What is Original Sin? Biblical Meaning and Consequences of Ancestral Sin
Original sin, also described as ancestral sin, is a Christian view of the nature of sin in which humanity has existed since the fall of man. Original sin arose from Adam and Eve's transgression in Eden, the sin of disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Original sin can be explained as “that sin and its guilt that we all possess in God’s eyes as a direct result of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden.”
In the video below, Shai Linne explores whether we are to blame today for Adam and Eve disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, according to the tradition of Original Sin.
Original Sin in the Bible
Scripture says that we are born sinners and that we are by nature sinners.
Psalm 51:5 says that we all come into the world as sinners: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
Ephesians 2:2 declares that all people who are not in Christ are “sons of disobedience.”
Ephesians 2:3 also establishes this, stating that we are all “by nature children of wrath.” If we are all “by nature children of wrath,” it can only be because we are all by nature sinners — for God does not direct His wrath towards those who are not guilty. God did not create the human race sinful, but upright. But we fell into sin and became sinful due to the sin of Adam.
There are also verses which state that we are all sinful from the time that we are born.
Proverbs 22:15 says “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”
Genesis 8:21 declares, “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Jonathan Edwards, in his classic work The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended, remarks that on this verse: “The word translated youth, signifies the whole of the former part of the age of man, which commences from the beginning of life. The word in its origin has reference to the birth or beginning of existence... so that the word here translated youth comprehends not only what we in English most commonly call the time of youth, but also childhood and infancy.”
Sinfulness is frequently addressed in Scripture as something pertaining to the human race as a whole. This signifies original sin is a quality of mankind. Thus, it must be inferred that we are all born sinners since we are all human and original sin is considered as a part of humanity.
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." -Ephesians 2:1-3
Consequences of Original Sin
According to Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, one of the first consequences was that they became embarrassed that they were naked and they covered themselves with fig leaves. They were no longer focused on God but were now self-centered in their bodies. Their soul was no longer in communion with God, their bodily appetites took charge, and they became ashamed because of their lack of clothing. They began the passionate earthly life that we all now participate in.
Mankind still had the image of God, but it was now “tarnished” or “dimmed.” Their bodies became subject to sickness, corruption, and death. The Garden with the tree of life was no longer accessible for them. This is the status we inherit from Adam and Eve. This is what we call “ancestral sin.” We do not obtain the blame for the bad choice that Adam made, but we inherit the consequence of his sinfulness, the change in nature he underwent. Since we are all descendants of Adam and Eve we all acquire their sinful nature that resulted from the fall.
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