessment, and think the Ante Nicene Fathers rejected the gnostic teachings of a “corrupt nature” pretty concisely and for good reason! I believe it was Augustine who spoke “confusedly” on the subject; his thoughts and arguments are what I find to be inconsistent, and unbiblical. 

Pelagianism

So, what’s the deal with Pelagianism? We will get to the Scriptures and why I believe Augustine (and Calvin) had it wrong biblically. I first want to finish painting a brief overview of the history of this doctrine. For those who have never heard of the Pelagian controversy, I want to share a few things.

Pelagius (c. 354-418) was a British monk who is said to have stirred up one of the most significant controversies of church history, when he opposed Augustine’s doctrine. I say, that it was Augustine’s error that incited a controversy by provoking a necessary response from a man of God, who felt an obligation to defend the faith. It is said that upon arriving in Rome sometime in the early fifth century, Pelagius was appalled at the moral laxity of professing Christians. He attributed their lack of conviction to the teachings of Augustine. His reaction to Augustine’s prayer, “Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire,” led to the debate which eventually focused on the doctrine of Original Sin. 

Pelagius believed that the emphasis on man’s inability to obey God or live holy resulted in moral apathy. Anyone who knows me, I would hope, knows that I do not believe the works of the law can justify any flesh. However, I don’t know that Pelagius believed that either.

When I see the moral decline of our nation and Christendom in general, and I witness the increasing popularity of hyper grace preachers, I can honestly say I relate to Pelagius’ outrage. I hear the same tired arguments about sin, and how “we all sin every day,” because in their opinion we cannot escape the practice of sin as long as we live in these mortal bodies (as they believe Romans 7 teaches). To the antinomian I am a legalist and to the legalist I am an antinomian, but in truth I am neither. It is common practice for those who disagree with me to argue against things I neither said nor believe. When speaking to counter one extreme (such as the antinomian) my comments may lack an emphasis on the truth they have carried to a heretical extreme. There is no need to emphasize grace to those who have twisted grace to a false liberty and license to sin. What they need to hear is the truth that opposes their perversion of grace. When the idea is, “we cannot help but sin, but God’s grace still covers us” (as we often hear even today), the result is a seared conscious.  That is a frightening reality.  It breaks my heart, and as I have quoted many times, it makes me think of David’s lamenting over the sins of those around him, “Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law,” (Psalm 119:136).

So, often those who hear my opposition to a perversion of grace assume that I am preaching legalism. They end up building a case against their flawed perception of what I have said rather than what I actually said. I have a hard time believing this was not also the case with Pelagius. His comments in response to those who taught man’s inability may not have expounded on the necessity of grace in regards to our obedience because his point was simply that we are able to obey what we have been commanded by God, and our failure to do so cannot be blamed on anyone other than ourselves.  Though his arguments may have lacked a thorough explanation on how we are able to obey and what part the grace of God plays in enabling the performance of that which is good, we should at least make an honest attempt to understand what someone is actually teaching before we reject them as heretics. The fact of the matter is, we sin by a willful yielding of our members, and we do righteousness by a willful yielding of our members. Even R.C. Sproul admits that Pelagius “maintained that grace facilitates obedience.”

Pelagius is said to have taught that grace was not necessary for obedience but it is very possible that his opponents misrepresented what he actually taught and believed. I don’t believe he taught that grace was unnecessary for obedience to be performed, but simply rejected the idea that if men sin it was because of a lack of grace upon their will or ability, i.e. a lack of God’s “granting.”

God’s grace only facilitates the obedience of the willing! He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. The unrepentant do not remain in their sin for a lack of God’s “granting” but a lack of their willingness to receive and yield to God’s grace in humility.

The only fragments or quotes we have of Pelagius’ teachings today are preserved in the arguments of his opponents Augustine and later Jerome.  How accurately he is quoted, and whether his statements are taken out of context, are not things any of us can fully investigate without the originals.

He denied the doctrine of Original Sin, but I don’t believe he can be deemed a heretic on this basis alone, because his stance is biblical. If he is a heretic, so are all those whom I quoted above. Whether or not he believed and taught that man can be holy or righteous in his own strength apart from God is debatable. I don’t believe he did, but I am not writing this note to defend Pelagius. So, you can determine for yourself what you think of Pelagius. He was correct in rejecting Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin.

The belief that we are not born sinners is now associated with Pelagius, and those who deny Original Sin are often labeled “pelagians” or at least “semi-pelagians.” Yet, it is simply the biblical truth and the real historic and orthodox view! I don’t reject Original Sin because of Pelagius, but because it’s not biblically true.

John Wesley on Pelagius:

“Nevertheless it is certain, that the gates of hell did never totally prevail against [the Church]. God always reserved a seed for himself; a few that worshipped him in spirit and in truth I have often doubted, whether these were not the very persons whom the rich and honorable Christians, who will always have number as well as power on their side, did not stigmatize, from time to time, with the title of heretics. Perhaps it was chiefly by this artifice of the devil and his children, that, the good which was in them being evil spoken of, they were prevented from being so extensively useful as otherwise they might have been. Nay, I have doubted whether that arch heretic, Montanus, was not one of the holiest men in the second century. Yea, I would not affirm, that the arch-heretic of the fifth century, (as plentifully as he has been bespattered for many ages,) was not one of the holiest men of that age, not excepting St. Augustine himself (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him, as George Fox himself.) I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.’

“‘But St. Augustine says.’ When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: ‘St. Augustine said it.'”

(“The Wisdom of God’s Counsels” Sermon #68)

The Scriptures Refute Original Sin

It is true, that after first being found to be sound in doctrine by two ecclesiastical trials in 415, Pelagianism (some of which Pelagius actually taught and some which he may not have actually taught) was condemned as heresy by the Counsel of Carthage in 418.  If doctrine were to be determined by counsels and creeds alone, then I would have to agree that Pelagius was a heretic. However, according to this same counsel, I would also have to adhere to infant baptism as necessary for the remission of sins. Of course the only true plum line is that of Scripture. So, let’s examine what the Scriptures say. I know, some of you are thinking, “finally, she gets to the word.” 

Examining the Proof Text

We will go over each of the proof texts that are typically cited in support of the doctrine of Original Sin. I will be quoting from the NKJV, unless otherwise stated.

Conceived in Sin

OS (Original Sin) Teaching: When Adam sinned human nature was corrupted and that corrupted nature is now passed down to all of his posterity, so that all humanity is born with a sinful nature.

