The Nature of Man                                               SCROLL 2.pngSCROLL 2.pngSCROLL 2.png     

 

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.  But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  Matthew 15:1-3,9

Introduction     Of all the Bible topics a Christian may consider, none is as important as the doctrine of Salvation.   Within this topic is embedded - for better or for worse - the belief that man is born a sinner and that he is accompanied by what is known as a sin nature.  But are these beliefs in harmony with the scriptures? In order to answer this question, I will turn to the definition of sin itself, although in a very limited but useful sense.  This account will declare the answers to these widely-held beliefs (which will be shown to be the commandments of men), according to the scriptures.  And while this topic can be covered in a much more extensive manner (as would befit a theologian),  this account will adhere to Albert Einstein's admonition that "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler". 

What is Sin?    Any conscious action by a human that is opposed to God, to whatever degree, is sin.  More specifically, the Bible states that 

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.  I John 3:4

We know that Adam committed the first sin on this earth, and that he received a certain punishment from God when he did so.  We learn that as a consequence of his sin

  • that Adam's life-span would not reach 1,000 years
  • that Adam would have to work hard for his sustenance in an unfriendly environment
  • that Adam's progeny would inherit the ability to discern good and evil

Firstly, God told Adam

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.  Genesis 2:15-17

Adam's sentence of 930 years fell short of the 1,000 years, because the scripture states 

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  2 Peter 3:8

Therefore, Adam did die in the day that he ate the forbidden fruit.   Secondly, Adam was thrust out of the Garden of Eden and ordained to work hard for a living.  Thirdly, we note that Adam's eyes were opened when he ate the forbidden fruit, and that, as a consequence, he had to choose between good and evil the rest of his life.  After all, this is exactly what this fruit was supposed to produce - a knowledge of good and evil.

Adam's sin resulted in physical death, for notice that God did not condemn Adam to be cast into Hell or into the Lake of Fire (which is spiritual death) for his transgression. Actually, we do not know what Adam's relationship to God was for the rest of his life, other than the fact that he did pass on to Abel that he (Abel) should present a blood sacrifice unto the Lord.    Neither Adam nor Eve are mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews  (where we might expect to see their name since Abel is mentioned) or in the account of Lazarus and the Rich Man in the sixteenth chapter of Luke). Although they were prevented from eating the fruit of the Tree of Life and living forever, God did commune with them, at least briefly, after their sin.

Is Man Born a Sinner?    A popularly-held belief among some Christians is that man is born a sinner. Moreover, most Christians would also agree that an unrepentant sinner cannot go to Heaven when he dies.  However, these beliefs are not in harmony with each other when one considers babies who die in their infancy and likewise with young children as well.  At this point, a special dispensation is presented known as the Age of Accountability, whereby a young person is not held accountable for his sins if he happens to die before reaching this particular age.  But, does scripture support this Age of Accountability as popularly believed?  The answer to this question forces us to reconsider our previously-held ideas and consider man's relationship to sin as it manifested itself from the time that Lucifer was cast out of Heaven by God.  The Bible tells us that Lucifer was created perfect, i.e., without sin, or sinless [Ezekiel  28:12-15].

Before we leave the dialogue about Adam, it is necessary to consider just what Adam received as a consequence of eating the forbidden fruit.  The Bible tells us that the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened [Genesis 3:7], such that they now had the ability to know good from evil.  Now then, this ability to discern between good and evil is a trait that was passed on to mankind from Adam and Eve, which is a trait that every  conceived baby inherits.  In other words, a newly-conceived baby receives at conception the exact same trait that Adam obtained when he ate of the forbidden fruit.  In the process of time, a young person acquires, through experience, information pertaining to right and wrong behavior.  Moreover, he eventually learns of death and then begins to contemplate the cessation of his own life. 

God gives every person a measure of faith [Romans 12:3] with which he can then exercise and begin to diligently search for God [Hebrews 11:6].  Only God knows when this person's capacity to make a rational decision concerning God is reached, but when it is reached, then this person has reached his Age of Accountability, and has likewise reached the exact-same condition that Adam experienced when he took the first bite of the forbidden fruit.  So, the only difference between Adam's condition regarding sin and every person born into this world is that, for a time, a young person has a temporary sinless probation period, and no sin is imputed unto that person until the Age of Accountability is reached (please see Romans 9:11 below).

