by Alfred T. Overstreet
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it. Deut. 4:2 If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. Rev. 22:18
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN IS FALSE
The doctrine of original sin is false because:
1. It makes sin a misfortune and a calamity rather than a crime.
2. It makes the sinner deserve pity and compassion rather than blame for his sins.
3. It excuses the sinner.
4. It makes God responsible for sin.
5. It dishonors God. It makes him arbitrary, cruel, and unjust.
6. It causes ministers to wink at and excuse sin.
7. It begets complacency and a low standard of religion among Christians.
8. It is a stumbling-block to the unsaved.
9. It makes Jesus a sinner or it must deny his humanity.
10. It contradicts the Bible.
11. It "adds to" and "takes from" the Bible. God warns against this in Deut. 4:2 and Rev. 22:18, 19.
12. It begets false doctrines and false interpretations of the Scriptures.
13. It is ridiculous, absurd, and unreasonable. It contradicts the necessary and irresistible affirmations of every man's consciousness and reason, which is something that no true doctrine of the Word of God could do.
Now let us look more fully at each of these points.
1. It makes sin a misfortune and a calamity rather than a crime.
In fact, if the doctrine of original sin were true, sin would be a calamity rather than a crime. Could a sinful nature be the crime of him upon whom it is entailed without his knowledge or consent? If this doctrine were true, the sinner would be the most unfortunate creature in the universe. To blame him or call him criminal for his sins would be absurd, and to punish him for his sins would be a cruel injustice. He would not deserve punishment for his sins, but would rather deserve pity and compassion for the misfortune he had suffered by being born into this world with a sinful nature. And, of course, under these circumstances the Bible would have to be rewritten. For it never speaks of the sinner as unfortunate. It speaks of the sinner's guilt and ill-desert. In the Bible, sin is represented as a crime that deserves the everlasting punishment of hell.
2. It excuses the sinner.
The sinner knows he cannot be to blame for his sins if he is born a sinner and sins unavoidably because of the nature with which he is born. The sinner is compelled to excuse himself (secretly at least) if he really believes that he sins because of an inborn sin nature. It is not a matter of whether he chooses to excuse himself or not; he cannot help but excuse himself. If he really believes that he is born a sinner and that he cannot help but sin because of inborn sin, he must and he will excuse himself, even if only secretly.
Over against the fact that this doctrine gives the sinner an excuse for his sins, we have the biblical fact that God does not excuse sin. Sin in the Bible is always denounced in the strongest language possible and under the most terrible of penalties. The letter and the spirit of the whole Bible is against any doctrine that would permit men to excuse themselves in their sins.
3. It makes God responsible for sin.
If men are born with a sinful nature, who is to blame? Surely not the sinner, for he had no choice in being born with a sinful nature. The sinner is no more to blame for being born with his nature than he is for being born with blue eyes. But, who is the author of our nature? Who is our Creator? Who formed us in our mother's womb? Who gave us life and breath and all things? To talk of men being born with a sinful nature is to ascribe sin to God because God is the Author of our nature.
4. It dishonors God and makes his government tyrannical, cruel, and unjust. According to this doctrine, innocent little babies are born with a sinful nature, and because of their nature, are objects of God's wrath. Could anything make God more cruel and unreasonable?
This doctrine is infinitely dishonorable to God. Men know it would be cruel and unjust to condemn them for the nature with which they are born. They know that they cannot justly be worthy of the wrath of God for being born with a nature which they did not choose and which they could not avoid. They know that God would be a tyrant and his government tyranny if this grotesque doctrine were true.
5. It is a stumbling-block to the unsaved.
The sinner could not help but stumble over a doctrine that represents God as being cruel and unjust. According to this doctrine, God created us under such physical laws as would cause us all to be born sinners, and then condemns us for being born sinners! The sinner who really believes this doctrine is compelled to regard God as infinitely cruel and unjust. It is not a matter of whether he chooses to regard God as unjust. His irresistible convictions of justice, given to him in his nature by God, will compel him to regard God as unjust. He may not voice his convictions, but he will still hold them secretly nonetheless.
And as long as he feels that God's government is unjust and that he is not to blame for his sins, he cannot really repent. Repentance implies that the sinner blame himself for his sins. It implies that he admit that God and his government are righteous and that he has been all wrong. It implies that, in this spirit, the sinner turn from his sins and submit himself to God's government. But all of this is impossible while the sinner believes a doctrine that causes him to excuse his sins and to regard God's government as cruel and unjust.
