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Article Info:
published: 3/31/13
updated: 2/27/14

Original Sin

What is Original Sin?

original sin

In the Christian religion, the first humans were created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 reads, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.'"

The nature people were created with was good (cf. Gen. 1:31), but according to the Bible people were given a free will with which to chose for or against God. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were persuaded by the serpent, commonly identified as Satan, to rebel and as a result sin entered the world (cf. Gen. 3:1-19) and afflicted the human race (cf. Rom. 3:23).

A Fallen Nature

The Bible teaches that the of Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden resulted in the entrance of physical death into the world. [2] Beyond that, Christians views differ as to the effect Adam's sin had on the rest of humanity. Most have taught that when Adam fell and was cast from the Garden of Eden, permanent damage was done to the human soul, such that every human being since Adam is born with a tendency towards sin.

In addition, sin is universal, according to the Bible. Every human being has fulfilled the inborn tendency and actually committed sins. This concept is most fully articulated in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul, who declared that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. there is no one who is righteous, not even one" (Rom. 3:23).

Original Sin

Many Christians have also taught the doctrine of "original sin," in which all humans are born not only with a predisposition to sinful behavior, but with an inherently sinful nature. The result is that every person is born deserving eternal damnation, whether or not they have actually committed a sin yet. The doctrine of original sin has been especially emphasized by Saint Augustine and most of the Protestant Reformers.





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  1. Genesis 1:31.
  2. Pelagius, a contemporary of Augustine who was declared a heretic, is a notable exception. He taught that physical death would have occurred even if Adam had not sinned.
  3. Except Jesus, and in Catholicism, Mary also.