Exposing the Myth of "Original Sin"

by Jerry Shugart

The teaching of the false idea of Original Sin is entirely dependent on what Paul wrote at Romans 5:12-21 so let us begin by looking at detail at Romans 5:12:

"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 (pas hamartano)" (Ro.5:12).

Here Paul repeated the phrase "all have sinned" from earlier in the same epistle:

"For all have sinned (pas hamartano), and come short of the glory of God" (Ro.3:23)

All of this demonstrates that it is personal sins which a person commits which is responsible for the "death" mentioned at Romans 5:12.

When we look at the following passage we can understand that the "death" which is in view is a "spiritual" death:

"For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me" (Ro.7:9-11).

Paul is not speaking of "physical" death because he was alive physically when he wrote those words. He is speaking about breaking one of the Ten Commandments (v.7) and it was that which resulted in his "spiritual death."

In his commentary on this passage John A. Witmer writes, "As a result Paul 'died' spiritually (cf. 6:23a) under the sentence of judgment by the Law he had broken...so this sin deceived him...and 'put' him 'to death' (lit., 'killed' him), not physically but spiritually" (John A. Witmer, "Romans," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament [Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1983], 467).

There are other passages from the Scriptures which also indicate that a person's own sins results in spiritual death:

"Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away" (2 Cor.3:6-7).

Here the Apostle Paul is contrasting the New Testament with the Ten Commandments (written and engraved in stones). In regard to the New Testament he says that "the spirit giveth life" so this is obviously referring to "spiritual life."

We are told to compare "spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor.2:13) so in order to maintain a logical consistency we must understand that the "ministration of death" refers to "spiritual" death. This idea is reinforced by the words of Paul at Romans 7:9-11 where he states that he died when he broke one of the Ten Commandments. In the following two passages we can also see that it is personal sins which result in spiritual death:

"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (Jas.1:14-15).

"What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death...For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Ro.6:21,23).

Physical Death

It is impossible that the "death" under discussion is in regard to a "physical" death because people do not die physically as a result of their own sins. As a result of Adam's sin all of mankind has been denied the very thing which would allow a person to live for ever in his mortal body--the Tree of Life:

"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life (Gen.3:22-24).

Beginning with Adam all men have been denied the benefits of the Tree of Life to live for ever and therefore all die physically:

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb.9:27).

From all of this we can know that the death in "bold" in the following verse is in regard to a spiritual death and not a physical death:

"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" (Ro.5:12).

We can understand that Paul is saying that spiritual death passed upon "all" men because "all" have sinned. That can only mean that at some point in time "all" men are spiritually alive. After all, common sense dictates that before a person can die spiritually that person must first be alive spiritually. And the only way that "all" people can be spiritually alive is because they all emerge from the womb spiritually alive.

Therefore, it is an error to teach that infants emerge from the womb spiritually dead as a result of the sin of Adam:

"They (Adam & Eve) being the root of mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by original generation" [emphasis added] (The Westminster Confession of Faith; VI/3).


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