6. It begets complacency and a low standard of religion among Christians.
Christ has two great causes in this world today: the salvation of the lost and the perfection of his church. Every influence of this doctrine is to hinder these two great causes of Christ. If the sinner believes that God's government is unjust and that he is not really to blame for his sins, then he will not and cannot genuinely repent. And if the Christian believes that his very nature is sinful and that it is impossible for him to live without sinning, then he will not aim for Christian perfection, nor will he feel greatly disturbed about sin and worldliness in his life. Every tendency of this doctrine begets an indulgent spirit toward sin and a low standard of religion among Christians.
7. It soothes the conscience of sinning Christians, causing them to stumble into hell. Christians sometimes make the excuse that they cannot help but sin because of a sinful nature inherited from Adam. One brother told me that, before his conversion, he actually prayed to God for clemency and excused his sins by telling God that his sins were the result of his Adamic sin nature. This false doctrine soothes the conscience of unnumbered sinners in the churches and will ultimately stumble them into a sinner's hell.
8. It causes ministers to wink at and excuse sin in their churches. Ministers who believe this doctrine will have a tendency to wink at and excuse sin in their churches. The whole tendency of this doctrine is to beget an indulgent spirit toward sin, and the low, unscriptural standard of religion that actually exists in many churches today.
Where this doctrine is taught and believed there will be little real horror of sinning against God. Christians and ministers will excuse sin with such statements as: "Nobody's perfect," "Even the Apostle Paul had to struggle with 'indwelling sin,'" "God will change us when we get to heaven," "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven," "Be patient, God is still working on me," "I made a mistake," and "God understands our weaknesses and human frailties."
Ministers who really believe this doctrine and have worldly members in their churches will not be inclined to blame them for their worldliness. And, thus, the worldly will be allowed to settle down in their worldliness without feeling any really great danger. After all, God knows and understands that they have the "old Adamic sin nature" dwelling in them and will have until they die and go to heaven. God will not judge them for their human weaknesses, frailties, and faults. So multitudes of people in the churches deceive themselves, and go on in the broad way of worldliness, selfishness, and sin which will finally lead them down into hell.
9. It contradicts all the great doctrines of the Bible.
This doctrine is so out of character with the Bible that it contradicts all its fundamental teachings. This is something that no true doctrine of the Bible could do, but is exactly what would be expected of a false doctrine. We have already seen that it permits the sinner to excuse himself in his sins. But the letter and the spirit of the whole Bible is against any doctrine that would permit men to excuse themselves in their sins. We have seen that it makes sin a misfortune and a calamity rather than a crime. But the Bible speaks of sin as an act that deserves the everlasting punishment of hell. Also, we have seen that it makes the sinner deserve pity and compassion rather than blame for his sins. But you can search through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will find that God never pities but always blames the sinner for his sins.
The fact is that the doctrine of original sin is so contrary to the Bible that to try to make the two harmonize would be like trying to make light and darkness exist together in one and the same place. Only by completely rewriting the Bible could it be made to agree with the doctrine of original sin.
For instance, the most fundamental doctrines of the Bible are contradicted by the doctrine of original sin:
a. The doctrines of mercy, grace, guilt, pardon, and repentance.
Can a man really be guilty for possessing the nature with which he is born? Can God show him mercy, and pardon his guilt if it is true that he has suffered the misfortune of being born into this world a sinner? What kind of grace would it be that would save a man from the misfortune of being born into this world a sinner? It would not be grace that would save him; it would be justice. And how could a man sincerely repent and condemn himself for his sins if he believed that he was born a sinner and could not avoid sin because of an inborn sin nature? All the fundamental doctrines of the Bible are emptied of their meaning and become contradictory and confusing if the doctrine of original sin is accepted.
b. The doctrine of God's justice and righteousness in his judgment of sinners.
The Bible says that God will "judge the world in righteousness." Psalm 9:8. But could God judge the world and be righteous if this doctrine were true? What of the heathen who are lost without ever hearing the Gospel? If this doctrine is true, the heathen are born sinners and will of necessity live in sin because of an inherited sin nature, and when they die without ever hearing the Gospel and having a chance to be saved, they are doomed to the everlasting punishment of hell. Now if it is true that they are born sinners and cannot help but sin, can God justly send them to hell? Our God-given convictions of justice war against such an idea.
Those who believe in the doctrine of original sin cannot escape the conviction that justice requires that the heathen have a chance to hear the Gospel and be saved. They cannot escape the convictions that it is unjust that the heathen be lost without at least having the opportunity to accept or reject the Gospel. They feel that the heathen are owed the opportunity to hear the Gospel so they might have a chance to be saved.
