The Doctrine Of Original Sin
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” —I Cor. 15:20-22
Many are troubled with the idea that through Adam’s sin, we have all sinned. The idea that his sin is passed on to us is commonly referred to as “original sin.”
The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms defines original sin as “The condition of sinfulness that all persons share and that is caused by the sinful origins of the race (Adam and Eve) and the fall (Gen. 3). Theologically it consists of the loss of original righteousness and the distortion of the image of God. It results in the hereditary corruption of all humanity” (Donald K. McKim). Basically, Adam’s sin was imputed—passed on—to all of mankind.
It’s Not Fair
Agnostics, atheists, and some misguided Christians love to point to the doctrine of original sin and say, “What kind of God would send a baby to hell for Adam’s sin?” First of all, they don’t understand that all babies immediately go to be with the Lord when they die. All of mankind has added to Adam’s sin; therefore, we deserve hell through our own efforts and not just because of Adam’s sin. Forgiveness is offered to all. Those who go to hell do so because they have rejected God’s plan of salvation.
God viewed Adam as the federal head, or representative of all of mankind. Therefore, his sin is considered by God as if we had all sinned at that same time. For us to deny Adam as the federal head, means that we would also have to deny Jesus as our federal head.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:20-22).
The federal headship of Adam was replaced with the federal headship of Jesus Christ.
“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).
“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) ... For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:15-17, 19).
Paul stated that by one man—Adam—death reigned, and by one man—Jesus Christ—life, righteousness, and grace abounds. So you see, if we deny the federal headship of Adam and the many Scriptures that speak of it, then we must also deny the federal headship of Jesus Christ.
Even though we were not alive when Christ was on the earth, through association and substitution Jesus bore our sins and, in the sight of God, became you and me on the cross so that we would not have to pay the penalty of sin.