Proof Text:

Psalm 51:5

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

He says he was brought forth in iniquity; to be brought forth into something and to be brought forth with something in you, are two different things. If I was brought forth in a hospital that doesn’t mean the same thing as being brought for with a hospital in me. Words matter! Words have meaning, and sentence structure matters. To be born into an environment of sin and to be born with sin in you are not the same thing. The doctrine of original sin teaches that we are born sinful with sin, or what Augustine and others would call the seed of sin, in us. They claim this is the reason we all eventually sin, and that this moral defect makes sin inevitable. To say his mother conceived him in sin, makes her the sinner not him. If I say someone was conceived out of wedlock or conceived in sin, that doesn’t make the baby sinful! We can’t read our own preconceived ideas into the text. It literally says he was born into an environment of sin and that his mother conceived him in sin. Neither of which justify the doctrine that we are born with “fallen” or “sinful natures.” 

If this verse is to be taken literally, we would read that the state of his mother was sinful while David was conceived and in his mother’s womb. It can be understood that he is speaking of the sinfulness of the world he was born into.  The only logical “literal” translation of this verse is that David is saying his mother was a sinner. I think this a reasonable reading of this verse, and some have given some scriptural support for this understanding. 

The context of the Psalm is David’s lamenting over his sin. I believe he is using poetic language and hyperbole to express his disgust not only with his personal recent sin, but all sin. His point is that sin has been a problem for as long as he can remember, even from his mother’s womb. Whether he is speaking of his mother’s sin (the sinful state of the environment he was born into) or expressing his hatred of sin in general, this cannot be interpreted to teach that humanity is born already guilty of sin and iniquity for several reasons! 

The first is a biblical definition of sin. Besides the fact that what it literally says is not speaking of David’s sin at all, whether or not we can or should take this verse mean we are born sinners is determined by the whole counsel of Scripture, the Biblical definition of sin, and whether it is in fact possible to be a sinner before you actually sin, and what the bible has to say about the unborn and infants. Original Sin has led to the creation of different meanings of the word sin. It is said that there is both “original sin” which is something we possess from birth referred to as the “seed of sin,” and “actual sin” that is something we ourselves commit. However, that is totally foreign to the biblical understanding of sin.  God defines sin as disobedience, missing the mark, transgressing the law, and to know to do right and not to do it, and things we do in doubt (lack of faith) against our own conscience, none of which can be applied to an unborn child in their mother’s womb who has done neither good nor evil, according to Romans 9:11 “for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil.”

If an unborn child has not yet done either good or evil, as Romans 9 states, then how is that unborn child sinful? If we all “sinned in Adam,” then how is it said that they had not done any evil? Isn’t all sin evil? It is clear that we will be rewarded and judged, each man according to his “works” (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12, Revelation 20:13), what we actually do and do not do!

A Biblical Definition of Sin and the Innocence of Children

The doctrine of Original Sin requires both twisting of our understanding of what sin really is, but also a twisting in what it means to be either guilty or innocent. If David truly meant to convey that he was guilty of sin from birth, then he would be in contradiction to 1 Corinthians 14:20, which in instructs us to be as babes when it comes to malice (evil).

1 Corinthians 14:20 

Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice [kakós] be babes, but in understanding be mature.

1 Corinthians 14:20 (ESV)

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

The word for “malice” here is kakós, which is translated wicked and evil numerous times in the New Testament, and is rendered as “evil” in the ESV.

Here are some definitions:

HELPS Word Studies

2556 kakós (an adjective, and the root of 2549 /kakía, “inner malice”) – properly, inwardly foul, rotten (poisoned); (figuratively) inner malice flowing out of a morally-rotten character (= the “rot is already in the wood”).

[2556 /kakós is often a pronominal adjective (i.e. used as a substantive) meaning, “wickedness, inner evil.”]

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

bad, evil

NASB Translation

bad (1), bad things (1), evil (32), evil men (1), evil things (1), evildoer (1), harm (4), loathsome (1), wretches (1), wrong (5).

If infants are by nature wicked and evil why are we being instructed to be as they are concerning evil? The clear meaning here is that babes are innocent of evil. Paul is saying to the Corinthians, when it comes to kakós, i.e. being “inwardly foul” or “morally rotten,” be innocent as infants are!  He instructed the Romans to do the same. This would make no sense if children were born morally corrupted in nature. 

Romans 16:19 (NKJV)

For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple [akeraios] concerning evil [kakós].

This verse again instructs that we be skilled, excellent, or “wise” in what is good but akeraios literally “unmixed, pure, innocent” of evil (kakós).

How can a babes be both innocent and pure concerning evil and be “sinful and guilty” or “morally corrupted”?

Someone commented, “You brought in the cute, little ‘innocent’ babies to validate your truth.” The reality is when we are discussing whether or not we are “born” sinners, guilty of sin, or with sin somehow in us, it is the state of babies and infants we are speaking of. So it’s not so much that I am using or exploiting our natural affinity and affection for ‘innocent’ babies in order to prove a point, but responding to the assertion that we are from birth, i.e. as babies, wicked, depraved and sinful! Paul clearly did not believe so! (Neither did the Early Church Fathers before Augustine.) 

So, I ask again, how are we sinners from the womb, having done neither good nor evil (Romans 9:11), and while being “innocent” of evil (1 Corinthians 14:20, Romans 16:19)?

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

Of course, I agree with the Scriptures that all have sinned. The context here has nothing to do with babes or the condition anyone is born in! The context is that Paul is establishing that both the Jew (who had the law) and the Gentile (who did not have the law) were guilty before God and in need of a Savior! 

Nothing in Scripture says that we sinned, or are sinful in anyway, before we are born or before we have grown to have moral agency with the ability to discern between good and evil. 

To sin, in Scripture, is always something we do. It is either something we do that is against God’s moral law, against our own conscience, or our failure to do what we know (having God’s will revealed to us) is good.  All who have grown to the point where they are capable of sinning willfully have willfully sinned! The Scripture teaches our universal rebellion (and moral depravity as a result) not a universal inheritably sinful “nature.”

So, for something to be “sinful” it must be disobedience to God’s will or moral law. When we are naïve regarding the law of God, something done against our own conscious (which God has instilled in every person) is sin (Romans 14:23, Romans 2:13-15) as Paul taught we become a law unto ourselves. When we are knowledgeable regarding what is good, and we fail to do it we sin (James 4:17). 

In other words, God does not count what you do in honest ignorance, as sin. He never counts sin against you that you have not actually committed in either thought or deed! He can choose not to impute your sin to your account, when we repent and are forgiven, but He never chooses to hold you accountable for sins that someone else committed, including Adam! The only person who became a sinner when Adam sinned was Adam.

Sin is Missing the Mark

The word used for sin in the New Testament, is hamartía, a noun which means a sinful deed, or failure, and literally “to miss the mark.” The idea is that sin is falling short of the God’s standard, to fall short of obedience. The word used here in Romans 3:23 is hamartánō, a verb from the same word that also means “to miss the mark” but is speaking of the act of sinning, literally “I miss the mark, or I commit sin.” The idea of sin in all of Scripture is something that has been done or committed.

