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One of the ramifications of the Reformed doctrine of Original Sin is that it makes sin irresistible. You have to do it. Since you have to do it and you have no choice, there’s really no point in not sinning.
This is why Calvin insisted upon Irresistible Grace; it had to be because sin was already irresistible.
Calvinist notions of Total Depravity and Original Sin are often applied even to those who are saved. In other words, many still think your after-conversion supposed righteous efforts are still filthy rags, as you are still unable to resist sin even after salvation.
No doubt, some inconsistent Calvinists would deny this. But if God has ordained every single action of every atom of creation, then I have no power to do anything. If God wills me to sin, then I must sin.
Of course, this then means that sin is God’s will, and if that is the case, you can no longer define sin as “doing whatever is against God’s will.” Thus, the idea of original sin makes God the one accountable for sin.
We can’t stop it. He can. He didn’t. God is responsible.
Furthermore, most who would be considered antinomian or hyper-grace are Calvinists. Some will go on to say that sin is just your old nature which you can’t control anyway. Everyone sins, you have to, lighten up!
The notion that sin is irresistible really takes the edge off of sin. There really is no point in resisting it.
When Jesus tells us to be perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect, well, He was just exaggerating. Got a little carried away. When Paul tells us we should be perfecting holiness in the fear of God, we know he meant to say, “just kidding, you can’t really do that.”
Do I think true believers can achieve perfection in this life? I doubt it, but the degree to which we don’t, is the degree to which we are accountable for not being so. It’s not God’s fault.
Yet most Christian doctrine ceases to have a problem with sin. We’ve given up the fight since there’s no real point to fight what is inevitable.
If you think sin is irresistible and can’t be helped, I suggest you have some things wrong in your understanding.
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.“
Original Sin, in my mind, means that humans are born tainted with sin, just as the rest of fallen creation they are born into. They have a natural inclination toward sin. Little kids are evil and no one had to teach them to be this.
Original Sin, in my mind, does not mean I am guilty for Adam’s sin, nor does it mean I am deserving of hell simply by being born. That being the case, I believe when babies and kids die before an “age of accountability,” they go to heaven. I admit this Age of Accountability is a theory and not explicitly taught in Scripture.
There are many Proof Texts used to support Original Sin. Here is a list of some with my commentary.
Psalm 51:5–“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Conception is different from birth. There is actually some biblical proof to show that David’s mother may have gotten pregnant in a non-lawful way. This verse is not saying David was born a sinner; it says he was conceived in sin.
Psalm 58:3–“The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” I do not disagree. This does not say we are born guilty of Adam’s sin, though.
Ephesians 2:3–“were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” We are born having a desire to think selfishly, to protect our fleeting life. We sin. We, by nature, by inclination, sin. I am guilty because of the sin I do, not guilty because of Adam’s sin. I would also like to point out Romans 2:14, that Gentiles “do by nature the things contained in the law.” So, for all those who overdo Total Depravity, notice that by nature Gentiles also do good. “By nature” is the exact same phrase in the Greek in both passages.
Romans 5:12-19–This is a passage often contorted to prove a view of atonement that requires Christ’s righteous deeds to be added to my account because Adam’s sinful deeds are already on my account. I wrote about this the other day. Within this passage are verses that seem to refute the idea that I am born having Adam’s sin on my account
Romans 5:12–“by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” Because of Adam’s sin, death entered. Notice carefully why he says people die. It does not say all die because of Adam’s sin counted to them. It says “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” God holds me accountable for my sin, not Adam’s
Romans 5:13–“sin is not imputed when there is no law.” If the typical Reformed doctrine of Original Sin is true, then they should also concede that before Moses, no one had original sin. Sin is not imputed when there is no law. Therefore, Adam’s sin imputed to people (the Reformed doctrine of Original Sin) could not have occurred. It is also my contention that not knowing God’s law, being ignorant of it, is the same as not being under the law, Romans 2:14 clearly states that Gentiles do not have the law! Therefore, no Gentile could have Adam’s sin imputed to them either.
Romans 5:15–“the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” If the Reformed doctrine of Original Sin is true, then all are saved. If Adam’s one sin is imputed to me to make me guilty and deserving of hell even though I did nothing, then so too must Christ’s righteous deed be accounted to all human accounts as well, since Christ was the same federal head of all humans like Adam. But alas, few say this. Why? Because there is a voluntary joining with Christ that makes all the difference. Just as there is a voluntary joining in being a sinner like Adam. Although I am not guilty of Adam’s sin, I am guilty of my sin I do. This makes me deserving of death just as it made Adam deserving of death. Death passed to all men for that ALL HAVE SINNED.
