For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man shall many be made righteous.
Generally, I like the KJV, but here is an instance where tradition works against us. I happened to pick up the Amplified bible to read this verse, and found rather a different thought than we typically get out of this.
Upon further investigating the Greek, it seems that the word for ‘made’ here is actually: ‘appointed,’ ‘ordained,’ or ‘reckoned.’ The word ‘made’ leaves no (or at least very little) alternative thought than an implication of creativity: i.e. ‘made to be something’ or ’caused to be something,’ whereas the realization of an ‘appointment,’ or ‘ordination’ is not a force of nature, but voluntary.
That is: Adam’s disobedience APPOINTED the whole human race to sinfulness. As though Adam made an legal motion to elect us all to sin. This is a far different a thought than the concept that man has now been MADE TO BE sinful. For the one implies a legal appointment, where the latter implies an enforcement of nature (as though you are either literally forced to be so, or as much as your nose is a part of your face, so also sinfulness was ‘made’ part of you).
By this single and self-same verse (as the pinnacle of our thinking) we have derived a full theological system on the basis that man inherits a sinful nature much as he would inherit a genetic disease. This is not actually implied in the word used, however. Rather, what is implied is that one man’s disobedience elected us to sinfulness.
All other places in the New Testament where this Greek word is used speaks of an ordination, or an appointment (generally made by man). Yet any appointment, ordination, or occupation of man is clearly voluntary. Just as any man can choose not to walk in an appointed ministerial calling, so also man can choose not to walk in their appointed occupation of sinner.
If Adam’s sin APPOINTED us sinners, rather than MADE us sinners that is like unto saying that Adam’s disobedience opened to humanity a compulsion to sin by expectation (psychological). Say by example that someone knocks back a beer, and then places one into your hand and waits, staring at you with expectation. That person has appointed you to drink – you still are of the freewill to drink or not to, though the temptation to do so may seem greater given the circumstances, it is an appointment, or ordination to drink, not an inward compulsion. That person could not by his own intention that you drink place his will inside of you, and somehow actually MAKE you drink. They can only give you the opportunity, and appoint you to. Now you have been given an outward, external appointment to drink, whether you do so or not (even in the face of the appointment) is a DECISION you must make. Will you obey the social pressure placed on you, or will you oppose it?
So it is with the likeness of Adam’s sin. His sin did, indeed, bring the whole world into corruption so that death (which is iniquity – the RESULT of sin) now reigns in the created universe; yet our theology has taken this one step further and, using Romans 5:19 has declared that sinfulness has now BECOME human nature. This supposition makes sin an inherited illness, rather than a crime. Sin is a crime, and is committed intentionally.
A ‘sinful nature’ was not inherited; the nature of death was inherited:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and DEATH by sin; and so DEATH passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Notice, it does not say ‘by one man sinfulness entered into the human race,’ but: ‘by one man sin entered into the WORLD [Greek: cosmos].’ And then, importantly: ‘…and death by sin.’
All men have inherited the nature of death (see also Rom 5:22 & 1 Cor 15:22) because of original sin. Left to the [now] natural course, all will die; this death is iniquity which we (in fact, the whole cosmos) inherited through Adam’s sin. We also inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin (Rom 5:16 & 18); as all humanity came from Adam, and he chose to sin, becoming an enemy of God, we who are born of his race are responsible for his transgression. By the sin of the man from whom all the human race came, all of his offspring is guilty of the original sin. You were born into the race of a man who made enmity with God. We must repent of Adam’s sin thus proving ourselves not to be enemies of God. We have been APPOINTED to sinfulness by the sin of Adam; his sin has called us out and put us on the spot to do the same as our father did.
