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There are often disagreements about any given theological topic. Often they are a result of a bad understanding of more foundational doctrines and like a house with a bad foundation the roof will not fit properly. This is why I encourage you to begin our Christianity 101 course from the beginning.
Even then there can still be disagreements. We have put this list here of FAQ and objections raised by others related to this study. Often there may be verses we will explain in greater detail since as humans we sometimes read things into the scriptures that are not there without even knowing it. This can normally clear up any confusion.
There are however some objections that are common to every topic. These objections will normally be the first ones you will find in any of our objection pages to quickly put them to rest.
Study Specific Objections
10. How can you say that our guilt can not be passed to us from Adam, but it CAN be passed to Christ even though sin is not something he committed? It seems as if you are saying guilt can and cannot be transferred when it suites you.
First let me explain that this statement is incorrect in the first place. Since the beginning of the church there have been many things taught and often there have been opposing doctrines. To this day these same doctrines and oppositions still exist and we have come to the point of splitting into denominations rather than coming together to seek out the truth.
So when you make a statement like “This goes against what the church has always taught” you would have to make the claim that no one is a part of the church since we all have different beliefs in one thing or another. The church itself is made up of Christians and thus if any Christian teaches something then it is being taught by a part of the church.
This does not however mean all Christians are teaching what is true. There are false doctrines which have been believed for centuries along with the truth of scripture which has also been believed for centuries. So the church actually HAS taught this for centuries.
The argument that this goes against “orthodox” Christianity is another matter though. The term orthodox means: conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true; established and approved.
Basically all that orthodox Christianity is would be a majority of Christians who hold the same view. Orthodox teachings are not always true either though since the majority can be (and often are) wrong. For example: The religious leaders in the time of Jesus would have been considered orthodox. Yet time and again Jesus showed their teaching to be incorrect.
Our test for what is or is not true should never come from majority opinion or the age of a teaching. If that was our test for anything else we would still be in the dark ages thinking that you could cure sickness by draining a person’s blood. Our test is scripture and scripture alone. Any teaching on what the scripture says is subject to the scriptures themselves.
So it doesn’t matter if it has been taught by people for centuries. If they were wrong then they were wrong. The word of God is always right though. And, we should know the word of God from the Bible itself rather than the commentary of someone else (even me) about the word. Teachers can guide you, but you must know that only the Bible itself is 100% correct 100% of the time.
No, not at all. Just because someone who is considered to be of high esteem says something different than a person of lower esteem it doesn’t mean the higher esteemed person is correct. This is not a matter of pride. It’s a matter of truth.
Jesus was also accused of being prideful since He acted and spoke as one with greater authority than others such as Moses. It wasn’t about pride though. It was about truth.
Why do I believe I understand the truth of these things? It’s not because I believe I am somehow greater than others. It is because I have read the Bible and come to a different understanding. An understanding that I believe is true based on the information given, not based on how highly I esteem myself to be.
There are many times I have been given links to other ministries which teach things against what I do. The funny thing about that is I often have already seen those articles and have included information on my own articles as to why they are incorrect.
So I find it both laughable and annoying when someone attempts to refute what I teach by showing me what someone else teaches which I have already proven to be incorrect.
The reason many people point to the teachings of others is because often they do not fully understand the subject well enough to defend it themselves. So they attempt to let others who “understand it better” do that for them.
What they do not realize however is that the reason they don’t have a full grasp on it is because the ones they point to as being great teachers do not have enough of a grasp on it either. Thus their students are left without understanding as well.
In fact, the same arguments the student would make are the very same ones their teacher will make. So if those arguments don’t hold water with the student then the teacher will also fail since they are saying the same thing. So do yourself a favor and don’t just pretend you aren’t smart enough to figure this out so you can simply ignore it while letting someone else who is “smarter” figure it out for you. Use your own brain.
Since when has majority opinion been proof of something being true? Majority opinion is only an endorsement from many people who may themselves be incorrect. The objection that no well known, specific group, or intelligent person believes something was also used against Jesus. They said “Have any of the scribes or Pharisees believed on Him?!”
So denial of something because of this comes from peer pressure and not truth.
A common theme of never ending debate is when one person uses a scripture that may say one thing, but then another person uses a different scripture which seems to give a different view. Normally what we tend to do is keep quoting our supporting scriptures.
But this leads us only into frustration. Instead we need to lay down our arsenal and learn how to use it properly. The Bible will not contradict itself. So if we see two opposing views we need to ask ourselves how they work together.