But where did this idea come from that the heathen are owed the chance to be saved? I answer: It springs up irresistibly from the belief that men are not the authors of their own sin. It springs up from the belief that men are born with a sinful nature and cannot help but sin. So since they are born with a sinful nature and cannot help but sin, they cannot deserve hell without at least a chance to hear the Gospel and be saved. But the idea that any one is owed the chance to be saved is completely foreign to the Bible. God does not owe anyone the chance to be saved. He does not save anyone to satisfy justice. Jesus did not die for wicked men because he owed them a chance to be saved, but because of his love, mercy, and grace.
But those who believe in the doctrine of original sin find themselves with compelling convictions that contradict the fundamental Bible doctrine of God's righteousness in judging the heathen. The doctrine of original sin compels them to believe that it is not just for the heathen to be judged without a chance to be saved. And, in fact, if the doctrine of original sin were true, it would not be just to condemn the heathen without a chance to hear the Gospel and be saved. Moreover, if the doctrine of original sin were true, salvation would be on the grounds of justice rather than grace. The justice of God would require that God not only make sure that all mankind have a chance to hear the Gospel, but it would also require that God provide grace (or justice) of such a magnitude that all men would certainly and irresistibly be saved.
Finney makes the following remarks upon the unscriptural tendencies of a belief in the doctrine of original sin:
I object to the doctrine of constitutional sinfulness, that it makes all sin, original and actual, a mere calamity, and not a crime. For those who hold that sin is an essential and inseparable part of our nature, to call it crime, is to talk nonsense. What! a sinful nature the crime of him upon whom it is entailed, without his knowledge or consent? If the nature is sinful, in such a sense that action must necessarily be sinful, which is the doctrine of the Confession of Faith, then sin in action must be a calamity, and can be no crime...since the will has nothing to do with it.
Of course it must render repentance, either with or without the grace of God, impossible, unless grace sets aside our reason. If repentance implies self-condemnation, we can never repent in the exercise of our reason. Constituted as we are, it is impossible that we should condemn ourselves for a sinful nature, or for actions that are unavoidable. The doctrine of original sin, or of a sinful constitution, and of necessary sinful actions, represents the whole moral government of God, the plan of salvation by Christ, and indeed every doctrine of the Gospel, as a mere farce. Upon this supposition the law is tyranny, and the Gospel an insult to the unfortunate.
It is difficult, and, indeed, impossible for those who really believe this doctrine to urge immediate repentance and submission on the sinner, feeling that he is infinitely to blame unless he instantly comply. It is a contradiction to affirm, that a man can heartily believe in the doctrine in question, and yet truly and heartily blame sinners for not doing what is naturally impossible to them. The secret conviction must be in the mind of such a one, that the sinner is not really to blame for being a sinner, any more than he is to blame for being a human being. This the advocate of this doctrine must know. It is vain for him to set up the pretense that he truly blames sinners for their nature, or for their conduct that was unavoidable. He can no more do it, than he can honestly deny the necessary affirmations of his own reason. Therefore the advocates of this theory must merely hold it as a theory, without believing it, or otherwise they must in their secret convictions excuse the sinner.
This doctrine naturally and necessarily leads its advocates, secretly at least, to ascribe the atonement of Christ rather to justice than to grace to regard it rather as an expediency to relieve the unfortunate, than to render the forgiveness of the inexcusable sinner possible. The advocates of the theory cannot but regard the case of the sinner as rather a hard one, and God as under an obligation to provide a way for him to escape a sinful nature, entailed upon him in spite of himself, and from actual transgression which result from his nature by a law of necessity. If all this is true, the sinner's case is infinitely hard, and God would appear the most unreasonable and cruel of beings, if he did not provide for their escape. These convictions will, and must, lodge in the mind of him who really believes the dogma of a sinful nature. This, in substance, is sometimes affirmed by the defenders of the doctrine of original sin.
The fact that Christ died in the stead and behalf of sinners, proves that God regarded them not as unfortunates, but as criminal and altogether without excuse. Surely Christ need not have died to atone for the misfortunes of man. His death was to atone for their guilt, and not for their misfortunes. But if they are without excuse for sin, they must be without a sinful nature that renders sin unavoidable. If men are without excuse for sin, as the whole law and the Gospel assume and teach, it cannot possibly be that their nature is sinful, for a sinful nature would be the best of all excuses for sin.
This doctrine is a stumbling-block to the church and the world, infinitely dishonorable to God, and an abomination alike to God and the human intellect, and should be banished from every pulpit, and from every formula of doctrine, and from the world. It is a relic of heathen philosophy, and was foisted in among the doctrines of Christianity by Augustine, as every one may know who will take the trouble to examine for himself.