That phrase at the end of the verse is also important: ‘…for that all have sinned.’ Now, earlier in the book, Paul has already gone through the theological foundation for declaring that ‘all have sinned’ (see Romans 1:16-2:29). In fact, Paul spends no small amount of time establishing this because the necessity for salvation rides upon the Truth of man’s sinfulness. Interestingly, Paul as he establishes the sinfulness of all men, does not pin it on a natural inclination (a sinful nature), rather, he points out that it is man’s denial of nature that leads to sin.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
See that in verse 21? ‘BECAUSE THAT, WHEN THEY KNEW GOD…’
The wrath of God comes on the sinful, BECAUSE… THEY KNEW GOD…
The usage of the word ‘because’ here indicates that there is an express reason to be explained – in this reason, there is no statement about a ‘sinful nature’ or a particular predisposition to sin. If such exists, Paul didn’t consider it worthy of mention in the establishment of the universal Truth that all HAVE SINNED (I ought also to point out that the burden of guilt lies in the fact that all HAVE SINNED, and not because they were born with an inherantly sinful nature). Rather, the reson given, is that when God began to lighten their eyes to Truth about Himself, they rejected it. Men CHOSE to reject God. Each and every one of us HAVE SINNED, and need to repent.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God…
Adam knew God intimately, and in disobedience rejected the direct command of God. The reason it was sin was because he chose to do it. Likewise, God is striving to reveal Himself to ignorant men to shew himself to be God before their eyes, but we reject it. That is a DECISION that every man woman and child makes when God begins to reveal Himself to them. Do you have a pre-disposition toward this choice?
Well, if we are appointed to sinfulness by the original sin, let us look at the original sin to see what we’ve been appointed to… what our family is guilty of.
Adam fled from the presence of God because he had a sense of guilt, and shame:
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: [isn’t it an interesting parralell that Paul says God is revealed and evident to us in creation (Rom 1:20), and God appeared to Adam in the garden?] and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree,and I did eat.
Like Adam, mankind rejects the revelation of God because of guilt, and shame; we are guilty of Adam’s sin, having been born to Adam’s race – having been thus APPOINTED to sin (not born with a force of nature), judgment being upon us unto condemnation (Rom 5:18) because of the original sin, we also reject God’s presence because of guilt, and shame before God.
We intentionally reject God’s Truth as it is revealed to us because of our guilt due to our appointment to sin; in so doing we all join, and participate in the original sin – just as Adam compounded his sin in hiding himself from God, and seeking to justify himself, so we join by choice in the sin of Adam.
Let’s say, for example, that you were the son or daughter of a notorious mobster. This man is a robber, and a murderer, he is also powerful, a lord of the criminal world. You are not a criminal simply because you have been born into his family, however, being raised in his family household you are ceaselessly surrounded by vice and corruption. Your father’s entire life is a world of corruption, and this is the world you grew up in. You don’t know anything but the violence and corruption you have been exposed to – this is your appointment to sin. As you grow older, unless you choose to reject the lifestyle you grew up in, you will be drawn into participancy with the corruption of the world you have been exposed to – this process is more, or less fully automatic because of the condition of the world you’ve been surrounded with.
This is, in fact, a fairly accurate depiction of the reality of the world we live in. Our father, Adam, who had authority over the earth introduced sin into the universe. His one sin has caused the curse of death to fall on the entire created universe. Every death, every illness, every iniquity, every genocide, and holocaust, and all the contrived brutalities of men throughout the ages are the fault of his one sin. We are appointed to sin.
Now, the child in the example given is not a criminal simply because he was born to a criminal; but because he was born to a criminal, his sympathies are directed toward the wicked, and his animosity is directed to the law. The tendency of the child is to give the benefit of the doubt to whom? His father, whom he loves (even those abused by their parents tend toward compassion to them – which is one reason it is often quite difficult to save people who are caught into abusive cycles); and who is the child going to pre-emptively scorn? His father’s enemies, who in this example, happen to be the police, or the FBI.
So it is with us, when God begins to reveal Himself to us, and convict us we, because we are appointed to sin, reject the knowledge of the Truth. The moral law begins to be revealed within us, and we reject it first in our hearts, (because of the guilt and shame we have inheritted in the original sin) then with our behavior (i.e. we [actively] sin). This is the process that happens with everyone – for all ‘HAVE SINNED‘ (not ‘have an intrinsically sinful nature’) and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23; 5:12).
