Paul Wong



          Sin was present in the universe before the fall of Adam and Eve. This is evident from the presence of the devil in the Garden of Eden.  It was because of our first ancestors' failure to obey the word of God and their heeding of the devil's word that led to their sin.  We are deeply concerned with the proper understanding of the original sin in the human family because it will affect the teaching of doctrines relating to salvation.  Christians of today do not have a common belief on this subject. 


          There are three basic concepts of the original sin.  Calvinists hold the concept that the sin of Adam was immediately imputed on the whole human family, so that not only is the entire race depraved, but also actually guilty on account of the first transgression.  The Arminian view is that the effect of Adam's sin upon the moral state of mankind is in accordance with and by virtue of the natural law of heredity.  The human race inherited proneness to sin but not sin itself.  The third concept called Pelagianism denies any necessary connection between the sin of Adam and the character and actions of his descendants.   Every human being is by nature as pure as was Adam before his sin.  The prevalence of sin is to be accounted for upon the ground of evil example and surroundings.  We shall now study the truth of the original sin based on the teachings of the Holy Bible.




          Sin has been defined in various ways depending on one's cultural, educational or religious background.  To many sin is having the wrong choice of action or behavior.  Some others say it is the absence of good.  It has often been said that sin is nothing more than a weakness of the flesh.  To the intellectual, sin is ignorance, and to the evolutionist, the nature of the beast in man.  Sociologists teach that sin is the result of adverse and hostile environment; therefore it can be eliminated by improvement of the surroundings.  The latest theory is that sin is a disease to be treated by medical science, because man is not a sinner but only sick.  Some religionists teach that sin is a form of selfishness.  There is some truth in all these various concepts of what sin is; but the Bible has very clear definitions of what sin really is.





          This corrupt nature belongs to man from the moment of conception.  King David wrote; "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me." (Psm..51:5).  He was talking about his heritage of sin brought forth in conception by his mother.  After the Fall and the entrance of sin in mankind God told Eve; "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;  In pain you shall bring forth children  (Gen. 3:16).   Painful childbirth is the consequence of sin that is present in both the mother and the fetus in her womb.  The presence of sin in every person from the time of conception is clearly taught in the Bible.  "Man who is born of woman . . . . Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?  No one!" (Job 14:1-4).  "What is man, that he could be pure?  And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?" (Job 15:14-16).  David prayed; "For in your sight no one living is righteous." (Psm. 143:2)   With the exception of our Lord Jesus Christ whose conception is of the Holy Spirit no one who is born of a woman is free from this sin or corrupt. nature (Mt. 1:20-21; Lk. 1:35; Jn. 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21).


Paul reminded the Christians of their past sinful and corrupt nature when he wrote that they "were by nature children of wrath, just as the others" (Eph.2:3).  Here 'nature' signifies something inborn and original, as distinguished from that which is acquired after birth.  Paul implied that sin is natural to man because he inherited it.  All mankind is declared to be 'children of wrath' by nature because we are all born in sin.





          If man is sinful by nature then he is in a state of moral depravity that is having the natural inclination to sin.  Man is not a sinner because he commits the various sins but he commits the sins because, first of all, he is a sinner.  You do not need to teach children to be bad, but you do have to teach them to be good.  You do not have to teach them to lie, cheat or steal, but you do have to teach them to tell the truth and be honest.  King David wrote; "The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies" (Psm. 58:3).  The fetus that is inside the mother's womb do not have any consciousness of good or evil; how can they be estranged?  Infants can hardly speak so how do they tell lies?   David's implication is that because of the inborn sinful nature, they have the natural inclination to be estranged from God and also to tell lies.  This natural tendency to sin is undeniable; it is ever present in man. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?  Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil." (Jer. 14:23)  Paul recognized the inherent tendency to commit sin and the futility of resisting it is because of sin's presence in every man.  He was writing as a representative of the unregenerated human race,  "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what 1 will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.  But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me." (Rom.7:14-20)  Then Paul concludes; "O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord'," (Rom. 7:24-25).




          The chief characteristic feature of sin in all its aspects is that it is directed against God   David expressed this in his confession; "Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight" (Psm. 51:4).  The sinfulness of sin lies in the fact that it is against God, even when the wrong we do is to others or ourselves (Gen. 39:9).   When we trace the origin of sin we discover that the first sin committed by our first ancestors was an act of disobedience to God.  The corrupt nature and state of moral depravity in sin has been passed on from generation to generation.  Adam and Eve's rebellion against God is also reflected in man's rebellious nature.  "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth'.  For the LORD has spoken: 'I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me" (Isa. 1:2).


          From the very beginning and throughout its development sin is directed against God.  When the Scripture says that "sin is the transgression 0f the Law" (1 Jn. 3:4) it is to this same concept of 'disobedience to God' that our attention is drawn.  Law is the standard of God's perfection to which man must attain through proper thoughts, words and deeds.  Transgression is failing to reach the standards that God had set for mankind. Paul wrote; "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:21).  The glory of God is in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ who is His image (2 Cor. 4:4,6).  The Lord Jesus has now become the glory of God that Christians must follow implicitly.  Failure or refusal to do so would be falling short of the glory of God.





          The Bible reveals that sin came into the universe when Lucifer wanted to exert his own will above the will of God.  Five times he said "I will" (Isa. 14:12-15).  Self-will and pride is sin and they are the characteristics of Satan.  In the Garden of Eden he deceived our first ancestors by telling them they could be equal to God.  Adam and Eve sinned because they wanted to be equal to God.


          The Lord Jesus Christ taught, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment" (Mt. 22:37-38).  Love towards our Creator, the One and Only True God is the essence of all virtue.  To love oneself over and above God is not only to refute God's great Commandment but also to exert one's will over His.  It is definitely idolatry therefore must be a grievous sin.


All the different forms of sin can be shown to have their roots in selfishness. When man's natural affections, desires and appetites violate the Commandments of God they stem from his will to satisfy himself over God and others.  Selfish affection is to make God and others admire and serve him.  Selfish desire takes the forms of ambition, greed, pride and vanity. Sensuality is selfishness in the form of lustful appetites.





In the Genesis account of man's Fall, unbelief in the word of God preceded disobedience.  "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, '0f every tree 0f the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Gen. 2:16-17).  Adam and Eve were persuaded to defy the command of the LORD by a twofold argument.  First, the word of God is questioned by the tempter who said, "You will not surely die" (Gen. 3:4).  Secondly, the tempter argues that if they do eat it, "your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:5)   It is clear that man's sins began when he doubted the word of God.  Unbelief led him to make himself like God. It is height of man's pride.


          Unbelief is definitely a sin that will lead a person to condemnation.  The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for 1f you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (Jn. 8:24).   "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Jn. 3:18).  Here are very clear statements from the Lord Jesus Christ that unbelief of His divinity is a sin leading to condemnation.


"Whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23).  "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).


May God bless you



This article is written by Paul Wong in response to a discussion

in the ARK Forum and posted on February 21, 2001.

It is published on this Website on August 17, 2009

For comments please write first to:  arkwriterpw@gmail.com

Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational.


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