Whether it is original sin, or the sins we actually commit, the solution is the same: Jesus and his sacrificial, atoning death.
Most Renewalists (Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Neo-Charismatics) I have met or have heard taught believe in original sin, even if they do not understand the details.
Here is what it means: (1) sin is rooted in the origins of the human race. (2) Sin is present in everyone—believer or unbeliever—from the moment he was born, so it is not learned or imitated as the child grows up, though a child can practice more and more evil in a bad environment sins. (3) It is the inward root of sin that defiles the human, not just the sins he commits (Berkhof, p. 244).
Berkhof is a extra-conservative Reformed theologian, and this post studies the topic from that perspective. Other posts in this category look at the problem of sin from a different angle. It’s good to get a variety of views.
Reformed theology includes the idea of total depravity, which just means “total inability” to save oneself. A person cannot strut into salvation on his own good works or his wonderful nature. However, total depravity does not mean a person cannot enjoy a good concert or a sunset or his child and has no good thoughts or actions whatsoever. A total atheist billionaire can give a $100 million to charity. He just can’t save himself by his large gift or his better-than-average nature. He has to come to God through Christ. (But let’s not overlook the truth that God will judge the generous man favorably when the man stands before him, and before then the man may be led to salvation; see Acts 10:4).
Here is an old-fashioned Bible study about sin and the solution to it. In other posts we look at another source of sin. Is it imputed from Adam or imparted from our parents all the way from Adam until now? In other words, does it come with just being human?
I.. Original Sin
It is built on verses like these.
1.. In the beginning humans disobeyed God’s law.
In Gen. 2:15-16, God issued a law or command not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—or moral law. Humankind was supposed to be innocent of such things and instead be in close, intimate relationship with God. This relationship was supposed to guide humankind in goodness.
In Gen. 3:1-7, Womankind and Mankind disobeyed this command. This illustrates that humans naturally rebel against God and his law. If a human hears “No!” he says, “Yes!” and does it anyway.
2.. Now this propensity to sin has been passed down by Humankind (Adam).
Rom. 5:12, 15 teaches that sin entered the world by one human, and so has death.
1 Cor. 15:22 says that in Humankind everyone dies.
These verses teach that by virtue of being humans like Adam, we experience what he did—sin and death. Indeed, we experience them because he did—the first one. They are built into our human nature.
3.. How far does this passed-down sin nature go?
Paul quotes Ps. 14:1-3, which says all have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one (cf. Rom. 3:11-12).
Rom. 3:10-20, 23 is the famous passage about human sin, because no one seeks God; and all are corrupt and have turned away. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (v. 23).
Ps. 51:5 teaches that sin is present at corruption, indicating that the sin nature is passed down.
Just before the flood of judgment, all of humanity was thoroughly corrupt, the heart being and doing only evil (Gen. 6:5). When it says Noah found favor in God’s sight (Gen. 6:8), this does not mean he had achieved sinless, moral perfection, but that he walked in the way of the Lord.
Jer. 17:9 says that heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
In Matt. 15:18-20, even Jesus—who loves everyone no matter what, right?—says that what flows out of the heart are evil thoughts: murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. These are the things that defile a person.
II.. The Results of Sin
1.. We are responsible.
Ezek. 18:10-18 says that we ourselves are responsible for our sins, not our fathers. Yes, by virtue of being humans, we inherit our sin nature from our ancestors, but each one is responsible for his evil actions. His father will die for his own sins, and the son will die for his own sins.
2.. We are held accountable.
Jer. 17:10 says that the LORD himself searches the hearts and rewards each one according to their conduct and what their deeds deserve.
2 Cor. 5:10 says that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so we can receive from him what is our due, by the things done while living here in our earthly bodies. Now the believer in Jesus will not be at the judgment of those outside of faith in Christ, with the unbelievers. But both will go through judgment for their works at different judgments. The unproductive believers will have their “wood, straw, and stubble” burn away but admitted into heaven, while the unbelievers will be judged for a different eternal destiny.
3.. We die because of sin.
In Gen. 2:17, in the beginning, Mankind (Adam) was told that if he ate of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil (a symbol of moral law), he would die. He ate, and he died many years later.
Rom. 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. We die because we sin, and we sin by virtue of our connection to Mankind.
Jas. 1:15 presents a progression of sin. We have desires, and some of them are bad. The bad desires give birth to sin and sinful conduct. When sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
4.. We cannot atone for our own sins.
Ps. 47:7-8 teaches a stark truth. No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him, because human life is so costly that no payment is ever enough; he cannot through a ransom live on forever without seeing decay. Then along came Jesus, the God-Man; he was qualified to pay the ransom.
In Matt. 16:26, Jesus says if a man gains the whole world, he risks forfeiting his soul. He cannot give anything in exchange for his own soul.
III. God’s Salvation
Please look for the categories “Atonement and Cross” and “Salvation” on the front page to this website for God’s solution. We come to him in his way, not ours.
