GROW Part 2 / Lesson 2 – SINNERS
Are babies guilty of sin from birth? While in the womb, are they already guilty of sins that would cause them to suffer the wrath of God’s justice? Are people by proxy the inheritors of sins committed by Adam and Eve? Should a person be arrested for a crime committed by their great, great, great grandfather over 100 years ago? Are they guilty of idolatry because their ancestors worshipped gods of wood and stone?
Those who would answer “yes” to any of these questions follow a belief called the “Doctrine of Original Sin.” They believe a human being is born a sinner and thus guilty of sin even without committing the sinful act. Many also believe that the devil was not defeated by Jesus Christ, and as result, mankind is incapable of stopping their sinful ways.
In this study, we will look at the context of those scriptures used in the Doctrine of Original Sin, as well as compare them with other passages to see if they harmonize with the whole counsel of God’s Word. We will also explore what the Bible says about a person’s activity or inactivity in being a sinner. Let’s begin with the original sinners – Adam and Eve.
BORN A SINNER OR
BORN AND SIN?
To believe that babies are born with judgment resting upon them for sins committed by their forefather’s goes against all biblical examples of God’s justice. Though this is true, when the question of how a sinner becomes a sinner is asked, many answer that a sinner is born a sinner due to the sins of their forefathers, Adam and Eve. However, the Bible says that sinners are sinners because—they sin. The reason this point is important is because the understanding of sin’s beginning also helps a person understand biblical forgiveness of past sins as well as deliverance from the propensity to sin. Such understanding is foundational in the promise found in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
The Bible clearly states that a man or a woman is not held accountable for another person’s sins. We see this in verses such as this:
16 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. (See also: 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4)
2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?
3 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.
5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
6 And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,
7 And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
8 He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.
10 If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,
11 And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbor’s wife,
12 Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,
13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,
15 That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbor’s wife,
16 Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withheld the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,
17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.
19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? WHEN THE SON HATH DONE THAT WHICH IS LAWFUL AND RIGHT, AND HATH KEPT ALL MY STATUTES, AND HATH DONE THEM, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE.
20 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.
29 In those days they shall say no more, THE FATHERS have eaten a sour grape, and THE CHILDREN’S teeth are set on edge.
30 But EVERY ONE SHALL DIE FOR HIS OWN INIQUITY: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
To believe men and women are born guilty of the sins of their forefathers and foremothers goes against the biblical examples of God’s justice. Nowhere does the Bible say mankind is judged for another man’s sins. Instead the Bible says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).
The belief that men do inherit the sins of their fathers is the basis for believing the devil must be destroyed before men can be set free from sin. Instead the Bible teaches that a sinner must be “Born Again” in “Jesus’ name” to be set free. To say that sin can be released any other way is to teach “another gospel.” Such an idea Paul sternly warned against (Galatians 1:6-9). He taught that there is, and there always will be, only one gospel, which is the “gospel of Jesus Christ.” That is the same gospel through which all men are set free from sin (see Romans 5:21; Romans 6:1-14).
The Bible does not say, “Adam made us all sinners,” but that, “by one man sin ‘entered into the world’” (Romans 5:12).
12 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:
This in no way means all men are “born sinners” because Adam sinned first. Otherwise it would contradict all else the Bible says about the way in which a man is held guilty of sin. Instead it simply means Adam blazed the trail that other men and women similarly follow. This agrees with the biblical belief in “free will,” for that stance dictates a sinner could not become sinners due to someone else’s sin. If they could, where would be their individual free will be? Could a just God judge a person for something they had no control over? Instead, each man and woman is judged for the sins they commit in their lifetime. We will talk more on this in the third lesson entitled “Saints.”
Now let’s look at the most common argument used to say men are “born sinners.”
BORN IN SIN?
