I. Sin’s Definition – In Romans 3:23, Paul defines sin as missing the mark. In a broader sense, I believe sin may be defined as any “failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.” (Grudem, p. 490).
II. Sin’s Origin – Since God cannot sin and is incapable of evil (Gen. 18:25; Deut. 32:4; Job 34:10; James 1:13), I believe that man (Gen 3) and non-elect angels are the willful and voluntary originators of sin. I also believe that while God cannot be held culpable for sin, sin is not outside of the boundaries of His sovereign will, and therefore not only submits to His authority, but is also used to accomplish His will (Eph. 1:11). Sin is ultimately irrational. It was foolish for Satan to seek to exalt himself above God. It made no sense for Adam and Eve to think that there could be anything to gain by rebelling against their Creator. And the Bible counts it as foolishness to deny God (Ps. 14:1).
III. Sin’s Effects
A. Spiritual – Prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve had a spiritual life and relationship with God but that died when they sinned (Gen. 2:17). Their personal relationship with God ended as their sin separated them from Him (Gen. 3:8). Without intervention from God this separation would be eternal (Rev. 21:8).
B. Physical – Sin brought both spiritual and physical death to Adam, Eve, and the whole human race (Gen. 3:19; Rom. 6:23).
C. Moral – “The immediate concomitant of the first sin, and therefore hardly a result of it in the strict sense of the word, was the total depravity of human nature” (Berkhof, p. 225). Adam, upon sinning, plunged the entire human race into a state of moral pollution and guilt illustrated by Adam and Eve’s sense of nakedness and attempt to hide from a holy God (Gen 3:7-8).
D. Creation – Due to Adam’s sin, God placed a curse on the earth (Gen. 3:17-19) and the animal kingdom, including a specific curse on the snake (Gen. 3:14).
E. Satan – God placed a curse on Satan that set enmity between “thy seed and her seed (Christ)” (Gen 3:15). This curse was ultimately God’s judgment on the Devil carried out by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross and in the future when He returns to establish his kingdom (Heb 2:14; Rev. 19:11-20:3).
IV. Inherited Sin – I believe that Adam’s sin (Original Sin) is inherited by the human race rendering all mankind guilty before God (Rom. 3:18; 5:12). Inherited sin illustrates both our lack of spiritual good before God (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:18; Eph. 4:18; Titus 1:15) and our inability to do spiritual good before God (John 15:5; Rom. 8:8; Eph. 2:1-2; Heb. 11:6). The human race inherits sin from Adam in two ways (next page):
A. Inherited Guilt (Federal Headship) – In Romans 5 Paul lays out the case that because of one man’s sin (Adam), all men are condemned. Paul is not referring to actual sins that are committed by people every day but to the specific sin of Adam rebelling against God. Therefore, by Adam’s rebellion, we all bear the guilt of being rebels against a holy God.
B. Inherited Corruption (Natural Headship) – The sin nature that began at the Fall is passed down from generation to generation so that every member of the human race (who isn’t also God) possesses this sinful corruption (Ps. 51:5; 58:3; Rom 7:5).
V. Sin Nature – I believe that, as stated above, man possesses a sin nature from conception rendering each individual totally depraved (Is. 53:6; Rom 1:20-21) and totally unable to do God’s will in and of himself (John 6:44). This sin nature continues to attempt to influence an individual after salvation (Rom. 7:24-25).
VI. Christians and Personal Sin – Due to the sin nature bound in our corrupted earthly bodies, a believer will inevitably sin against God. I believe that when a person is born again he receives divine judicial forgiveness of his sin (is declared righteous)(Acts 10:43). As a result, the Christian’s legal standing before God is unchanged by his sin (Rom. 6:23; 8:1; 1 Cor. 15:3). The imputed sin of Adam has been covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ. However, when a Christian sins, he needs to seek “parental” forgiveness, because sin will disrupt his fellowship (relationship) with the Heavenly Father and damage his Christian life (1 John 1:9). I believe that God is a loving God who disciplines those He loves, in order to conform them to the image of His Son (Heb. 12:6).