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  • Writer's pictureBrian O'Kelly

8 - Is Sin Inherited?

8 - Inherited Sin

1. A distinction between Original Sin (Adam’s) and Inherited Sin (purported to be ours) needs to be made.

2. What doctrines have come because of this idea?

2.1.Infant Baptism

2.2.The Sinlessness and Perpetual Virginity of Mary

2.3. Jesus was a different kind of human than we are (He wasn’t and this is why His self-moniker of “Son of Man” is seen so often.

3. What is sin? Is temptation sin? If so, Jesus was a sinner.

3.1.Hebrews 4:15 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.

3.2.Sin is not a physical substance – If sin is a substance that can be passed on, so are virtue, goodness, and righteousness.

3.2.1. Why can we inherit sin from Adam, but not from any of our other ancestors? Why is it not cumulative?

3.2.2. How is it that we can inherit sin, but not inherit righteousness?

3.2.3. If I am “cleansed from all unrighteousness, why can’t my kids inherit that? 1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

4. Three questions:

4.1. It is claimed that we sin because we are “wholly inclined” towards evil and “utterly indisposed” towards good. In other words, we sin because we are sinners, not we are sinners because we sin. If true, then how did Adam sin?

4.2. Why would Adam’s descendants be held responsible for his first sin only and not for all of his sins?

4.3. Since Jesus was “fully human” why didn’t He have a “sin nature” through His mother, why was He not guilty of Adam’s sin? (Hence the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, a sinless Mary)

5. Did Man inherit sin from Adam?

5.1. Man was created in the image of God Genesis 1:26-27 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over [g]all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

5.2. The consequence of sin was to be cut off from the tree of life and not live forever, not inherited sin. Genesis 3:22-23 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

5.3. Adam’s son Seth (and presumably his other sons) was “in his own likeness Genesis 5:3 3 And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

5.4.We see the tree of life again in Revelation where we will live forever with the Lord.

5.4.1. Revelation 2:7 7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’

5.4.2. Revelation 22:2-3 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.

6. So where did the idea of inherited sin come from? Primarily a misunderstanding of these two verses.

6.1.Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

6.2.Romans 5:12-17 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 [e]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 [f]offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s [g]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.)

6.3. Council of Carthage 397AD – “Likewise it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother's wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which needs to be removed by the laver of regeneration, from whence the conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema.”

6.4. Augustine - “What will you answer to this? If Adam by his great sin condemned all the human race in common, can an infant be born otherwise than condemned? . . . Who of mortals is not touched (pertineat) by this fault (culpam) and mischance (casum) by which the first man fell from everlasting life. . . If the devil made mortal all who could have been immortal, why do even infants die if they are not subject to the sin of that first man?” – Against Julian

6.5. Calvin – “Therefore original sin is seen to be an hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature diffused into all parts of the soul . . . wherefore those who have defined original sin as the lack of the original righteousness with which we should have been endowed, no doubt include, by implication, the whole fact of the matter, but they have not fully expressed the positive energy of this sin. For our nature is not merely bereft of good, but is so productive of every kind of evil that it cannot be inactive. Those who have called it concupiscence [a strong, especially sexual desire, lust] have used a word by no means wide of the mark, if it were added (and this is what many do not concede) that whatever is in man from intellect to will, from the soul to the flesh, is all defiled and crammed with concupiscence; or, to sum it up briefly, that the whole man is in himself nothing but concupiscence. . . .” Book 2 – Chapter 1

7. What verses can be used to reinforce this idea?

7.1.Genesis 8:21 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[a] of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

7.2.Psalm 14:2–3 The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

7.3.Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.

7.4.Matthew 7:9-11 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

7.5.Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: [d]adultery, [e]fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, [f]murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

7.6.Ephesians 2:1-3 1And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the [a]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 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.

7.7.Romans 3:11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.

7.8.1 Corinthians 2:14 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

7.9.1 Corinthians 15:22 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

7.10. Job 15:14-16 “What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous? 15 If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, 16 how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt, who drink up evil like water!”

7.11. Jeremiah 17:9 “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”

7.12. Ecclesiastes 9:3 “. . . the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and insanity is in their hearts through their lives.”


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