Is it possible one of us is reading something into the scriptures that it doesn’t actually say? Is it possible that other foundational doctrines we believe are not true and thus force us to read other scriptures in a way to attempt to fit them in? I have often found that a misreading of scripture can cause this. A little lesson in how to understand what we read may be in order. For this kind of information please see unit 1:7 in this course.
Romans 5:12-21 is often seen as proof that the doctrine of original sin (where the guilt of the father is passed to the children) is Biblical. This is not the case though. Often, we tend to read things into the scriptures that simply are not there.
So we will go through these scriptures one by one and each thought communicated by the words. Afterwards you will be able to see that this doctrine is not only unfounded by these scriptures but it is also refuted in the very scriptures many believe teaches it.
12 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:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world” Before the sin of Adam the world had never known or seen sin. So here we see the verses begin by saying that because of one man (Adam) the world that had never known sin has now had sin enter into it. In other words, there was now a sin that took place in the world. SIN entered the world, but it does not say that the whole world was GUILTY of the sin of Adam.
“and death by sin;” Because of the sin of Adam death was also now introduced into the world as well. But it does not say the whole world was GUILTY of sin. Only that death came into the world as a result of sin.
“and so death passed upon all men” Death now happens to everyone. But it does not say the whole world and all men were GUILTY of the sin of Adam.
“for that all have sinned” Because everyone personally sins everyone also dies. Here it says all who SINNED are guilty, but it does not say all are GUILTY of the sin of Adam without having sinned themselves.
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
“For until the law sin was in the world:” From the moment that Adam sinned the world has been aware of sin. But it does not say the whole world was GUILTY of the sin of Adam, only that sin existed.
“but sin is not imputed when there is no law” But without a law there is no charge of sin that can be placed against someone. Because sin is the breaking of the law (1 John 3:4). Without a law being broken man CAN NOT BE GUILTY of sin.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses” Even though there was no law for people to break (and therefore no sin imputed) death still happened to people. Even WITHOUT BEING GUILTY of personal sin people still died.
“even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression” Death even happened to people who had not sinned by breaking the one law given to Adam (do not eat from that tree). Again, even people who did not personally commit sin and thus were not guilty of sin still died. This verse also shows us that God does not count the sin of Adam as being one that others are guilty of committing as it says they did not sin like Adam. Thus they were not guilty of it.
“who is the figure of him that was to come” Adam is an example of Jesus. No being GUILTY of the sin of Adam transferred here.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
“But not as the offence” Jesus however will do the opposite of what Adam did and will not sin. No guilt transferred here.
“so also is the free gift” The free gift Jesus gives will be as effective as the offence of Adam. The effect of Adam‘s sin according to the verses thus far was to make the world aware of sin and death as well as to cause other men to personally commit sins themselves. The GUILT of Adam’s sin being passed down has NOT at any point so far been listed as an effect of the sin of Adam.
“For if through the offence of one many be dead” For if many people died because of one man’s sin… This does NOT say many are GUILTY of one man‘s sin. It only says that one man‘s sin has effected many other men and the death of both the GUILTY and the INNOCENT is an effect of Adam’s sin.
“much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” The grace of God (goodwill towards men), and eternal life, because of Jesus, now also effects many people. This does not say all people are made RIGHTEOUS. Just as all people were not made GUILTY. It just says the gift is now AVAILABLE to everyone.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
“And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift” The gift of grace was different than the sin, but also similar… No guilt passed on here.
“for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.” It is similar in that one person’s sin caused God to bring His judgment upon the whole world. But with sin and death now a part of the world it was condemned (condemnation means disapproval).
But by one person’s righteousness God brings His grace and justification upon the whole world even though there is more than one sin in the world. This does not say God judged the entire world as being GUILTY OF ADAM‘S sin. It only shows that God does not approve of the EFFECTS of Adam‘s sin which is now a part of this world. When He brings in His grace then that which was condemned (disapproved of because of sin and death) could be justified (become approved because of righteousness and new life).
17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one” For if death happened to everyone because of one man’s sin… This says the EFFECT of one man‘s sin was to cause other people to die. It does not say the EFFECT was that others were automatically considered GUILTY of the one man’s sin.
“much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Life happens to those who receive the gift of grace through Jesus. This says the EFFECT of one mans righteousness was to cause other people to live. It does not say the EFFECT of one man’s righteousness was that others were automatically considered RIGHTEOUS by one man’s righteousness.
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation” Since one mans sin caused God to judge all men and to disapprove of all men… Again, this does not say God judged the entire world as being GUILTY OF ADAM‘S sin. It only shows that God does not approve of the EFFECTS of Adam‘s sin which is now a part of this world. The effects being that men now commit sins and are under the curse of death.
