Pristine Grace

Adam's Original Sin
by Brandan Kraft
Adam's Original Sin

Introduction

    I'm writing this article to address the common understanding of Adam, the imputation of sin, and who he truly represented in his fall.  Please be advised that before you really dig in to this article, that I do veer strongly away from the common understanding of Adam and his relationship to us.  This may challenge some of your long-standing beliefs, but I hope that you walk away with a better understanding of what I believe, and quite possibly embrace what it is I perceive to be truth.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. - Rom 4:8

    Oh what a lovely passage this is!  Have you ever actually stopped to think about it for a minute or two?  Well take a gander at this verse and just think about what it means to you.  I presume you're reading or listening to this today as a justified saint, one who is resting in the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.   If you are like me, you understand that the Lord has not imputed any sin to you, that your sins that you have committed have actually been charged to Christ, your savior.  This means your title is free and clear.  You are a free man or woman - cleared from any wrong-doing.  After you pass from this world, you will walk through the gates of heaven a justified person.  Because not only has your sin been imputed to Christ, but Christ's righteousness has been imputed to you.  And all of this took place in the mind of God from eternity.  After all, imputation is an eternal and immanent act of God, that is, it took place entirely in the mind of God.

    By now I'm sure you're probably wondering, how does this all tie into Adam?  Let me get straight to the point.   Have you ever been told that Adam's sin was imputed to you?  I know the answer to this.  And yes, I know you have been told this.  In fact, you probably believe this to be true. This is part of the doctrine of original sin!  It's taught everywhere.  I was taught it as a child, and you probably were too.  It's taught in just about every church and denomination.  In fact, it's considered a cardinal doctrine of Christianity, no matter your denomination.  You can't walk into a baptist, methodist, presbyterian, pentecostal, free will, or even 5 point high calvinist church today, and not hear about Adam's fall, and how he was plunged into sin.  Not only is it taught that he fell, but you fell with him too in the mind of God. This is a foundational tenet of christianity today, and I'm going to tell you right now that it's all wrong!  Now please, don't run away with your hands over your eyes or ears.  I know this may appear quite shocking to you.  But please hear me out.  I am going to go through the scriptures with you and methodically point out how the classical understanding is wrong and my understanding is right.   

What is the Truth?

    The truth of the matter is, if you are a believer, you are exactly like Adam.  You, like Adam, were created in iniquity.  Adam was not this perfectly righteous individual walking around in the garden.  He was a sinner, just like me and you.  He was viewed as a righteous man in Christ by God.   However, his first documented sin was not his first sin.  Yes, he was a rebellious person from the very beginning.  His first documented sin was his first overt violation of God's law.  It was a revealing sin.  It revealed who Adam really was - to Adam.  And Adam saw who he was before God - naked and shameful, so he covered himself with leaves.  But God who is rich in mercy pointed him to a savior and clothed him in the righteousness of Christ.  When Adam fell, God didn't all of a sudden charge him or even you with his sins.  He had already planned to create you as a redeemed sinner in Christ.  You have enough sin of your own, fashioned in iniquity and you don't need Adam's sin to make you any more of a sinner. 

Freewillism vs. Sovereign Grace and Romans 5

"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.) 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. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." - Rom 5:17-19

    So let's dig into the meat and potatoes.  This passage is heavily relied upon to develop the doctrine of the common fall of humanity as well as the doctrine of original sin.  

    The Free-willers / Arminians believe that the word "all" in this passage represents all men universally.  They believe that when Adam sinned, all men everywhere were polluted by sin, and when Christ died on the cross, all men everywhere had their sins removed, except for the sin of unbelief, so nobody was actually saved.   So this is how they actually read this text...

"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. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men {all men universally} to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men {all men universally} unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many {all men universally} were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many {all men universally} be made righteous." - Rom 5:17-19

    This is obviously wrong, but let's give them some credit for some consistency.  They didn't change the meaning of the word "all" in this passage.  And they are correct to keep a consistent reading, but then they stumble over the word "many".  Christ only redeemed many, His elect sheep, - not all men universally.  They destroy the Gospel with their interpretation of this passage.

