Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Original Sin

Question: What is original sin?

Answer: The tendency to do evil.


In the beginning God created all things – the earth, the sky, the sea, the plants, the birds that filled the sky and the animals that roamed the earth and sea. Then he held a council within Himself, and “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’" (Genesis 1:26 NASB).

It was in the very image of God that man was created and placed on the earth.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:27-28 NASB). 

God placed mankind in a garden and gave man every thing on the earth for sustenance and pleasure – and he gave him dominion over all things, making him regent on the earth to rule under God’s authority.

“Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good”(Genesis 1:29-31 NASB).

“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:7-9 NASB).

So mankind was given every good thing in the garden, and he was given freedom to choose between good and evil.

“The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die’" (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB).

Without a choice, mankind would have been robotic, merely doing the good that he was told to do, never having the free will to choose evil. But because man was made in the image of God, he was given the freedom to choose.

Though the man and the woman were free to chose every other good thing that God had given to them in the entire garden, they gave in to Satan’s temptation to choose the one thing that God had commanded them not to eat from – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

From that point, sin entered the world and mankind was subject to it. Thus, original sin, or the sin nature, is passed on from generation to generation, and we inherit this tendency toward sin.

This is the wretched condition of mankind that the Apostle Paul describes in his epistle to the Romans:

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:18-24 NASB).

It would seem from this description that man is lost in original sin and without hope of escape. But in the next three verses, Paul gives us the answer to our dilemma.

“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 7:25 – 8:2 NASB).

Our hope and our freedom are in Christ Jesus! The first Adam failed to fully obey God, but Jesus, whom Paul calls the “last Adam,” was fully obedient to the Father, even to the point of death on the cross. And He purchased our freedom from sin with his shed blood and his resurrection.

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22  NASB).

“So also it is written, ‘The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. (1 Corinthians 15:45-49 NASB)

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