On Original Sin, Sinful Nature, and Romans Chapter Five – Jesse Morrell

On Original Sin, Sinful Nature, and Romans Chapter Five

“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? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. 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….Yet say ye, Why? Doeth not the son bear the iniquity of the fathers? 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. 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 18:2-6, 19-20

“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made men upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”

Ecclesiastes 7:29

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

Romans 1:26-27

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”

Romans 2:14-15

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

Romans 6:13

Romans 5 is a chapter in the Bible that is often misunderstood and misused to teach that we existed and sinned in Adam, that Adam was our representative so that we are accountable for his sin, that we inherit from Adam a nature that is in and of itself sinful, etc. This is a very common proof-text for Augustinianism and therefore I wanted to share these three excerpts from my book, “Does Man Inherit A Sinful Nature?”

 photo SinfulNatureFrontCover_zps56fe1924.jpg


A Scriptural Discourse on the Human Constitution

By Jesse Morrell

211 pages


To Order: Click Here




John Calvin said, “we all sinned before we were born…”[18] He also said, “Even before we see the light of day, we are in God’s sight impure and sinful…”[19] And he said, “infants themselves, as they bring their condemnation into the world with them, are rendered obnoxious to punishment by their own sinfulness…”[20]

Calvin held to the notion that mankind all sinned in Adam. He taught that we participated in Adam’s original sin by existing in his loins and that we are therefore personally sinful, guilty, and hell deserving before we are born and before we do anything sinful in our own individual lives.[21] The philosophical idea is that our souls literally existed and acted in Adam’s loins. Calvin learned much of his theology from Augustine and Augustine taught that the soul was hereditary or inherited from your parents instead of created at conception as the Pelagians affirmed. Therefore, Augustinianism taught that we existed and acted in our ancestors and we are therefore responsible and accountable for their actions. We were created the same day Adam was and literally lived and sinned in Eden.

Jonathon Edwards was a Calvinist familiar with both the writings of John Calvin and Augustine. Jonathon Edwards said, “God in every step of his proceeding with Adam, looked on his posterity as being one with him. This will naturally follow on the supposition of there being a constituted oneness or identity of Adam and his posterity in the affair.”[22]

Jonathon Edwards also said “The sin of the apostasy is not theirs merely because God imputes it to them, but it is truly and properly theirs, and on that ground God imputes it to them.”[23]

Albert Barnes comments, “Edwards is supposed, therefore, to have held the notion that there was a constituted identity between Adam and us; in such a way that we are held answerable for the original guilt as being ours; that it was not made ours by imputation, but being ours by the identity; or being properly ours, in the same sense as the guilt of A. B. in childhood, is the guilt of A. B. in manhood, it is justly chargeable on us; and this is what is meant by imputation. This is believed to have been the original structure of Calvinism—this the doctrine of the Presbyterian Confession of Faith.”[24]

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation sinned in him, and fell with him in the first transgression.”[25]

 Albert Barnes said, “It is difficult to affix any clear and definite meaning to the expression, ‘We sinned in him, and fell with him.’ It is manifest, so far as it is capable of interpretation, that it is intended to convey the idea, not that the sin of Adam is imputed to us, or set over to our account; but that there was a personal identity constituted between Adam and his posterity, so that it was really our act, and ours only, after all, that was chargeable to us. This was the idea of Edwards. The notion of imputing sin is an invention of modern times.”[26]

This theology of Calvinism, of existing and acting in your ancestors, goes back to Augustine. The problem was that Augustine did not read Greek[27] but read a Latin version of the New Testament translated by Jerome, who mistranslated Romans 5:12. The KJV properly translates this verse as, “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” (Rom. 5:12). Many other English translations also properly translate this as “because all have sinned.” However, Augustine read Jerome’s Latin mistranslation which, instead of saying “for that all have sinned,” said, “in whom all sinned.” However, in the Greek “epi ho” never means “in whom.” This philosophical error was not corrected in the church for 1200 years, as the Latin Vulgate reigned supreme in Europe. It wasn’t until Erasmus that “epi ho” was properly translated to be “on who all have sinned” which is the proper idiomatic meaning. “Epi” means “on”[28] or “upon”[29] and “ho” means “who,”[30] so “epi ho” properly means “on who.” So Paul was saying in Romans 5:12 that death came into the world through Adam and it passed upon all men who have sinned. Augustine’s supposed scriptural support for mankind existing and sinning in Adam was therefore greatly mistaken. How sad that such a major doctrine in his theological system, which has caused so much division in the church, was based upon a mistranslation.

Paul clearly did not teach in Romans 5 that the sin of Adam was the sin of us all, or that we all sinned with Adam, as he stated that “by one man sin entered into the world” (Rom. 5:12). That is a numeric one, which would make no sense at all if all of mankind existed and acted in that sin. Paul referred to the original sin of Adam as “one man’s offense” (Rom. 5:17), “the offense of one” (Rom. 5:18), and “one man’s disobedience” (Rom. 5:19), not the offense of everyone or all mankind.

This particular moral philosophy of Seminal Identity or of existing and sinning in Adam would make us guilty, not just of Adam’s sin, but guilty of all the sins of all our ancestors since we descend from all of their loins or existed seminally in them all. It would also mean that we participated in the righteousness of Noah and are under God’s favor on account of that, since we all descend from Noah and were supposedly in his loins when he obeyed God. If we sinned when Adam sinned, then we obeyed when Noah obeyed. If we share in the damnation of Adam because we existed in his loins, logically we would share in the salvation of Noah because we existed in his loins as well.

Henry C. Sheldon said, “On the realistic hypothesis an individual of the present was indeed really in Adam; but just as really he was in his immediate progenitor, as also in the whole direct line of his ancestors. How come it then that he shared only in the guilt of an act committed by the remotest ancestor? If real existence in Adam explains his responsible share in the first trespass, then real existence in all the intermediate ancestors necessitates a responsible share in their trespasses… if Adam repented and was forgiven – as very likely was the case – the race preexisting in him is not to be viewed as having shared in these experiences, so as no longer to bear the guilt of the first trespass.”[31]

Moses Stuart said, “If Adam and his posterity are indeed all one, then all their sins are just as much his, as his is theirs, and his penitence is as much theirs, as his offences.”[32]

To further support the idea that we literally existed in Adam and therefore participated in the actions of all of our ancestors, Traducianists[33] have also use this passage: “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.” (Heb. 7:1-10).

Augustinians and Calvinists, who believe in Traducianism or the hereditariness of the soul, use this passage to say that since the Levites “come out of the loins of Abraham,” that they therefore literally existed in him, and therefore actually “payed tithes in Abraham.” They apply this logic to Adam and say that since we came out of the loins of Adam, we therefore sinned in him. That is, that our souls existed in Adam and therefore when he acted we acted too. Adam’s sin is, therefore, our own personal sin.

The Westminster Catechism said, “We sinned in him, and fell with him.”[34] Thomas Boston said, “Adam’s sin is imputed to us because it is ours. For God doth not reckon a thing to be ours, which is not so; for God’s justice doth not punish men for a sin which is in no way theirs.”[35] The New England Primer said, “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”[36] William Newell said that we “all acted when Adam acted.”[37]

However, Paul was not teaching in Hebrews that your soul literally existed in the loins of all your ancestors and is therefore guilty of their sins. This would be a blatant contradiction in Scripture, as the Lord has said, “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…. 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.” (Eze. 18:4, 20).

