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Sinful Nature

The Sinfulness of Sin: Sinners By Nature

Sinful Nature
Why? Why are all of us sinners? Why, are we, who are made in God’s Image, universally rebellious against Him?
 
 
 
As we persist in the uncomfortable task of studying and recognizing the depths of our sinfulness, it is not long before we discover one of the most important truths in all of humanity: sin is universal. The Bible is clear in teaching that no one is righteous (Rom. 3:10), that we are naturally bent towards evil (Eccl. 8:11), and that anybody who would claim to be without sin is a liar (1 Jn. 1:8). The question that naturally arises, of course, is, Why? Why are all of us sinners? Why, are we, who are made in God’s Image, universally rebellious against Him? Thankfully, the Bible gives us an explanation to this question.
 
Our sinfulness goes all the way back to the Adam in the Garden. His sin had profound implications and repercussions on all mankind that would come after him. In Romans 5, Paul teaches that Adam represented all of humanity when his obedience to God was tested in
 
Eden. Adam, created very good, had both the freedom and ability to either keep or transgress God’s commandment forbidding him to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The reward promised to Adam was eternal life in the direct presence of God; the punishment for disobedience would be death. However, that agreement, or covenant, between God and Adam, was not only for that one man at that one time – it was for all of humanity, represented by Adam as their head. His obedience would have meant eternal blessing for all of us; yet as it stands, it is his sin that brings the punishment – death –  to us. Understanding this will be very important as we move forward and consider Christ’s representation of us in His perfect obedience. But we’ll look more deeply at that in a later essay.
 
When we consider this, our tendency is to think it unfair that God would punish us based on the sin of one man. But we are not simply sharers in the punishment without bringing any guilt upon ourselves. Romans 5:12 says that sin and death both entered the world through Adam, but the punishment of death spread to us because we all sin! All of us remain free, rational beings with God’s moral law written on our hearts, and we choose to break it. And we are culpable for that disobedience. We did, however, inherit that sinful nature from Adam. Think about it. When Adam and Eve became sinners, it in turn became impossible for them to pro-create anything but sinners! We know that a diseased tree cannot bear good fruit (Mt. 6:17), and so now, the fallen Image of God is passed down through the generations of man, beginning with Adam and Eve. So our sinful nature doesn’t begin with our first sin, but rather, we are sinners, even from our very conception (Ps. 51:5); and this is clear even in our own experience, as children exhibit their sinfulness from a very early age.
 
Now, we shouldn’t delude ourselves by thinking that people are trying so hard to be obedient, are so desperate to be righteous, but can’t attain it because God prohibits them. The truth is, all of us naturally want our sin, and want it desperately. Genesis 6:5 teaches us that every intention of man’s heart is evil. And our behavior confirms our nature. The fruit of our lives reveal the sinfulness that is in our core, and there is not a single person who breaks the mold. The condition of our heart is infected, polluted by sin (Jer. 17:9, Mt. 15:19, Rom. 8:7), and we are utterly powerless to do anything to help ourselves out of this position. That being said, no human being is as sinful as he can be. Our sinfulness is exhaustive in extent but not in degree. This is why people still do kind things, can establish or follow a moral code, and care about one another. And it is attributed to God’s intervening grace; if not for this, we would deteriorate into worst state imaginable. However, none of these “good deeds” do anything to change our spiritual condition. Our external sins are merely a manifestation of a deep, spiritual issue that exists in every one of us. It’s not enough to try to look righteous; without a changed heart, we will never be freed from our natural desire for and carrying out of sin. And we are all, therefore, liable to the full extent of judgement.
 
And, as we alluded to earlier, that punishment is death (Gen. 2:17, Rom. 6:23). Physical death is not a natural thing when we speak in terms of God’s original, very good creation. It is something that was introduced as a punishment, an invasion into the good universe made by God. It is a penalty, and the fact that we all die is proof positive that we all earned that penalty. And this punishment, when fully realized, is ultimate, spiritual death. Thankfully, out of His love and grace, God gave man a new representative, one who did obey perfectly, who did take the full punishment on our behalf, in order that we may be spared. All of us, from the moment of our existence, deserve the fullness of God’s wrath; and it is only through Christ and His work that we are delivered from this.
 
 
Luke Griffo is a member of leadership at Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA.  Click here for more RCSH Blog posts. 
 
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