Did God Really Say We Inherit Adam’s Sin?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Attacking God’s Word, Part 5

by Steve Ham on October 20, 2010

Some people have questioned whether or not we inherit Adam’s sinful nature. Steve Ham, AiG–U.S., explains how this view attacks the biblical message.

Behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5)

Today’s big question: did God really say we inherit Adam’s sin?

In AD 418, the Council at Carthage rejected the views of a man named Pelagius. Pelagius believed that each soul was directly created by God and thus man was born without a sinful nature. If true, it would follow that a person could be saved on personal merit, apart from the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. The Council condemned Pelagianism as heresy because of passages, such as Romans 5:12–21, which emphatically state that because of Adam’s sin, all of his descendants have been made sinners. 

The church has often defended God’s Word from those who attacked from within, but the Bible has stood the test of time. In yesterday’s devotional we saw that Jesus truly was fully God and fully man—our great Mediator. We read in Philippians 2:5–8 that Jesus was born in the likeness of men and was found in human form. He is called Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23), so even though He was a man, He never ceased to be God. We might not completely understand this truth, but it is biblical. 

In like manner, throughout the Bible we read the truth of mankind’s nature. Today’s verse tells us a harsh reality: we are all not just born in sin, we are actually conceived in sin. Romans 3 tells us that no one is good but God and there are none who even seek Him. We are “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We inherit Adam’s sinful nature and are sinful from the moment of conception. This is the truth of the depravity of our nature. 

Today, Pelagianism still infects the church when people deny the Bible’s words on this subject. We must study to gain a thorough understanding of God’s Word, and uphold His truth from the very first verse, so we can be equipped to deal with Genesis 3 attacks like so many church councils of the past have done. The essential understanding of a perfect creation helps us to understand the true effects of sin upon every human that descends from our original parents.

Godliness is not obtained by birth, but only through salvation in Jesus Christ and being set apart in Him alone. The Bible is clear: every human has a sin problem, and God became a man—the perfect and final sacrifice for our sin.

Today’s big idea: we are rebellious from the very beginning.

What to pray: acknowledge your condition before God and repent of any sin in your life.


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