“even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” One mans righteousness caused God to grant grace and mercy to all men and to justify them. Again, this says the EFFECT of one man’s righteousness was to cause other people to be able to receive the free gift and live. It does not say the EFFECT of one man’s righteousness was that others were automatically considered RIGHTEOUS by one man’s righteousness.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” Because of the disobedience of Adam many men became sinners. The NATURE of a man to be tempted and to be able to fall into sin was passed down and because of that others BECAME sinners when they PERSONALLY sinned. This does not say the GUILT of another man’s sin was passed down though.
“so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” Because of the obedience of Jesus many men became righteous. The NATURE of a man to sin can now be changed to be a NATURE which is righteous through Jesus.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound” Also, when the law was given to us many sins were now imputed (charged) against us. So sin was well known. We became even more aware of sin and because of that the guilt from our own PERSONAL sins was even greater.
“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” But even though there is so much sin against us there is more than enough grace to forgive us. Though our personal guilt from our own personal sins is great, God has more mercy than wrath.
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
“That as sin hath reigned unto death” Even though sin has caused death… An EFFECT brought about by the sin of Adam that is felt by the PERSONALLY GUILTY AND PERSONALLY INNOCENT alike.
“even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” Grace causes life because of the righteousness of Jesus. An EFFECT brought about by the righteousness of Jesus that is felt by the PERSONALLY GUILTY AND PERSONALLY INNOCENT (such as children before the age of accountability) alike.
This happens through forgiveness of the personally guilty while the personally innocent were never in danger. This is because even though the EFFECT of Adam‘s sin causes even the innocent to suffer (as evil doesn‘t just effect the one doing the evil) the GUILT is not passed down and so they can not be held by death and will be raised from the dead as Jesus (the innocent) was as well.
So, looking back through these verses we do not find any point that they actually say the GUILT of Adam’s sin was passed down. We only see the EFFECT of his sin being felt by not only him but also all that was around him.
As we have already explained in our study on original sin even the personally innocent can be effected by another person’s sin. Think of murder…if you are the victim and not the killer did you die because of their sin, or do you carry their guilt?
Because Adam sinned he cursed his children with the effects of his sin, not the guilt. Therefore we can look at Adam as the one responsible for the deaths of many people including unborn children because he brought sickness and death into the world. Even the trees and animals suffer death. It is not because they are guilty but because they are effected by what another person has done to them.
In fact, verse 14 even refutes the doctrine of original sin in that it says “even those who did not sin after the similitude of Adam’s sin” thus showing God did not consider others to have committed this sin just because they were in Adam when HE did it.
If you look at the entire chapter you will see that the complaint is that they are suffering because of the sins of their fathers. Just as Jesus has borne our sins and yet remained personally innocent these are not saying they have borne the GUILT of their fathers but rather the consequence of their fathers iniquity.
Consider this: Ezekiel 18 shows God telling the people that the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father. Then Ezekiel 18:25 and 18:29-30 God tells them that HIS way is not to have the son bear the iniquity of the father. He says that HIS way is the fair and right way. But He says having the son bear the iniquity of the father is NOT right.
If God feels this way in his judgment for civil matters there is no reason to believe He feels differently in other matters such as the day of judgment. In fact, verse 30 shows that it is because He feels this way that HE will carry out HIS judgment in the same way. He will judge each man by their own personal sins.
This is also what we are shown in Revelation when everyone is judged by their own deeds.
There are a few misunderstandings here in the question itself. Let’s look at the verse:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
The first misunderstanding is that when Paul speaks of the nature of man that He is speaking of the guilt of man. The first definition of nature found when looking for the definition talks about plant life so we will move on to the second part of the definition and so on since they are more relevant.
2.The basic or inherent features of something, especially when seen as characteristic of it. 3. the innate or essential qualities or character of a person or animal 4. inborn or hereditary characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality.
So the word nature is basically defined as the essential character of a person. So now let’s define character:
1. The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
The character of a person is how they think, walk, talk, and live their life basically. So the definition of the nature of the children of wrath basically means that BY (our) NATURE we are subject to wrath. BY OUR MENTAL AND MORAL QUALITIES DISTINCT TO US we are subject to wrath.
Why? Because BY OUR MENTAL AND MORAL QUALITIES WE ARE TEMPTED AND FALL INTO SIN.
We are BY NATURE people who commit sin. So Paul is saying that by our nature we commit sin and are therefore subject to wrath. This is made clear also through the context in that Paul says “the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.”
