I do not normally remember dreams. But my little granddaughter, Amelia, woke me from a heavy sleep a couple of hours ago. I was disturbed while very busily rescuing a rabbit from a tornado! (A warning to any rabbits reading this. That does not reflect the real person behind this keyboard. In any tornado, as far as I am concerned, you are on your own.)
So, I am writing at three in the morning…
And thinking about original sin. What it is and what it isn’t.
Have you heard of the ABC rhyme for teaching tiny children their alphabets in the old New England Primer? Probably you have, because it is so uniquely biblical that Christians still quote it.
“A” stood for, “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all”
Someone had asked online what these words meant, and I noted the Wiki answer: “Because of Adam’s sin, he was no longer perfect, so all his children would be born imperfect, subject to sin and death….”
These words are true, of course, but they miss the deepest reality of original sin that the little Primer captures.
Adam was created by God to be the Representative Head of the whole human race. When he sinned, God imputed his sin to all of his descendants. He declared every one of us, not just Adam himself, a condemned sinner.
Do you see the import of that language? There is only one other context in Scripture where such language is used. And that is regarding:
The Second Adam, Jesus Christ: The only other human being in history that God has also chosen to be a Representative Head – in this case, not of all of mankind, but of his church. Based on his victory over sin and death, God imputes his righteousness to all of his people. He declares every one of us a saint.
Do you see that? Adam – the First Adam – and Christ, the Second Adam. A perfect parallel.
Both bequeath their progeny something essential – declarative, forensic states. The one of sin, the other of righteousness.
We all know that, as Christians, we will be judged according to our works. Some will receive ‘ten cities and some five’. But we will be judged from within the category of the righteous. The category imputed to us on the basis of Christ’s righteousness – the actions of Someone else.
Likewise, non-Christians will be judged according to their works. Some will receive many stripes and some few. But that judgment is from within the category of the condemned. The category imputed to them on the basis of Adam’s sin – the action of someone else.
Again, a perfect parallel.
So, do you see the deficiency of the Wiki answer? Yes, we inherit a sinful nature. We sin with it at the first opportunity and are culpable before God for this. But that is not the basic meaning of original sin.