Sin is lawlessness or transgressing the law.

1 John 3:4

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Sin is committed, i.e. something that is done or acted upon in some fashion. The word “commits” is poieó, a verb which means to “do, make, manufacture, construct, act, cause.” It is to act in a way that is contrary to the law of God.

Lawlessness is therefore “practiced.” Jesus said “depart from me you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). Again, we are rewarded and judged according to our “works” (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12, Revelation 20:13). This doesn’t mean that we are saved by our own works, but that no one is condemned for anything other than his own sins which he actually committed.

So, how has an unborn child (who again, has done neither good nor evil) sinned? They have neither broken God’s law, nor betrayed their own conscience. If they have not yet personally committed any sin, what justification do we have in calling them sinners? What justification do we have to oppose the clear biblical meaning of sin, guilt and innocence, to argue David’s poetic Psalm should be interpreted in such a way?

The clear, simple, straightforward truth in Scripture is you are a sinner because you sinned! You are condemned to judgment because of what you have done. You are without excuse because you did so knowingly it was wrong (Romans 1) even with a lack of the written “law” you sinned against your own God given conscience. Babies are innocent and remain innocent until they are capable of discerning right from wrong and choose to do evil.

Isaiah 7:16

For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.

Deuteronomy 1:39

‘Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

God did not hold the “little ones and children” accountable for the sins of their parents, because they had “no knowledge of good and evil.” So, they were allowed to possess the promise land! Before Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were innocent having “no knowledge of good and evil.” Children, like Adam and Eve before the fall, innocent. 

Children have to mature to the point of being able to choose the good and know to refuse evil. They have to grow to be old enough to do anything that could be considered sinful, and God does not impute sin until there is knowledge of sin. Unlike the heathen who are without excuse, who although they do not have the law, have a conscience that condemns them (Romans 1), the infant and young child does not know the law or truly understand the difference between right and wrong. Their conscience and ability to understand what is good, is not yet developed. This is why they can run around naked without any shame. The Scripture teaches that we should not be ignorant as children, or immature, without understanding (Hebrews 5:13, Ephesians 4:14) but innocent as they are, and must become like children to enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3,  Mark 10:15) For the “kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14), and “out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise” (Matthew 21:16).

Jesus taught that the innocence of children should be preserved, and they should be taught to do what is right and not led astray or caused to sin (Matthew 18:6).

The verses that are used to teach that we are wicked from birth or “from the womb” must be interpreted in light of the verses that teach the unborn have done neither good nor evil, and that babes are innocent of evil, and that sin is not a substance but something we do. When we take the time to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15) and seek to understand what it actually says and means, there is no biblical justification for teaching we are born with “sin” already in us, or with a nature that is inherently sinful.

From the Womb

Let’s take a closer look at these verses that speak of something being done “from the womb.”

Proof Text:

Psalm 58:3

The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

Isaiah 48:8

Surely you did not hear, Surely you did not know; Surely from long ago your ear was not opened. For I knew that you would deal very treacherously, And were called a transgressor from the womb.

These verses are either literal or they are not. If they are taken literally, the wicked are born speaking lies. Obviously, the wicked are not born speaking at all. Do they go astray as soon as they are born? That is just as much of an exaggeration as it is to say they speak lies as soon as they are born. The context of the verse itself demands a less than literal translation! To be called a transgressor from the womb was an exaggeration or hyperbole for just how wicked the wicked were. In the same way Job says he “guided the widow” from his “mother’s womb.”

Job’s accuser questioned how any man born of a woman could be righteous or pure.

Eliphaz says…

Job 15:14

“What is man, that he could be pure?

And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?

Then Bildad says…

Job 25:4

How then can man be righteous before God?

Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?

For the record, Jesus was “born of a woman.” 

Job’s response in

Job 31:18…

(But from my youth I reared him as a father,

And from my mother’s womb I guided the widow)

Job obviously was not guiding the widow from his mother’s womb in a literal sense. In contrast to David in Psalm 51:5, and the wicked David is speaking of in Psalm 58:3, Job answers his accusers, who said he was not righteous, by saying in essence, “I have done what is good for as long as I can remember even from my mother’s womb.” God never speaks a word against Job’s righteousness. God said Job was righteous, “a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.”

God rebukes Jobs friends and says they have not spoken of Him what is right, but Job has (Job 42:7). So, should we take Job’s testimony of his doing what is right from his mother’s womb, or the testimony of his accusers who God rebukes? We cannot build a doctrine on the nature of man on the false accusations of Job’s unwise friends who God said did not speak what was right.

If David’s statements in Psalms 58 were truly a universal statement regarding all humanity then he would not contrast the judgment he declares the “wicked” deserve with the rewards of “righteous” in verses 10, and 11. Again, the context of this verse itself explains that David is not saying all humanity is born wicked, or that they literally begin being wicked as soon as they are born. If he was teaching we are all wicked by birth he wouldn’t speak of anyone being righteous in contrast. In context even David is saying the wicked “go astray.” If they are wicked and sinful before they are even born, what is it they are straying from? Interpreting these verses to teach we are born guilty and depraved is bad hermeneutics.

If we are all wicked from our “mother’s womb” then Job couldn’t say he did good from his mother’s womb and John the Baptist would not have been filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb

Luke 1:15

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

We cannot take the negative verses about men from their mothers wombs and ignore the verses that speak of some being good from their mother’s womb! Just as we cannot take the verse that speaks of John being filled with the Spirit from His mother’s womb to create a doctrine that teaches all babies are “Spirit filled” from the womb. God choosing to fill John from the womb was a special grace. However, that would not have been possible if John was born sinful! 

So, the unborn has done neither good nor bad, we should be like babes , i.e. “innocent” of evil, and Scripture says some men have done good “from the womb” and were “filled with the Spirit, even from the womb,” yet we claim that the verses speaking of those who “went astray” from the womb teach a universal “sinful nature.” 

Babes have not yet sinned and are not capable of sinning until they are able to make a moral choice. Which is why Scripture speaks of men being sinners from their “youth.” 

"From His Youth"

Proof Text:

Genesis 8:21

And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

So, the Scripture here clearly does not say the imagination of man’s heart is “evil from his birth.” However, that is what many attempt to say it means. I agree that from our youth (not from the womb or infancy) we sin. The Scripture speaks men sinning from their youth, or the sins of their youth.

And note where is this evil said to be found? In his heart. 

Psalm 25:7

Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;

According to Your mercy remember me,

For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Jeremiah 3:25

We lie down in our shame,

And our reproach covers us.

