No Sin Nature? – Part I

Introduction: What follows is an interaction that I had with an SBF combox commenter named “Jack” under Part I of my series titled “The Logical Implications of the Synergistic View of God’s Knowledge.” Jack denies compatibalistic freedom in favor of libertarian version and also denies that people are conceived in the womb and born with a sin nature.

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Hi Jack,

You said, “Dustin, the concept of a sin nature is not taught in the bible.”

This is patently false. The Bible explicitly states in Psalm 51:5 and 58:3 that we were conceived in the womb as sinners, came forth from the womb behaving like wicked sinners, and later in Ephesians 2:3 Paul explicitly says that as a result of being constituted as sinners, we are *by nature* children of wrath before conversion. We’ll look at Psalm 51:5 first.

NAU Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

In the above verse, David declares that he, as a conceptus in his mother’s womb, was reckoned a sinner. If you want to deny that this verse means such, you’re left with the absurd notion that (1) this verse is teaching that the sexual intimacy between David’s father and mother which brought about his conception was a sinful act, an interpretation that would contradict the clear Scriptural teaching that says that making love to your wife is a good and godly thing, especially when it results in children [Psalm 127:3; Song of Songs; Hebrews 13:4], and (2) all major commentators I’ve ever read agree with my basic interpretation of Psalm 51:5. So, in order to say that David wasn’t reckoned a sinner, you’re left with an interpretation of this passage that would force you to contradict the rest of Scripture and also you are opposing all orthodox, historic Protestant interpretations of said passage. Of course, such doesn’t necessarily make my interpretation right, but it surely should give you cause for pause. If you want to hold your position in order to avoid what the majority of commentators have held, then fine. I’ll stick with the traditional interpretation as it gels better with the totality of Scripture and maintains internal consistency with the rest of God’s word.

NAU Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.

Little infants are not sin-free and innocent blank slates, but Scripture clearly teaches that when you compare their moral constitution to God, they are at enmity with Him from their mothers’ wombs. This is what theologians have called the “sinful nature”. This affects them physically and spiritually. If such wasn’t the case, then there would be no infant mortality. But babies die; either by the hands of abortionists, some through miscarriages, and others through infanticide or devastating diseases. But regardless, infants die. So, whether they die from homicide, disease, or unexplainable causes, they die because of sin (“for the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23). No sin = no death. But Adam sinned, and consequently, the death of infants proves that they have sin because sin = death. Such things teach us that the effects of Adam’s sin are pervasive; even to such an extent that a baby in the womb dies because of the sin that they inherited from Adam. Thus, they are conceived and born as sinners, with a disposition and innate desire to sin. As Scripture says, “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child”, “the wages of sin is death . . .” and “in Adam all die” (Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:22). If they were innocent, they wouldn’t die (even through the sin of another), but because they are sinners by nature, and such as they are in Adam, they die.

However, God does not punish the innocent because ultimately, when it comes to being compared to His righteous standard, there are *no* innocent people, including infants (Romans 3:10-11). You may appeal to passages like Ezekiel 18:20, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”

As a non-Calvinist, it appears that you are doing the same thing that the Jews did in Ezekiel’s day. The Jews wrongly re-interpreted both the actions of their ancestors and their own actions in an attempt to vindicate themselves. In Ezekiel’s day they were being punished with captivity, so they argued, “We are not the guilty ones. Our fathers were. This captivity is not fair to us.” But the truth is, the Jews in captivity had not learned the lesson any more than their fathers had. They inherited their father’s guilt, sin and disposition. They were no different and were being rightly punished accordingly. They were being punished for both their fathers’ sin and their own. Again, God does not punish innocent people because there are no innocent people (except Christ of course).

Passages like those of Ezekiel 18:4, 20 do nothing to disprove that people are conceived as sinful in Adam. This is because the same Bible teaches elsewhere that God visits the iniquity of the parents onto their children, which for the sake of argument, even if Original Sin wasn’t true, on such a standard God still wouldn’t be considered fair and just. This is because since God did in fact visit the iniquity of the fathers onto their offspring via actual sins committed by their ancestors through external influences such as idolatry and rebelliousness leading Israel into captivity, then the whole basis for the “God isn’t fair to hold me responsible for what Adam did and have me be born with a sinful nature” argument melts away and the very foundation used to raise any objection against the Biblical doctrine of Original Sin is demolished.

Ephesians 2:3, “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.”

Jack, this verse refers to what the Ephesians were *by nature* before their conversions not that they did this to themselves by their willful actions. You asserted that we are “cursed because of Adam & Eve” yet you deny that men are sinners by nature. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You seem to want to make a dichotomy between man being cursed in Adam (i.e., being given a blank slate at birth but put into a situation where at some point [i.e., an “age of accountability”] he, as a morally neutral being operating in a cursed creation, will exercise his libertarian freedom to choose evil and only then at that time become a bona-fide sinner). If you believe such, then you (1) contradict Scripture as shown above and (2) you are saying that the Creation is subjected to the bondage of the curse brought about by Adam and Eve per Romans 8:20-23 yet man, as a part of that Created order is actually exempt from said bondage. If such is your view, then I leave the reader to decide who has made a Scriptural case in light of my previous presentation.

