The question has come up on this blog whether Adam had a sin nature at the fall that would have been passed on to all of us and if this is an issue that is important regarding women in ministry. After all we need to know why it is that only Adam would bring sin into the world and if all of us have something “hanging” onto us from just on man, why is that? We need to know why sin didn’t come into the world through the woman. Is this because she was “under” the man so that anything she did was not placed on her account but on his account? These questions and more will be answered in this post. First of all it should be noted that the term “sin nature” is not found in the Scriptures. The Biblical terms are “old man”, “old self”, “body of flesh”, “in the flesh”, “uncircumcised in heart” along with the symbol of the old nature – the foreskin of the heart. Here are just of a few of the verses that talk about the old nature in these terms.
Colossians 3:9 (NKJV) Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
Ephesians 4:22 (NASB) that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,
Colossians 2:11 (NASB) and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
Romans 8:13 (NASB) for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Romans 7:14 (NASB) The Conflict of Two Natures 14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
Deuteronomy 10:16 (NASB) “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.
Acts 7:51 (NASB) “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.
God did not create mankind to be this way with sin controlling our lives. Mankind was created perfect and without sin, but a change happened when Adam chose to act in rebellion without any deception on his part that would have caused him to fall into sin and when Adam had the full knowledge of the truth. How long Adam and Eve had been in their state of perfection before the fall is debatable. The only age given for Adam when he was outside the garden is at the birth of Seth who is said to be in the image of his Father Adam. Adam was then 130 years old. Adam had passed on his own fallen image to his children as none of them were born perfect as he had been created perfect. If Adam was 130 when Seth was born, it certainly is possible that Adam could have lived as much as a hundred years or more before he was kicked out of the garden and before Eve gave birth to their first child. Whatever the time period, Adam and Eve were sinless during that entire time until the fall. This is in stark contrast to mankind after Adam, as all of us can hardly live one day without sin. The difference between the ability to live a sinless life for perhaps as long as a hundred years or more and not being able to live sinless for a day is the result of the significant effect of what we call the sin nature or the old man who is now a part of the core of our being because we were all “in” Adam when he fell. There is something in us that has been tainted by the fall.
1 Corinthians 15:22 (NASB) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
Romans 5:14-19 talks about the effect of the one man’s sin upon the human race.
Romans 5:14-19 (NASB) 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
There was a condemnation that came to all men because of just one transgression of one man in rebellion. We will pick this up a bit later. There are several common errors that come from the teaching about the effect of Adam’s sin on the world. The first common error has caused many to reject the teaching of Adam’s sin having any effect on us. That error that has been taught by many is the doctrine that Adam’s offspring are charged by God with Adam’s sin. The Bible lays this error to rest by stating that the son will not bear the punishment for the father’s sin.
Ezekiel 18:20 (NASB) “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
It is impossible for Adam’s sin to be charged to our account. In other words although we get the nature of the “old man” through Adam, no person will ever end up in hell to pay for Adam’s sin. Anyone who goes to hell will be there solely for their own sin because God does not charge the son with the actual sin of the father. The other error is the thinking that God made Adam just like us as far as our ability to sin. Mankind is not just able to sin, but we have been made slaves to sin with the propensity to sin as if it is just a part of our created nature. Watch a young child and see how naturally they learn how to lie without anyone ever teaching them this sin. But Adam was not this way. He was created able to sin when tempted but he was also created able not to sin. He was created with sin having no hold on him. He could turn his back on sin as easily as shooing a fly off of his shoulder because that was his nature as a perfect sinless man. The only way that Adam or Eve could sin would be through deception or through willful rebellion. There was no other way possible as sin did not live in Adam or Eve. A similar situation happened with the creation of one of God’s foremost angels. He was created perfect until the day that sin was found in him. Through one act of rebellion against God, he became a sinner who now cannot stop sinning. In fact Jesus said that there is no truth in him. His nature went from perfection to complete rebellion. The very focus of his existence now as satan is the life of an opposer of God and an accuser of the brethren. It was only one sin and that one act of rebellion that took a perfect creature to the place of a habitual sinner without the ability to get back to where he had fallen from. Adam was in this same place. When Adam chose to rebel against God’s one law in an act of rebellion, he fell from his place of perfection into the life of a habitual sinner. And it is Adam’s rebellion that we inherit. Adam’s rebellion tainted his very being at the moment that he reached out and touched the fruit and ate. It was because he ate with his eyes wide open to the truth and without any deception to cause him to act in unbelief, he acted in rebellion to the truth that he believed. Adam fell and just like satan he was not able to get back to the place where he had fallen from. He now was a rebel and a slave to sin just like all of his children after him. There are three remaining questions that need to be asked and answered: 1. Why was Eve not charged with bringing sin into the world? Eve was not charged with bringing sin into the world because she did not sin in rebellion against God. Eve was deceived into disobeying God’s command and so although she sinned, she did not sin in the way of satan the first rebellious one. It is impossible for Eve to bring the nature of rebellion to her seed because she never sinned in rebellion. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1 that he himself was an example of one who sinned in ignorance and unbelief and because he didn’t sin in outright rebellion against God, he received mercy.