Paul is saying our NATURE is to lust and fulfill the desire of the flesh and of the mind. He also is saying that all humans are born with this nature.
The nature of man and the guilt of man are not the same thing though. Here is the definition of guilt:
1. The fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.
Guilt is a FACT of HAVING COMMITTED a crime. The difference between nature and guilt is that when you speak of the NATURE of a person you are speaking of their natural tendencies towards sin. When you speak of the GUILT of a person you are speaking of a fact that they have obeyed that tendency to sin.
The nature of a man is that he has the potential to sin, but the guilt of a man is that he HAS SINNED.
The Second Misunderstanding
The next thing the question makes a mistake in is that it assumes the wrath of God is against man because of his nature itself rather than his guilt. Let’s look at it again:
Paul said we were “by nature the children of wrath.” So what Paul says here is that BY our nature we are the children of wrath. It doesn’t say because of our nature God has wrath towards us. It says BY our nature there is wrath for us. What happens BY our nature? We sin. Thus it is BY our nature that we sin and therefore are the children of wrath.
But if we do not act BY our nature then we do not sin and therefore are not guilty, nor do we have the wrath of God against us. So it isn’t our nature that has the wrath of God, it is our guilt of obedience to that nature. So the wrath of God is not on the guiltless.
How can you say that our guilt can not be passed to us from Adam, but it CAN be passed to Christ though it is not something he committed? It seems as if you are saying guilt can and cannot be transferred when it suites you.
Jesus NEVER actually became GUILTY of our sins. The confusion here comes from not understanding the difference between being righteous yourself and having righteousness purchased for you. The definition of guilt is a fact of having committed a crime. If Jesus had become guilty of our sins then we would be saying HE committed those crimes. Thus He also would need to be saved.
The Bible never says Jesus took our GUILT on Himself. It says He took our SINS, SICKNESSES, AND DEATH upon Himself even though He was innocent. Thus He purchased our salvation and wiped our sins clean by paying the debt though He had no personal debt Himself. This is why the Bible says He nailed OUR sins to the cross.
Sin itself, sickness, even death had to be carried to the cross and done away with. Jesus offered His blood to wipe the sin away and the guilt we had because of it. He took the sin to be nailed to the cross and thus the guilt was never his and it was removed from us. It’s like taking out your friends garbage. You carry it out, but it isn’t yours. When it’s gone though it isn’t your friend’s either.
Guilt can not be transferred, but forgiveness can be offered through the gift given by Jesus and we can thus be made righteous in the eyes of God.
Let’s put 1 Cor 15:22 into proper context:
1 Corinthians 15:21-23
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
The word all is right before the word “die.” The word die is a verb. The word “died” would be a past tense verb. So this does not say all died (past tense) in Adam. It says all die (present tense verb) in Adam.
What does it mean to be in Adam? What does it mean to be in Christ? The difference is spirit and flesh. All those in the flesh sin and therefore die. All those in the spirit do not sin and therefore do not die. As Jesus says “He shall never taste death.”
So, how can Jesus say this if everyone dies? In order to understand that you have to know the difference between the first and second death, as well as what death is in the first place. We speak about that here: What Is Death
But the main point of it is that the flesh will turn to dust but the spirit will never die. Then even though the flesh had turned to dust it will be raised up again. This is why Jesus could say such things.
This question is actually already answered in our study. But for some reason people still bring it up so I will attempt to cover it one more time.
The statement that without guilt there is no death or suffering is a half truth. Death and suffering entered the world because of Adam being guilty of sin. So in that this statement is true. Death and suffering originally began because of guilt.
However, that does not mean death and suffering does not happen to those without guilt. We see this in the case of Jesus who was innocent and yet died, we see this in the case of Job who suffered for righteousness and not sin, we see this in the case of the man Jesus healed when his disciples asked Jesus who sinned that he should be born blind and Jesus responded by saying NO ONE sinned but he was born this way for the glory of God.
Also, take into account that Christians are not appointed to the wrath of God. Yet we die. Would this not itself be enough proof to show that death and suffering are not always necessarily the wrath of God but rather the result of living in a fallen world?
The Bible is FULL of examples of the sin of one person having an effect of suffering on another. Because Adam sinned and death entered the world (you can learn the meaning of death here) the result is that the child suffers as well as a result. This is because when the parent is not perfectly healthy the child can not get everything they need and sometimes die before birth.
Children can also suffer through the sins of Adam because the flesh (what WAS passed down), or to put it another way his “DNA”, contains defects now because of death which prevent us from living if we become sick or injured. In fact, that is why we CAN get sick or injured. It’s because of the breaking down of the flesh.