Original Sin | the real explanation
We have all heard this message preached from the pulpit. There may be a variety of ways that it's preached, but the content is basically the same. Once upon a time, this sermon might have consisted of a guilt trip. "You are destined to be evil, and that is why you need Jesus," etc. Wherever this topic is not brought up, the expositors called it a "sibling issue". This destiny, it seems, is inevitable. But, if you belong to a particular set of denominational – typically Reformed – communities, you don't have to worry about the consequences. You're covered by your election.
Lately though strategies seem to have changed from the doom gloom approach. The language has lightened up. Maybe the "guilt trip" trend has worn itself out, or preachers don't have the nuggets to tell people they are wicked reprobates.
The explanation generally given is that mankind is doomed to be evil due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve, unless he is "saved". "Original sin is not just this inherited spiritual disease or defect in human nature; it's also the 'condemnation' that goes with that fault" (Read more here).
At this point I should make it clear that I believe the Bible is massively mistaught. That it is, typically, not from the correct perspective. I will dive into that logic in a different post. But for now, there are a few things that you should note before you take the time to check your Bible against what I'm about to say.
Do you believe the Bible reveals reality?
Think about it for a second, do you genuinely believe this revelation of profound historical and spiritual insight? Do you believe that it is the single perfect source for the telling of our Maker's will, history and desires. Then read it through that perspective. Read it from the perspective that it is reality. The Bible speaks directly into the reality of our lives. Now. It reveals the God as underlying all our experiences. The Bible is reality.
Funny how kids do this naturally, without instruction. See Matthew 18:2-4.
The Original Sin.
There is a central explanation that theological scholars tend to give about humanity. They call it Original Sin. Their explanation overcomplicates discussions about humanity's relationship to sin and, frankly, misses the mark. In my reading of the Bible, Adam and Eve were created perfect. I can tell you honestly that I have never heard this response preached.
I will take some time to try to give you my non-seminary graduate perspective on this.
What was perfect?
Well if you read the entire passage in Genesis on your own, you will learn that perfection was, in reality, a protection given humanity by God. Under this protection, Adam and Eve would have never had the opportunity to sin because they would have never seen the sin.
Both Adam and Eve were given – created with, endowed with, trusted with – the ability to make decisions. This point is biblically evident. Irrefutably. This fact is not argued, regardless of the various denominational positions the theoillogical experts might take.
Both Adma and Eve were told not to eat the apple from the tree of good and evil. They were thus given an opportunity to choose. To listen, or not to listen.
Hey, the Devil didn't lie to Eve. Kinda.
"And the serpent said unto the woman, 'Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.'"
This is a famous passage. And the reality is, the serpent seems to be telling the truth. But, let's clarify this point by looking at the surrounding context of the passage...
The Contextual Conundrum.
The big debate is really over whether or not the word "die" was a lie. But, first, think about that word "charmed." Then, think about Satan's overall agenda. Does "charming" someone require a full-blown lie? Certainly, he's not being fully transparent. But, is it a "lie," per se?
Consider this: humans also have a tendency to not be completely transparent.
Now review the context of the quotation: Eve did not fall over dead when she ate the apple physically, neither did Adam. However, they did lose what mattered most to them: union with their Maker. Adam was regretting his decision immediately, and probably wanted to make things right. More than likely, this was for his own good due.
Generally, the word "death" is a mystery that in itself makes the simple complexity of the Bible beautiful. But, "death" represents an eternal separation from God. It's that simple. Of course, we can dig more in-depth on this later...
When God came back to the garden, He knew what was going on...but look at Genesis 3:22,
"And Jehovah God said, Behold, the Man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever."
Satan was not 100% upfront, but he also wasn't entirely deceitful either.
Funny how that same behavior is not that uncommon amongst people. Hind sight is 20/20.
He should have disclosed the real meaning of death and been transparent, but hey, he had an agenda. And he was a charmer.
Yes, there were extreme, justifiable, consequences initiated by Adam's disobedience. Even if Eve was totally hot, he still didn't listen to God. The "original sin" was not the eating of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, it was disobedience to God. The protective covering God had given human beings was removed.
They lost the benefits. It's that simple.
Their heart issue was them not listening to God. They decided not to. The stinking fruit was just the action they took in response to their heart decision, plain and simple.
Adam and Eve were able to make the decision because they were created with cognitive culpability.
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
The "original sin," missing the mark, falling short...whatever you to call this; it changed the course of human history. It had a permanent effect.
