WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE RADIO SERMON August 8, 1976
THE ORIGINAL SIN
Where did sin begin? According to the Scriptures, sin became a part of human ex¬perience in the Garden of
Eden. The sin of God's creature made in His own image, Adam, was the original sin.
The original sin is of special interest to the Christian. According to Paul you can understand our present
situation only by understanding the beginning of human sin. Though he has tried desperately, man has
never been able to escape the impact of that original sin on the part of man. You and I are what we are in
part because of the original sin.
In approaching the last part of this great chapter, we should keep in mind that its primary focus is not on
Adam however. Adam and his sin are used primarily as a contrast, a background for the presentation of the
glorious deed of Christ on our behalf. The great passage is a continuation of the theme of assurance. We
are given in this passage a basis for our Christian assurance. But for this message, we must look at the
teaching and implications of this passage concerning the original sin. There are three primary truths set
forth about the original sin.
THE ORIGINAL SIN WAS THE SIN OF ONE MAN
"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." The focus of the passage is on "one man". In this case obviously the one man is
In the context of our modern world, it must be of more than a passing interest that Paul accepts the historical
authenticity of the Genesis record of the first man and the first woman. Since the setting forth of the
evolu¬tionary theories of Darwin, it has become increasingly popular to deny the historicity of the first
chapters of Genesis. Even many respected Biblical scholars will no longer con¬tend that we have history in
those first chapters of Genesis. They are content to handle them as religious myth, which means that they
are religiously valid though they may not be historically valid. It would be my conviction that this whole
passage has no meaning if the record of Genesis is not historically trustworthy. There was “one man" at the
beginning of human history. This one man was placed by God in the midst of beauty and opportunity.
The record of the original sin is rather simple. God had created man with the potential of rebellion. He had
granted to him a freedom to choose between obedience to God or another way of life. God had placed the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden with the word that man was not to eat of it.
The command not to eat was accompanied with a warning that to eat would bring death. The serpent came
to the man with his accusa¬tions against God, and his enticements to the man to rebel against God. The
tempter was able to deceive the woman, but the man, Adam, with his eyes wide open, knowing the nature of
his deed, disobeyed God. He ate of the forbidden fruit. His act was one of rebellion against the place God
had assigned him as creature, and this was an open attempt to become like God in knowledge. He wanted to
be something more than just the creature. This was the beginning of human sin, the first, and thus the
original sin. Mark Twain's comment about it has always amused me. He commented, "I do not see anything
original about it for I believe that I could have done it myself.''
THE ORIGINAL SIN WAS THE SIN OF ALL MEN
This is the truth emphasized by the Apostle in this passage. When Adam sinned, he opened the door to the
human race to sin. Sin barged through to take captive the whole race of mankind. In some way the whole
family of man sinned when the one man sinned. This is the meaning of the clause, "for that all have sinned."
A better translation is simply, "for all sinned." The tense of the verb indicates that the whole sinned in the act
of the one man Adam.
Just how this happened has been the subject of much theological debate through the years. Several
different explanations have been suggested. It will be helpful to remember that any explanation will have to
go beyond the Scriptures, because they just do not tell us ''how''. To me the best explanation is the one that
began with Augustine a long time ago. This great theologian suggested that the whole human race was
seminally present in Adam. He was the whole human race. All of us were in him. When he acted in rebellion
against God, we acted in him. The Bible presents such a view of the solidarity of man in other places.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek though he was not born until a much later
time. But the writer tells us that the day Abraham, the great grand¬father of Levi paid tithes to the Priest of
Salem that Levi was actually present in the loins of Abraham. If this be true, then the whole race was present
in the garden of Eden in the loins of Adam when he rebelled against God. Just as Levi was credited with
doing what his grandfather Abraham did, so each of us is credited with doing what Adam did along time ago
in the morning of human history.
What are the implications of this for me, an individual member of the human race living several millenniums
later? Does this mean that I am guilty because of what Adam did? In light of this passage, the answer has to
be "yes". "All sinned" might be paraphrased, "all were made guilty". Sin is used many times in Scripture in
the sense of guilt. Later Paul would say, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners.''
"Were made" means “were constituted, or appointed, or rendered." It means they were put into a position
where God had to treat them as sinners. Since we were present in Adam, the one man, when he acted, we
are responsible for his transgression and share his guilt. However, in the Biblical doctrine of sin, the
emphasis is not placed upon this. The emphasis is placed upon my re affirmation of Adam's sin. The truth is
that when man becomes morally aware he reaffirms the decision of Adam. He becomes a sinner by choice
and by practice. This is the most serious charge.
There is another aspect of this relationship that we have to Adam. When Adam acted in disobedience to
God, an evil, selfish sin principle was born in him. When he begot children, he passed this sin principle along
to them. The result is that each descendant of Adam comes into the world with a strong bent toward sin. He
will find it easier to do wrong than right. He will seem to find more delight in himself than in anything else. He
is born with a fallen nature. He is a sinner by choice, by practice, and by nature. All this is the result of the
THE ORIGINAL SIN WAS THE SOURCE OF ALL DEATH
"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." The sin of Adam opened the door to death. It caused sin to enter into the human family and to
go right through it. Man was not created to die, though evidently he was not created immortal. However,
when God created him, he gave to him access to the tree of life. It was evidently God's intention that man
should be changed into the state of immortality so he could live with Him forever. There was no hint of death
except as a penalty for sin.
What kind of death passed through the human family? Surely it includes physical death. Physical death is
made up of the separation of the spirit of man from the body of man. Physical death is the result of sin.
Every death is a continuing sign of the plight caused by our sin. But this death includes spiritual death as
well. Spiritual death is the separation of the spirit of man from God. This took place immediately upon the sin
of Adam. Apart from God granting the gift of life through His Son, this continues to be the spiritual condition
of the whole family of man. Man has a God shaped blank inside of him because of his sin. He is dead
spiritually. His spiritual condition is death. But this death may also be eternal. Eternal death is the eternal
separation of the whole man from the presence of God for eternity. It is the lake of fire called Hell. This is the
ultimate wage for sin. This, too, is the result of the original sin. Without the original sin there would have
been no death.
While you may be able to raise objections to Paul's doctrine of original sin, you cannot deny the presence of
death. Paul speaks of death reigning like a king; He reminds us that before the law was ever given through
Moses, even before man could technically violate the law of God, death reigned as a king of terrors. Death
continues to this very moment to wield a terrifying power over the human family.
In concluding, let me remind you of the focus of this passage. The focus is not on Adam, but on Christ. We
are reminded of Adam's sin and its consequences only that we might be fully assured of the gracious deed
of Christ which is able to remove the consequences of Adam's original sin, and to give us the gift of eternal
life. The deed of Christ is able to dethrone death and enthrone life and grace. Christ handled the case of
man's sin in the death of the Cross in a manner that is utterly acceptable to God. The whole question is will
you look to Christ in commitment and faith. Those who come to Christ for salvation end up gaining more in
Christ than they lost in Adam. Why do you wait dear brother? Why do you tarry so long?