Paul certainly could not have written about Jacob and Esau, “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil” (Rom. 9:11), if in fact they both did evil in Adam and worked righteousness in Noah. Paul would have contradicted himself in Romans if he meant in Hebrews that we existed and acted in our ancestors.

Jacob and Esau were the grandchildren of Abraham. How could Paul say that they had not “done any good or evil” if they existed and acted in Abraham? If the Levites literally paid tithes in Abraham, Jacob and Esau also literally obeyed God in Abraham.  And if Paul literally meant that the Levites paid tithes in Abraham, then it would stand to reason that the Levites also obeyed God in Abraham. Paul wrote in the same book, “By faith Abraham… obeyed” (Heb. 11:8). If Paul meant that the Levites literally existed and acted in Abraham, and therefore mankind literally existed and acted in Adam and shared in his condemnation, then Paul also would be saying that the Levites, all of the tribes of Israel, Ishmael and his descendants, and Esau and the Edomites existed in Abraham and shared in his justification.

Alfred T. Overstreet said, “Yet according to the theory under question, all of Abraham’s descendants should have been justified by his faith, for they were all yet in his loins when he believed God and was justified.”[38]

Paul said Abraham was justified by faith (Rom. 4:3). That would mean that the offspring of Abraham were not born condemned for sinning in Adam but were born justified by having obedient faith in Abraham. The Israelites and his other descendents would not need to be born again because they were the “children of Abraham,” and this would be a total contradiction of Scripture (Matt. 3:9; Jn. 3:3). If there is no personal separation of identity and character between ancestors and descendents, but all existed and acted together at one time, these are some very serious problems and contradictions. Traducianism is an unreasonable and unscriptural theology that brings confusion and contradiction to biblical doctrine.

Paul’s reference to Levites who “come out of the loins of Abraham” is not teaching the preexistence of our souls in the loins of our ancestors, nor is he contradicting the doctrine that souls are created and new at conception. Rather, the reference to “loins” refers to the semen of Abraham. Loins in the Greek is defined as, “the place where the Hebrews thought the generative power (semen) resided.”[39] The Levites came out of the loins of Abraham, not because their souls existed in Abraham’s loins, but because the semen from which they were conceived came out of his loins. Certainly, Paul was not teaching that we are guilty of the sins of our ancestors, or participated in their righteous acts, simply because we come from their seminal fluid as their sperm!

The objective of Paul was not to teach that we existed and acted in our ancestors, but was rather to illustrate the greatness of the King of Salem, Malchisedec. If the Levites are descendants of Abraham, and tithes are paid to the Levites, yet Abraham paid tithes to Malchisedec, then Malchisedec must be great indeed. The priesthood of Malchisedec must be greater than the Levitical priesthood. That and nothing more was Paul’s intention and point. Paul was using hyperbole to illustrate his point, which is evidenced by the fact that before he said “Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham,” he first said, “And as I may so say.” This phrase, “as I may so say” is an important disclaimer to qualify his next statement as a figure of speech.

Regarding this phrase, “as I may so say,” Moses Stuart said, “It is a ‘softening down’ of an expression which a writer supposes his readers may deem too strong, or which may have the appearance of excess or severity. It amounts to an indirect apology for employing an unusual or unexpected assertion or phrase.”[40]

Adam Clarke said, “And as I may so say – And so to speak a word. This form of speech, which is very frequent among the purest Greek writers, is generally used to soften some harsh expression, or to limit the meaning when the proposition might otherwise appear to be too general. It answers fully to our so to speak – as one would say – I had almost said – in a certain sense. Many examples of its use by Aristotle, Philo, Lucian, Josephus, Demosthenes, Aeschines, and Plutarch, may be seen in Raphelius and Kypke.”[41]

Albert Barnes said, “And as I may so say – So to speak – For numerous examples in the classic writers of this expression, see Wetstein in loc. It is used precisely as it is with us when we say ‘so to speak,’ or ‘if I may be allowed the expression.’ It is employed when what is said is not strictly and literally true, but when it amounts to the same thing, or when about the same idea is conveyed…Here Paul could not mean that Levi had actually paid tithes in Abraham – for he had not then an existence; or that Abraham was his representative – for there had been no appointment of Abraham to act in that capacity by Levi; or that the act of Abraham was imputed or reckoned to Levi, for that was not true, and would not have been pertinent to the case if it were so. But it means, that in the circumstances of the case, the same thing occurred in regard to the superiority of Melchizedek, and the inferiority of the Levitical priesthood, as if Levi had been present with Abraham, and had himself actually paid tithes on that occasion. This was so because Abraham was the distinguished ancestor of Levi, and when an ancestor has done an act implying inferiority of rank to another, we feel as if the whole family or all the descendants, by that act recognized the inferiority, unless something occurs to change the relative rank of the persons. Here nothing indicating any such change had occurred. Melchizedek had no descendants of which mention is made, and the act of Abraham, as the head of the Hebrew race, stood therefore as if it were the act of all who descended from him.”[42]

We can see then that there is no exegetical scriptural support for the idea of literally existing and acting in your ancestors. Consequently, there is no genuine support from the Scriptures that we sinned in Adam and are therefore born already sinful, guilty, and damned.

Asa Mahan said, “The first that I notice is the position, that creatures are now held responsible, even as ‘deserving God’s wrath and curse, not only in this life, but in that which is to come,’ not merely for their own voluntary acts of disobedience, nor for their involuntary exercises, but for the act of a progenitor, performed when they had no existence. If God holds creatures responsible for such an act, we may safely affirm that it is absolutely impossible for them to conceive of the justice of such a principle; and that God has so constituted them, as to render it impossible for them to form such a conception. Can a being who is not a moral agent sin? Is not existence necessary to moral agency? How then can creatures ‘sin in and through another’ six thousand years before their own existence commenced? We cannot conceive of creatures as guilty for the involuntary and necessary exercises of their own minds. How can we conceive of them as guilty for the act of another being,–an act of which they had, and could have, no knowledge, choice, or agency whatever? How can intelligent beings hold such a dogma, and hold it as a revelation from Him who has declared with an oath, that the ‘son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,’ but that ‘every man shall die for his own sins?”[43]

Since there is no genuine scriptural support for the theory of existing and sinning in your ancestors, many modern Calvinists have rejected the theory of Seminal Identity but have replaced it with the doctrine of Federal Headship, which is the idea that Adam acted as our representative and therefore his sin and guilt are imputed to us. However, this too would be contrary to the explicit justice of God as stated in the Bible (Deut. 24:16, 2 Kng. 14:6, 2 Chron. 25:4, Eze. 18:2-4, Eze. 18:19-20, Jer. 17:10; 31:29-30; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:5-6; 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 11:15; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:11-12; Rev. 22:12). And Paul certainly was not teaching in Romans five that Adam was our representative and acted for us, so that Adam’s sin is imputed to all mankind, as the Apostle wrote in that chapter, “sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13).

Henry C. Sheldon said, “The theory of immediate imputation supposes Adam to have stood by divine appointment as the federal head of the race, their representative, so that his act was to be viewed not merely as his own but as the act of the race. The representative sinned; and therefore the race in its entirety was counted guilty. What is this but the apotheosis of legal artifice? The same God whose penetrating glance burns away every artifice, with which a man may enwrap himself, and reaches at once to the naked reality, is represented as swathing His judgment with a gigantic artifice, in that He holds countless millions guilty of a trespass which He knows was committed before their personal existence, and which they could no more prevent than they could hinder the fiat of creation. If this is justice, then justice is a word of unknown meaning.”[44]

The whole notion of being guilty and liable to punishment for a sin that occurred without your knowledge and without your consent, by a representative who represented you without your knowledge and without your consent, is both nonsense and injustice. This moral philosophy stands in sharp contrast with the reason and natural sense of justice which God has given us. It is absolutely impossible to be guilty of sin without first committing sin, and sin requires moral knowledge and personal choice. Therefore it is absolutely impossible to sin before you are born. It is impossible under the justice of God’s moral government to be born condemned because condemnation requires personal sin and personal sin requires moral knowledge and personal choice.