Romans 5:18–“even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” I’ll just throw this in here because it refutes Limited Atonement, which is the driving factor of the Reformed notion of Original Sin and Adam’s sin imputed to us. Salvation is a potential for all, for Christ died for all, and offers the gift of grace to all, not just the elect.
Romans 5:19–“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” Yes, Adam’s sin makes people sinners. People will sin because they are born in a fallen world trying to preserve their fading life. I am not guilty of Adam’s sin, though. I am guilty of my sin. Death came to all because all sinned. They didn’t all sin in Adam either. They sinned on their own.
There are other passages that are used, but these are the main ones. It is sufficient to give you the idea of where I am coming from. Yes, we are born into a fallen world with a natural inclination to do evil. But we are also given, by God’s grace, the natural ability to do good. The offer of saving grace is for all who believe. That is the main point. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Do that, and our little doctrinal squabbles will melt into oblivion.
Original Sin, in my mind, does not mean I am guilty of Adam’s sin. I am guilty of my sin and will be held accountable by God for it and it alone.
God is just and does not hold people accountable for sins they did not commit. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
Yet the standard Reformed doctrine of Original Sin says I am born guilty, born deserving of hell because of something Adam did.
That being the case, all babies who die in the womb are in hell. All kids who die before becoming born again are in hell. Calvinists at least have somewhat of an out here by saying, “No, only the non-elect babies are in hell.”
Of course, you have no idea if yours or any other baby was elect, so quite frankly, this offers little in the way of solace. Not that Calvinism was invented to grant solace.
This dilemma was a main factor in the invention of Infant Baptism. Since all babies are born with the guilt of Adam’s sin they remain deserving of hell.
Origen said, “The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine sacraments, knew there is in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit”
The Bible does not directly speak of an “Age of Accountability.” David says he will go where his dead baby is, but many dismiss that as just David saying he’s going to die someday.
What I do know is, to whom much is given, much is required, which would seem to imply that the one who was given nothing is not required anything.
I do know that God deals with ignorance and does not hold people accountable to things they did not know, in fact, He has compassion on them. I do know that God is just and will sort this out righteously.
I do know that God takes sin very seriously. God defines sin based on you knowing what you’re doing, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Leviticus 4 is probably not a passage in your daily devotional book. But it speaks about sins of ignorance. A person is not held accountable for these sins until he becomes aware of them. Once he is aware of them, he is to offer the appropriate sacrifice to take care of it.
Sin is defined as violating God’s Law, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Violating God’s Law is a huge point. If a person does not know God’s law, can he really be counted a sinner?
Romans 5:13 seems to be a major problem for the Reformed view of Original Sin, “For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.”
Sin implies a knowing of God’s Law. If there is no law, there is no transgression.
Children can sin. Children sin all the time, quite frankly. But since they don’t know God’s law, I take it that sin is not imputed to them by God. Therefore, children are viewed as being “innocent” by God.
“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.“
I have no idea when this age is. I believe it is different for each kid. Based on my experience with kids, some seem to understand very young. Others, good Lord, others seem to take forever. God will handle it justly.
That’s my take. If you disagree, this bothers me none at all. But I would ask you to be consistent.
There are many who cling to an Age of Accountability who at the same time hold to the Reformed tradition of Original Sin and Total Depravity. Please understand this is logically impossible. Take steps to remedy this and spare yourself embarrassment.
I do not believe that Original Sin means I am guilty for Adam’s sin. But the mainline view of Original Sin does believe this.
Reformed Theologian Louis Berkhof says, “Original sin. This includes both guilt and pollution. The guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to us. Because he sinned as our representative, we are guilty in him. Moreover, we also inherit his pollution, and now have a positive disposition toward sin. Man is by nature totally depraved.”
This is a fairly typical explanation of Original Sin.
Much of this doctrine is taken from a view of the Atonement and a particular reading of Romans 5 and the contrast between Adam and Christ.
In typical Substitutionary Atonement lingo, we are imputed with the very righteous deeds of Christ so that God no longer sees us, God now only sees Christ and Christ’s righteous deeds.