Therefore, the first step in determining the Age of Accountability is the knowledge that while all new-born babies are born sinless, yet they are born with the ability to discern between good and evil, although this ability is understandably very weak and undeveloped in early childhood.  

An important related issue regarding sin is just how the Law of God enters into the redemption for sin.  The scripture says that "By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified" and this is true, insofar as man is concerned.  Yet, this statement, concerning God, is not true.  The reason for this is that Christ is the end of the Law, which He fulfilled, and thus became an acceptable sacrifice unto the Father for the sin of mankind.  Jesus fulfilled the Law [kept the Law], and that is why He was able to be the propitiation for our sin.  Had Jesus not fulfilled the Law we would still be dead in our sin without hope of ever going to Heaven when we died.  While there are many scriptures that confirm this, I John 4:5 tells us that "Sin is the transgression of the Law" and so when Jesus kept the Law, He provided Salvation through His keeping of the Law.  But we could not keep it, and so our flesh could never be justified through the keeping of the Law, as the scripture declares.    

What about the Unborn?

For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;   Romans 9:11

Here we see that the unborn - those who do not have the ability to consciously exercise the trait of choosing between good and evil - do not do so - and to somehow conclude that the single act of birth would automatically bring about some other action - without being given an opportunity to freely choose between good and evil - is simply irrational thinking.  There is no such thing as unconscious sin - all sin has to be precipitated by a conscious thought. This is why God allows a sin probationary period for the newborn, i.e., God will not impute sin to anyone during this time period.

In the following scripture, Jesus addresses the sin issue of a person that is born blind:

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?  John 9:2

This is an apparently foolish question which the disciples asked.  How in the world can a man sin before he is even born?  (see Romans 9:11 again)  But then again, this is the type of thinking that concludes that "man is  born a sinner".  However, if we consider the existence of man to include life from conception, then the question takes a different turn.  As we will see below (in John 9:3), that is precisely how Jesus considers man, for it is evident in His answer to this seemingly foolish question.

Now consider what the Pharisees accused this man of who was healed from blindness:

They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.  John 9:34

These Pharisaical accusers not only berated the healed man and cast him out, but they violated Romans 9:11(above) also. What "sins" was the blind man born under?  And notice that the Lord Jesus Himself shows them up as being liars because He had already declared to His disciples that

Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.  John 9:3

As shown above in Romans 9:11, unborn children are incapable of committing sin, and so Jesus' answer has to be addressing the unborn, for it is impossible for a person to commit sin such that he would be born blind as a consequence of any sin committed between conception and birth.   

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. Romans 5:14

Why did those who had not sinned as Adam sinned die?  They died because of the  curse that Adam secured for all mankind which was that of the first death, or physical death,  so that, even though these people never physically ate of the forbidden fruit, yet they inherited the curse of physical death.  Physical death, as pertaining to all mankind (even to those within the Age of Accountability) is the automatic physical death sentence which Adam passed on to all mankind, and is not the result of any  sin other than Adam' sin. 

Thus, mankind did not inherit a lost spiritual condition from Adam as is commonly believed, but rather they - having inherited the trait from Adam that they would know to choose between good and evil from conception - did choose to sin on their own account beyond the Age of Accountability.    No behavior before the Age of Accountability is counted as sin by God ( as we have already seen ), therefore a person is deemed sinless by God until the Age of Accountability is reached. In other words, Adam passed on the physical death sentence on all mankind, but not a spiritual death sentence. 

It should be transparent, however, that Adam's sin, by enabling his progeny to inherit the freedom to choose between good and evil, virtually guaranteed that mankind would follow in his footsteps and would thus wind up disobeying God likewise.        This is why the scripture states that many were made sinners.

The Sin Nature of Man    A closely-related belief to the belief that man is born a sinner is the belief that, somehow, man also inherits from Adam a sin nature that automatically leads one to sin, i.e., that we can't help ourselves.  From this erroneous belief comes the nonsensical saying that "We are not sinners because we commit sin, but we sin because we are sinners".  This puts the blame of our having a sin nature on God and Adam, and not on ourselves.   For, consider the very first act which God considers to be sin in our life.  The scriptures above have already proved that it is only a conscious, deliberate act against God that we commit once we attain to the Age of Accountability.  But at precisely what point, did God consider us to be a sinner or sinless?   The scriptures have already proved that God considers us sinless, and so it is impossible for us to be sinners at that point in time.  Therefore, the belief that we inherit our sinful nature from Adam is as flawed as the belief that man is born a sinner. 