When the Bible says “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23; 5:12), this statement is not without qualification. This description is obviously limited to those who are capable of sinning or who are moral agents. It is self-evident that those who are not capable of sinning cannot be included in “all have sinned.” Those who don’t yet exist, those who don’t know right from wrong yet, and those who haven’t yet made any moral choices, are outside of the qualifying boundaries of the description of the “all” that have “sinned.”

The “all” that have “sinned” are those who have reached the age of accountability. The Bible explicitly says that infants in the womb haven’t yet sinned (Rom. 9:11). But the Bible say’s man’s heart is evil from their youth (Gen. 8:21; Jer. 22:21; 32:30). It doesn’t say that men are evil before they are born or before the age of accountability. The Hebrew word “youth” means “young people,” “childhood,” “juvenility,”[45] and “early life.”[46] So when it says men are evil from their youth, it does not mean evil from their birth but evil from a young age, particularly the age of accountability, which is a state when moral principle is developed in the mind.

Under the moral government of God, moral accountability is according to the moral knowledge that a moral being possesses. Jesus taught this just principle of God’s divine administration when He said, “Very I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment, than for that city” (Matt. 10:15). Sodom and Gomorrah never heard the gospel, so they will receive less punishment than those cities which have heard the gospel and have rejected it. Since Sodom and Gomorrah never heard the gospel, they are not going to be accountable to the truth of the gospel. However, those who have heard the gospel are obligated to obey it. Each person’s obligation and accountability is proportionate to each person’s knowledge. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Lk. 12:48). Much is required from those who have much, and little is required from those who have little. Just as moral obligation and accountability is proportionate to moral ability, moral obligation and accountability is proportionate to moral knowledge. However small or great your moral knowledge is, that is precisely how small or great your moral obligation is, no more and no less.

     Consider these logical and scriptural syllogisms:

Major premise: The reason that men are “without excuse” for their actions is because they have moral knowledge (Rom. 1:20).

Minor premise: Infants are ignorant or without moral knowledge (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16).


Conclusion: Therefore, infants are not “without excuse” but actually have an excuse for their actions.

Major premise: The wrath of God is against men because they “hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18).

Minor premise: Infants are ignorant of the truth and are without moral knowledge (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16).

Conclusion: Therefore, the wrath of God is not against infants.

Major premise: Those who are under “condemnation” are those to whom the “light is come” and have “loved darkness rather than light” (Jn. 3:19).

Minor premise: Infants cannot choose falsehood over truth because they are ignorant of the truth and are without moral knowledge (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16).

Conclusion: Therefore, infants are not under condemnation. 




Charles Finney said, “All the constitutional appetites and propensities of body and mind, are in themselves innocent; but when strongly excited are a powerful temptation to prohibited indulgence. To these constitutional appetites or propensities, so many appeals of temptation are made, as universally to lead human beings to sin. Adam was created in the perfection of manhood, certainly not with a sinful nature, and yet, an appeal to his innocent constitutional appetites led him into sin.”[47]

He also said, “The bodily appetites and tendencies of body and mind, when strongly excited, become the occasions of sin. So it was with Adam. No one will say that Adam had a sinful nature. But he had, by his constitution, an appetite for food and a desire for knowledge. These were not sinful but were as God made them. They were necessary to fit him to live in this world as a subject of God’s moral government. But being strongly excited led to indulgence, and thus became the occasions of his sinning against God. These tendencies were innocent in themselves, but he yielded to them in a sinful manner, and that was his sin.”[48]

Sin is an illegitimate use of our body and mind. Sin is an illegitimate gratification of a legitimate desire. An example would be our sexual desires. The attraction between the sexes is a “natural attraction.” It is normal and natural and is not in and of itself wrong. God created our nature and He gave us our sex drive. These desires are God given. He programmed them in us and designed us to have them. And everything God creates is good (Gen. 1:31).

Paris Reidhead said, “When God made us He gave us many different appetites… But God looked at the being He made and to whom He had given all these appetites and urges and said, ‘It is good!’”[49]

God intended for man to populate the world and He designed us in such a way as to make that possible. God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiple” (Gen. 1:22, 28). Sex, its physical passions, was God’s idea and creation. God designed our human bodies for the physical union between a male and a female. Sexual desire is natural and normal and is part of God’s intelligent design, as the devil certainly did not design our bodies!

Augustinianism, in accordance with Gnosticism, believed that our flesh is sinful. More specifically, Augustinianism says that the physical passion or the “concupiscence” of the flesh is a curse of the original sin of Adam, that all physical passion in sex is sinful, that all are born sinful on account of being born out of that physical passion, and that all are born sinful because they involuntarily inherit physical passion. This theology says that God punished all of mankind, on account of Adam’s sin, with sin – the sin of sexual desire.[50]

Augustine said, “Sensual lust belongs to the nature of brutes; but is a punishment in man.”[51] He said sexual desire was “a disease—a wound inflicted on nature through the treacherous counsel given by the devil—a vice of nature—a deformity—an evil that comes from the depravity of our nature which is vitiated by sin.”[52] He taught that no man was born sinless, because, “No man is now born without concupiscence.”[53] He said that “all descending from his [Adam’s] stock” are ‘infected… with the occult disease of his carnal concupiscence,”[54] and that, “The guilt of concupiscence is forgiven through [infant] baptism.”[55] On the other hand, Augustine taught that Christ alone was born sinless because Christ alone was born without sex and the desires involved, being born of a virgin.[56] He said, “the virgin conceived without that sensual passion; on which account, he [Jesus] alone was born without sin, when he condescended to be born in the flesh.”[57]

Augustine was rightly accused by Julian of Eclanum of teaching, “sexual impulse and the intercourse of married people were devised by the devil, and that therefore those who are born innocent are guilty, and that it is the work of the devil, not of God, that they are born of this diabolical intercourse. And this, without any ambiguity, is Manichaeism.”[58]

Albert Henry Newman said, “Augustine, the greatest of the Latin Fathers, was for many years connected with the Manichaeans and his modes of thought were greatly affected by this experience.”[59]

Harnack said, “We have, finally, in Augustine’s doctrine of sin a strong Manichaean and Gnostic element; for Augustine never wholly surmounted Manichaeism.”[60]

Dennis Carroll said, “Manichaeans also taught that sexual intercourse was satanic. Augustine taught that through sexual intercourse we pass on evil or sinfulness to our children. So I see these significant parallels between these two systems.”[61]

Harnack said, “The most remarkable feature in the sexual sphere was, in his [Augustine] view, the involuntariness of the impulse. But instead of inferring that it could not therefore be sinful – and this should have been the inference in keeping with the principle ‘omne peccatum ex voluntate” – he rather concludes that there is a sin which belongs to nature, namely, to natural vitiate, and not to the sphere of the will. He accordingly perceives a sin rooted in nature, of course in the form which it has assumed, a sin that propagates itself with our nature. It would be easy now to prove that in thinking of inherited sin, he always has chiefly in view this very sin, the lust of procreation.”[62]