For we have sinned against the Lord our God,

We and our fathers,

From our youth even to this day,

And have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.

In order to reconcile this with their doctrine of Original Sin, the “sinners from the womb” idea, I have heard some argue that the word for youth here is not just speaking of youth but the entire time prior to adulthood. They claim “from his youth” means from birth.

Well… No. it doesn’t mean from birth. It is the same exact phrase used in this verse.

1 Samuel 17:33

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”

“the imagination of man’s heart is evil min·nə·‘u·rāw”

“and he a man of war min·nə·‘u·rāw”

Both are the same phrase meaning from his youth. Unless Goliath was literally a “man of war” from birth, this does not mean from infancy. Clearly “youth” is speaking of a young man; a pre-teen/teen like David was at the time.

God Made Man Upright

Ecclesiastes 7:29

Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes.

Some might argue that Ecclesiastes is only speaking of God making Adam upright, but the context is plural, that “they” have sought out many schemes. The verse is clearly speaking of humanity in general and not just one man (Adam). We were made upright, not morally corrupted as Original Sin teaches.

Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way.” Again, if we are born astray then what did we go astray from?

The Origin of the Soul

Teaching that man is born already morally corrupted maligns the character of the God who made him. Hence, Job’s friends didn’t speak what was right about God. Those who teach Original Sin claim that God only made Adam and that everyone else was born via natural reproduction and corrupted by the seed of sin that is supposedly in man’s semen.  I don’t believe that it is biblically accurate to deny that God has a hand in personally giving each person a spirit, thus forming his or her soul.

Genesis 2:7

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Man is Spirit, Soul, and Body

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Adam’s body was created from dust, Eve was made from Adams side and the rest of us inherit our bodies via DNA. Yes, we inherit mortal bodies from Adam! Our bodies will one day die. However, that is physical depravity not moral depravity and I will show that there is a clear distinction between the two in scripture.

There is nothing in Scripture that declares we inherit a dead soul or dead spirit from Adam!

Adam’s body was made then God breathed the breath of life into Adam (i.e. a spirit) and man became a living soul.

Since then, our bodies are formed via physical reproduction, however, God still gives us a spirit, which like Adam, when joined with our flesh results in “soul” life.

Humanity is still made in the image of God, even after the fall (Gen. 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7)

Yes, we all inherit a body for Adam, but that is not the cause of sin! 

Jesus Taught that Sin Proceeds from the Heart!

The problem of sin is not that we have a body! Contrary to popular belief sin is not a problem with our body but it is a heart issue. 

Jesus taught that sin proceeds from the heart which is used synonymously in scripture to speak of the spirit of a man. (See my study The Triune Nature of Man for a clear biblical proof that spirit and heart are the same in Scripture.) 

Jesus taught that sin come from within! Note, that He does not say it comes from the body or flesh but processed from the “heart” i.e. spirit, of a man. I understand that because of the doctrine of original sin, many people have a hard time reconciling that with verses that talk about the flesh. We will cover those verses. However, Jesus is clear. The Scripture is clear. Sin is a heart problem! 

It comes from the Spirit of a man not their body. 

Those who teach Original Sin often claim that we were all born “spiritually dead.” However, to claim that we were born spiritual dead or spiritually corrupted is to malign the Holy character of the God who gave each of us a spirit to begin with. Did God issue you a dead spirit upon conception? 

Your spirit did NOT come from Adam or your parents. Adam has never been a life giving spirit. If we are to be students of the word and believe what the bible says, we have to acknowledge that according to scripture your spirit came from God! 

The Spirit of Every Man Comes from God

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,

And the spirit will return to God who gave it.

Isaiah 42:5

Thus says God the Lord,

Who created the heavens and stretched them out,

Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,

Who gives breath to the people on it,

And spirit to those who walk on it:

He forms the spirit of man within him!

Zechariah 12:1

The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:

God says He made the souls of men.

Isaiah 57:16

For I will not contend forever,

Nor will I always be angry;

For the spirit would fail before Me,

And the souls which I have made.

Similarly, in Ezekiel 18 when God says the son will not bear the sins of the father, but the soul that sins shall die, He declares, “all souls are Mine,” in verse 4.

Hebrews 12:9

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?

He forms us in the womb.

Psalm 139:13-14

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Isaiah 44:2

Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you: ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

Isaiah 44:24

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;

Isaiah 49:5

“And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, So that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, And My God shall be My strength),

Jeremiah 1:5

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

You Must be Born Again!

In defense of Original Sin many (including Calvin) quote Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John 3, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” 

This was part of Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus when he asked Jesus how a man could be born again. He said, “Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus then clarifies that it is not the flesh that needs to be born again but the spirit.

Again, let’s think about why that is! If the problem of sin is your body than why wouldn’t we need a new body? Sin, as Jesus taught is a spirit/heart issue, and we need a new spirit because of our sin! 

Your sin, Isaiah declares, as separated you from God!

When we were born from our mother’s womb, our first birth, did we have a spirit? Of course we did.

Jesus says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” and some think this somehow means that our first fleshly birth was corrupted and we need a second spiritual one. The truth is you were born alive, spirit, soul, and body. If you had a spirit at all when you were first born it would have had to been born of the spirit. What spirit did your spirit first come from? Again, Adam was never a life giving spirit and according to scripture, as I have laid out above, your spirit came from GOD! NOT ADAM! or your parents. 

Your sin corrupted the spirit and soul God originally formed in your mother’s womb, so you need a new birth! 

YOU WERE NOT BORN SPIRITUALLY DEAD! You died spiritually when you sinned. You need a new spirit, i.e. a new heart, because you corrupted the first one God gave you with your own willful rebellion. Your moral depravity was your own doing. 

Upon our first birth a body was made via the DNA we inherited from BOTH our parents, but it was God who formed our “inward parts,” gave us a spirit and made our soul! The soul that sins shall die (spiritually) and we know that our sin separates us from God, so we need to be reconciled. In order to be reconciled our spirit needs to be born again. If we are born already separated from God, how does our sin separate us from Him?

If that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit, how do we physically inherit a dead spirit? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  On one hand Augustine said it was not our natural bodies are not themselves sinful, but still said our “nature” was corrupted, so he claimed that we physically inherit moral depravity, i.e. a dead spirit and condemned soul, via the male “seed” or semen. It was Augustine that spoke “confusedly” on the subject. 

We Die Spiritually and Become Slaves to Sin ...
When We Sin!

Many point to Romans 7 as evidence that we are born sinful and have a sinful nature or that our flesh is the cause of sin. However, Romans 7 teaches no such thing! 

