Question: Discuss the full implications of the first episode of sin in Genesis, commonly referred to as original sin and/or “the fall.” How does the sin of Adam relate to humanity (re: sin, condemnation, and death)? Precisely: is humanity guilty because of (implicated by) Adamʼs sin? If so, what are the results of this teaching? If not, why does Paul make such a strong connection between the sin of Adam and the sin of all humanity? Explain the roles that Adam and Christ play in this discussion.
Sin was first committed by humanity in the Garden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command that they should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of truth and evil. God told them that if they ate from that tree they would die (Gen. 2.16). As a result of this first human sin, God passed judgment on the serpent, on mankind, and on all of creation (Gen. 3.14-16, Rom. 8.20). Sin became the default act for humanity (Eccl. 7.20; Gen. 6.5).
The sin committed by Adam has affected all mankind. Sin has spread to all humanity through Adam (Rom. 5.12) Men are conceived in sin in their mother’s womb (Ps. 51.5) Not only are they conceived in sin but they sin from the moment they are born (Ps. 58.3) No man lives a sinless life because all men sin (Isa. 53.6; Rom. 3.10-12,23; Rom 5.12). The sin of Adam has condemned all men (Rom. 5.18). Sin brings condemnation which result in death as the punishment for sinning (Rom. 5.12; 6.23; 7.13). Death reigns through the sin of Adam (Rom. 5.17). Because of sin men are born “spiritually” dead (Eph. 2.1,5).
All of humanity is guilty in the eyes of God because of the original sin. Augustine taught that Adam’s guilt has been transmitted to all humanity, the physical offspring of Adam and Eve. (350). He taught that all humanity was corrupted by the fall (349). The judgment that was levied against Adam and Eve has been passed down to all humanity. Humanity is guilty because of their birth lineage and because of their sinful actions. Humanity is born with an “innately sinful disposition, with an inherent bias toward acts of sinning” (352).
From a theological perspective Adam and Eve committed the first human sin. They were deceived by the serpent and disobeyed God’s direct command. This first sin is often called the “original sin.” They, and all of creation, were affected directly by the judgment that God delivered to punish this sin. This judgment was levied against all of Adam and Eve’s descendant. Mankind inherited guilt from the first parents. This inheritance is often referred to as imputed sin since the sin of Adam is charged against all mankind. Imputation is an accounting term that means that something is put in one’s account by someone else. Therefore, it is logical to say that Adam’s sin was imputed to his descendants which meant that his guilt was also imputed to them as well. Because mankind is guilty they owe the “wage” of guilt which is death.
It is a fact that all humans sin. Men are sinner by nature and by choice. Humans sin because their nature has been corrupted by the Fall of Adam (352). Adam’s has cause all his descendants to be guilty. Also, sin has affect human’s free will (351). Man’s will has been turned from the things of God and is now disposed to sin and self.
In Romans 5 Paul draws a direct connection between Adam, all of humanity, and Jesus Christ. Sin came into the world through the actions of one man, Adam (v.12). This sin brought judgment (v.16). This judgment was death, first spiritual death and eventually physical death. Death spread to all humanity because all men sin (v.18). The unrighteousness of Adam would affect all humans. Adam was a “type of the one who is to come” (v.14). Adam brought God’s judgment and wrath on all humanity. Through Jesus, God would display his grace and love to all mankind. God gave his son Jesus as a free gift (v.15). Adam’s transgression brought judgment but the gifts of Jesus brought justification (v.16). This justification is found in Jesus’ righteousness which God imputes on man’s behalf (v. 18; 2 Cor. 5.18-21). In Adam, mankind is counted guilty. In Jesus, mankind is counted righteous and justified. Adam brought death but Jesus brought life (1 Cor.15.45-49).
McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology: an Introduction. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011