Harnack said, “…and Augustine imagined paradisiacal marriages in which children were begotten without lust, or, as Julian says jestingly, were to be shaken from the trees. All that he here maintains had been long ago held by Marcion and the Gnostics. One would have, in fact, to be a very rough being not to be able, and that without Manichaeism, to sympathize with his feeling. But to yield to it as far as Augustine did, without rejecting marriage in consequence, could only happen at a time when doctrines were as confused as in the fifth century.”[63]

Alfred T. Overstreet said, “Augustine’s doctrine of sin, with his belief in the inherent sinfulness of the physical constitution, is wholly Manichaean. His idea that sin is propagated through the marriage union, that sexual desire is sin and that sexual lust in procreation transmits sin is also Manichaean. Augustine built his doctrine of original sin upon this premise – that sexual lust in procreation transmits sin.”[64]

Julian of Eclanum refuted this error of Gnosticism in Augustine’s theology by saying, “the sexual impulse—that is, that the virility itself, without which there can be no intercourse—is ordained by God.”[65]

While Adam and Eve realized that they were naked after they sinned and their eyes were opened (Gen. 3:7), this does not mean as Augustine thought, that they did not have any physical or sexual attraction one for another before they sinned. It simply means that in their former state ignorance, their nakedness did not have any moral connotations like it did now (Gen. 2:25). With their eyes opened, they had moral principles developed in their minds which were not previously there, thus they felt it necessary to cover their bodies, not because they did not previously have physical attractions or passions, but because they did not previously view these attractions and passions in any moral light.

Adam and Eve were physically designed for each other at their creation and were intended to multiply themselves through physical intercourse before they sinned (Gen. 1:22, 28). It is self-evident that God actually designed the bodies of men and women for each other. Physical attraction is by God’s design and is therefore not sinful in and of itself. If a man and a woman commit themselves to each other through marriage, and engage in a normal sexual relationship with each other within that marriage, they are naturally and lawfully satisfying or fulfilling their God given desires. As the Bible says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).

A person is not “born a sinner” because of sexual desire, as sexual desire does not develop until puberty. Sexual desire is not a sinful nature or a perverted desire that we are born with. Sexual desire is not a hereditary original sin. Natural attraction is a normal state of the flesh and is not itself sinful. But lust in the sinful sense is a state of the will. It is a sin to intentionally look at a women, whom you are not married to, lustfully (Matt. 5:28). But there is no sin in marital sex or in the fleshly passions which are involved, so long as these desires are fulfilled lawfully and naturally. Sin is not the choice to gratify some type of sinful nature, but sin, like sexual immorality, is choosing to fulfill natural desires in an unnatural and unlawful way.

Lust or concupiscence, in the sinful sense, is the deliberate desire to gratify a natural appetite in an unlawful way. The natural desire itself is not sinful, as it was given by God and is involuntary, but the deliberate desire to gratify it unlawfully is sin.  When the Bible talks of concupiscence or lust, in the sinful sense, is not referencing mere desire but “desire for what is forbidden.”[66] This is what is meant when the Bible says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). And, “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God” (1 Thes. 4:4-5). Notice that it classifies “evil concupiscence” and “the lust of concupiscence” and not mere desire itself. It is only evil or forbidden desire that is sinful. It is the desire of the will to gratify a desire of our nature through the means of sin which is sinful, and not necessarily the desire of our nature itself which is sinful.

I once called into a Calvinist radio show that was promoting the hereditary sinfulness of babies. The topic of the show was original sin, total depravity, and sinful nature. I asked the host, “Is human nature sinful?” He said, “Yes.” I asked, “Is homosexuality a sin?” He said, “Yes.” I asked, “Is homosexuality human nature?” He said, “No!” I then asked, “How can there be a sin which is contrary to our sinful nature?” He was silent. He didn’t know how to answer that question. If human nature is sinful, and homosexuality is a sin, how can homosexuality be against human nature? A sin which is against a sinful nature? This doesn’t make any sense.

The truth is that when a person engages in any form of sexual immorality, such as fornication, homosexuality, sodomy, pedophilia, or bestiality, they are choosing contrary to God’s intention for his creation and contrary to the design of our constitution. These sins are against our nature because they are contrary to our design, even after the original sin of Adam. Adam’s sin did not make these perversions natural to us. Sexual perversions are not the “natural use” of the body (Rom. 1:26-27). They are a perversion of our design. Through these sins men are trying to satisfy or fulfill their God given sexual desires in an unnatural, unlawful, and selfish manner. The Bible speaks of the wicked as being forward or perverse (Prov. 2:14), which means that they are not natural. The sexual desires of our body, like other desires of our flesh, are capable of being perverted and corrupted so that we can develop unnatural desires by our own choice to abuse the natural desires we started off with.

John Gill commented on Romans 1:26 which said “changed the natural use into that which is against nature” and he said they did this “by making use of such ways and methods with themselves, or other women, to gratify their lusts, which were never designed by nature for such a use.”[67]

Pelagius said, “For their women changed their natural relations into relations which are against nature. Those who turned against God turned everything on its head: for those who forsook the author of nature also could not keep to the order of nature.”[68]

The Bible says that fornication is a sin against our body (1 Cor. 6:18), that homosexuality is against nature or against the natural use of the body (Rom. 1:26-27) and that sodomy is an abuse of our flesh (1 Cor. 6:9). Men are not fornicators or homosexuals by birth or by design. Men are sinners by choice. Our will is free to choose to gratify our flesh lawfully or unlawfully, naturally or unnaturally. The natural desires of our flesh become the occasions of sin.




“For as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the many be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

  1. Our nature and birth are not mentioned throughout the entire chapter of Romans five. How then can this chapter be exegetically used to teach that we are born with a sinful nature? This it plainly does not teach.
  2.  If we are going to apply the first section of the passage unconditionally and universally, we must also apply the second section of the passage unconditionally and universally, since the language for both is the same. In a parallelism, Adam and Christ are compared and contrasted

    a. If the first section means mankind is universally and unconditionally condemned in Adam then the second section would mean that mankind is universally and unconditionally justified through Jesus.b. This verse cannot mean that all men have the imputed sinfulness of Adam because then it would be saying that all men have the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    c. This verse cannot mean that all mankind existed and sinned in Adam or else it would be saying that all mankind existed and obeyed in Christ.

    d. Nor can this verse be saying that all men inherit a sinful nature from Adam because then it would be saying that all men inherit a righteous nature from Christ.

    e. If “many were made sinners” means that we are born sinful without any choice of our own, then “many were made righteous” would mean that we were born righteous without any choice of our own. The language is identical for both and the same group of people is referenced.