10. It makes Jesus a sinner
The doctrine of original sin makes Jesus a sinner. The advocates of the doctrine of original sin quote Job 14:4 and 15:14 to teach that men are born sinners:
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one. Job 14:4
What is man, that he should be clean? and he that is born of woman, that he should be righteous? Job 15:14
The first of these texts supposedly teaches that a sinner will always produce another sinner. The second is supposed to teach substantially the same thing, that is, that all those who are born of woman are born sinners. But if the doctrine of original sin is true, then Mary, the mother of our Lord, was also born a sinner; and if a sinner always produces another sinner, and if all those who are born of woman are born sinners, then there is no way to escape the conclusion that Jesus also was born a sinner. So in misusing these and other texts to teach that men are born sinners, the advocates of original sin are also making Jesus a sinner because he partook of the same human nature as other men.
Jesus was a man. He was born of a woman. He was the seed of Abraham, the offspring of David, descended from Adam. Matt. 1:1, Rom. 1:3, Heb. 2:16, Rev. 22:16. The humanity of Christ is fully and unequivocably taught in the Bible, and to teach the doctrine that men are born sinners is to teach the blasphemy that "the man Christ Jesus" was born a sinner.
The Bible says, "Verily he took not on him the nature of angels but the seed of Abraham." Heb. 2:16. "In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest." Heb. 2:17. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." Heb. 2:14. "For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." Heb. 2:11. "For we have not an high priest which can not be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we, yet without sin." Heb. 4:15.
The Bible teaches that Christ was, in all respects, a real man, possessing both a human body and a human soul, and with all the attributes of a man. He was born of a woman. He was nourished and cared for by his mother, as other men are. He was circumcised according to the law of Moses. He was once an infant in knowledge, for he grew both in Wisdom and in stature. He hungered, he thirsted, he ate, he drank, he labored, he slept, he grew tired, and he lived and died like other men. He was recognized as a man and a Jew by other men. "Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be make like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." "For we have not an high priest which can not be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." Heb. 2:17, 4:15, 2:11.
It is a serious error to deny the deity of Christ. One cannot be a Christian and deny his deity. John taught that it is equally serious to deny the humanity of Christ. "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God." I John 4:2, 3. "Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. II John 7.
The doctrine of Christ's human nature is fully attested in the Bible. Nevertheless, because of their belief that men are born sinners and that human nature or the flesh is inherently sinful, the defenders of the doctrine of original sin must deny in some way or another the real humanity of Christ and that he came in human flesh like other men. Phil. 2:6-8, I Tim. 3:16, Gal. 4:4, John 1:14, I John 4:2-3, II John 7.
Augustine did this by teaching that sin is transmitted through the lust of procreation so that since Jesus was born of a virgin, he was not born through lust and therefore was not born with the same sinful nature as other men. Harnack says:
The extremely disgusting disquisitions on marriage and lust in the polemical writings against Julian are, as the latter rightly perceived, hardly independent of Augustine's Manichaeism...And the disquisitions are by no means a mere outwork in Augustine's system; they belong to its very center...Children possess original sin, because their parents have procreated them in lust and by this proposition stands or falls the doctrine of original sin. So also Christ has sinlessness attributed to him because he has not been born of marriage, and Augustine imagined paradisaical marriages in which children were begotten without lust, or, as Julian says jestingly, were to be shaken from trees.
This idea of Augustine that lust in procreation transmits sin contradicts the whole spirit of the Scriptures on marriage and the bearing of children. Moreover, the Bible nowhere teaches that the virgin birth of Jesus was to keep him from being born with original sin. The Bible teaches that there was one, and only one, reason for the virgin birth of our Lord. It was so that God could take on human nature, become a man, and dwell among us. Luke 1: 31-35, John 1:14, Gal. 4:4, Matt. 1:1. The reason for the virgin birth is made plain in Luke 1:31-35. This passage gives no hint that the reason for the virgin birth was to keep Jesus free from original sin; what it does tell us is that the reason was so that God's Son could be born.
But we have already seen the Scriptures in Hebrews which show that Christ took upon himself our human nature (Heb. 2:14), that he was in all things made like his brethren (Heb. 2:17), that he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one (Heb. 2:11), and that he was tempted like we are in all points (Heb. 4:15), yet without sin. Could it really be true that he was tempted in all points like we are if he did not have the same nature as we? And is it not true that the word "yet" in the statement "yet without sin" would lose all its force and meaning if Christ had not been tempted in the same human nature as we yet without sin?
Every which way it turns, the doctrine of original sin flies in the face of the teachings of the Word of God. It makes Jesus a sinner, or it must deny his true humanity.
11. It begets other false doctrines.
Many false views on sin and salvation, with their concurrent misinterpretations of the Scriptures, come out of this one fundamental error. Consider the following:
a. The doctrine of the "Immaculate Conception."