Sin is not a disease that we inherited, there would be no justice in God to condemn a man for being sick. Furthermore, sin is not a malady. It has no physical properties, it is not a virus or bacteria, it is an abstract moral concept. Sin is the breaking of God’s moral law, it is a legal term, not a physical ailment, or force of nature. In the physical, we inherited the corruption of death (physical iniquity) because of Adam’s sin; in the legal, we were appointed to sin.
Like a child born to a notorious criminal, our natural objective is to justify our father whom we look up to. If someone accuses him of evil, we want to claim he’s a good man, they just don’t understand. Why? Because as we are confronted with the truth, we are filled with guilt and shame because he’s OUR dad (inheritance), and we feel that we can be justified if it can be found that our father is not a criminal. This is a natural bias, and standard psychological response.
But, who would condemn the sons of Saddam Hussein if they rejected the ways of their father – if they distanced themselves from Saddam, and said: “I cannot be your son, your ways are evil, and I will not be part of it.”? In so doing, they would have to reject their inheritance, strive against the social pressures which kept them bound to that inheritance, and become their own father’s enemy.
Applied spiritually, this is the process of repentance, and it is required of all of us, or when the ‘coalition forces invade’ (I speak of the final judgment) are condemned to death with our father because our continued association, and because of the crimes we’ve committed just in our willingness to side with our sinful family.
We must reject all sin: our inheritance, and choose to believe on Christ. If we wish to be saved.
Acts 3:19 & 20
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you
I don’t think I’m arguing a straw-man, part of my point is to show the discrepancy in the ideology; if ‘sin’ is inherited (or, rather sinfulness) physically somehow then it is more like an inherited disease which we cannot control having received, or being overcome by than being a crime committed against God. This distorts the true nature of sin. That’s not even to include that ‘sin’ as a concept is the breaking of God’s moral law. Agustine wrote of the inherant sinfulness of man using the example of babies in his confessions, however I dissagree with mucn of his perspective in that he assumes sin on the infant because it is selfish, and that sinfulness comes from the infant’s self-obsorbtion. However, an infant does not have the intellectual capacity to understand God’s commands and is acting merely in self-preservation. Self-preservation is not intrinsically sinful, in fact quite the contrary, it tends to life and therefore arguably: God’s express will. Self-preservation can, however, become sinful if we employ it above the law of God – if you recieve a command from God which you know will detriment your life and disobey God’s command to save your life, you have sinned. So it is with the ‘sinful nature’ one cannot have an intrinsically sinful will unless they are born with a full knowledge of God’s law so as to resist it. What man has is a nature (self-preservation, appetites, etc), it is not until the law comes into their view that they can resist it and become sinful – sin is a higher order of activity than natural. Paul declared that the law was spiritual, but he was carnal (that is ‘flesh’) the carnal appetites are indeed contrary to the law and spirit of God, and so when the commandment (or understanding of the law comes) the natural response of the flesh is to resist it – thereby sinning. In this way, I can agree with the concept of a ‘sinful nature’ but again it is onlh after the law is introduced that the spark of the fire can be lit and sin produced.
I dissagree that if this is the case, a person could live without sin and have no need of Christ (not even Mary (for any Catholics that may be reading behind us ;)); for one this is because the bible declares that all have sinned (not that all are born sinful, but HAVE SINNED) this is what Paul declared in Romans 1, as soon as men begin to become aware of the Spirit of God testifying Truth into their hearts, they resist the Spirit (I believe, in the manner I have just described). On the other hand, could a person be saved without Christ without hearing the Gospel, but by heeding the witness of the Spirit, becoming a law unto themselves as described in Romans 2:14-16? No, even those are nkt saved without Christ because if they follow their conscience, it is because they are putting faith in the testomony of the Spirit revealing the law in their hearts – which is the Gospel those have put faith in Christ insofar as they could understand. I do think this is poassible, as Paul gives us to, albeit exceptionally rare – it is therefore essential that we preach the Gospel.
Additiknally, jnderstanding the Gospel, if a person hypothetically never sinned (I say hypothetically because the bible declares all have sinned, so this literally WOULD NEVER happen) and yet did not believe in Jesus they are rebelling against God’s Word, and therefore are sinning and worthy of hell because they have not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.