  3. Paul does not explain how Adam is the occasion of our sin, but simply states that he is. He doesn’t explain “why” or “how” but only “that.” He gives a fact, not an explanation. Many try to add their own explanation by interposing their personal theories of “federal headship,” “imputation,” “seminal identity,” or “sinful nature,” when Paul does not explicitly teach any of these theories.a. Charles Finney said, “The Bible once, and only once, incidentally intimates that Adam’s first sin has in some way been the occasion, not the necessary physical cause, of all the sins of men. Rom. v. 12-19. It neither says nor intimates anything in relation to the manner in which Adam’s sin has occasioned this result. It only incidentally recognizes the fact, and then leaves it, just as if the quo modo was too obvious to need explanation. In other parts of the Bible we are informed how we are to account for the existence of sin among men. For example, James i. 15, “When lust (‘desire’, epithumia) has conceived, it bringeth forth sin.” Here sin is represented, not as the desire itself, but as consisting in the consent of the will to gratify the desire. James says again, that a man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lusts, (epithumia “desires”) and enticed. That is, his lusts, or the impulses of his sensibility, are his tempters. When he or his will is overcome of these, he sins.”[1]

    b. Albert Barnes said, “By one man’s disobedience. By means of the sin of Adam. This affirms simply the fact that such a result followed from the sin of Adam. The word by (dia) is used in the Scriptures as it is in all books and in all languages. It may denote the efficient cause; the instrumental cause; the principal cause; the meritorious cause; or the chief occasion by which a thing occurred. (See Schleusner.)[2] It does not express one mode, and one only, in which a thing is done; but that one thing is the result of another… There is not the slightest intimation that it was by imputation. The whole scope of the argument is, moreover, against this; for the object of the apostle is not to show that they were charged with the sin of another, but that they were in fact sinners themselves. If it means that they were condemned for his act, without any concurrence of their own will, then the correspondent part will be true, that all are constituted righteous in the same way; and thus the doctrine of universal salvation will be inevitable. But as none are constituted righteous who do not voluntarily avail themselves of the provisions of mercy, so it follows that those who are condemned, are not condemned for the sin of another without their own concurrence, nor unless they personally deserve it.“Sinners. Transgressors; those who deserve to be punished. It does not mean those who are condemned for the sin of another; but those who are violators of the law of God. All who are condemned are sinners. They are not innocent persons condemned for the crime of another. Men may be involved in the consequences of the sins of others without being to blame. The consequences of the crimes of a murderer, a drunkard, a pirate, may pass over from them, and affect thousands, and whelm them in ruin. But this does not prove that they are blameworthy. In the divine administration none are regarded as guilty who are not guilty; none are condemned who do not deserve to be condemned. All who sink to hell are sinners.”[3]

    c. Albert Barnes said, “I add, that one principal reason why so much difficulty has been felt here, has been an unwillingness to stop where the apostle does. Men have desired to advance farther, and penetrate the mysteries which the Spirit of inspiration has not disclosed. Where Paul states a simple fact, men often advance a theory. The fact may be clear and plain; their theory is obscure, involved, mysterious, or absurd. By degrees they learn to unite the fact and the theory:–they regard their explanation as the only possible one; and as the fact in question has the authority of divine revelation, so they insensibly come to regard their theory in the same light; and he that calls in question their speculation about the cause, or the mode, is set down as heretical, and as denying the doctrine of the apostle. A melancholy instance of this we have in the account which the apostle gives (ch. v.) about the effect of the sin of Adam. The simple fact is stated that that sin was followed by the sin and ruin of all his posterity. Yet he offers no explanation of the fact. He leaves it as indubitable; and as not demanding an explanation in his argument–perhaps as not admitting it. This is the whole of his doctrine on that subject. Yet men have not been satisfied with that. They have sought for a theory to account for it. And many suppose they have found it in the doctrine that the sin of Adam is imputed, or set over by an arbitrary arrangement to beings otherwise innocent, and that they are held to be responsible for a deed committed by a man thousands of years before they were born. This is the theory; and men insensibly forget that it is mere theory, and they blend that and the fact which the apostle states together; and deem the denial of the one, heresy as much as the denial of the other, i.e. they make it as impious to call in question their philosophy, as to doubt the facts stated on the authority of the apostle Paul. If men desire to understand the epistles of Paul, and avoid difficulties, they should be willing to leave it where he does; and this single rule would have made useless whole years and whole tomes of controversy.”[4]

    d. Albert Barnes said, “Christianity affirms the fact, that in connection with the sin of Adam, or as a result, all moral agents in this world will sin—and sinning, will die. Rom. v. 12—19. It does not affirm, however, anything about the mode in which this would be done. There are many ways conceivable in which that sin might secure the result, as there are many ways in which similar facts may be explained. The drunkard commonly secures, as a result, the fact that his family will be beggared, illiterate, profane and intemperate. Both facts are evidently to be explained on the same principle as a part of moral government. The Bible does not, it is believed, affirm that there is any principle of moral government in the one case, that is not in the other. Neither the facts, nor any proper inferences from the facts, affirm that I am, in either case, personally responsible for what another man did before I had an existence.”[5]

    e. Moses Stuart said, “We were constituted sinners means, that Adam was, in some sense or other, the cause or occasion of his posterity becoming sinners. But whether this was through a degradation of their nature physically propagated down from father to son; or whether it was (as Chrysostom, Ecumenius, Pelagius, Erasmus, and others have with little probability maintained), only by virtue of the example which he set, or whether it was in some other way, is not determined by the language of the text. Such expressions as we have seen above, do not determine of themselves either the degree or the kind of causality… That men should be constituted or made sinners by the disobedience of Adam, most naturally means, I had almost said, must necessarily mean, that in some way his offence so affected them as that they become actual sinners in propria persona.[6] Now is anything more common than this mode of expression? ‘A man of vicious character,’ we say, ‘corrupts his whole family. A profligate of winning exterior corrupts the whole neighborhood of youth around him.  One skeptic makes many doubters in revelation. Voltaire made half a literary Europe skeptical.’ Now in these and a thousand other like expressions, we do mean to assert an active influence, a real causality in some proper sense, of the evil done or spoken. Yet we never once think, for example, of Voltaire’s skepticism being imputed to half of literary Europe; nor do we once imagine, that any of the classes above named as being corrupted are corrupted without any voluntary agency, of their own…

    “But after all, the modus operandi[7] is not declared by the apostle. He does not say, whether the operation of Adam’s sin is on our physical or mental constitution; or whether it has influenced merely on the condition in which we are placed, as being expelled from paradise and surrounded by peculiar temptations; nor whether it is example merely of Adam which we copy…”[8]

    f. Many Old Testament Kings “made Israel to sin” (1 Kng. 14:16; 15:26, 30, 34; 16:13, 26; 21:22; 22:52; 2 Kng. 3:3; 10:29, 31; 13:2; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28; 21:11, 16; 23:15); that is, through their leading, influence, and example they made Israel to sin. It is not implied that Israel was made to sin without their free choice, but that their free choice was involved and was influenced to sin. Foreign women caused king Solomon to sin  (Neh. 13:26);  that  is,  through their leading, influence, and example, Solomon decided to sin.  By setting up high places of Baal, men caused Judah to sin (Jer. 32:35); that is, they sinned because of this leading, influence, and example.  “My people have been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have gone astray” (Jer. 50:6); that is, by the leading, influence, and example of the shepherds the sheep went astray. Again, Israel had leaders who would “lead” and “caused” them “to err” (Isa. 3:12).  Through a person’s leading, influence, and example, a little child can be caused to sin (Matt. 18:6; Mk. 9:42; Lk. 17:2).  The leading, influence, and example of a Christian can even cause a weaker brother to stumble (1 Cor. 8:9). And the Bible says men could “fall” because of someone’s “example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11). These passages of Scripture show us that when it says in Romans 5, “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” this does not necessarily imply that they were made sinners without their own personal free choice to sin.  Nor does “many were made righteous” mean that we were born righteous or became righteous apart from our own choice to repent of our sins and have faith in Christ.