    The Calvinists read this passage, and they get it more right.  They understand that the many represents only the elect, but they change the meaning of the word "all".

"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. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men {all men universally} to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men {only the elect} unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many {all men universally} were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many {only the elect} be made righteous." - Rom 5:17-19

    Talk about an inconsistency! Why would the meaning of the words all and many change, even in the exact same sentences?  Well I can tell you why.  The context had to change in order to fit within the proper system of soteriology.  The Calvinist believes Adam represented all men in his sin, but that Christ represents just the elect.   So in order to preserve the Gospel with their interpretation, they have to be inconsistent.   They are careful not to destroy the meaning of God's redemptive work.  But in the process, they seemingly throw out all claims of contextual consistency. Below is the proper reading of the text.

"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. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men {the elect} to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men {the elect} unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many {the elect} were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many {the elect} be made righteous." - Rom 5:17-19

    The correct context of the word "all" is all the elect.  When Adam fell, he was only representative of the elect. And Christ represented only the elect on the cross.  The context of the words all and many did not change.

For as in Adam all die {the elect}, even so in Christ shall all {the electbe made alive. - 1 Cor 15:22

    This is also consistent with Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, which was written before Romans.   When reading Romans 5 this way, you can claim the logical consistency that the freewill reading offers, but with the truth of the Gospel.   So even if you believe that Adam's sin is charged to men, I believe if you are to be consistent with the reading of this passage, it must only apply to elect. Therefore, I throw out the doctrine of the common fall of man.  Adam was only representative of the elect in the garden.   Here is some more food for thought..

For God hath concluded them all {the elect} in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all {the elect} . - Rom 11:32

Objection: So if Adam only represented the elect, why are all men sinners?

     OK, so this is a fair question.  Why are all men sinners?  I think a better question is, why does there need to be a common fall for sin to exist amongst men?  Why does there need to be a fall of man for men to be fashioned in iniquity? Is God not capable of creating evil people?  Satan was created as an evil being.  Why not men?

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  - John 8:44

By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. - Job 26:13

    The reason there needs to be a fall is because theologians are scared to death of charging God with being the author of sin.  Augustine created this doctrine of original sin to keep God's hands clean so to speak(in his platonic mind).  

Question: Would you please expand on 1 Cor. 15:22?  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ they shall be made alive.”

1 Cor 15:19-28, (KJV), If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (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. (24) Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (25) For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. (26) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (27) For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. (28) And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

     I think a lot of folks are thrown off by the use of the word “ALL” in this passage, and in the Romans 5 passage.  But I believe the focus of both passages is the same.    Folks assume that since in Adam, ALL are said to die, the context is obviously humanity.  But the context of this passage is the destruction of death.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  And this is the death of God’s elect - not the death of animals, plant life, or the reprobate.  The death of animals for example is not an enemy opposed to Christ.   As for the reprobate, their death is a positive execution of God’s wrath toward them.  The only class for whom death is an enemy (which is the context of this passage) is the elect of Christ.  For these and these only, ALL these, as in Adam they die, and in Christ they are made alive. 

Objection: But what about Total Depravity?

    This is where people might accuse me of false doctrine.  But I do not deny the truth that all men are sinners, desperately wicked and fashioned in iniquity.  The scriptures are clear that men are evil from the time they are born.  But not because of Adam.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. - Psalm 51:5

The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. - Psalm 58:3

"Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb."  - Isa 48:8

Objection: You said Adam was a sinner before he sinned in the Garden.  The Bible says he was made upright.

"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright;"  - Ecc 7:29a

     What does this really mean?  We know that Job was also created "upright."  But does that mean they were without sin?  Job came into this world a long time after Adam.  

"And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?"  Job - 1:8

Objection: The Bible says God looked upon Creation and it was Good.  How could God call this good if Adam was a sinner?

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.  - Gen 1:31

    This does not mean Adam was holy and without sin.  God said this creation was good because it served His purposes.  And His purposes are good.  Even if Adam was holy and without sin, God planned for him to sin.  Wasn't that good?  I mean after all, men had to be sinners in order to be redeemed by Christ, and that is the ultimate in goodness!

