bits from bob....
"Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Romans 5:12)
Without contradiction, this verse is an enigma. How is it to be understood? How can we make clear its meaning?
Note what the Bible does not say. It does not say that God punishes every human for one man's sin. Original sin cannot be right without all kinds of doctrinal wranglings, including the Immaculate Conception.
Note what the Bible does say. I and you, as human beings, have a disposition or tendency toward sin. If sin is defined as a contradiction of God (or alternately, an affirmation of self), the meaning of this verse may become clearer. My claim that I have a right to myself (or that God does not have a claim) entered the human experience by one man, Adam. Romans 5 goes on to affirm that another Man was willing and able to take such inane thinking and actions upon himself and put it away from God's sight (Heb. 9:26).
I am "just thinking" here, but consider. My tendency toward sin is not my immorality and wrong-doing, or even my wrong-thinking, but is my disposition to do it all myself, for myself, with my rights, to realize first all that advances self. Sin will ultimately lead me to becoming my own god, my own master, my own boss (Rom. 6).
Now, my disposition to self may work out in a wonderful morality, or a horrendous immorality, or some combination between, but regardless of how it works out, it is a denial of the nature of God who exercises his claim as creator. Do not confuse my reasonable morality with a clear absence of sin. Chambers has noted this principle clearly in the life of Jesus. "When our Lord faced men with all the forces of evil in them, and men who were clean living and moral and upright, He did not pay any attention to the moral degradation of the one or to the moral attainment of the other...." Is this not what caused the Pharisees such problems?
In one sense, sin is a thing I am born with and I cannot change it. My heredity is in the human sphere. This is my nature or disposition. This is not that I must sin, but that I can sin, and will likely sin. Only God can change my nature. In another sense, I am not born with sin, despite my heredity, for God does not hold me responsible for having this heredity. I am not condemned because I am born as a human being in a long line of sinners.
By one man (Adam) the claim to self entered into the world, and the exercise of that claim, eliminating God from consideration, brings death. Now I am born also with the ability to claim right to self. Another man has come to deliver me from this tendency, but when I exercise my claim anyway, e.g. when I sin, I also find myself grasped by death. I cite Chambers again and add explanation. The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin, or that I must suffer the guilt of my ancestors, but my problem is that when I realize Jesus Christ came to deliver me from sin, and I refuse to let him do so because I wish to hang on to some right to self, from that moment I face condemnation.
If I can understand in this thinking the challenge of human nature as it relates to Christians and those who can access the gospel, such does not answer all of my questions concerning those who have never heard. Can you help?
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