It is we ourselves who are the ones that deliberately and consciously choose to express a sin nature, and therefore this sinful nature is not attributable to God or Adam.  Simply put, we express our sin nature when we, by our own free choosing, choose to do evil, thus expressing a sin nature.   What Adam has done is to force us to freely choose to do good or evil, just as God forced Adam to freely choose between good and evil.  But the ability to choose is not in itself an evil trait, and thus is not sinful. 

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  Romans 5: 18,19

The key is when many were made sinners, and this refers to children who become (are made sinners) as soon as they reach the Age of Accountability and freely choose to disobey God's Commandments, at which point they are, before God, in the exact same circumstance that Adam found himself in when he took the first bite of the forbidden fruit and his eyes were open into good and evil discernment.  Thus, reaching the Age of Accountability immediately thrusts a person into having to choose between good and evil.  But most importantly, this choosing is foremost that of the acknowledgment of God as his Creator.  This explanation reconciles all the scriptures in Romans Chapter Five that link Adam's sin to the salvation of man in general. 

Summary I    Firstly, in Romans 5:12 below we see that the scripture says that "all have sinned", with the emphasis on have, which indicates that at least one conscious effort has been made by a person such that that conscious action is a transgression of the law.  Yet the overriding concern here is the sin of unbelief above all other sins, for it is only the sin of unbelief which will doom a soul to the eternal Lake of Fire. 

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:  Romans:5:12  

So from conception to birth, the Bible declares that a human baby is sinless, i.e., a baby does not commit sin, therefore all babies from conception to birth are not sinners, since they have not committed any sin.  Therefore, it is impossible for man to be born a sinner, for Romans 9:11 clearly proclaims all babies to be sinless.  Again, a baby can only begin to act according to his inherited trait of having the ability to discern between good and evil.  

Secondly, in the process of time, man's sinful nature trait will manifest itself as young people inevitably acquire information on good and evil behavior - which coupled with the measure of faith imparted to them by God - reach an age of accountability known only to God ( at which time the sinless probationary period is over ), and at that very instant, all young people stand in the exact same place ( spiritually speaking ), where Adam was when he took the first bite of the forbidden fruit. Interestingly, every person born on this earth commits the exact same act as Adam did, though while not in a physical sense,  yet in a spiritual sense, as imputed by God Himself.

Summary II   

 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?  Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.  John 9:2,3

The only way that Jesus' answer can be taken is that Jesus is referring to the blind man's condition before he was even born,  for it makes no sense otherwise.  And taken in this context, that the Lord Jesus is referring to the time between conception and birth, this agrees perfectly with the following scripture already noted above:

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)  Romans :9:11

In  light of all the foregoing, the inescapable truth is that, contrary to popular belief, it is we ourselves who are responsible for our sin, and not God.  Moreover, the sin nature which we possess is likewise not attributable to Adam's sin, but is attributable to what we humans do with the inherited ability to discern between good and evil, and that we consciously and continuously choose to do evil.  But I would emphasize that the overriding concern of man is not that he happens to violate one or more of God's Ten Commandments, but rather that he refuses to acknowledge Jesus and His Redemptive work of the cross on his behalf. 

Being cast into the Lake of Fire will not be the result of any sin other than that of rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ as one's Savior.  Again, the saying "We aren't sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners", immediately blames God as the reason we sin ( for it is God has who created us ), which belief is rooted in the heretical belief that "Man is born a sinner".  The belief that "man is born a sinner" is traditionally-held church dogma, and is not scriptural doctrine, i.e., it has no scriptural foundation, and is akin to Roman catholic dogma, where the Roman clergy decides what spiritual belief is worthy of acceptation by the Roman church laity.  Going beyond the explanations in this account would violate Albert Einstein's admonition.

 

                                                                               Questions/Comments?   Email me at  comment@thechristianlight.org   


     

 

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