  4. The Calvinistic interpretation of this passage, that all the children of Adam are automatically and unconditionally damned under the wrath of God for the sin of their father, which occurred without their knowledge and without their consent, because Adam was their representative (Federal Headship), is a view which is contrary to the natural sense of justice God has constituted us with and contrary to the explicit justice of God as taught in the scriptures (Deut. 24:16, 2 Kng. 14:6, 2 Chron. 25:4, Eze. 18:2-4, Eze. 18:19-20, Jer. 17:10; 31:29-30; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:5-6; 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 11:15; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:11-12; Rev. 22:12). To represent God as imputing guilt to the innocent is to represent God as arbitrary and unjust.
  5. The Augustinian view that Adam’s sin is imputed to us because it is rightfully ours, because our souls were in his loins when he sinned (Seminal Identity), would logically make us guilty, not only of Adam’s sin, but of all the sins of all our ancestors. It would mean that we were participants in the repentance, conversion, and salvation of any of our ancestors, since we would have existed in their loins as well. We would be punishable, not only for existing in Adam’s loins during his disobedience, but also praiseworthy for existing in Noah’s loins during his obedience. This too would be contrary to the natural sense of justice that God has constituted us with and contrary to the explicit justice of God as revealed in the scriptures (Deut. 24:16, 2 Kng. 14:6, 2 Chron. 25:4, Eze. 18:2-4, Eze. 18:19-20, Jer. 17:10; 31:29-30; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:5-6; 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 11:15; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:11-12; Rev. 22:12).
  6. The Augustinian view also says that Adam’s sin corrupted human nature and made it sinful, specifically through lusts and sexual desires. And therefore all are born sinners because they are born through sex and with a sinful nature and are in need of infant baptism to wash away the guilt of original sin and regenerate their natures. But if two parents were baptized and had the guilt of original sin washed away and their natures regenerated, how could they transmit guilt and corruption to their subsequent offspring? They would have no guilt or corruption to pass on. If we can inherit a sinful nature from Adam because of Adam’s single sin, it would stand to reason that we can inherit a righteous nature from our parent if our parent obeyed God once. The latter is only as absurd as the former. If regeneration were constitutional instead of moral, relating to our nature and not our will, then if two unregenerate parents transmit a sinful nature to their posterity, it stands to reason that two regenerate parents would transmit a regenerate nature to their posterity. And as Noah was a righteous man, he must have been regenerate. And since all mankind descend from him, all mankind would not inherit a sinful nature from Adam but would inherit a righteous nature from Noah. That is, if regeneration were constitutional or if moral character was hereditary.
  7. Pelagius said, “If baptism washes away that ancient sin, those who have been born of two baptized parents should not have this sin, for they could not have passed on to their children what they themselves in no wise possessed.”[9]
  8. If either the doctrine of Federal Headship or the doctrine of Seminal Identity were true, God’s declaration would be not only meaningless but false when He said, “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father” (Eze. 18:20). Any interpretation of any passage which makes the Bible contradict itself cannot possibly be a true interpretation because it violates the exegetical law of non-contradiction.
  9. The context of Paul’s statement shows us that he does not mean that we are damned for Adam’s personal sin, and it shows us that he does not mean to deny that we are damned for our own personal sin.a. Paul said, “…death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). The reason that Paul assigned for their death was because they personally sinned.

    b. This must be talking about spiritual death since infants at times physically die and they haven’t yet had the chance or opportunity to sin.

    c. Paul went on to say, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression” (Rom. 5:14). In the time between “Adam to Moses,” there were no Ten Commandments, and therefore there could be no “transgression.” Paul said “for where no law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15).

    d. Nevertheless, those in that time were sinning against their own conscience and the light of nature, as Paul said, “For until the law sin was in the world” (Rom. 5:13). There was sin in the world even before the law came through Moses, but there was no transgression before the law because men sinned against their own conscience and did not transgress any commandments. “Transgression” implies a direct commandment, which did not exist between Adam and Moses

    e. Therefore, they did not sin “after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” or in the same way and manner that Adam did, since Adam violated a direct commandment but they only the law of human nature.

    f. Paul made a very clear distinction between their sin and Adam’s sin. He said “all have sinned” even though it was not similar or like “Adam’s transgression.”

    g. If Paul meant to argue that all men sinned in Adam and are consequently damned for the sin of Adam, he would not have said that the reason all die is because all have personally sinned, even though their personal sin is different and distinct from the sin of Adam. If we sinned in Adam, then his sin is not distinct or different from our own. If we sinned in Adam, then we did sin after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. If Paul meant to say that we sinned in Adam, Paul would have been arguing for the opposite of what he intended to prove by making a distinction between our sin and Adam’s sin

    h. Moses Stuart said, “That a+martiva here means something different from original sin, or imputed sin, seems to be clear from the reference which the apostle tacitly makes to a law of nature that had been transgressed. A revealed law there was not for men in general, antecedently to the time of Moses; yet men were sinners. How? By sinning against the law ‘written on their hearts’ (ii. 15); and sinning in despite of the penalty of death, i. 32. But if such was their sin, it was actual sin, not merely imputed guilt… Augustine, Pres. Edwards, and many others, maintain a real physical unity of Adam with all his posterity; and hence they derive to all his posterity a participation in his sin. But if his sin be theirs in any proper sense, i.e., be really theirs by such a unity as is asserted; or even if it be theirs by mere imputation without this; then how it is that the sin of the a!nomoi is (as Paul asserts) NOT like that of Adam? How can it be unlike it, when it is the very same; either the very same in reality (as Augustine and his followers hold), or the very same putatively, as others suppose?”[10]

    i. John Calvin said, “Even over them, etc. Though this passage is commonly understood of infants, who being guilty of no actual sin, die through original sin, I yet prefer to regard it as referring to all those who sinned without the law; for this verse is to be connected with the preceding clause, which says, that those who were without the law did not impute sin to themselves. Hence they sinned not after the similitude of Adam’s transgression; for they had not, like him, the will of God made known to them by a certain oracle: for the Lord had forbidden Adam to touch the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; but to them he had given no command besides the testimony of conscience.”[11]

    j. Pelagius said, “Death reigned not only over those who, like Adam, transgressed a commandment – such as the sons of Noah, who were ordered not to eat the life in the blood, and the sons of Abraham, for whom circumcision was enjoined but also over those who, lacking the commandment, showed contempt for the law of nature.”[12]

    k. Alfred T. Overstreet said, “Paul spoke in Romans 5:14 of ‘them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.’ Paul referred here to those who had sinned before the giving of the law and so had not sinned against a positive precept as Adam had, but only against the law of conscience and reason. Paul said they were sinners, but the fact that he said they had ‘not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression’ shows that Paul did not consider the sin of Adam to be their sin.”[13]

  10. When Paul said by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, he was saying that Adam is the occasion, not cause, of our choice to be sinners. Adam’s disobedience contributed to our choice to be sinners.

    a. Paul does not specifically explain how Adam contributed to our choice to sin, but it could be that by Adam’s disobedience of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam provided all mankind with the opportunity of choosing to be sinners themselves, since moral knowledge of good and evil has been given to all mankind as a result of his disobedience.

    b. A sinner is an individual who voluntarily chooses contrary to the moral knowledge that they have.  To say “many were made sinners” means that many have chosen to sin, since a sinner is someone who first chooses to sin. It means men have chosen to do what they knew to be wrong. The description “sinner” relates to choice and character, not constitution or nature. It means that as a result of Adam’s disobedience, we have become sinful in our choices, not in our nature itself.

    c. The result of one man’s disobedience of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was that many were made sinners in that men have chosen to be sinners or have chosen to do what they knew was wrong.  “And the Lord God said, behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22). “Jesus said unto them, if ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, we see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:41). “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17).

    d. Adam provided the opportunity for our damnation by opening the eyes of mankind to good and evil, but our damnation requires our own choice to do what we know to be wrong.