In summary, the first man Adam rebelled against God (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-19) and his offspring continues to rebel against God to this day by refusing to honor Him and be thankful (Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 1:18-32; Psalm 14). As a result of the first sin of Adam, all men are consequently evil and sinful from the womb (Psalm 51:5; 58:3). God made all people sinners in Adam (Romans 5:19), and not one is good, not even one (Psalm 143:2; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10-18, 23). The hearts of lost men are sick with sin (Jeremiah 17:9) and God will hold every single person accountable for their actions (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Thanks for the response Jack. Although I strongly disagree, I appreciate your interaction.

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13 Comments on “No Sin Nature? – Part I”

  1. Paul Bollen Says:

    I read one of C.H. Spurgeon’s messages on line concerning “the Age of Accountability.” If children under that age died and went to heaven, their names would have had to be written in the Book of Life, or they would be cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15)

    But if they lived to reach that magical age and they became accountable for their sins, then God would have to erase their names out of the Book of life. Then later in life they got saved, then God would have to reenter their names back into the Book of life again.

    My-My-My, what a big pencil you have, I hope it has a good eraser on it.

  2. Arthur Sido Says:

    The names of all of God’s elect appear in the book of Life, and no one who is not of His elect has their name in that book. That seems pretty straightforward.

  3. Josh Says:

    Paul –

    You mentioned, “If children under that age died and went to heaven, their names would have had to be written in the Book of Life, or they would be cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15)

    But if they lived to reach that magical age and they became accountable for their sins, then God would have to erase their names out of the Book of life. Then later in life they got saved, then God would have to reenter their names back into the Book of life again.

    My-My-My, what a big pencil you have, I hope it has a good eraser on it.”

    You are correct to say that those children under the “magical” age must have had their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life according to Revelation 20:15. However, your reasoning “if” they lived to that age and beyond their names would be removed and have to be written should they later be saved does not follow. The point is that because in God’s sovereign plan they died in infancy, their name is already written in the Book. Your “if” leads only to a possible loss of salvation and seems pure conjecture. What if I never received Christ as Savior? Well, then I would go to Hell. God’s plan, however, was that I should. Anything besides that is pure conjecture, and while seemingly amusing in argument, does nothing to truly refute the sovereignty of God in actually saving souls.

    Josh

  4. Josh Says:

    Arthur –

    It would seem that anything contrary to this leaves us open to the heresy of open theism. When we do not understand the unconditional election of God in salvation, we then may think that we are able to affect our salvation, whether positively or negatively, in any way contrary to the plan of God from the foundation of the world. I do agree; it “seems pretty straightforward.”

  5. Paul Bollen Says:

    The statements that I submitted was Spurgeon making fun of those who believe in “The age of Accountability.” I heard someone else use this in a message and until I read these statements in his article, I thought someone just made it all up. I don’t believe in an Age of Accountability. I do believe that God saves all infants who die. I just don’t believe that God strikes out people out of the book of life, and adds them in again. Because of the mentality of thinking that your name being written in when you “Get Saved,” instead of being written from the foundation of the world like the scriptures in Rev.13:8 and Rev 17:8 which speaks of those who followed the antichrist, It says that those persons were not written from the foundation of the world. I believe that being said, those God elected, their names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. The reason for the first post is I agree with the author of it.

  6. Josh Says:

    Paul –

    In that case I imagine that we agree. I did not realize it was sarcasm you were relating, but took it as your actual belief. Thanks for the clarification.

    Josh


  7. […] No Sin Nature? – Part I No sin = no death. But Adam sinned, and consequently, the death of infants proves that they have sin because sin = death. Such things teach us that the effects of Adam’s sin are pervasive; even to such an extent that a baby in the womb … […]


  8. […] No Sin Nature? – Part I If you want to deny that this verse means such, you’re left with the absurd notion that (1) this verse is teaching that the sexual intimacy… […]


  9. […] No Sin Nature? – Part I But babies die; either by the hands of abortionists, some through miscarriages, and others through infanticide or devastating diseases. But regardless, infants die. So, whether they die from homicide, disease, or unexplainable causes, … […]

  10. Keith Beller Says:

    I think you guys would benefit from studying for whom Christ died. You need to research the topic of what sins were covered by Christ’s death on the cross. Did he die for the whole world? Did he die only for believers? What is imputed sin? These are some questions you should ask. Be careful to dialog in love. The whole world is watching.


  11. Thank you Keith for your kind encouragement.

  12. David Ruthven Says:

    you say that the death of infants proves a sinful nature in them. An argument that proves too much proves nothing. This argument implies that animals have a sinful nature for animals do die. Physical death is not the punishment for sin. The “second death” is the punishment.


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