WHAT IS "ORIGINAL SIN"?
The teaching known as “original sin” is a doctrine believed by many Christians but has no foundation in the Scriptures. Although there are various forms of the doctrine, I will simplify it for the sake of argument. Believers in original sin teach that all men are born sinners, that Adam’s sin is imputed onto all of his physical descendants and that unless a person repents, this original sin will prevent him from spending eternity with his Creator. Some take the doctrine further and claim original sin NEVER goes away, even at repentance, until the person dies and enters eternity as a believer.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ORIGINAL SIN?
There are several things WRONG with this doctrine. First of all, how can an innocent baby be a sinner? In order to be a sinner, one must sin. Scripture defines sin in I John 3:4 as transgressing the law (Torah) of Yah (name of the Hebrew Creator). How can a baby break the law? How can the baby even know what laws there are to break? He does not have the understanding or knowledge to commit sin and thus cannot be a sinner.
Secondly, if men are born sinners, what happens to aborted babies or children who die before they are able to repent? If they are sinners, they would have to go to Hell. What kind of Creator would send babies and little children to Hell for a sin committed thousands of years before they were born? This doctrine makes the Creator into a tyrant and despot. No wonder so many do not want to serve this Creator. If I believed in original sin, I would not want to serve the Creator either!
Thirdly, what intelligent parent would punish his child for something that he knew the child could not help doing? If humans are born sinners, then they cannot help but sin. Why would the Creator punish these humans with eternal hellfire for doing something He placed within them at birth?
And lastly, what kind of parent would ask a child to do an impossible task, and threaten him with punishment if he failed to do it?
For example, if I demanded my two-year-old son to run ten miles in thirty minutes and then spanked him for disobeying I would be unjust! I would be punishing him for something that I knew would be impossible for him to do! This is the same logic those who believe in original sin apply to the Creator of the Heavens and Earth.
ARGUMENTS USED FOR ORIGINAL SIN
Christians are forced to twist scriptures in order to support this silly doctrine. Romans chapter 5 is typically used. In this chapter, Paul speaks of death passing on all of Adam’s descendants as a result of his sin. BUT THAT IS ALL IT SAYS. When Adam sinned, the PHYSICAL consequence (physical death) was passed on to all of his descendants. But that is it! Nothing in Romans 5 remotely suggests that the MORAL consequences of his sin were passed on to his posterity. There is no way to read “spiritual death” into this context which clearly speaks of physical death.
Another scripture used is in Psalms 51 when David cries out that he was conceived in his mother’s womb in iniquity. Many Christians claim this proves David was “born in sin”. However, if you press the verse to its LITERAL meaning, David is not saying this at all. The actual verse reads: “In sin did my mother conceive me.” The subject of the sentence is NOT David, but HIS MOTHER. This verse tells us that David’s mother was IN SIN when she conceived David, not that David was in sin at his conception.
Other verses are pulled from Psalms, such as the one about babies speaking lies from the womb. Psalm 58:3 says “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Aside from the fact that Psalms is a POETIC book, babies do not know how to speak. So how can they literally speak lies from birth? This is obviously a metaphor and not literal.
THE ALTERNATIVE TO ORIGINAL SIN: AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
What is supported by scripture is the doctrine known as “the age of accountability”. This doctrine teaches that every human is born innocent. As they grow and learn, they eventually reach an age of accountability. Deut 1 tells us of the children in the Wilderness who were innocent because they did not know good from evil. This is a powerful scriptural description of the moral state of a human child. The age of accountability is different for every person. It is the age when he or she finally understands enough about good and evil to make a moral choice between the two. Once a child understands good and evil, the moment he chooses evil he is a sinner, AND NOT A MOMENT BEFORE! Conversely, the moment a child chooses good, he ceases to be innocent and becomes righteous.
Every child is in the same moral place as Adam and Eve were before they ate of the fruit. The age of accountability is the moment in one’s youth when one is faced with a tree of good and evil. Jews believe the age of accountability happens at 12. For children raised in a scriptural home, the age may arrive sooner. For children raised in a non religious home, the age may even arrive later. Either way, it is only when a child reaches the age of accountability that they can choose to sin or live righteously.
THE SAD CONCLUSION
However, if you take an honest look at the world, you will see that ALMOST EVERY human ever born has chosen, at a young age, to choose evil and become a sinner. Do you remember the first time you ever sinned? Remember how much shame you felt? How terrible you felt? It is because sin is horribly unnatural and your body reacted to it as your conscience screamed out at you: GUILTY!
We have all, more than likely, chosen to sin from our youths. As we continued in sin as a young child, then as a teenager and perhaps even as long as into our young adult lives, sin became more and more natural to us, more and more habitual. By the time we reach college, if we still have not repented, sin has become such a habit that it seems as if it is natural and part of the human experience. But our Creator did not intend it to be so.
By understanding this important doctrine, we see that Yah has NOTHING to do with our sin. We all have chosen to sin, at some early point in our lives, and that is why we must all choose to turn away from our sin and become righteous, returning to Jesus (YahShua).
INNOCENCE LOST, RIGHTEOUSNESS REGAINED
We can never regain back our innocence once we have chosen to sin. The first time you sinned, you threw away your innocence forever. However, you can become righteous by begging YahShua for mercy. Only by His atoning blood and the power of His Spirit can you hope to stop sinning and begin obeying the commandments in scripture. The only way you can gain His blood and power of His Spirit is by agreeing NEVER to sin again. It must come from a broken heart, saddened over your sin and the hurt you have caused your Creator, and a heart of love, desiring to place a smile on His face.
WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW?
Well, sinner, it is up to you. You can no longer blame Yah for your sin. You can no longer believe Him to be a tyrant and despot. Yah only requires you to give up what you freely chose to do and continue to choose to do. He only requires you to do that which you know you should have done long ago! Must you continue to live selfishly and break His laws? Must you continue to violate your very human nature by sinning? Why not surrender and live the way you were designed to live? Being human gives you even less of an excuse to sin. Yah created humans. He created humans innocent, including you, with the intent that you would grow up in your innocence, eventually crossing over into righteousness. It would have been better if you had never sinned, but now that you have, it is better to repent and become righteous than to continue in sin and burn in the Lake of Fire forever!
Choose this day whom you will serve, for the Messiah is soon to return. You are the only one responsible for your sin. And you are the only one who can choose to stop sinning and start obeying Yah’s commandments. What is your choice?
In YahShua and by His Torah,
Daniel J. Lee -- Portland State University Campus Preacher