  11. When Paul said that through Christ many are made righteous, that does not mean that all men are unconditionally made right with God, but that Christ has given us the occasion of salvation and many are made righteous through that occasion.

    a. By Christ’s obedience of hanging on the tree, Christ has provided all mankind with the opportunity of choosing to be saved. This is because the remission of sin has been offered to all men upon condition of their repentance and faith, and because it is the knowledge of the gospel which draws us and influences us to repentance. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). “…the gospel of Christ… it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). “…without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).

    b. Christ provided the opportunity and influence for our salvation, but our salvation still requires our own choice. Just as damnation has not unconditionally come upon all but depends upon our choice to sin, so also salvation has not unconditionally come upon all but depends upon our choice to be converted.

    c. The parallelism and contrast expressed by Paul, in this case, would be clear. Adam’s disobedience consisted in eating from the tree. Christ’s obedience consisted in hanging on the tree. Adam’s disobedience resulted in the knowledge of good and evil, which gives us the opportunity to be sinners. Christ’s obedience resulted in the knowledge of the gospel, which gives us the opportunity to be made righteous. Condemnation comes upon those who choose to disobey the knowledge of good and evil. Justification comes upon those who choose to obey the knowledge of the gospel.

  12. This passage is not teaching that we contributed to Adam’s sin or participated in it, but that Adam contributed to our sin. It is not that our actions resulted in Adam becoming a sinner but that Adam’s actions resulted in us becoming sinners. That is, the result of his disobedience of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is that we too have now chosen to sin.
  13. The word “made” used in these passages is not referring to a constitutional change of our nature, but referring to a conditional position which requires the consent of the will. Being a sinner is conditional upon choosing to sin. Likewise, being justified is conditional upon choosing to repent and believe. No man is damned without first his choice to sin and no man is justified without first his choice to repent. Man’s damnation and man’s justification both require man’s free will choice.
  14. To be made a sinner by Adam’s transgression, one does not need to inherit sin itself, or a nature that will necessitate sinful choices, as the exposure to temptation as a result of Adam’s sin can be the means of becoming a sinner as a result of Adam’s disobedience.a. Charles Finney said, “His sin in many ways exposes his posterity to aggravated temptation. Not only the physical constitution of all men, but all the influences under which they first form their moral character, are widely different from what they would have been, if sin had never been introduced.”[14]
  15. The phrases, “made sinners” and “made righteous” does not itself imply when this occurs. It is not to be assumed that all men were made sinners when Adam sinned, as they did not yet then exist. Rather, the Bible says that men are sinners “from their youth” (Gen. 8:21; Jer. 22:21; 32:30), or starting at the age of accountability when they become moral agents and choose to sin. Likewise, it is not to be assumed that men were made righteous when Jesus Christ died, as most believers did not yet then exist. Rather, we become righteous at conversion when we choose to put our faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).
  16. The idea that moral character can exist without the choice of the will is an absurdity and presupposes a Gnostic moral philosophy. Any interpretation that makes a man sinful or a sinner independent of his choice must be false and unscriptural, as the Bible has repeatedly condemned and contradicted Gnostic moral philosophy. Moral character and consequently moral depravity is always voluntary. To be made a “sinner” can mean nothing more than becoming a person who chooses to sin, to become a person who freely chooses to do what is known to be wrong. Otherwise the word “sinner” is void of all real meaning and would fail to actually describe a moral state or express any moral quality.
  17. Gordon. C. Olson said, “We must remark upon the celebrated passage in Ro. 5:12-19, which is often referred to as establishing the dogma of the literal imputation of Adam’s guilt to all his posterity. The discussion of this passage in this connection has gone on for a millennium and a half. Everyone who believes the Bible affirms the first part of verse 12 as historical: “By one man sin entered into the world.” It appears that “death” is to be  interpreted  as  primarily spiritual, in the sense of separation from God, with physical death as a secondary consequence because of being shut out from “the tree of life.” It has been affirmed by many that Adam acted for the whole human race, either as an appointed federal head or as an organic head, and therefore the last part of verse 12 ought to be rendered, “in whom all have  sinned.”  The  organic  concept  considers  the  whole human race as pre-existing mysteriously in Adam. Upon this theory, Adam’s guilt is our guilt and is the basis for universal condemnation. However, the text only affirms that “death passed upon all men in as much as all have sinned.” There is no proof that Adam is involved in this last statement. It is most interesting to note that the same verb and tense appear in 3:23, where we read: “For all have sinned, and come short (or are coming short) of the glory of God.” Also, in 3:12 we have the same tense: “All did turn aside from (the right way).” It appears that these verses declare the tragic fact that all mankind, without exception, have followed Adam’s example in rebelling against God, with the sad consequence of spiritual death or eternal separation from God. This is what Isaiah had declared so long ago in the words: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (53:6).

    “In understanding Ro. 5:12-19, we must distinguish between “occasion” and “cause.” By occasion we mean an opportunity or “a condition of affairs that brings something about; …especially, the immediate inciting circumstances as distinguished from the real or fundamental cause.”[15] By cause we mean that event or force which actually produces the results or the effect without any further action. Cause is therefore the reason for the action, occasion the opportunity or circumstances. This passage speaks of two individuals who did something to or for the human race – Adam and the Lord Jesus. We have a direct parallelism drawn, extending to the same group of mankind, or, most evidently, to the whole of mankind.  The article  “the”  inserted  before  “many”  in verses 15 and 19, adds emphasis and affirms that the same group is referred to in both cases.[16] In verse 18 we have “all men” appearing in each parallelism. By what linguistic authority could we say that the terms, “the many” and “all men,” when appearing on the Adamic side of the parallelism refer to the whole of mankind, while the same terms appearing on the Christ side refer only to those who are actually saved?

    “Since,  obviously,  the  terms,  “the  many”  and  “all men,” appearing on each side of the parallelism, refer to the same mass of mankind, we are entitled to say that if Adam was the cause of the downfall and condemnation of all, then Christ is the cause of the salvation of “all men unto the justification  of  life.”  If  free  will  and  moral  agency  is eliminated on one side, it is also eliminated on the other. But if we view the two great leaders of the human race as providing occasions or circumstances for moral action, each to the whole mass of mankind without exception, then we may say that Adam’s sin strongly influenced every member of the human race to follow in his footsteps and choose for himself the life of sinful indulgence, while the Lord Jesus by His life and sacrificial death likewise provided something for each member of the human race to act upon. Just as Adam permeated the atmosphere with wrongful indulgence to draw all men towards sin, so the Lord Jesus permeated the atmosphere with love and mercy to draw all men toward holiness. The passage, then, describes the occasion of sin and the occasion of salvation as being co-extensive, committing to each moral being the cause and the responsibility for his own response to these influences. In this view, the passage becomes a blessed revelation of the glories of our Lord and Saviour, unencumbered by perplexity…

    “We are considerably relieved, therefore, to find the lack of Biblical evidence for the dogma, that the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to all his posterity, and to conclude that “the Judge of all the earth” will hold each moral being accountable only for his own sins. While the sin of Adam and its consequences provide a strong occasion, nevertheless each moral being is the cause or author of his own guilt.”[17]


 photo SinfulNatureFrontCover_zps56fe1924.jpg


A Scriptural Discourse on the Human Constitution

By Jesse Morrell

211 pages


To Order: Click Here

[1] Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 edition, published by Biblical Truth Resources, p. 291

[2] Novum lexicon Graeco-Latinum in Novum Testamentum, published in 1792. This work translated Greek words found in the New Testament into Latin.