This is the doctrine that Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ was "conceived free from any of the corruption of original sin," in order that she might be pure enough to be the mother of Christ. Of course, this doctrine is not taught in the Bible. It is an invention of men, made necessary by a belief in the doctrine of original sin.
b. The doctrine of infant baptism for the remission of original sin.
This doctrine is another invention of men, made necessary to relieve innocent little infants from the guilt of original sin and the wrath of God, which supposedly rest upon them because of being born with a sinful nature.
c. The doctrine of Limbo.
This doctrine is another invention made necessary for infants who die without baptism. Limbo is supposed to be a place where unbaptized infants go instead of hell, "where neither the joys of heaven nor the miseries of hell prevail."
d. The doctrine that men have lost the image of God since the fall of Adam.
This is another unbiblical doctrine made necessary by a belief in the doctrine of original sin. Of course, if men come into this world "dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body," as the Westminster Confession says, they have certainly not been created in the image of God. But the fact that man is created in the image of God is evident from the Scriptures. God told Noah, long after the sin of Adam, that man was "made in the image of God." Gen. 9:16. And, of course, the New Testament Scriptures teach just as clearly that man is created in the image of God. (See I Cor. 11:7, James 3:9, Acts 17:29.) It is amazing how men will ignore the clear teachings of the Holy Scriptures in order to accommodate the doctrine of original sin.
e. The doctrine of a physical, passive regeneration.
Believing, as the advocates of original sin do, that moral depravity is constitutional in nature, they must believe in a physical and passive regeneration, in order to be consistent. Regeneration, according to this school, is a change in the constitutional nature of man. It is a change wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit, in which the sinner is wholly passive, and in which new and holy susceptibilities, dispositions, tastes, and appetites are implanted or created in the soul.
The problem with this is that no such physical or passive regeneration is taught in the Bible. The Bible teaches that the work which the Holy Spirit does in the sinner is moral rather than physical. It is a work of moral suasion, of divine teaching and illumination, of convicting and reproving of sin. John 6:44-45, John 16:8, James 1:18, John 15:3, I Peter 1:22-23. The Bible teaches that the sinner cannot be passive in regeneration, but he must respond to the voice of God. He must repent and make to himself "a new heart and a new spirit." Ez. 18:30-32.
The Bible teaches that regeneration is the work of both God and man: (1) The work of God: Titus 3:5, James 1:18, I John 3:9, John 3:5, John 6:44-45; (2) The work of the sinner himself: Ez. 18:31, I Peter 1:22, James 4:7-8, Acts 3:19, James 1:21, Jer. 4:14; (3) The work of men who preach the Word of God: I Cor. 4:15, Fil. 1:10, James 5:19-20, Prov. 11:30, Dan. 12:3, Mark 1:17, I Cor. 9:22; and (4) The work of the Word of God: I Cor. 4:15, James 1:18, James 1:21, I Peter 1:23.
There is no passive physical change in the sinner when he becomes a saint. The Bible teaches that regeneration is an active, cooperative, moral change, and not a passive physical change.
f. The doctrine of a natural inability to repent.
If man's very nature is sinful, then it is a natural impossibility for him to repent. This fact has led naturally and necessarily to the doctrine that God first changes the sinner's nature in regeneration (passive regeneration), and then the sinner repents. According to this school of thought, repentance and conversion both follow regeneration because the sinner cannot obey God's command to repent and be converted until after he has been regenerated.
g. The doctrines of arbitrary election and reprobation, absolute and unconditional predestination, irresistible grace, and a necessitated will.
All of the above doctrines follow logically from a belief in constitutional sinfulness. Augustine, the father of the doctrine of original sin, taught that salvation depends on God's inscrutable election and predestination, independent of any human agency. He taught that man is born with a corrupt and depraved nature, that he is not free (except to do evil), that he has a necessitated will, that God's love is infused, and that man is by nature absolutely unable to love God, or do anything good. These teachings of Augustine engendered fatalism and despair in the hearts of some in the Catholic Church:
In 426 or 427, it was reported to Augustine that the monks in the cloister of Adrumetum in North Africa were in some cases driven to despair, in other cases moved to careless self-indulgence, by his teaching as to man's helplessness and as to irresistible grace.
Free will, grace, predestination, election, and reprobation are, of course, biblical doctrines. It is only the extreme and fatalistic views of these doctrines, as taught by Augustine and others who believe in the constitutional sinfulness of man, that are unscriptural.
h. The doctrine of a natural inability to obey God.
The doctrine of a natural inability to obey God is at the very heart of the doctrine of original sin. According to the advocates of original sin, all men, even those who are Christians, have a corrupt, sinful nature and are unable to obey God as long as they are in this life:
From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. Westminster Confession.
This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated. Westminster Confession.
By reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil. Westminster Confession.
They deplore their inability to love their Redeemer, to keep themselves from sin, to live a holy life in any degree adequate to their own convictions of their obligations...They recognize it as the fruit and evidence of the corruption of their nature derived as a sad inheritance from their first parents. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. II, p. 273.
No man is able...by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed. Larger Catechism.
...whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually, which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions. Larger Catechism.
This doctrine opens the floodgates of rebellion against God, for it implies impunity for sin. Surely God would not be so unreasonable as to judge us for sin when he knows that we are by nature unable to obey him. Oh, what a lie the church has embraced! There is not one verse of Scripture in the entire Bible that says men have a sinful nature which makes them unable to obey God. It is true that all sinners are in a moral sense unable to obey God, but they are not naturally unable to obey God. And there is a great difference between a natural inability and a moral inability to obey God. Let us illustrate the difference between the two: A friend of mine is standing next to his brand new Cadillac. I ask him, "Can you lift your car off the ground?"
"No!" he answers. His answer here refers to a natural inability. It is naturally and physically impossible for him to lift so much weight.
Then I ask, "Can you sell me your new car for a dollar?"
Again, he answers, "No!" His answer this time refers to a moral inability. It does not mean that it is really a natural impossibility for him to sell his car, but that he cannot sell it because he is not willing to sell it.
The Bible never speaks of a sinner's natural inability to obey God. When it speaks of the sinner's inability to obey God, it is always speaking of a moral inability. He cannot obey because he is so selfish that he is unwilling to obey. All men can obey if they will. The following are just a few of the many verses from the Bible that teach that the Christian has been freed from his sins by the grace of Christ, and that he now has the power to live a victorious sin-free life:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Rom. 6:6
Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Rom. 6:14
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Rom. 6:17, 18
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Rom. 6:22
Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin...If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:34, 36
Now, who shall we believe? Shall we reject God's Word in order to hold on to a man-made doctrine? Shall we go to God in prayer and say: "Lord, thou hast promised that sin shall not have dominion over me thou hast promised that he whom the Son sets free is free indeed and Lord, thou hast given many other promises, assuring me of thy grace and power to keep me from sin but Lord, I don't believe thy promises; Lord, I don't think thou art able to keep me from sin in this life because I have been taught by men that I still have the remaining corruptions of original sin in me and will not be able to obey thee perfectly until I die and go to heaven."
Now, although you may not voice these very words in prayer, this is the unbelieving spirit that rules your life if you excuse sin by claiming a natural inability to obey God. But again, the doctrine of inability contradicts the very heart of the Gospel the good news that Jesus died to liberate us from our sins:
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father. Gal. 1:4
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:14
God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Acts 3:26
Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Eph. 5:25-27
If the doctrine of inability is true, the atonement of Christ was a failure, because he died to "redeem us from all iniquity," to "deliver us from this present evil world," to "turn us from our iniquities," and to make us "holy, and without spot, wrinkle, or blemish."
The doctrine of inability demeans the grace and the power of God. What a low opinion preachers have of the grace and power of God when they say that God cannot enable his people to live without sin. God tells us that "sin shall not have dominion over us because we are under his grace," he tells us that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound," and he tells us that we are "kept by the power of God, through faith." But the doctrine of inability tells us that, with all of God's abounding grace, we are still unable to obey him and live without sin. Listen as the advocates of original sin cast aspersions upon the power of God's grace to free from sin: "No man is able...by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed." Larger Catechism.
The doctrine of inability makes God a liar. He solemnly promises to keep us from being tempted above our ability to obey. He promises to liberate us from all sin, and to preserve us in righteousness and holiness, but according to the doctrine of inability, his promises are all empty. If the doctrine of inability is true, then God is insincere and deceitful because he commands us to do what he knows we cannot do. Surely if the doctrine of inability is true, God knows about it. Yet in the face of all this, he commands: "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" and "As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." Matt. 5:48, I Peter 1:15. Now if God gives us these commandments, knowing that it is impossible for us to obey them, then he is insincere and deceitful.
The fact is that the doctrine of inability turns the whole Bible upside-down. It mocks both the promises and the commandments of God. It blackens God's character, demeans his grace, and excuses the sinner in his sins. It is not just a harmless myth and religious superstition; it is infinitely worse. It is a devilish doctrine that muffles the voice of conscience, corrupts Christian practice, and stumbles Christians into hell. It teaches that the Christian must never expect to be saved from sin in this life, and that he should expect to live more or less in rebellion against his Savior until he dies and goes to heaven. What a lie from the devil! Where can this teaching be found in the Bible? Instead of teaching that the Christian cannot be freed from sin and made holy until he gets to heaven, the Bible warns that the unholy will never get to heaven!
