What is the original sin?


By BibleAsk Team

The Original Sin

The original sin is a Christian belief in the state of sin in which humanity has existed since the fall of Adam and Eve. This state was the result of their disobedience in the garden of Eden when they ate from the forbidden fruit – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3). The doctrine of the original sin exhibits its effects on the world and in the condition of humans before God, even before they are old enough to sin. There are three main views related to the doctrine of the original sin:


In the 5th-century, Pelagius taught the essential goodness of human nature and the freedom of will. Pelagius stressed that sin is a voluntary act committed by a person against God’s law. And he taught that man didn’t inherit a tendency towards sin through the original sin of Adam.  Therefore, the only sinfulness a human can have, is acquired by his own decisions to sin which he called “acquired depravity” as opposed to “inherited depravity.”

Pelagianism contradicts the Scriptures which teach that man inherited the original sin or a sinful weakness from Adam. And thus he became a slave to sin. And without the help of divine strength, man’s good works can’t gain him God’s favor (Matthew 15:18-19; Romans 7:23; Ephesians 2:1-2; Hebrews 6:1; 9:14).


In the 16th century, John Calvin the Protestant reformer asserted that through one-man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men. Therefore, everyone has inherited the sinful nature which he called “total depravity.” And since humans can do nothing to save themselves, Calvin suggested the second doctrine which is “unconditional election” where God chooses to transform people from sinners to saints. Calvin taught that God is so sovereign that humans have no choice about whether or not they are saved or lost. 

Thus, the death of Christ is effective only for those who are chosen to be saved which he called “limited atonement.” Those who are elected cannot resist the will of God to elect them and he called this doctrine “irresistible grace.”  Once a human is saved, he is always saved which he called the “perseverance of the saints.” These five doctrines are referred to as “the TULIP” of Calvin, because the first letter of each phrase spells T-U-L-I-P.

But Calvinism is not Biblical because the Scriptures don’t teach the predestination of man by God. On the contrary man has the total freedom to choose to be saved or lost (John 15:10; 3:18; Joshua 24:15).


In the 17th century, Jacobus Arminius taught the doctrine of Arminianism which rose in opposition to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination.  He asserted that Adam’s sin caused humanity to inherit a propensity to sin (Romans 5:12; 3:23; Isaiah 53:6) and fell under God’s condemnation (Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8). Therefore, man can’t stop sinning nor please God (Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 8:7-8). For this reason, God grants people His universal “prevenient grace” to enable them to overcome sin (John 6:44; 3:3-7).

Arminianism is the most consistent belief with the Scriptures. For the Bible teaches that God desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; John 12:32); He calls them to accept His offer of grace (John 15:10; 3:18; Joshua 24:15); He judges them based on their choices (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Revelation 20:11-15); He tests them to see if they are faithful (Genesis 22:1; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Corinthians 10:13); and He enables them to overcome sin (Philippians 4:13).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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