In essence, Christ kept the law for us. I see no real point to maintaining this doctrine on two counts:
1) If I am saved because Christ kept the Law for me, then Paul was wrong when He said no flesh is justified by deeds of the Law, nor does Christ’s death seem necessary in this.
2) God very much sees me and I will be judged on whatever I have done in the body, whether good or bad.
But alas, this idea of the imputed righteous deeds of Christ to my account is standard Christian theology. If one dares to reject it, one will be labeled a heretic.
Worse things can happen to you.
Since the view, made popular by Calvin, that Christ’s individual good works are added to my account, the reverse must then also be true: Adam’s individual sinful deeds are on my account already.
Therefore, I am guilty and a sinner because of what Adam did, and I am made righteous, not be anything I did, but by Christ’s good deeds on my account.
This then, leads to Calvin’s necessity for Limited Atonement.
Limited Atonement says that Christ only died for the elect. So, when John says Christ was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, he was just getting carried away.
We can’t have that! Because then all would be saved. We know all aren’t saved, therefore something must have gotten in the way. If Christ died for everyone, and yet some aren’t saved, then Christ’s blood was wasted, and we can’t have that either! Goes the argument.
Therefore, Limited Atonement. If you are one of the unlucky ones whom Christ did not die for, you are left with the guilt of Adam’s sin, which was imputed to you because your parents couldn’t keep their pants on.
If Christ didn’t choose to impute His righteous deeds to you, then you have no shot. Sucks to be you. There is nothing you can do because you need Christ’s righteous deeds imputed to you, and you have no say in that.
You will rot in hell for being guilty of a sin you didn’t commit.
Obviously, by my sarcasm, you can tell I am not a fan of this logic. These ideas of Original Sin and Total Depravity are the necessary logical results of a flawed theory of Atonement.
Since I can’t do anything to get saved, since I’m so depraved by Adam, and I need Christ’s righteous deeds and I can only get that through God’s election, Irresistible Grace, and Calvin’s doctrines, nothing I do matters.
Again, I find this all to be an elaborate scaffolding to hold up a teetering theology that would be better served to just go with what God said rather than human over-thinking.
Original Sin is the idea that all of humanity sinned and became guilty when Adam sinned.
This teaching was around in some form since Irenaeus in the 2nd century while he battled with Gnostics. Although, at the same time, other theologian types disagreed with him, maintaining that humanity was free and not inherently guilty.
Augustine came along and really formalized the doctrine of Original Sin. Augustine was tainted with philosophy in much of his theology. Original Sin is a prime example.
He believed that man was born as a guilty sinner and all were present in Adam when Adam sinned, thus all are born guilty. Augustine had pretty weird views of sex, original sin is passed on by sexual reproduction, thus sex was viewed as not a good thing.
A later guy, Rainier Sacchoni, took these ideas and said that marriage was “a mortal sin. . . as severely punished by God as adultery or incest.” Even sex within marriage was viewed as evil because of its link with passing on Original Sin.
These early dabblings in the doctrine of Original Sin were later grabbed onto by Luther and Calvin and formed into our modern understanding of Original Sin. Calvin went further, making Original Sin the reason we are totally depraved, unable to respond to the goodness of God on our own.
Thus, the modern notion of Original Sin, says that we are guilty of Adam’s sin and are so guilty and tainted with his sin that we are unable to do good at all, or even see good, or be attracted to good.
All this seems quite silly to me and smacks more of Gnosticism than biblical theology.
Adam’s sin certainly did impact the world. Because of the first sin, death was brought into existence and all future people were born into a fallen world. We are born with the natural inclination to sin.
However, I see absolutely no biblical proof at all, whatsoever, that we are guilty of Adam’s sin. Any time someone is judged for a sin in the Bible, it’s for a sin they actually committed. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.“
If you end up in hell some day, it won’t be because of Adam’s sin; it’ll be because of your sin.
Adam’s sin produced a fallen world. If you are alive, you are part of the fallen world. Things are no longer “good” as God originally created them to be.
Little babies are born as little selfish sacks of sin. They do not need to be taught to be sinful. They do creepy things naturally.
In my opinion, that is what Original Sin is: we are tainted with sin and have a natural inclination toward it. I by no means believe Original Sin means I am guilty for what Adam did, nor do I believe this makes me so sinful I am incapable of responding to the goodness of God.
More tomorrow, Lord willing.
You can subscribe to the Rhinelander Bible Church podcast on iTunes here.