What is original sin?


My question is, what is "original sin"? Are we born with Adam's sin attached to us or are we born separated from God but without an actual sin attached, or something else? I am a Christian and have never really thought about our state at birth much, I have only known that my sins since birth have needed paying for and took up Jesus' offer to foot the bill. I ask because my catholic friend puts huge importance on babies having a sin attached, and was horrified to find out that i hadn't had it "baptized" out of them. And when I got to thinking about why I hadn't, although I know why I didn't "get it done to them" (believing baptism to be a symbol of death/rebirth in Christ entered into voluntarily and knowingly by a person who has been saved - ie not a baby) I found myself wondering about the state we are born into.

My response is in Green:

I will try to explain as well as I understand. Original sin is something passed down to all of us from Adam. It is the sin nature that we all carry. Now think about this, Jesus was born as a human but His Father was God, not man, so He was born without that taint of sin. The sin nature is not the same as a personal sin. What I mean by that is that the Bible tells us that we are all the same, we have all sinned. We sin because of the taint of the sin nature passed down to us, in other words our hearts are evil and therefore we don't do what is right, we sin. You can see it in a child. You don't have to teach a child to be selfish and lie, it comes natural, you have to teach them to share and to tell the truth. That is our sin nature coming through.

Now the Jews believed that there is an age of accountability (I also believe this) at which point the child truly understands right from wrong and that they should do what is right. This is the point that I believe sins are put against their account. Now for a person who is mentally ill and never reaches that age, I believe that God's grace covers them. The same would be true of a child that dies before reaching the age of accountability. Once the person does reach that age it is up to them to either accept God's free gift of salvation or to reject it. Baptizing a child who has not sinned because they don't understand right from wrong and who cannot decide for themselves if they want forgiveness or not is meaningless.

God is a just and merciful and loving God. He will not judge people for things they have no control over. For example, He will never judge me because I have green eyes. I did not choose to have green eyes and so even if green eyes are a sin, they are not my sin because I had no control over them. I know that is kind of a stupid example but yet it speaks to the point.

Look at this passage: (Romans 4:13-15 NIV) [13] It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. [14] For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, [15] because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Now I am about to do what we are always told not to do, I am going to take this passage out of it original context to make a point, but I think you will see what I am getting at. Paul is talking about law and faith, but he makes the statement that "where there is no law there is no transgression." Think about that. Is a child under the law if they are unable to understand the law? Even human courts do not hold someone accountable for the law if they can't understand it. If you are capable of understanding but ignorant that is not an excuse, but you must at least be capable of understanding. Would God judge differently? I don't think so, so if a person can't understand they would not be under the law and where there is no law there is no transgression.

That is as close to an explanation as I can get. I hope it helps. Even if a child were to be held accountable, since the baptism means nothing to them it would be of no help in the sight of God. The water is not magic, it is what it represents in the heart of the person being baptized and in the heart of a child it is nothing more than wet and cold. So I agree with you.



E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)

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