Some people believe in “original sin.” Although this phrase is used nowhere in the Bible, it is defined by one encyclopedia as follows:
“(1) The sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.”
Believers of original sin cite Romans 5:12ff as support for their theory. Multiple faiths believe in original sin. According to this doctrine, everyone is born in sin as a result of Adam’s sin and children are born without grace (the thing that saves us, Eph. 2:8):
Encyclopedia: “The absence of sanctifying grace in the new-born child is also an effect of the first sin, for Adam, having received holiness and justice from God, lost it not only for himself but also for us.”
The above encyclopedia also says that infant baptism is necessary because of original sin and infants who are not baptized do not go to heaven, but are excluded from the presence of God.
Encyclopedia: “The fate of infants who die without baptism must be briefly considered here. The … teaching is uncompromising on this point, that all who depart this life without baptism, be it of water, or blood, or desire, are perpetually excluded from the vision of God. … Moreover … those who die in original sin, without ever having contracted any actual sin, are deprived of the happiness of heaven….”
One church’s creed book restates these principles as follows:
Creed book: “Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the ‘death of the soul’. Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.”
The Scriptures say that as a result of Adam’s sin, sin and death entered the world (Rom. 5:12). Romans 5 does not teach that man inherits sin, but because of Adam’s sin we suffer the consequences of both our own sins, and the sins of others.
Consider drunk driving. The sinner may suffer arrest, fines, or jail. He may have an accident and kill himself. Others may suffer as result of the drunk’s sin. He may accidentally injure or kill someone else. The driver’s family may suffer loss of income or shame as result of his sin, or should he die, suffer the loss of a father, husband, or son. Similarly, the family of the person he struck may suffer loss of income, or the loss of a loved one. Thus, many people may suffer immediate consequences as a result of one person’s sin.
Another consequence of Adam’s sin is the death of the spirit, or the second death, if we die in our sins (Rom. 6:23). However, we die spiritually for our own sins, not Adam’s. The Bible says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Eze. 18:4). It does not say, “The soul shall die for the sins of the father.”
The doctrine of original sin illustrates how some people support one false belief, however innocent and well-intentioned, with another false doctrine such as infant baptism. Although neither doctrine is supported by Scripture, they each support the other because one cannot exist without the other. If infants are born in sin, then logically these sins must be washed away for the infants to go to heaven. Similarly, if infants must be baptized, it must be because they are sinners. If original sin is true then Mary, the mother of Christ, was born in sin and so was Christ Himself. To get around this dilemma, proponents of original sin had to create still other theories to explain why Adam’s sin was not imputed to Mary and Christ, but everyone else.
Many Protestants believe in aspects of original sin, even if it is called something else such as “inherent depravity.” Others may deny original sin or total depravity, but nonetheless believe that man is born a sinner and is incapable of not sinning. This is very appealing because it removes personal responsibility and accountability. After all, it is easy to find an excuse for sin if man is inherently sinful. People could simply say, “God made me this way,” or “the Devil made me do it.”
“All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 6:23). People sin, but sinners are made, not born. The justness of God is not displayed through the universal and (purportedly) unconditional redemption of man, but through the fact that no one, not even Satan, can make anyone sin. God will not tempt anyone (James 1:13), nor will He allow anyone to be tempted beyond that which he is able to overcome, but with each temptation, provide an avenue of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). We sin because the devil tempts us with our own desires (James 1:14) and we choose sin and pleasure over righteousness and the avenue of escape.
We cannot, like Eve, blame Satan for our sins (Gen. 3:13), or like Adam blame someone else (Gen. 3:12). In the end, we will give an account for our sins (Rom. 14:12), and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.