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Heb. 12:14
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matt. 5:8
Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the Gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? I Peter 4:17, 18
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. Rev. 3:4, 5
The myth that God will transform the character of the sinning Christian when he gets to heaven, and once there, make him a holy Christian, is just that a myth. The decree of God is:
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Rev. 22:11
God will not change the character of anyone after he dies. He is changing the character of sinners now, in this life, while we are yet in this present world. There will be a change in the Christian when he gets to heaven, but not in his character. His body will be changed. The Bible says, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." I Cor. 15:53. This is not talking about a change of character; it is talking about an incorruptible body that will never die. But, oh, how many are deceiving themselves by the false doctrine that suddenly, when they get to heaven, they will be transformed into holy Christians. Hear again the words of the Revelator:
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be...Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates of the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. Rev. 22:11, 12, 14, 15
The doctrine of a natural inability to obey God is a devilish doctrine that is stumbling multitudes of professing Christians into hell.
12. The doctrine of original sin adds to and takes from the Bible.
God says, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Deut. 4:2. But the whole original sin dogma is an addition to the Bible.
For instance, the doctrine of original sin teaches that the whole human race existed in Adam and sinned with him when he transgressed, that we had one common will with Adam, that his will was the will of the race, and that when Adam revolted, the will of the race revolted with him. But you can search your Bible through from beginning to end, and you will never find this taught in it. It is not taught there. It is man's doctrine added to the Bible.
Again, the doctrine of original sin teaches that Adam was our federal head or moral representative, and that God made a covenant with him, agreeing to give eternal life to him and all his descendants if he obeyed, and threatening condemnation upon him and all his descendants if he disobeyed. But is any of this teaching in the Bible? No, the Bible is silent about this imagined covenant made with Adam.
Again, men teach that God created us under such physical laws as would cause us all to be born sinners. They teach that we are born with a corrupt sinful nature which is the fountain and cause of all our actual sins, that we sin unavoidably because of that nature, and that even the Christian sins necessarily because of the "remaining corruptions" of his inborn sin nature. Can these unholy and grotesque teachings be found in the Bible? No. They are all additions to the Bible.
Does the Bible speak of the "Immaculate Conception"? Does it speak of infant baptism for the remission of original sin? Does it speak of "Limbo"? Does it talk about an "inborn sin nature" or an Adamic sin nature"? Does it mention "original sin" or "actual sin," making a distinction between the two? No. None of these doctrines and none of these terms can be found in the Bible. They are all inventions of men and additions to the Bible.
But the doctrine of original sin also takes from the Word of God. It takes away those passages in the Bible that declare that men are guilty and blameworthy for their sins, and makes their sins the unfortunate result of being born with a sinful nature. It takes away all those passages in the Bible that teach that God is loving, good, and just and makes him cruel and unjust, by teaching that God condemned the whole human race for Adam's sin. It takes away those passages in the Bible that teach that men are created upright, with a good nature, and in the image and likeness of God, by teaching that since Adam's sin, men are no longer created in the image of God, but are born defiled in "all the faculties and parts of soul and body." It takes away those texts in the Bible that teach that Jesus had true human nature like other men, by teaching that Jesus could not have had the same human nature as other men without being a sinner.
It takes away the heart and soul of the Gospel, the biblical truth that God saves his people from their sins, by teaching that the Christian cannot live even for one day without sinning in thought, word, or deed. It contradicts and weakens the spirit of holiness that shines from every page of the Holy Bible, when it teaches that God's work of holiness in the church must wait until the church gets to heaven because of the "remaining corruptions of original sin." It destroys innumerable promises that God has given to the church, promises that the church can overcome sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil. And in doing this, it also limits the power of the Holy One of Israel, making sin infinitely more powerful than the power of his sanctifying grace through his indwelling Holy Spirit.
Every which way it turns, the doctrine of original sin either takes away some glorious truth from the Bible, or it adds some grotesque teaching that contradicts the Bible. It brings confusion to Gospel truth, making the doctrines of mercy, grace, guilt, pardon, and repentance unintelligible. It makes the holy, just, and loving God to be cruel and unjust, and it makes the wicked sinner to be the unfortunate recipient of a nature which he could not avoid. It is a stumbling-block to the church, encouraging many who call themselves Christians to live a life so far below the Bible standard of holiness and true Christianity that they will ultimately fall into a hypocrite's hell.
13. It is ridiculous, absurd, and unreasonable. It contradicts the necessary and irresistible affirmations of every man's consciousness and reason, something that no Biblical doctrine could do.