OS Teaching:  Man sins because it is in his nature to do so. We sin because we are born sinners and cannot help but do what is in our nature to do. We are therefore “slaves to sin” until we are born again.

Proof Text:

Romans 7:7-12

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. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

Paul makes a lot of important points here, before he goes on to describe a man in bondage to sin!

First, he tells us that the law identifies sin for us. Then he says something important, that SIN produced in him all manner of evil desires. He is about to give us an example in detail, about how one becomes bound to sin! He does not say that his body or his flesh produced all manner of evil in him, but that after he came to know the law and sinned against it that sin begat more sin! 

He has already explained in Romans 6, that we become slaves to whomever we present our members to obey and that when we present our members to uncleanness and lawlessness, i.e. sin, it leads to more lawlessness (sin is lawlessness 1 John 3:4).

The Bondage to Sin Described in Romans 7 is the Result of Us First Yielding to Sin as our Master

Many point to what the scripture describes as bondage to sin as evidence that our flesh is inherently sinful. We cannot ignore the context of Romans 7 and the fact that it is sandwiched between Romans 6 and 8. Prior to Paul’s describing a man in bondage to sin in Romans 7, he as already revealed something about bondage in Romans 6:

Romans 6:6

knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

Romans 6:16-19

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

We become slaves to whomever WE present our members to obey! We made sin our master through our own willful rebellion. Our sin lead to bondage and more sin! This is the testimony of Scripture. No one was born spiritual dead or a slave to sin. Our moral depravity was our own doing!

Bondage to sin is real, no doubt. These verses are speaking of a bondage to sin but we cannot ignore the verses that speak to how one becomes a “slave to sin” in the first place! Paul is describing one who desires to do good but cannot perform that which he wills to do. He speaks of “sin that dwells in him.” The question is how did that sin get there?

As I quoted above when referencing what the early church taught, Cyril of Jerusalem warned, “do not listen,” to those who wrongly expound on Romans 7 to teach that we sin by necessity! Let’s read that quote again:

“Learn this also, that before it came into this world, your soul had committed no sin, but we come into the world unblemished, and, being here, sin of our own choice. Do not listen, I say, to anyone who expounds ‘If then I do that which I would not’ in the wrong sense, but remember who says, ‘If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword,’ and what follows.’” 

The few places in Scripture that speak to how one becomes enslaved to sin state that it is a result of sinning, and yielding to sin, that we become ensnared by it.

John 8:31-36

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Paul Said He Died Spiritually When He Sinned!

So, after establishing that we become slaves to sin when we present our members to obey sin, and doing so leads to “more lawlessness,” he continues in the next chapter, Romans 7, to give us an example of this! 

Scripture never teaches that we are born in this condition. Paul does not teach that we are born spiritual dead! On the contrary he says this:

Romans 7:9

I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

If since Adam, we were all born spiritually dead as the doctrine of original sin claims, then when was Paul “alive” before he came to know the law?

How did he then die spiritually, if he was born dead?

Throughout scripture Paul teaches that the law brings condemnation and judgment because with knowledge comes accountability. 

We read in 2 Corinthians 3:7 that the law is called “the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones.” Here in Romans 7 we see that Paul was alive before the commandment came (he understood right from wrong) and sin revived (it came to life, prior to knowledge of good and evil sin was dead) and once sin came to life in him, he died! 

So, when do we die spiritually? We are not born spiritually dead! Again, it is God who gives each man a spirit and weaves our spirit and soul together in our mother’s womb! Our “inward parts” are not inherited via DNA from our parents but the creation of God our maker! God did not give you a dead or morally corrupted spirit! We die spiritually because of our own sin. 

When I have pointed this verse out to those who tell me that we are born spiritually dead, they say that Paul wasn’t really alive, but he just thought he was. What a sad attempt to dismiss the clear meaning of scripture in order to defend your own preconceived ideas! Paul is very clear, that he died spiritually when HE sinned! We do NOT inherit spiritual death. 

Spiritual death, i.e. separation from God, is a wage, not an inheritance. We earn it!

Romans 7:7-12

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. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

So, after telling us that he was spiritually alive to begin with, he clearly says the “commandment” brought death. And it was is own sin that killed him! He then proceeds to describe the condition of man now spiritual dead, with knowledge of the law, who was still in bondage to sin!

Romans 7:13-24

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. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 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. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 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. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 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. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of 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.

So, now we see the sad condition of a man who was once spiritual alive, then yielded to sin, and is now spiritually dead and in bondage to the sin he made his master. 

He says that sin was producing death in him by the law. Many point to verse 17 as evidence that our bodies are inherently sinful as if there is just some sin in us to begin with. That is not the case! When Paul speaks of the “sin that is in him,” it is presumptuous and bad hermeneutics to assume it was there from birth, when he never said any such thing. 

What he did teach is that when we present our members to obey sin, we become slaves to sin, sin becomes our master and that sin begets more sin! 

It is clear that this is not speaking of a regenerated believer but a man who has “died” and is still spiritually dead! He goes on to describe the law in his members which brought him “into captivity to the law of sin.” The law of sin in his members is present because he first presented his members to obey sin, making sin his master! 

However, believers are no longer in bondage to the law of sin! So, the description of the man in bondage to sin who “does the thing he hates,” in Romans 7 is not one of a believer but an unbeliever under the law who is clearly still in need of deliverance. 

Romans 7:24

 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of 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.

He asks, “who will deliver me from this body of death?” He then goes on to answer his own question….

“I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

There is never the idea that this state of slavery and bondage to sin was some perpetual state we all live in “as long as we have a body.” 

Again, Paul as already established in Romans 6 that believers are no longer slaves to sin!

Romans 6:6

knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

If we would just keep reading, rather than insist on remaining in Romans 7 as if that is the normal Christian experience, we would get to Romans 8.

Romans 8:1-2

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 

Believers have been set free from the law of sin and death! We are no longer bound to walk according to the flesh! We can now walk according to the Spirit, because we are no longer spiritually dead! 

The Flesh vs The Spirit

People mistakenly think that because the scripture contrast walking after the desires of the flesh with walking in the spirit that means our bodies are the cause of sin or sinful in and of themselves. That is not what the Scripture is teaching! I want to revisit a few quotes from earlier and expound on this point a little. 

