Adam sinned a long time ago, yet I am born a sinner today. How could this possibly be fair? Is it just and righteous for God to have me born in a sinful state simply because some naked guy ate from a forbidden tree long before I was conceived?
Many have wondered whether the doctrine of original sin is fair. To summarize this doctrine briefly, the Bible teaches that because Adam sinned, all his future offspring are born broken and bent toward sin.
But how can this be? Are there just reasons for this?
I believe that there are:
- Adam stands for a larger people group than himself. Imagine that the United States sent an ambassador to Libya to represent the American government. Now imagine this ambassador went up and punched the president of Libya in the face. How would the people of Libya feel toward Americans? They probably wouldn’t be happy. Adam was humanity’s ambassador before God, and, in a sense, he punched God in the face by rebelling against Him. God, correspondingly, was not too happy afterward because Adam represented humanity poorly.
- The Bible sees all humans as linked to Adam physically. Because all humans ultimately come from one set of parents, we are all linked to Adam genetically. In a sense, we were all “in Adam” when he sinned.
- All humanity rebelled against God in Genesis 3. How many people were present when Adam and Eve sinned? Two. How many people were commanded not to eat the forbidden fruit? Two. How many people rebelled against God? Two. Since there were only two people around at this time and both rebelled against God, then literally all of humanity disobeyed God! Therefore, all humanity is born in light of this corruption.
- We are condemned due to our own sin. Though we are born under the sin of Adam, the Bible is clear that we are also condemned because of our own sin. The reason someone goes to hell is not only due to Adam’s misdeed—we also decided to rebel against God’s commands as individuals.
- If it is unfair for God to count you as guilty in Adam, then it is also unfair for Him to count you as righteous in Christ. Yes, the “fairness” razor cuts both ways. If it is wrong for Adam’s unrighteousness to affect us, then it is also wrong for Jesus’ righteousness to affect us. Personally, I prefer to receive grace. Fair means we all get hell. Grace means that God saves some as a gift.
Underlying all of this is a false assumption that we as humans decide what is and is not fair. What court can we take God to? What moral high ground can the created stand upon to judge the Creator?
God is the ultimate standard of justice, which is the greatest news in the world because He never makes mistakes or judges wrongly. May we entrust ourselves into the hands of a kind Creator who loves us and has given us undeserved grace. Though we have been born in Adam, through faith we are born again into Jesus!