“Original Sin” - Fact or Fiction?
Part III of V
One of the insuperable difficulties facing the theory of Original Sin is the undeniable truth that the Lord Jesus Christ is both God and man, “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). John reveals, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). John lucidly conveys that the Word, who “was God,” “became flesh, and dwelt among us,” and in his epistles, John decrees belief in the humanity of Jesus as an essential Christian doctrine (cf. 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7-9).
The denominationally anticipated “antichrist” is, in actuality, anyone who denies the humanity of Jesus Christ; and instead of being futuristic, John admits “the antichrist, of which you heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:3). Evil unbelievers were denying the humanity of Christ during the days of the infant church, but contrary to their baseless assertions, the humanity of Jesus is an essential doctrine of salvation, and we encourage any reader who may doubt His real humanity to read the posted article: “The Humanity of Jesus.”
Other deceivers have denied the deity of Christ, repudiating His eternal existence as God (e.g. Watchtower Witnesses). But Jesus declared, “unless you believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). Isaiah foretold the coming of Jehovah, even God, into the world (Isaiah 40:3); however, by inspiration, Mark links the ancient prophecy with the coming of Jesus Christ into the world (Mark 1:1-11). Paul exclaimed of Christ, “For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). For extensive witness to the deity of Jesus, see: “Seven Reasons to Believe Jesus is God.”
One cannot be a Christian who denies either the deity or humanity of Jesus. In order to serve as the one mediator between God and man, Christ had to be equally identified with both God and man. His eternal deity and Godhood identify Him with God, and His condescension to the form and likeness of humanity indentifies Him with mankind. This qualifies Christ to mediate between God and man. If He is not related to or identified with both parties equally, He would not qualify to serve as mediator.
The humanity of Jesus Christ is one of the most captivating and fascinating doctrines of Christianity, and it stands squarely on the tracks of the runaway doctrine of Original Sin. The humanity of Jesus is an immense obstacle to one of the most beloved theories invented by man, because if every human is born tainted by the original sin of Adam, this would include Jesus who “became flesh” thru conception and birth of woman.
Of course, to overcome this obstacle, rather than repudiating the false hypothesis of Original Sin, the Catholics invented the doctrine of the “Immaculate Conception,” insisting Mary was separated from the taint of original sin by the direct intervention of God while she was in her mother’s womb. According to the evolving theory, Mary not only was born free from original sin, but absent the sinful nature, she allegedly lived a sinless life! Solomon said it right, “God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).
The “Immaculate Conception” is a device of mendacity that has no backing in Scripture. Not one word of anything remotely resembling this false teaching can be cited. It is a man-made doctrine developed to counteract the startling effect of Original Sin as it pertains to the birth of Jesus. If Original Sin is fact, then Christ, as a man, was born a sinner like every other man born of woman; notwithstanding every contrived remedy.
If God could act upon Mary to prevent the taint of Original Sin in her, why doesn’t He act upon every person? And if He could act to preserve each one, but doesn’t, wouldn’t that make God a respecter of persons? Yet the Bible says explicitly, “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). Every remedial innovation by uninspired men leads only to additional contradictions. The doctrine of the “Immaculate Conception” is unknown in the Bible.
Similarly, the Bible never refers to Mary as a perpetual virgin, but to protect the doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness, Catholics, who view even sexual relations in marriage as giving in to the lust of the flesh, have taught that Mary remained celibate for life. What is the biblical evidence for such a position? There is none–absolutely none; and nothing is more revealing of erroneous dogma than a no-evidence proposition.
Instead, the Bible clearly refutes the Catholic dogma, revealing at least five powerful evidences of Joseph and Mary consummating their marriage following the birth of Jesus.
For sake of brevity, consider only a few points: In Luke 2:7 Jesus is called Mary’s “firstborn son,” naturally suggesting that she later bore other children. If the perpetual virginity of Mary was such a crucial theological doctrine, why didn’t the Holy Spirit inspire Luke to refer to Jesus as “her only son”?
Matthew recorded that Joseph “kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son; and he called His name Jesus” (1:25). The phrase “until she gave birth” indicates that she was not kept a virgin indefinitely. If the lifelong celibacy of Mary was at issue, the Holy Spirit would have inspired the beloved physician to record that Joseph kept her a virgin forever–but that is not what was written about Mary.
Also, several passages refer to the siblings of Jesus (cf. Matthew 12:46ff; 13:55-56). The mention of “brothers” and “sisters” in association with Jesus’ “mother” is solid evidence that Mary and Joseph commenced a normal marriage, being fruitful and multiplying in accordance with the will of God. If they did not consummate the marriage, they rejected God’s design for marriage (Genesis 1:28; 9:7).
Furthermore, Catholic assertions notwithstanding, the Scriptures clearly repudiate Mary’s proposed sinlessness. Mary acknowledged her own sin by indicating her need for a Savior, saying, “My souls exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). As Jackson notes, “The passage refutes the Catholic notion that Mary never sinned. She humbly confesses her low estate as a fallen being” (2011, p. 94).