[3] Albert Barnes’s commentary on Romans 5:18

[4] Albert Barnes’s commentary on Romans 5:12-18

[5] A Defense of New England Theology, published by Biblical Truth Resources, p. 40

[6] Latin for “in one’s own person or character.” It is a legal term used to express an individual acting as their own representative without an attorney acting for them.

[7] A Latin phrase approximately translated as “method of operation.”

[8] Commentary on Romans, W.F. Draper, Andover, 1868, pp. 459-461

[9] Pelagius’s commentary on Romans 5:15

[10] Moses Stuart’s commentary on Romans 5:13

[11] John Calvin’s commentary on Romans 5:14

[12] Pelagius’s commentary on Romans 5:14

[13] Are Men Born Sinners, The Myth of Original Sin, Evangel Books Publishing Company, Long Beach California, p. 76

[14] Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, published by Biblical Truth Resources, p. 294.

[15] Merriam-Webster

[16] The Greek reads “οἱ πολλοί” or “the many” in regards to those affected by Adam and Christ.  The “οἱ” is a definite article translated “the.”

[17] The Essentials of Salvation, published by Biblical Truth Resources, p. 258-260

[18] Essay’s, Lectures, Etc, Upon Select Topics in Revealed Theology, Published by Clark, Austin & Smith, 1859 Edition, p. 172

[19] Essay’s, Lectures, Etc, Upon Select Topics in Revealed Theology, Published by Clark, Austin & Smith, 1859 Edition, p. 172

[20] Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by John Allen, Published by Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1844 Edition, p. 229

[21] John Calvin and even modern Calvinists like John Piper have taught in some cases infant salvation. However, this necessarily implies infant damnation, as only the damned are in need of salvation. If infants are sinners, they deserve the eternal wrath of God. They teach that infants are born damned for what Adam did, yet if they die in infancy, somehow they are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Infant salvation is a contradiction in their system, as it denies justification by faith as the only hope for sinners in this life. Infants cannot have faith in the gospel as they have no knowledge of the gospel. Therefore, to teach infant salvation, in their system, is to deny a key pillar of their system – “sola fide.”

[22] Original Sin, part iv. ch. iii.

[23] Ibid.

[24] A Defense of New England Theology, published by Biblical Truth Resources, p. 43

[25] Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q/A 16

[26] A Defense of New England Theology, published by Biblical Truth Resources, p. 40

[27] As stated earlier in this book, Augustine did not know Greek as his theological opponent Pelagius did.

[28] Thayer’s definition of “epi” as found in Romans. 5:12.

[29] Strong’s definition of “epi” as found in Romans 5:12.

[30] Thayer’s definition of “ho” as found in Romans 5:12.

[31] System of Christian Doctrine, Jennings & Graham, Cincinnati, 1912, pp. 311-321

[32] Commentary on Romans, W.F. Draper, Andover, 1868, pp. 195-197

[33] Those who believe in the doctrine of traducianism, the theological belief that souls are hereditary instead of created at conception.

[34] The Westminster Catechism

[35] Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 16

[36] The New England Primer, 1777 Edition.

[37] William Newell’s Commentary on Romans 5.

[38] Are Men Born Sinners, The Myth of Original Sin, Evangel Books Publishing Company, Long Beach California, p.74-75

[39] Thayer’s definition of “osphus” as used in Heb. 7:5.

[40] Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 1834 Edition, P. 396

[41] Adam Clarke’s commentary on Hebrews 7:9.

[42] Albert Barnes’s commentary on Hebrews 7:9.

[43] Doctrine of the Will, published by Biblical Truth Resources, p. 97.

[44] System of Christian Doctrine, Jennings & Graham, Cincinnati, 1912, pp. 311-321

[45] Strong’s definition of “nâ‛ûr  nâ‛ûr  ne‛ûrâh.”

[46] Brown Driver Briggs definition of “nâ‛ûr  nâ‛ûr  ne‛ûrâh.”

[47] Sermons on Important Subjects, Published by John S. Taylor, 1836 Edition, p. 157-158

[48] You Can Be Holy, Published by Whitaker House, p. 215

[49] Finding the Reality of God, p. 85

[50] This is also a Lutheran theological view, as Luther learned much of his theology from studying the teachings of Augustine. Luther taught that concupiscence or the physical inclination or temptation to sin is sin itself. Lutheranism teaches that “original sin is concupiscence” or “the constant inclination of the nature” and, “the entire person with its entire nature is born in sin as with a hereditary disease.” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession 2.38-41). Like Augustine, Lutherans view sin as a hereditary disease of nature instead of exclusively a crime or a personal choice of the will. A crime relates to law and choice and can be justly punished, but a hereditary disease is an unfortunate calamity and only an unreasonable and unjust person would blame and punish someone for inheriting a disease.

[51] Historical Presentation of Augustinianism and Pelagianism, Published by BRCCD, p. 110

[52] Ibid. p. 110

[53] Ibid. p. 110

[54] De. Pec. Mer. I.

[55] De Nupt. et Conc. I. 26

[56] Augustine’s negative views on sex seems to stem from his extremely sensual life prior to conversion, his time in the Manichean sect,  and his struggles with sexual desire after taking a vow of celibacy. Augustine had a son out of wedlock, named Adeodatus, with his concubine. Augustine even said that prostitution was necessary for society. “If you expel prostitution from society you will unsettle everything on account of lusts” (Richards, 118). Thomas Raush, Chair of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University said, “It’s regrettable that St. Augustine’s influence and the negative appraisal of sexuality, based on his own struggles to be chaste, has so impacted negatively with Christian tradition.”

[57] De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia

[58] Letter to Rome.

[59] Manuel of Church History, Vol. I, p. 197

[60] History of Dogma, Vol V. Russel & Russel, New York, 1958, p. 102

[61] Interview for the film Beyond Augustine, produced by Inlight Productions

[62] History of Dogma, Vol V. Russel & Russel, New York, 1958, p. 197

[63] History of Dogma, Vol V. Russel & Russel, New York, 1958, p. 212

[64] Are Men Born Sinners, The Myth of Original Sin, Evangel Books Publishing Company, Long Beach California, p. 37

[65] Letter to Rome.

[66] Thayer’s definition of “epithumia.”

[67] John Gill’s commentary on Romans 1:26

[68] Pelagius’s commentary on Romans 1:26

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to On Original Sin, Sinful Nature, and Romans Chapter Five – Jesse Morrell

  1. It is contrary to the natural sense of justice that God Himself gave us for us to be damned to eternal torture for a sin that occurred without our knowledge and without our consent. Why would God so constituted us to view Him as unjust, if God actually does condemn us for the sin of another??

  2. Reblogged this on Arminian Today and commented:
    A post from Jesse Morrell from a moral governmental viewpoint regarding original sin, sinful nature, and he examines Romans 5. It is worth reading. This comes from a book that he has written on the subject.

  3. A key point is the mistranslation by Jerome. And yet, because theology has built such a large artifice on it, so many modern theologians will still seek to defend “orthodox” doctrines built upon this false evidence! Perhaps there is a memory of the persecution of the State-Church, whether in the times of Augustine or Calvin. Considering more deeply, we can see that religious spirits have a stake in keeping us from the truth of full personal responsibility, and the conviction and awakening that naturally results from preaching it to the public conscience.

    • For example; The Geneva Bible makes the same error in Romans 5:12 in 1599 (!):
      “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death went over all men: in whom all men have sinned.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s