Isn’t it true that man stands guilty before a holy and blameless God for his sin nature? And that sin nature comes from our first parents Adam and Eve? Isn’t it unfair that a God of love would punish me for something that I didn’t do but was merely a condition I was born into? Isn’t the following passage from Ezekiel a complete contradiction to the Christian concept of salvation?
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Ezekiel 18:20
In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve broke God’s command by eating of the forbidden fruit. This in turn cursed the ground and the rest of humanity. According to the Christian faith, we have to be saved from this curse and in the end the earth will be restored to its former glory and all that placed their faith in Jesus are forgiven. But is it true that we have to be forgiven for something we didn’t do? We didn’t eat the forbidden fruit.
There are many theological terms concerning our condition of needing salvation because of Adam’s sin. The doctrine of “original sin” states we are sinners from the moment we’re born because we were born to the fallen human family, children of Adam. The concept of “imputation” means that Adam’s falleness is automatically placed upon all who are born from him because he was the representative of all of man. Adam, therefore is our “federal head” and whereever the head goes the body follows. “Seminalism” is that we are now born with Adam’s sinful nature because we were physically born of his seed. Basically, Adam’s nature after he sinned became that of fallen man therefore, everyone born after that is born with the same nature in the same way snakes can give birth to snakes. They can’t help that they have a snake nature.
Therefore, it is our nature that we have to be saved from. Remember though, a snake can only act according to its snakey nature. If we are born with a sinful nature, then we will sin. It’s inevitable. Every single human being will sin because that is our human condition. For this reason, every single human being needs salvation. When people say “I was born this way”, they are absolutely right. We were all born this way and with propensity to various sins. We all sin our different sins. That’s why Jesus said we must be born again. (John 3:3)
Even when we’re “born again” we still maintain our fallen human nature right? We don’t cease to be human. No, the Bible says we actually gain a new nature. Once we have repented and placed our faith in Jesus, we become imputed with His nature; His righteousness. Sin therefore, loses its original appeal because it appealed to our old nature. Have you ever stopped eating a certain type of food or drink for, perhaps, health or lifestyle reasons? Then after a while you tried consuming whatever you gave up and it no longer tasted good or even made you sick? That’s a picture of how sin no longer appeals to the born again believer. Of course, there are those different sins that we still struggle with. There are those that we may even be unaware of until the Holy Spirit illuminates those dark corners. As we continue to live in this body with its aging and ailments and as we continue to live in this fallen world, we will continue to struggle with sin. Sin resurfacing from within us and sin from outside us.
Couldn’t God have just punished Adam and Eve and let those born after them have their original sinless nature? Sure, God could have. However, consider that if Eve listened to a serpent, and Adam listened to his wife, both in their sinless state, how much more so would a sinless child born to them follow their sinful example? Or, one may ask why would they have to have had children at all? Couldn’t God just have killed them or waited till they died and started over fresh? Again, yes He could have, but why do we think anyone else would have done any better? Even if all generations were sinless all the way down to you and I, one of us would have screwed it up. Couldn’t God have just made us so that we wouldn’t sin to begin with? As Clark said in his blog Why didn’t God make us perfect without sin?, “A being that is perfect without sin would also be holy, so this seems to indicate that He would have just created another God…”
It may still seem unfair to you that God holds us accountable for something we didn’t start. I wholeheartedly sympathize. Yet, if we’re honest, this concept doesn’t just apply to matters of spirituality. If someone is born to parents who do nothing but break the law and they teach their child to do the same, that child doesn’t know any better yet as the child gets older he or she is still held accountable. Was it unfair that they were born to bad parents? Sure, but at some point, I truly believe, they are shown that there is another way and they must move from pointing fingers at the condition they were born in to the direction of a higher way of living. Remember, that Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent but God held them all accountable for their own actions. Just because you were put into an “unfair” situation, your reaction is still your responsibility.
While we may not be punished for Adam’s sin, mankind suffers because of it. In the same way the child born to a drug addicted mother may have physical or mental challenges or the employees of a business may suddenly be without a job because the CEO mismanaged funds.
All that is to say, we aren’t punished for Adam and Eve’s sin. We are punished for our own sins. But, the story doesn’t stop there. If we want to say that it’s not fair that we’ve had to suffer for their sin, we must also conclude that it’s not fair that Jesus suffered and was punished for our sins. While generations have suffered for the sin of Adam, Jesus suffered for the sins of generations. How unfair is that? It’s not about what’s fair or unfair; it’s about His love for us. Jesus took on the punishment meant for us when He died at the cross. What a gift! Do you accept it?
“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s (Adam) trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:15-19
Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3, Ezekiel 18
Derrick Stokes for Theologetics.org