Jesus in the Likeness of Men
Proponents of Original Sin often appeal to Genesis 5:1-3, pointing out that whereas Adam was created “in the likeness of God” (v. 1), Adam’s son, Seth, was born “in his own likeness, according to his image” (v. 3). This is ostensibly made to imply that Seth was born in the fallen likeness of Adam, i.e., with a corrupt nature of sin.
But where is the passage that says Adam lost the image and likeness of God when he sinned? Or where is the passage which says Seth or anyone else was born with a corrupt nature of sin? These are baseless presumptions that cannot be supported with Scripture.
Adam was created in the image and likeness of God, and although he sinned, the Bible never says he lost that likeness. Bearing the image of God is what distinguishes man from the beast of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea. In direct opposition of the theory’s assertion, the Bible repeatedly affirms that all men are created in the image of God (cf. Genesis 9:6; I Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9).
In that Adam and Eve were created in the image and likeness of God, their offspring, bearing the same likeness and image as the parents, are also born in the image and likeness of God. If a sculptor produces a bust in his own likeness, and years later another sculptor fashions a bust after the original bust, whose likeness will the second bust display? It will display the likeness of the initial sculptor who produced a bust in his own image and likeness regardless of any stains that may have blemished the original bust.
The same is true with humanity. Sin doesn’t dispense or eradicate the image and likeness of God in man. Nowhere does the Bible indicate such. Each human offspring bears the image common to mankind, and whether that image is described as the image of God or the image of men, it refers to the human nature given to us by the Creator. The image of God is what distinguishes mankind, making man a human being.
Here is where the study gets decidedly interesting. Jesus was “made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). The Greek word here means “likeness, image” (The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, 2011). Christ was made in the image/likeness of men, possessing a human nature, not unlike all other men, but exactly like all others. If men are born in a state of corruption, condemned by the original sin of Adam, then Jesus, “born of a woman,” and “made in the likeness of men,” was also born with the original sin of Adam.
The proponents of Original Sin cannot have Seth and all others born as sinners in the “likeness” of Adam, but then exempt Jesus who was “made in the likeness of men.” Jesus was a real man, possessing the nature of humanity common to all men. The writer of Hebrews declared the undeviating unity of Jesus with all humanity, saying, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (2:11).
Human salvation is dependent upon the humanity of Jesus Christ. In that dominion over the things entrusted to man was lost by the free choice of man, dominion could only be restored by the free choice of man (cf. Hebrews 2:5-10). Jesus is the only man to always refuse evil and choose good. All have the same choice, but where all others have made the wrong choice, Jesus excelled in making the right choice. Therefore, “He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one,” indicating His union with common humanity “for which He is not ashamed to call [us] brethren.”
The writer continued by saying, “For assuredly he does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendent of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things” (2:16-17). In order to save humanity from the power of the devil, Christ had to be “made like His brethren in all things.” His identity with the human nature is equal to our human nature. If all men are born with a corrupt human nature, Christ did not identify with His brethren by possessing anything other than the same corrupt human nature common to all others.
However, if all men are born with the same nature which Jesus possessed, we need only to examine the character of Christ’s humanity to understand our own. Christ possessed a human nature that matured in life before He could responsibly “refuse evil and choose good” (Isaiah 7:14-16). If this was true for Christ, it must be true for all men, because Christ was “made like His brethren in all things” and “made in the likeness of men.” His human nature is identical with our human nature.
However, the theory of Original Sin denies humanity the choice to obey God, insisting that all are consigned to irresistible evil from a totally depraved nature. The Westminster Confession of Faith claims, “From this original corruption whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.”
Supposedly, humans are unable to do any good, but are predisposed to engage all evil, not due to temptation by the devil, but from the inherited corruption of human nature passed down from our ancestral parents. What does the Bible say about this issue?
Human Maturity Brings Choice
Because Jesus was “made in the likeness of men” and “made like His brethren in all things,” we need only to examine what the Bible teaches concerning the human nature of Jesus to determine the scope of our own human nature. The Bible says Jesus would “eat curds and honey at the time He knows to refuse evil and choose good” (Isaiah 7:15). This statement refers to a certain level of maturity that Jesus would reach before He would know to refuse the temptations of the devil and obey the law of God.
Speaking of the development of Jesus from early childhood, Luke records, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom” (Luke 2:40). Following the visit to Jerusalem at age 12, Luke comments, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (2:52). Here we recognize the physical and mental development common to all humans.
The fourfold dimensions of growth experienced by Jesus equates with the same fourfold dimensions experienced by all who reach maturity with a sound mind and body. Humans grow mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually. And as all honest men will confess, humans reach an age of maturity when each one knows to refuse evil and to choose good. This understanding is exemplified in the way humans refuse to perpetrate evil against those they love and cherish. God desires the same love for Him that results in the same restraint of all evil.