Lactantius, 240-320 AD, said:

For we must be free even from moderate vices [sin-immorality]; yea, rather, it ought to have been at first effected that there should be no vices [that we should not sin at all]. For nothing can be born vicious [sinful or immoral]; but if we make a bad use of the affections they become vices [sinful or immoral], if we use them well they become virtues [moral, righteous or good]. (Divine Institutes, Book 6, Chapter 16, emphasis added and definitions in brackets are mine)

I don’t want to be redundant but I will also repeat my commentary on what Lactantius said here:

Lactantius explains how the Stoics (Gnostics) argued that all natural affections, desires, emotions etc. were “diseases of the soul” and how they wished these “diseases” could be eradicated completely by suppression. They admitted that natural affections couldn’t be fully eradicated so they taught that they should be regulated with moderation.  Gnostics viewed all things natural or physical as evil, to the extent that the Manicheans taught that the natural world (including man’s flesh) had another (evil) creator, different from the creator of all things spiritual. They attempted to reconcile how man can be naturally wicked or born evil, with the fact that their creator was Good and Holy. So they conclude that there was another creator. Calvin later acknowledges the agreement with the Manicheans regarding the sinfulness of man’s nature. He states that they take it too far in assigning another creator, but the truth is they are simply carrying this flawed idea to its logical end, which in fact maligns God’s character.

Lantantius argues that vice or sin should not just be regulated by moderation but that there should be no vices at all. He refutes the argument that natural desires and emotions themselves are wicked. He argues that they are neither good nor bad but when we make bad use of them they become sinful, and when we make good use of them they become virtuous. He declares that nothing is born vicious (immoral or sinful)! His argument is consistent with Scripture. We are instructed to be angry and sin not (Psalm 4:4, Eph. 4:26). Anger itself is not sinful, but when used wrongly it can be, such as being angry without a cause (Matthew 5:22)! Sex and desire for intimacy is also not sinful, seeking to fulfill those desires outside of God’s will or entertaining thoughts of lust is sinful. The marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4) contrary to Augustine’s issues with it. It is fornicators and adulterers God will judge. This is the case with hunger and gluttony, etc. Our human nature itself is not “sinful” it is just “human.” It is when we give into the temptation to gratify our natural desires sinfully that our nature becomes tainted with sin and we are “defiled.”

The problem is not in our nature or that we have natural desires! Our natural desires are intended to be used for good purpose. However, when we live “after the flesh” meaning we live for the sole or supreme purpose of satisfying those desires, we then make bad use of our “natural affections” and end up satisfying them in ways that are sinful.

Once we yield to sin and chose to satisfy our flesh sinful, we in essence create in our flesh an appetite for more sin! We find that the flesh is not satisfied with sinning once but now that we have made sin our master and gratifying our flesh our supreme purpose, rather than living to please God, our flesh wants to continually be gratified. 

This new modus operandi becomes our norm as sinners bound to sin. Sin begets more sin. However, we are not some poor victims, born in some state of bondage, but wicked sinners who have corrupted ourselves!

We need to be set free and delivered because our own sin has ensnared us (Prov. 12:13; Hebrews 12:1).

Paul described it as the “body of death” in Romans 7. 

Romans 7:24

 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of 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.

Some believe the imagery Paul is using here is a reference to the Roman tyrant Mezentius who would punish criminals by attaching them, chaining them, to a corpse. The living would be forced to carry around the weight of the dead putrid body, which would eventually infect their body and kill them. 

Paul is describing the horrible consequences of sin, like dead weight that is being carried around, weighing the sinner down and producing death in him. 

Contrary to what some have taught, this “old man” or “body of sin” is not and cannot be referring to the fact that we have a physical body at all. Again, let’s read Romans 6:

Romans 6:6

knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

As believers our “old man” is crucified, and the “body of death” is done away with! We still have a physical body, that will one day be resurrected in glory, but that is not the body of death that is being described here. There is no sanctification in the grave! As believers we are not waiting to die and get rid of our physical body in order to finally be freed from sin! We are to be free NOW! 

Our old man, old manner of living, old ways, the contamination of sin and bondage to sin, have been done away with in Christ and we are no longer slaves to sin. We are now able to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable before God!

Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Your body is not in and of itself sinful, or inherently sinful. It is only sinful when you use it sinfully! We are to no longer living after the flesh, to please the flesh at the expense of holiness! We are now to present our BODIES as HOLY and acceptable before God! 

God Said Spiritual Death is Not Inherited!

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Many love to quote this verse as a reminder that salvation is a gift and not wage that can be earned! That is absolutely true! However, the first half of this verse is equally important! Death (speaking of spiritual death in context) is a wage of sin. It is a payment for our own sin, not an inheritance or gift. A wage is something we earned! We worked for it. 

Ezekiel 18:19-20

19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

I have yet to hear any clear explanation for how and why this portion of Scripture should be understood to mean anything other than its very plain and simple meaning. The soul who sins shall die! The son’s soul is not born “dead” already separated from God because of the sins of the father, but dies as a result of their own personal sin and guilt before God.

Death in Adam and Life in Christ

Much of the confusion regarding this subject is over the difference between physical death (our physical depravity) that resulted from Adam’s sin, and the death of the soul (our moral depravity) as a result of our own sin.

Jesus said, in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” 

Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

The context of the following verses reveals whether it is physical or spiritual death being discussed.

OS Teaching: The fact that we all “die in Adam” is proof that we are born sinners.

Proof Text:

1 Corinthians 15:21-23

21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

In this verse Paul is speaking of physical death. Universalists quote this verse and claim it means all are saved in Christ. The context of the entire chapter however is not talking about spiritual death or being “made alive” spiritually, but the physical resurrection. All die physically because of Adam, and all will be physically resurrected one day because of Christ. Both the just and unjust will be physically raised. This verse has nothing to do with moral depravity.  

Romans 8:20-25

 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

We read here that our physical bodies and the natural world were subjected to corruption. We await the redemption of our physical bodies. The last enemy to be destroyed (as we read in 1 Corinthians 15) is death. Physical depravity is not the same as spiritual depravity. ALL are not said to be spiritually dead because of Adam, or ALL spiritual alive because of Christ, if that were the case then Universalists are correct. Context, however, clarifies that what is being spoken about is our physical not spiritual state.

Acts 24:15

I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

John 5:28-29

28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Romans 5

Similarly, in order to rightly understand Romans 5, we have to determine if physical or spiritual death is the subject being discussed.

OS Teaching: All humanity became sinful when Adam sinned, and that is why we physically die.

Proof Text:

Romans 5:12-19

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus 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 to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

Spiritual or Physical Death?

Is Romans 5 speaking of physical death or spiritual death? It is speaking of spiritual death and life. In context Paul is not speaking of physical death and resurrection but spiritual conditions. We know this because He is speaking of sin, justification, and judgment. He is speaking of spiritual life and death.

Let’s look at verse 12. 

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Spiritual death was not in the world until Adam’s sin. Then spiritual death spread to all men. Why? Was it because they were born spiritually dead? Was it because Adam sinned? No. It was because all sinned! Why does spiritual death spread to all men? Because all sin! This verse when clearly read and understood, not for what others have say it means, but what it actually says and means, teaches that we die spiritually BECAUSE we sin! Again, we have to keep in mind that sin is an action and not a substance. It does not say, “because all have sinned,” but really mean “because Adam sinned.” It says what it means. Spiritual death is the result of our own sin. The soul that sins shall die.

