Friday, 20 May, 2022

What is the original sin?

Reverend Martin Adhikary

The Christian doctrine of the original sin does not refer to the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, but it refers to the far reaching consequences or impact of their fall on the entire human race. This is the seminal consequences of the sin of our first parents that all human beings have inherited the sin nature: the proclivity and propensity to sin, whether one commits a sinful act or not he or she has the potentiality to do it. It is admitted that this is not a palatable issue or idea among many.  But it is a truth. We experience the truth in our experience. We sin in thought, word and deed when we view ourselves in the light of God, and his holiness and justice.

When the prophet-king David said in Psalm 51:5: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” what he meant is that to sin is human. It is the universal problem with man that man has such a sinful nature. Prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Paul lamented, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members” (Romans 7:22-23). Adam’s sin is imputed to us and we are guilty and deserve punishment and death. Adam is our federal head in this. The human race was in Adam in seed form.

Sin was not a part of the original creation of God. God is good, absolutely good, and there is no shadow of darkness in him. But holy God takes the responsibility for man to get his stance justified before him. “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1John 3:8). The devil is Satan or the ‘evil one’. He was a bright, but a very haughty angel. He rebelled against God and was thrown to the earth where he caused Adam and Eve to disobey God. But we cannot give the entire blame to devil. Man exercised his free-will wrongly. Pride and greed lay behind this.

We cannot atone for our sins, on our own. No matter how many good deeds we do or may do we still share the corrupt nature or moral defilement caused in us due to the fall of Adam. Therefore, we need to be born again. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). He spoke about the new birth in the power of the Holy Spirit

God did not create man without the possibility to disobey him or to do sin. Man was given a free-will. As a person man has free-will to decide. Satan enticed our first parents to disobey God. Man was created with “posse peccare”, i.e. with ability or possibility to sin, he was created with the inability to not to sin. We are imprisoned to sin and as such are unable to do good. Because of the fallen nature our will, intelligence and emotion—all are tarnished or distorted. From our own we cannot even judge what is good. We cannot even correctly think of God far from approaching him. This is our hardest predicament. The universal prevalence of human agonies and travail calls for an explanation. In his Epistle to the Church in the Roman city Paul the apostle quotes from different Old Testament passages and teaches that there is no one who is sinless, good or righteous (Romans 3: 10-18). They can be listed as follow en bloc: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” We sin because we are sinners, but not that we are sinners because we sin. All mankind are under the evil influence of what we call ‘sin’. There is no exception. It is a question of degree, not of kind. Today the world is characterized by imperfections out of which flow all the actual sins and evils. Only Jesus Christ is the exception. He is the only sinless human person. He could take the sin of others. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That’s why he could pay the penalty for our sins. John, the writer of the most spiritual gospel in the New Testament said of Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”


The writer is a Christian theology teacher and church leader