In the same way Jesus reached an age when He knew to refuse evil and choose good, all rational humans grow into a level of maturity when they, too, are able to choose for themselves good or evil. There is no difference in the human nature belonging to Jesus than what is common to all men. If there is a difference in the nature, Jesus was not “made like His brethren in all things” and we are not “both…from one.”
The difference in Jesus as a man with all other men is that though He was “tempted in all things as we are,” He was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law of God as all humanity was intended to do. Facing every temptation common to man, Christ exhibited perfect faithfulness, unswerving fidelity, and absolute submission to the divine standard. Human nature grants all the same possibility, but only Jesus achieved the level of obedience required by God. To Him be the glory, both now and forever, eternity without end.
Jesus is the Root and the Offspring of David
The Bible contains teachings about Jesus that reduce the doctrine of Original Sin to an untenable theory of mere imaginative, philosophic babblings fit only for the cesspool or even hell itself. One of the strongest cases against the theory comes from none less than Jesus. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus testified, “I am the root and the offspring of David.”
This affirmation is equivalent to the discussion where Jesus baffled the Pharisees by asking how the Messiah could be both the Lord of David and his son (see Matthew 22:43ff). The question is correctly answered only in light of the dual nature possessed by Christ. He is David’s Lord by virtue of His eternal nature of deity; He is David’s son by virtue of His willingness to condescend to the nature of man.
When Jesus says, “I am the root…of David,” He identifies Himself as the source of David’s human existence. Jesus does not identify Adam as the root of David. Jesus is the Creator of human nature – not Adam. Jesus is the root source of David. Are we to believe that David sprang forth from the holy root of Jesus bearing a sinful nature inclined irresistibly to evil? God forbid!
Jesus is the holy root from which all humanity springs to life, and if the root is holy, that which issues from the root is also holy. “Does a fountain send out from the same opening fresh and bitter water?” (James 3:11). Sin is the result of succumbing to the temptation of the tempter, not from an inherited nature of sin. As the root of human nature, Jesus does not produce a sinful nature. David was born long after the fall of Adam, yet Jesus declares, “I am the root…of David,” i.e., Jesus is the source of David’s humanity.
But Jesus is not only the root of David; He is also “the offspring of David.” Are we to believe that Jesus, as the offspring of David, was born with a sinful nature? Paul referred to all men as “the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29), yet advocates of Original Sin argue all humans are born corrupted by a sinful nature. Astonishingly, the same voices exempt Jesus from inherited sin even though He personally claims to be “the offspring of David.” Again, they cannot have it both ways. “Can salt water produce fresh?” (James 3:12).
In declaring Himself “the root and the offspring of David,” Jesus affirms residence on both sides of the human nature. He is the Creator of human nature–thereby assuring its absolute purity; but He is also a participant in the human nature–confirming its absolute purity. By declaring Himself “the offspring of David,” we must recognize that human nature is not corrupt from birth, but each one corrupts his own life by choosing sin against God rather than obedience.
As a man, Jesus is a descendent of Adam (Luke 3:23-38), “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1), born with the same human nature as all men. Here is proof positive that men are not born with a sinful nature as alleged by the Original Sin theory. Jesus descends from the flesh of men who were sinners, but because all men bear the image of God, Jesus, being “made in the likeness of men,” was born in the image and likeness of God common to all humanity.
Conclusion (Part III)
If the doctrine of Original Sin is true, one of two things must also be true: either Jesus was born a sinner like all other men, or He was not a man. Every contrived remedy to avoid one of these being true involves postulations not citable from the inspired Scriptures, revealing the desperation of uninspired speculations endeavoring to manage an out of control theory.
By coming in the likeness of men, Jesus demonstrates that human nature is not corrupt from birth, but each one is corrupted by sin when temptation is not resisted. The temptations of Satan experienced by Christ (cf. Matthew 4:1-10; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13) are consistent with the temptations experienced by all men. If men are born sinners with no ability to restrain from evil, why must Satan prowl about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour?
Christ came in the likeness of men to achieve victory where all others had failed. If He came with an advantage, then it cannot be truthfully affirmed that He was “made like His brethren in all things” (Hebrews 2:17). The difference in Christ and all others is His perfect obedience to the will of God–not a nature of humanity given to Him that is different from all other men. Christ came “in the likeness of men,” and that cannot mean He was born in a body of flesh different from all other men. Christ simply refused to succumb to temptation, whereas all others, including Mary, failed to attain to the divine standard implemented by God.
Jesus is “the root and the offspring of David.” How can it be explained from the voice of Scripture that David was born totally depraved in sin while issuing from Jesus, yet Jesus was born wholly pure while issuing from David? Original Sin makes a mockery of Jesus’ affirmation of being both the Lord and the son of David (cf. Matthew 22:41-46). These statements by Jesus, apart from every other consideration, render the theory of Original Sin palpably false and wholly fiction.
Jackson, Wayne (2011), A New Testament Commentary
(Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications).
The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (2011),
(Logos Bible Software).