Original Sin is defined as being “the doctrine which holds that human nature has been morally and ethically corrupted due to the disobedience of mankind’s first parents to the revealed will of God. In the Bible, the first human transgression of God’s command is described as the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden resulting in what theology calls the Fall of mankind. The doctrine of original sin holds that every person born into the world is tainted by the Fall such that all of humanity is ethically debilitated, and people are powerless to rehabilitate themselves, unless rescued by God” (http://www.theopedia.com/original-sin). Psalms 51:5 is the most quoted “evidence” used to support of the doctrine of Original Sin.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Those who adhere to Original Sin interpret this to say that David was born a sinner from his mother’s womb. However, this does not agree with the whole counsel of God’s Word, as witnessed earlier in this study. In those earlier verses we find overwhelming evidence that a person must commit sin before they are guilty of sin.
To understand why Psalms 51:5 is not about David being “born a sinner,” we must first look to the context of David’s statement. This chapter was written to address a very traumatic time in David’s life. Remember, David was said to be a man after God’s heart (see 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). However, one moment of succumbing to the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh negatively changed his life forever. This surfaced with a woman named Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite (see 2 Samuel 11). While Uriah was away to battle, David watched Bathsheba bathe from the roof of his king’s house (see 2 Samuel 11:2). He had her brought to him. They had an adulteress evening, which led to her being impregnated, which led to David having Uriah killed in battle to cover-up his sin. The night David saw her, Bathsheba was not taking a bubble bath, but was instead taking a ceremonial immersion called a Mikvah. This was a ceremony that all Jewish women took every month (see Leviticus 15:18-33). How we know this is by condition she is said to be in when brought to him.
2 Samuel 11:4
4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for SHE WAS PURIFIED FROM HER UNCLEANNESS: and she returned unto her house.
The next Bible interpretations make this meaning even clearer:
2 Samuel 11:4 (NLT)
4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. SHE HAD JUST COMPLETED THE PURIFICATION RITES AFTER HAVING HER MENSTRUAL PERIOD. Then she returned home.
2 Samuel 11:2 (CEV)
2 Late one afternoon, David got up from a nap and was walking around on the flat roof of his palace. A beautiful young woman was down below in her courtyard, BATHING AS HER RELIGION REQUIRED. David happened to see her, and he sent one of his servants to find out who she was. The servant came back and told David, “Her name is Bathsheba. She is the daughter of Eliam, and she is the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” David sent some messengers to bring her to his palace. She came to him, and he slept with her. Then she returned home.
2 Samuel 11:4 (AMP)
4 And David sent messengers and took her. And she came in to him, and he lay with her—for SHE WAS PURIFIED FROM HER UNCLEANNESS. Then she returned to her house.
2 Samuel 11:4 (GW)
4 So David sent messengers and took her. She came to him, and he went to bed with her. (SHE HAD JUST CLEANSED HERSELF AFTER HER MONTHLY PERIOD.) Then she went home.
So, David was concerned with the Law’s requirement for ceremonial cleanliness from her period, but he ignored the Law’s commands against committing adultery and murdering her husband? From David’s actions it certainly appears so. Though sin can cause a man or woman to spiral further and further from God’s will, I believe what David said in Psalms 51:5 may hold the key why he was so concerned with this one aspect of God’s Law.
When commanded to anoint a new king for Israel, God told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse, an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah (see 1 Samuel 16:1-13). While there, Jesse presented seven sons to Samuel, but God rejected each of them. Samuel then asked if there was yet another son. It was only then that Jesse mentioned his son, David (see 1 Samuel 16:11). Some might argue that Jesse overlooked David because he was the youngest. That might be the case, but there are more indicators that David was a black sheep in Jesse’s house than this one account. Another time this manifested was when the Children of Israel battled the Philistines (see 1 Samuel 17). During this time, David brought supplies to his three eldest brothers (see 1 Samuel 17:17). When they saw David, instead of showing brotherly love or even simple gratitude, they displayed contempt (see 1 Samuel 17:28). Could it be that unlike his seven brothers, Jesse conceived David during a time when the Law said a woman was unclean, like stated in Leviticus 15:24?