He goes on to explain how all had sinned in verses 13-14.

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 to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

So, Paul explains, even without the law, men sinned and therefore spiritually died, thus “death reigned.” Sin is not imputed where there is no law, but we read earlier in Romans 1, their conscience condemns them  (without the law men become a law unto themselves according to Romans 2) and are still equally guilty of sin and without excuse so the judgments of God are just. So, even though men did not sin “according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam” (who disobeyed a direct command of God), and they had not yet received the commandments God gave Moses, they still sinned. Paul taught that it is because they sinned that spiritual death spread to them. We cannot detach these verses from their context of Chapter 5, nor the message of Romans as a whole.

Let’s keep reading…

15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

So, by ones man’s offense many died, by the gift by the grace of one Man abounds to many. He uses the word many here.

He goes on to declare that the gift of righteousness is greater than the judgment of condemnation.

16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

So, through Adam judgment came resulting in condemnation, but how much more will we reign in life through Christ? How did judgment come through Adam? We just read a few verses ago that death spread to all because all sinned. Is Paul changing his mind now? Of course he isn’t. We are condemned with Adam (who sinned first) because we sinned as well. However, the free gift of Christ is greater! “Not like that which came through” Adam. Justification doesn’t come through Christ because we lived righteously to earn it! It comes to “those who receive” it. We deserved the judgment (the wages of sin is death) but did not deserve the free gift of righteousness given by grace! This is the comparison Paul is making, it is the “much more” he is speaking of. This is how the “gift” is “not like” that which came through the one who sinned.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

One is earned (a wage) the other is not, it’s a gift, but neither happens automatically or apart from our own free will choices!

Continuing in Romans 5, we now get to this passage that many quote.

18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

If verse 18 is interpreted as some teach it, then all are saved, because the wording for what happens through Adam and Christ is the same. You can’t apply one rule of hermeneutics to one half of the verse and a different rule to the other half. If all are automatically condemned in Adam according to Romans 5:18, then all are automatically justified in Christ.

Through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. Are all men justified? No, because neither happens automatically! We were not condemned with Adam apart from any willful action of our own (we sinned) and we are not justified in Christ apart from our willful yielding either (we believed) and received a gift!

I cannot stress enough the importance of this understanding. If we are going to be serious students of the Word we must be willing to handle Scripture truthful with honesty and integrity. If we apply one rule to one half of a verse and another rule to the second half, we are not being consistent and therefore not being honest. We are not coming to the clear and honest truth about what the Scripture has said. Just as we cannot say, “the wicked have gone astray from the womb” is to be taken literally when the rest of the verse, which says they are “born speaking lies” cannot honestly be taken literally. We cannot say we are all automatically condemned because of Adam unless we are also willing to say we are all automatically justified because of Christ. Obviously, unless you are a Universalist, this honest evaluation of the text poses a problem if you insist that it is teaching that we are automatically condemned because of Adam’s sin. However, when you understand Paul, and interpret Scripture with Scripture, you can see that neither our condemnation in Adam nor our justification in Christ happens apart from our own free will choices. Again, we are condemned with Adam because like Adam we sinned and the wages of sin is death, and we are justified in Christ because we believed. The wages of sin is earned and justification by faith is a gift.

Peter said (2 Peter 3:16) that some things in Paul’s letters were hard to understand. I realize that sometimes we can read a passage of Scripture and it can seem to be a bit confusing or unclear. However, while seeking understanding on our own requires effort and it is not only rewarding but also extremely necessary. What we cannot do is simply default to the explanations that others have given for the text without examining it for ourselves to determine what it actually says. What would and should you understand it to mean if you had no preconceived notions? Reading the word with fresh eyes can be very difficult at times but it is how we learn and grow. The Bereans received the word of God with all readiness, then went and searched the Scriptures for themselves to see if it were true (Acts 17:11). We have to be willing to study the Word of God as “fair-minded” believers who are in search of truth even if we find truth means admitting we were wrong.

In His Loins

OS Teaching: All of humanity sinned in Adam, the entire human race, who were in Adam’s “loins” rebelled with him when he sinned.

Proof Text:

Hebrews 7:9-10

9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

Hebrews 7 is often quoted in support of the idea that we sinned in Adam, via being in him in a natural or in a physical sense, being “in his loins” as Levi was said to pay tithes to Melchizedek while in Abraham’s loins. When I ask, how could we have “sinned” in Adam before we actually existed? How can we do anything prior to being born? Those who defend Original Sin doctrine say, “Levi paid tithes, while he was in Abraham’s loins.”

First of all, the verse says, “so to speak.” Even in the context of Abraham and Levi, this verse is not speaking literally, but a figure of speech. Before we discuss whether this verse can be applied to all humanity “sinning in Adam” we must understand what is actually being said in context.

The comparison is between a priesthood that is passed down via birthright to a certain natural lineage according to a “fleshy commandment,” and the priesthood that is spiritual. It is saying that the spiritual priesthood is greater than the natural priesthood (just as the spiritual covenant of Christ is greater than the first covenant of the law see Galatians 4:28-30, he who is born according to the spirit vs. he who is born according to the flesh). While comparing why the spiritual priesthood trumps that of the natural priesthood, Paul says that those who are priest by virtue of natural lineage or natural order, are not superior to he who priest of a spiritual order. Levi’s lineage is not greater than their father, i.e., Abraham. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. So, if even their father Abraham was not greater than the one who was of a spiritual priestly order, then how can his lineage be greater? The comparison is between something handed down via natural birthright and something that is of a spiritual order rather than natural order!

So, unless one can first show that sin is handed down by birthright, or inherited, you cannot apply this verse to sin whatsoever! Even then it would be a stretch since this Scripture has absolutely nothing to do with sinfulness! It is not good to pull a verse out of context and apply it to a topic it was not originally about in any way! Unlike the Levitical priesthood, guilt is not inherited (as per Ez. 18).

By Nature Children of Wrath

OS Teaching: Man is born guilty, and condemned under the “wrath and curse of God” from birth.  

Proof Text:

Ephesians 2:3

among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

What does it mean to be children of wrath “by nature?”

Those who believe the doctrine of original sin would argue that “nature” is speaking of the state we are “naturally” born in, and claim that our “nature” is inheritably evil or wicked.

The word for “nature” here is phusis. While one of the definitions for this word is speaking of that which is natural by birth, it can also mean “a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has become nature,” according to the Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. So, is Paul saying that we are born “children of wrath” or that they we children of wrath because of how we “conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh?”