The necessary affirmations of every man's reason testify that the doctrine of original sin is false. But some Christians object that we should not appeal to reason in determining the truth or falseness of doctrines, and that if we do, we will go off into error. There exists, at least among some Christians, the superstition that man's God-given reason cannot be trusted, that it is subversive of the Word of God, and that if we accepted its necessary and irresistible affirmations, the doctrines of the Bible would be overthrown. But just the opposite is true. Man's reason and consciousness are in harmony with the Bible and confirm its teachings.
But how is it that some Christians can actually believe that reason will overthrow the doctrines of the Bible? I answer: by believing doctrines that they know are contradicted by reason, and believing that these doctrines are taught in the Bible. Let's explain: All the truths of the Bible are in harmony with man's reason, his moral nature, and his consciousness. The Scriptures never teach anything which our consciousness and rational moral nature declare to be false, unjust, or impossible. The fundamental truths of Christianity cannot be in manifest contradiction to reason. Yet the doctrine of original sin does contradict reason, reality, and man's irresistible convictions of justice. But Christians have been taught to believe it is a biblical doctrine. At the same time, they are conscious that it contradicts their reason and their convictions of justice. The result is that they think reason is to be distrusted and rejected as an evil that would overthrow the doctrines of the Bible if relied on!
But I repeat what I said in a former chapter: Would those who believe in the doctrine of original sin reject reason if the doctrine of original sin were reasonable? What is the reason that they reject reason when discussing original sin? It is because reason rejects the original sin dogma. If our reason told us that it would be just and righteous for a whole race to be condemned for the sin of one man, they would not object to reason. If our reason told us that the heathen could justly by born sinners, and commit sin necessarily because of an inborn sin nature, and then die in their sins without a knowledge of the Gospel, and go down into hell, they would not object to reason. If reason told us that sin, with its guilt and condemnation, could be passed on in the physical constitution of man, they would not object to reason. If reason told us that a non-moral and non-personal entity called "flesh" could, contrary to its nature, take on personality and moral character, and be sinful, they would not object to reason. No, they object to reason only because they are conscious that the doctrine of original sin is unreasonable.
In effect, the defenders of the doctrine of original sin admit that the doctrine of original sin is unreasonable. For them to say that the testimony of reason should not be admitted is a tacit admission that the necessary affirmations of their own reason testify against the doctrine of original sin.
There are certain self-evident truths, direct perceptions of reason, known to be true to all men. A thing cannot both be and not be. Two contradictory things cannot both be true. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The whole cannot be greater than the sum of its parts. Every effect must have a cause. A creation implies a creator. Moral character is non-transferable. There are no proxies in morals. Sin cannot be imputed where it does not exist without injustice. Perfect justice cannot punish the innocent for the guilt of another. Sin is personal and non-transferable. Now all of the above truths are known intuitively. They do not need to be proved. They are direct perceptions of reason, and cannot rationally be denied by any man.
But the doctrine of original sin does deny self-evident truths. It denies the self-evident truth that there can be no proxies in morals and teaches that Adam committed sin for us by proxy. It denies that moral character is non-transferable and teaches that Adam's sinful character was transferred to all his descendants! It denies that sin cannot be imputed where it does not exist without injustice and teaches that the infinitely holy and just God imputed the sin of Adam to all his descendants. It denies that perfect justice cannot punish the innocent for the guilt of another and teaches that God, who is perfect in truth and justice, condemned the whole human race for the sin of Adam.
To say that the doctrine of original sin is unreasonable is a profound understatement. There really never has existed a doctrine so unreasonable, so absurd, and so ridiculous as this doctrine. It is not only absurd, it is plain superstition to believe that we sinned in Adam thousands of years before we were born and began our existence. No man can torture his consciousness into affirming that he existed and sinned thousands of years before he was born. To believe that man's flesh can be inherently sinful and that men can be born sinners is gross superstition. The whole dogma of original sin is a monstrous superstition and a fantastic fiction that is fit only for the pages of some wild science fiction novel.
The doctrine of original sin is clearly unreasonable, and can only be a doctrine of the Bible if the doctrines of the Bible can be unreasonable. But it is both a foolish and a dangerous idea to think that the doctrines of the Bible can be unreasonable. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, and as such, it must be reasonable, consistent, and harmonious throughout. If men propound any theory and try to force it on the church as a doctrine of the Word of God, and that doctrine is absurd, unreasonable, and contradictory with other doctrines of the Bible, then it is foolish and wicked to accept it, while rejecting the arguments of reason which show its error.
The Scriptures never teach anything which our consciousness and moral nature declare to be false, unjust, or impossible. The fundamental truths of Christianity cannot be in manifest contradictions to reason, reality, and justice. And yet the original sin dogma does contradict man's reason, man's knowledge of reality, and man's irresistible convictions of justice.
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