24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.
25 And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; ALL THE DAYS OF THE ISSUE OF HER UNCLEANNESS shall be as the days of her separation: SHE SHALL BE UNCLEAN.
What if David’s mother was not beyond her time of Niddah? What if she had not yet taken her Mikvah bath? What if a son was conceived during that time, could such a pregnancy be the reason why Jesse did not consider mentioning David as a candidate to be the anointed king of Israel? With the openness the Bible displays people had to discuss such issues, the men of David’s family may have spoken of him being unclean due to his birth. Knowing the uncleanness of the circumstance of his conception could account for David’s interest in the women’s Mikvah ceremony. This conclusion is not in conflict with Psalms 51:5, as seen when we reading how David’s statement is translated in the following Bible versions:
Psalms 51:5 MSG
5 I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born.
Only God would choose David to be a forefather through which His anointed King of kings and Lord of lords would be born. And, like David, this child would also be come from a questionable birth and be thought to both unclean and unworthy. Of course I am speaking of the son of David, Jesus Christ. His mother, Mary, was considered unclean due to him being conceived out of wedlock, yet His perfect life made Him the perfect sacrifice to save mankind from their sins.
Regardless if David’s father and mother had relations outside what was considered biblically clean, David was still bemoaning the fact that he, like his mother, was suffering from his human nature’s propensity to sin. This inclination is what led David to look on Bathsheba, call for her to be brought to him. It was conceived into sin when he lay with her, thus committing adultery, and then further when he had Uriah killed to cover up his fall. Such a mess he allowed into his life. No wonder after Nathan the prophet rebuked him for his sin, David wrote Psalms 51. In that chapter David spoke the heaviness of his heart when he asked God, not for salvation, to be delivered from the guilt in his mind so he could again feel the joy of God’s salvation (see Psalms 51:12).
Generational Sins and Generational Curses are within the boundaries of “Original Sin” for they speak of sins received through birth. One of the “biblical” evidences given for these is found in the verses known as the “Ten Commandments.”
3 Thou shalt have no other gods beside me.
4 Thou shalt not make to thyself an idol, nor likeness of anything, whatever things are in the heaven above, and whatever are in the earth beneath, and whatever are in the waters under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them; for I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God, RECOMPENSING THE SINS OF THE FATHERS UPON THE CHILDREN, to the third and fourth generation to them that hate me,
6 and bestowing mercy on them that love me to thousands of them, and on them that keep my commandments.
First, since the meaning of this cannot disagree with what is said in Deuteronomy 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, 2 Chronicles 25:4, Ezekiel 18:2-20, and Jeremiah 31:29-34, we know this does not mean that people are somehow guilty of sins committed by other people. Since that is the case – as stated in the Bible – then we need to look further to understand this statement from God.
To understand how this works all one has to do is simply read their Bible. There we find that those delivered from Egyptian slavery through Moses, when they came to the entrance into the Promised Land, they lacked the faith to enter and where thus sentenced to die in the wilderness. We also see that their children returned to that same place of entrance 40 years later so they could make a choice whether or not to trust God. This later generation chose to move forward – by faith – and they entered into that Promised Land. What we see in this is how a family’s decisions weighs on their children and their children’s children. This is why, in the 10 commandments, we see God warning His children that their decisions affect those in their family, thus the gravity of their sins is visited upon the third and fourth generation. It also states that for those who love God and keep His commandments, they and their descendants find God’s mercy. These numbers (“third and fourth generations” and “thousands of them”) are not to be taken as literal numbers, anymore than we should believe that God only owns the cattle on 1,000 hills, but someone else owns those on all the other hills. Rather, these numbers are hyperbole used to contrast how choosing God’s ways brings huge blessings.
Next Class: GROW Part 2/Lesson 3 – Saints
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