Jesus told the Pharisees, in John 8, that their father was the devil, because they did the “deeds of their father,” in verses 37 and 41. This was right after he told them they were in bondage, because “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin,” in verse 34.

1 John 3:10

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

How do we discern who is a child of the devil? We know by their deeds or practices. We are children of wrath, because sin has become our “nature,” by long habit of practicing sin, not by birth.

If all of humanities nature was sinful, then how does the Gentile do what is right “by nature?”

Romans 2:13-15

13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)

If their nature was sinful, wouldn’t it be against their nature to obey the law of God?

Is sin really “natural?” For example, when we lie, is it natural? If so then why does our body involuntarily react when we tell lies? Sin becomes our “nature” as we ignore conviction and continue in the habit of sinning. We then become enslaved to sin and eventual our God given conscience can become seared. We become desensitized to conviction because we ignore it. We are not born depraved. We go astray.

Sin is not our nature but an abuse of our nature. It is a misuse of our God given desires that were given for good purpose, and a neglect and searing of our God given conscience that is meant to help guide our moral choices. 

To recap:

Natural desires are not in and of themselves sinful, but simply human. The desire to eat isn’t sinful, it is “natural” and human, but gratifying that desire by willfully giving into the overindulgence of the flesh in gluttony is sinful. The desire for physical intimacy, in and of itself is not sinful, the willful decision to gratify that desire outside God’s will and plan in marriage (between a man and woman) is sinful. Our “members” themselves are not wicked; our body is not sinful unless we use it sinfully. 

The desire to live, our will to survive and protect ourselves is not evil, however, to allow those natural desires to grow into a self-serving selfish disposition is a willful choice and sinful. Even emotions are not sinful unless we allow them to rule us and draw us away from God’s will. For example, the word says to be angry and sin not. Anger is at times a natural and normal human response to being harmed or done wrong, how we willfully choose to respond to or express that emotion is where the potential for sin lies. Therefore “outbursts or wrath” is listed as a “work of the flesh” in Galatians. This of course does not mean that we have no choice in the matter. Jesus had natural desires that could be tempted in every way just like the rest of us, but He chose not to yield to temptation in sin with the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 2:18

For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

1 Corinthians 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Sin is common to man because temptation is common. We sin in the same ways because we have the same desires that the enemy can attempt to exploit in temptation. Our “points of temptation” are the same. This just make us universally rebellious by choice, doesn’t prove that we were born that way. The more we yield to these sins the more we become slaves to them. Still that slavery is not some North American type of slavery that was brought upon us due to no action of our own. We are not victims of sin but the criminals, the transgressors.

Adam and Eve did not have a “sinful nature”, yet they still sinned! Why? Because like us they had a human nature and natural desires that the enemy tempted them to put above God. This is why all temptation is “common to man.” Why do we sin? For the same reason Adam and Eve sinned, because we chose to.

Genesis 3:6
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree desirable to make one wise [pride of life], she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

There is truly nothing “new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

God pulls us out of the miry pit, that we dug ourselves! That is the beauty of grace.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life! ~ Deuteronomy 30:19

Live free!

Thank you for reading!  I pray you found this helpful!

Loads of love and grace to you, 

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My Story 11/30/2019 Everybody has a story I just hope mine brings Him glory My journey has not been real pretty But I’m not looking

Desi@EngagingTruthMinistries.com

Desi@EngagingTruthMinistries.com

Desirie is a Christian minister and lover of truth. She is passionate about helping others come to a clearer understanding of Scripture and closer walk with God through sound and in depth teaching and study. She loves Jesus with all her heart and preaches like a girl. As a woman preacher, wife and mother of 7, she is also committed to helping others come to know the truth about biblical womanhood, marriage, and women in ministry.
Desi@EngagingTruthMinistries.com
Desirie is a Christian minister and lover of truth. She is passionate about helping others come to a clearer understanding of Scripture and closer walk with God through sound and in depth teaching and study. She loves Jesus with all her heart and preaches like a girl. As a woman preacher, wife and mother of 7, she is also committed to helping others come to know the truth about biblical womanhood, marriage, and women in ministry.
David's Mother and the Circumstances of His Conception

David had two half-sisters (Zeruiah, Abigail)

“And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, 14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh: 16 Whose sisters were Zeruiah, and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah; Abishai, and Joab, and Asahel, three. 17 And Abigail bare Amasa: and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmeelite.”

~ 1 Chr. 2:13-16 13

The father of David’s half-sisters was not Jesse, but Nahash an Ammonite king:

“And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man’s son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab’s mother.”

~ 2 Sam 17:25

“Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.”

~ 1 Sam. 11:1

“And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.”

~  1 Sam. 12:12

This would also help explain why Nahash showed kindness to David, perhaps out of respect for David’s mother, Nahash’s former wife and the mother of two of Nahash’s children.

“Then said David, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father shewed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon.”

~ 2 Sam. 10:2

David’s mother was most likely the second wife of Jesse, the first wife being the mother of David’s half-brothers. Jesse’s first wife’s standing before the ‘righteousness of the law’, (her not having been married to, or the concubine of, a heathen king, as was David’s mother), would have been superior to that of David’s mother, and explains why David’s half-brothers, Jesse’s other sons, would have felt they were superior to David, and why he would be accused of being prideful, for thinking he was as good as them.

“And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. 29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause? 30 And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.”

~ 1 Sam. 17:28-30 28

And why David was not considered, by his father Jesse, as true a son as his half-brothers. Samuel had called Jesse and his sons, and thus expected all his sons, to the sacrifice (1Sam 16:5,11). Jesse, having been told to bring ‘his sons’ by a prophet of the Lord everyone feared (1Sam 16:4), was confident he had obeyed the prophet, even knowing he did not bring David.

“And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.”

~ 1 Sam. 16:11

Which would be consistent with God’s sometimes choosing that which men esteemed as worthless (the `least’) to be the greatest: (Gideon- Jud 6:15; King Saul- 1Sam 9:21; Jesus- Mt 2:6, Lk 9:48) David’s mother was apparently a Jewish woman, because no ‘Ammonite shall enter the congregation of the Lord to the 10th generation’ (Deu 23:3), and yet in PS 86:16 and PS 116:16, David refers to himself as “the son of thy handmaid”, which would seem to testify to his mother’s relationship with the Lord. David’s mother was, in the eyes of Jewish law, considered defiled’ by her previous relationship to an Ammonite. Nu 25:1,2; De 7:3,4; 1Ki 11:2-4, Ezr 9:2; Ne 13:23,25; 2Co 6:14-17

This was a list given to me by my dear friend Mike Wambolt. 

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