Question:  How is Adam the representative of the elect?

     Adam never represented God's elect as a substitute.  He can never be compared to Christ, who was our substitute.  No, he is not a federal head.  Christ is the federal head.   Adam is a picture of what each of his elect posterity would do.  Adam is representative of us in that he operates in the same manner as we do in sinning.  Each of us has transgressed God's law, and each of us has been found hiding in the woods with leaves ashamed of our nakedness.  And like Adam, God clothes us in the righteouness of Christ.  

Objection: How is Adam's sin imputed to the elect if he's not their substitutive representative?

     And now we're back to our opening verse: 

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. - Rom 4:8

     But let's add this one in here for good measure:

He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. - Num 23:21

     God never imputes sin to His people.  He never charges them with their sin... He doesn't even charge Adam's sin to them.  All of our sin has been charged to Christ!  And this has been worked out in God's mind from before the foundation of the world.

Objection: Romans 5:13-14 says that death reigned from Adam until Moses!  This is clearly because of Adam's fall.

For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (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. - Rom 5:13-14

     This passage is basically stating that some of God's elect did not transgress a law covenant.  A covenant of works given to Adam was basically "do this and die."  Then there is a law covenant at Sinai with Moses.  These covenants are for the revealing of sin or the increasing of transgressions.   Adam transgressed a law covenant in the Garden.  And death reigned from Adam to Moses - even for those who weren't under a law covenant.  All of the elect sin in the same manner as Adam - even without a law covenant.   That is what this passage means.

Objection: You said Satan was created evil.  The scriptures say that Lucifer fell from heaven.

Isa 14:12-15, (KJV), How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (13) For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: (14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (15)Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

     This is venturing outside the area of this article, but I'll go ahead and answer this.  This verse is not speaking of Satan.  Lucifer is another name given for the King / Kingdom of Babylon.  This is imagery of the final judgment to describe the doom of Babylon.  Both Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 26 use this imagery.

2 Pet 2:4, (KJV), For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

     This passage is not referring to sinless angels who sinned and then fell from heaven as is taught in Milton's Paradise Lost.   This is referring to false Gospel preachers.  See Gilbert Beebe's short article on this text. 

Objection: So now you’re denying that Adam is the father of all men.

   I do not deny that all men have Adam and Eve as their oldest grandparents.  I still believe the traditional understanding of Adam as an ancestor and that all men are descended from Adam and Eve’s original union.  I’m just saying that Adam is representative of only the elect in the same way that Abraham’s seed is only the elect (his spiritual seed). 

Objection: This is heresy!

     Is it really?  How does this hurt the Gospel message?  I have not at all damaged the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine of His redemptive work.  In fact, I have tried to understand the Scriptures, and taken great care to magnify the Gospel in my interpretation of them.  Am I really a heretic because I have departed in my understanding from centuries of theological assumption?

Conclusion

    I've tried to answer all the objections someone might have.  If you have an objection that I have not addressed, please feel free to contact me.  I'm still learning the truth.  I'm still just a sinner saved by Grace.  

     Many of my friends that I call brother and sister still hold to the traditional calvinistic understanding of Adam, his sin, and the imputation of sin.  I'm ok with that.  This is what we were all taught, and for some reason or another, God has given me the understanding that I have, and not the rest.  I don't claim to be any better than my brothers who disagree with me on this.  I will say that I am not alone in my thinking, and I can name on two hands the people that agree with me.

     This has been a hard paper for me to write.  I find it to be risky, because I don't want to cause any division amongst the people of God over this issue.  Yes, I believe this to be truth, and I do believe the truth should be proclaimed.  However, whenever something is presented that challenges beliefs that are so widely regarded as true, the results can be costly in terms of friendship and fellowship in the Gospel.  The truth never should be a barrier to Gospel fellowship, but not all believers judge all things by the Gospel.   Sometimes, believers will judge by tradition and systems of theological thought instead of the Gospel.  I find all of that disheartening.  But nevertheless, I will not hide who I am and what it is I believe, so therefore I publish this paper, not to divide, but to simply present what it is I perceive to be truth.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for being my friend in Christ.

     Grace and Peace!
     Brandan