But, to properly understand its impact, it might be helpful to think about human nature as an inheritable genetic trait. If Adam and Eve had remained protected, with the lens of perfection, the ability to choose would still be there. But, having to make choices beyond the fruit would not.
This would have been passed down to humanity as a whole. We would have the same single choice, rather than the whole complex web of moral choices we now have to face on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. Adam and Eve made that first decision. And that decision changed humanity's natural state from the very being. That choice is what has been passed on to us. We can now all see right from wrong, good from evil.
This whole issue boils down to one thing. We all can see right from wrong. To be obedient to God's will or not. All of us can. It is the way we are, in reality. The act of being culpable is a powerful thing that we as believers all tend to miss. Where we fall short, is the way Adam and Eve fell short in the garden. To be human is to have choice. This principle has and will never change.
So, are we totally depraved?
So, are we all TOTALLY depaved. The answer is: kinda...but not really. It depends on what you mean by "totally depraved."
The hardest part of writing this post is explaining the intentional differences in how ideas are presented using words. Language. Man is, in fact, depraved. In that he has been deprived of perfection. He is separated from God. That said, it is important to note that man is not totally wicked.
Some people, who are existing in this reality God made, who do not believe in God, are, without a doubt, in actual fact, terrific people. However, there often seems to be a doctrinal bend of presenting real human attributes through the lens of doctrinal bias. A biased that is very blurry. Some people – actually most religious folks – tend to think that all people are inherently evil.
But, again, this is not the case. Humanity, as a whole, is mentally culpable. This anthropological fact, is also theological. It gives us the most helpful picture of a just God, by painting a beautiful picture of grace and Divine intention. Original Sin did not lead all humanity to be evil scumbags. What it did was take away the gift of being in the perfect alignment with our Maker.
The just attributes of individual culpability were always there and have not left us. The option of eating or not eating the forbidden fruit is not about being evil, it is all about being culpable. Despite the massively diluted, pulpit-presented reasoning that we typical hear, our cognitive capacity for being able to choose, to obey or not obey, has continued to be there from the very beginning, and is vital to our relationship with our Maker.
The truth is, you were not created evil. You were created mentally culpable and given the power to choose, in a world with evil options. That we can now see good and evil, is due to one bad decision. Our inherited nature of selfishness, puts us in a position of making a few crucial decisions (keep in mind God wants things for himself too, like having you love and obey Him, see Mark 8:34). Individuals are to wholeheartedly accept God as being real and are responsible for understanding His mighty place in our world and our lives. We are to receive this and respond to Him without compromise. We are to act out of a posture of obedience. An obedience which is the fruit of our wholehearted intention.
Does this mean you will be perfect?
Does this mean you will you be perfect? No. But, what it does mean is that your will, your heart and your plans will be transparent and sincere. Your mind will be centered on loving your Maker, thus sincere repentance and growing will result. You will begin to choose rightly.
Jesus took all of our shortcomings, our bad decisions, our selfish intent and yes the evil of which we all partake, and paid for it wholeheartedly, not for you but for His Father who genuinely wants union with His creation. You. Me. All of us.
Remember, we are built in His image, and for us this is the ultimate representation of real love. If we are all created evil, the Devil would have already won and has no need to work in the world, he should be chilling at Club Med. But, we are not created evil. Because we were all created culpable, but without protection from the realm of decisions we are responsible for making.
Keep this in mind.
Keep in mind, there is nothing more valuable than sincere intention...especially when it comes to the choices we are making. Choosing because one wants to, not because one has to.
There is nothing more precious than sincerity, even if that sincerity follows failure and apology. Believers in Christian Truth know that we did not create this reality. Thus, the way we engage with each other, human nature, logical decision making and deduction, are not our creations. God made them all. Emotions and human relationships, mental clarity and guilt; all of the above...it all came from above. This is what makes the Gospel.
Accepting God for who He is as Creator and Maker of all, will inevitably result in you wanting to live your life gratefully, obediently and passionately for Him. It will lead to a genuine desire to share with others what you have been able to culpably and spiritually internalize. You will find yourself sharing this information with all of those who have not yet come to this place of love and of caring testimony. God made them, perfectly. God has saved them through His Son Jesus. Perfectly.
Stop and think about this, ponder it, chew on it. Look at the life models I have discussed here. Consider how they relate to justice and humanity. Don't neglect who they came from. And, finally, ask yourself if your denominational preference reflects your Maker's justice? Does respect the greatest creation He every made? Does it understand Human Nature?