Some Christians teach that the atoning death of Christ was needless and even unscriptural (!). All they have to do is ask for forgiveness of their sins. No need for Christ’s blood! However, they overlook the biblical truth that Christ paid for those sins that they so breezily confess, and the only reason they can stand in God’s presence to ask for forgiveness is through Christ’s bloody sacrifice. That is God’s way. But where does this way come from?
In the Old Testament, animals stood in for the human offering it as a sacrifice (Lev. 1-16). It was the human’s substitute. It absorbed human sin, or the sin was transferred to the animal. The blood was necessary because life is in it. Then the person walked away forgiven because his sins were atoned and forgiven (“atone” can mean “wipe away” or “blot out).
In the New Testament Christ fulfilled that sacrificial system. He was our substitute and took our penalty. He absorbed our sins. Our sins are atoned for through him, once and for all, and our consciences have been sprinkled with his blood, and our bodies have been washed with pure water (Heb. 9:11-28; Heb. 10:22)
More Scriptures supporting Christ’s atoning, sacrificial work: Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2; John 1:29; Rom. 3:24-27 (key verses).
IV.. Our Repentance, His Forgiveness
1.. We must and need to repent.
Acts 3:19-20 says that when Peter was preaching before the crowd of Jews in Jerusalem, since God worked a miracle through him, he proclaimed that they should repent so that their sins would be blotted out (note the meaning of atonement in the previous point, III). That’s why God sent the Messiah, says Peter.
In Acts 20:20, Paul told the Ephesian elders that that everyone—Jews and Gentiles—must turn to God in repentance and have faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the essential gospel: Repent for the forgiveness of sins and believe in Jesus.
Yes, we should repent, but we also need to repent.
2.. We must and need to confess our sins.
In Ps. 32:1-5, a great psalm, the psalmist says it is a blessing when a man’s sins are not counted against him. Before he confessed his sin but kept silent, he was wasting away. When he did confess, he was forgiven.
Prov. 28:13 reminds us that when we conceal our sins, we don’t prosper, but when we confess and renounce them, we find mercy.
1 John 1:9 teaches us that when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse of all unrighteousness—all. Some teach that this verse is directed at proto-Gnostics (mystical unbelievers who denied Christ came in the flesh), but this verse is directed at everyone.
3.. We need and must turn from sin.
Ps. 34:14 teaches straightforwardly that we must turn from evil and do good.
Is. 1:16 says that we must wash ourselves and make ourselves clean. Evil deeds must be removed from God’s sight; the people must stop doing wrong.
3 John 11 says that we must not imitate what is evil, but what is good.
Repentance means a complete, 180 degrees turnaround, spirit, soul and body.
4.. We must and need to hate sin.
Ps. 97:10 says that if we love the Lord, we must hate evil. It’s that simple.
Amos 5:14-15 says to seek good, not evil, and to hate evil and love good.
Paul in Rom. 12:9, quoting Prov. 6:16, says that we believers must hate what is evil.
God hates evil (Deut. 12:31; 16:22; Prov. 6:16), because it hurts people.
5.. We must and need to throw off sin.
Heb. 12:1 says that everything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us so easily—we must throw it off of us, like dirty clothes.
6.. We must and need to fight against sin.
Eph. 6:12-13 say we are in a fight against spiritual rulers and powers and spiritual forces of wickedness in high places—evil spirit beings that tempt us to sin.
Heb. 12:4 says we have to make every effort to be and live holy. This verse is important because some Bible teachers today say that all we have to do is sit on the deck chairs on a cruise ship and “chill” in our Christian walk. Our rest in grace does not mean passivity and laziness. We have to fight.
How does this post about sin help me grow in Christ?
There are three aspects to sin plaguing humanity.
1.. The presence of sin, which permeates humankind’s entire being.
2.. The penalty of sin, which is a guilty verdict before a thrice-holy God (Is. 6) and death.
3.. The power of sin, which is sin that plagues you specifically, like porn or drugs or fury.
Jesus’s redemption and salvation cannot completely deliver you from the presence of sin, because you live in mortal bodies.
However, Jesus’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross can remove the penalty of sin, particularly when you stand before God at judgment.
And the best news of all in the here and now: Jesus can set you free from the power of sin, so that it no longer has dominion over you (Rom. 6:14).
Here are some practical steps to see the power of sin broken in you:
First, go to a Spirit-filled, Bible-teaching church.
Second, go to a small group that can help with your personal needs. They can pray for you.
Third, during his temptation Jesus overcame Satan by quoting Scripture (Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). If Scripture was good enough for him, it ought to be good enough for us. And for me it is. Every day I pray Eph. 6:16, which says to lift up a shield of faith, which quenches the fiery arrows of the enemy. “Lord, I lift up over my mind a shield of faith that quenches the fiery arrows of the enemy.” I have in mind my specific weakness, and it has diminished down to almost nothing.
Fourth, if you have your prayer language, use it. If you don’t, ask God for it and he will give you the Holy Spirit in his fullness and not a counterfeit spirit (Luke 11:11-12). From this fullness can come your prayer language.
At that link, look for the NIV Study Bible.