The Principle of Original Sin

Detailed Teaching

‘No one’s perfect’, ‘we all make mistakes’, ‘we are only human’ – all of these expressions are used by most of us at some point. Essentially they are not used to excuse our actions but as an admission that we really cannot help getting things wrong or saying wrong things as it is part of our nature to do so. In biblical terms these statements define the concept of ‘original sin’. That is, there is in every one of us a tendency to do what is wrong. If you have ever played carpet bowls you will know that the balls all have a bias and that they will never go in a straight line without your skill being involved. We all have a bias towards wrongdoing which is as a result of original sin. Let’s look at a few bible references together to see why this is the case.

Romans 5.12 – ‘by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned’. This verse states that God holds Adam responsible for bringing sin into our world (see Gen.3.6). It clarifies that death is the outcome of sin (Ezek.18.4, Rom.6.23, James 1.15). The obvious fact that there is a 100% death rate is seen here and the reason is given, Adam sinned and as a result all sinned. The principle of sin is resident in every human being. On a personal level this explains our personal tendencies and the habits that we know are wrong and make us feel guilty. At a world level original sin explains issues such as genocide, war, cruelty, exploitation, abuse and the universal nature of evil as recorded in history.

Romans 3.23 – ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’. This verse is found in the middle of a detailed explanation of the guilt of mankind and the salvation that has been provided, legally, by the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul, the inspired writer, teaches that ‘the whole world is guilty before God’, v 19. How can he be so sure that everyone is guilty as in his lifetime he will only have come across a limited number of people? Is he taking a wild guess or depending on God’s revelation that all of mankind stand legally guilty before Him? The passage clearly indicates the final statement to be true.The other verses which have been noted under ‘Key Bible References’ all add to the biblical position that we were born sinners as a result of what Adam did. The Lord Jesus teaches in Mark 7 that the things that come out of us defile us (i.e. we are morally unclean and the evidence is seen in what we say and do). The ancient prophet Jeremiah cried ‘the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked’. In fact, he says we cannot even work what we are really like we are so poisoned in our hearts and minds. Paul comes back to the subject in 1.Corinthians 15 when he states we all died in Adam and finally the Psalmist, when confessing his sin in Psalm 51, clearly states that sin was in his character even at conception.


Thankfully a true understanding of this fact should not result in despair but in thankfulness that ‘the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world’. All have indeed sinned but aworld of sinners has been given in Christ, the offer of great salvation.