1 Timothy 1:13 (NASB) even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;
Eve received mercy from God because she did not sin willfully in rebellion. It was her seed that would be the Messiah and this was God’s grace and mercy towards her and through the Messiah that brought mercy towards us as the children of Adam. The fact that Eve did not bring sin into the world has absolutely nothing to do with what some teach is the place of the man having a priority role so that he was the sole one responsible for sin. This unfortunate teaching has permeated the church where many teach that because Adam was male he had some kind of special authority over the world as the sole ruler. This is just not true. The difference between Adam and Eve as far as the original sin and the curse that was brought into the world is solely because of the way that Adam sinned in rebellion. It has nothing to do with Adam taking the blame because of his maleness. God did not call Adam to take the blame for Eve’s sin. God called them both to account for their sin individually but their individual sin was committed in different ways and this difference was used by God to bring mercy into the world through the seed of the woman. So through Adam was brought inherited rebellion and through Eve was brought the mercy of God through the Messiah. There were two different reasons for sin and two different effects on the world. 2. Why is it very important to our faith to understand the “old man” nature that each one of us has inherited from Adam? It is importance to understand the place that Adam had in bringing the “old man” nature of rebellion to each of us because Adam’s place of passing the inheritance of his own nature of rebellion to us is set up in Scripture as a type and contrast to the last Adam who is the Life Giver who is able to pass to us the inheritance of His nature of His perfect and sinless life so that we can be reconciled to God through His blood.
1 Corinthians 15:45 (NASB) So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
3. Why is it important for Eve to have remained with her pre-fall ability to not sin after the fall so that she could remain as one who was never a rebellious sinner? It is important that Eve did not take on a sin nature of rebellion for it was her seed alone that would be without inherited sin in order for the Messiah to be born sinless and without the natural inclination to sin as a slave to sin. Eve was not taken from Adam after he sinned and thus Eve was the only woman who did not have Adam’s old man nature. She was the only one that the Messiah could come through her own lineage. If Eve sinned in rebellion there would be no one left for the Messiah to come through. Adam was the only one kicked out of the garden because of his new rebellious nature. Adam could never go back to where he started as he had the nature of rebellion from his one sin. God kicked the one man Adam out of the garden because his new nature made him a threat to the tree of life which was now forbidden to both Adam and Eve. God had told them that they would surely die if they ate the fruit. God never prophesied that Eve might rebel and eat from the tree of life after the fall because Eve still had the ability to not sin. It was only Adam who possessed the nature of rebellion and who would act consistently with that nature. It was because of him that the garden was closed and because of Adam alone that the tree of life needed to be protected. Eve would have obeyed God’s new prohibition because she was no longer deceived and because she could obey. God prophesied that she would produce the seed that would be the Messiah and so we can know for certain that she did not end up in rebellion as a sinner like Adam with an old man nature. The Scriptures have told us the truth when they say that sin entered the world through one man. If Eve had given herself over to rebellion like Adam after she left the garden, she too would have brought sin into the world. The fact that the Scriptures remove Eve as having any part of bringing rebellion into the world shows us that God was able to take the evil that satan had planned for mankind and turn it around by God Himself destroying the destroyer through His act of mercy to the very one who sinned because of the deceiver’s deception. God receives the ultimate glory because He brought mercy to one who had sinned in her ignorance and unbelief. And God received the ultimate glory by bringing the Messiah into the world as the very seed of the woman who received His mercy. Do you see God’s plan? Do you see the difference between the sin of rebellion that has no way to get back to innocence and the unintentional sin that God covers over with the blood of the one true lamb of God? This is an important issue and I challenge us all to think this one through so that we can put all the pieces together to bring a full picture of the Messiah and what He has done.