There are numerous religions that deny the concept of original sin. The Bahá'í's say man is born good and that we need education to reform ourselves. Likewise their predecessors Islam also teaches their is no original sin. The Mormon church also denies it by saying that Adam did not fall from his state of innocence downward but actually fell upward. That by listening to the devils lies it actually gave him the opportunity to become a God. So in essence the Devil told the truth. (Jesus said the opposite that he was a liar and a murderer from the beginning) Others like the Catholic church teach that the original is in man can be erased by baptism and that we then sin of our own choice, it is then dealt with by taking the sacraments. The International Church of Christ believes that everyone inherits the consequence of Adam's sin (physical death), and not his nature. Everyone seems to deal with this in different manners, but all in one way or another recognize man as not living to his potential.
At first glance this doesnt seem to matter whether one believes that we all inherit a sin nature or become one by our own desires. It does matter and is extremely important to have this doctrine settled, for it can affect numerous other areas of teaching and actually affect our walk.
What does this logically mean if we are not born with a sinful nature, inclined to sin? It means that we are born sinless because there are only two categories. Biblically, God told Adam that he would die in the day that he disobeyed. Adam's death which was from sin was first spiritual, and then physical. This is the same sequence for all of humanity. We are all born with a built-in death warrant, which is our sin nature, because we have inherited this sin nature from Adam. We are already spiritually dead (separated from God).
The Psalmist says Ps.58:3: "the wicked go astray from the womb, they err from their birth speaking lies. Ps.51:5 David claimed that he was conceived in iniquity."
Job asks the question "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?" (Job 15:14) Job 25:4: "How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?"
Eph. 2:3: "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
If their is no sin nature passed on then we have the potential to be perfect by not
doing any wrong. But there is no one who can do this as Paul states
If it were true that none of us are born sinful then each one of us is being tested all over again, just like Adam to see if we will fail. The Bible says that, "The wages of sin is death." Sin is first and then the consequence is the payoff. Romans 5:18 -19 says, "through one man's trespass, judgment came to all men, for by one man's disobedience all were made sinners." This Scripture clearly shows sin is inherited through his (Adam's) disobedience, not ours. The bible says we are all under the condemnation of sin. The Bible speaks of sin not as a biological flaw but a spiritual infection that is transmitted through the reproductive cycle finding itself in all humans corrupting their nature. Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." If one entertains the though that they are born without sin, then they have the glory of God. The only one who has the glory of God as their nature is God.
One can be a sinner without showing any actions outwardly. Sin is being selfish, one can have a wrong attitude and desires contrary to God and not act upon it. Jesus said to have these thoughts in our heart is still sin even if not done outwardly. He stated in the sermon of the mount that one did not just break the law from their outward actions but it started on the inside. What made one a transgressor of the law is the intent of our heart. Even if one did not commit the physical act of murder, if they harbored hatred toward someone in their heart this is where sin begins. They have already broken the law and are guilty. This is why all of mankind are sinners we all fall short of God's perfect standard inside and out, in our nature and in our deeds. Unbelief is sin, to not believe in Christ is sin. Anything contrary to the natureof God to the character and conformity of his will is sin. Paul states "whatever is not of faith (trust in God ) is sin." It's not just our actions that make us sinners, otherwise, Christ could have been born through two human parents and His actions would still be sinless. However, it was for this very reason because He took on human flesh that He had a virgin birth - to bypass the sin nature of man and have sinless blood. For the life of man is in the blood. (for more on this go to the article on the virgin birth)
What the teaching of no original sin is saying is that no one dies spiritually until they sin. This means everyone is born innocent (perfect), just like Adam was made, just like Jesus, without ever having a virgin birth. The root of the problem is their interpretation of sin. Sin entered the world through one man (Rom. 5:12-21). The definition of sin varies. Not only does it mean "to miss the mark" of perfection of God's goal, but it also carries the concept of separation from God, which we all share in. Paul's point is that Adam's sin was a representative act and all his posterity has reckoned to their account having sinned in him. Adam was the natural headship of the human race. From him flows man's fallen nature, passed on through the bloodline (the life is in the blood). Only Adam became a sinner by sinning. The sin nature affects the immaterial part of man, which consequently affects our outward actions. consequently affects our outward actions.
The view of man being born without original sin is not new but goes back to 400 A.D., where Pelagian taught that there was no such thing as original sin.
He taught that Adam's sin affected only himself, that every soul is created innocent and only personal sins are imputed. So it was possible, according to this view to live a life without sin. Man having absolute freedom to choose good by his will. Then it also becomes possible to be saved apart from the Gospel. Augustine challenged the view that Pelagius promoted in the 5th century. Pelagius saw sin to be basically a outward work of man, who had the freedom to choose to sin or not to sin. He stated that sin incapacitated man. Augustine appealed to the overall teaching of scripture. Stating that sin incapacitated man from doing good.
He stated that we are born sinners and actually lack the power to do good. Yet we all choose bad over good and in so doing are held accountable for our actions. Augustine gave a story of a man who abstained from food that was necessary for his health and became so weak that he could no longer eat at all. While he was a human being created in having a obligation to eat to keep himself in good health, he no longer was able to do so. So Augustine argued humanity through Adam as the federal head of the human race became incapacitated toward God unable to obey and love him which was the very purpose we created. Pelagius held the view that one could raise themselves by their own effort toward God and that grace is a reward for our own human virtue. Augustine centered his argument around the fact that the fallen race of mankind is helpless to do any good until grace falls upon him. When gods grace touches an individuals life he is then able to move toward God and do good that is required of him. The concept of Augustine became known in reform theology as total depravity. Pelagius view was rejected and called heresy then, and should certainly be rejected today, also. There is also the view of semi-pelagianism in which the fall weakened the soul and our will. Original sin means losing original righteousness. Original sin can be eliminated by water baptism and that man is not totally depraved.
The origin of the soul is an important factor in understanding the nature of sin.
Scholars have explored how and at what point in the birth process the soul comes into being of which three positions have been advocated. The first theory is that there is a preexistence of the soul.
Firstly, a few writers have argued that the soul pre-exists the moment of physical conception. (Origen c.185-c.254) taught a form of this and it appears in Wordsworth's Ode on Immortality. Although some claim he taught reincarnation his writings mention his not believing in re-embodiment. What he did teach was preexistence and people being born only once. This view teaches that God created all the souls in the beginning at some point in time. The soul then enters the body either at conception or at birth. The pre spirit existence theory has no basis in Scripture having no references to prove this view.
Secondly, creationism argues that the soul of each individual is created directly by God at some stage in the birth process. (Charles Hodge) The reasoning in this is that the soul and body have different origins. Since the nature of the soul is spiritual it must be a direct creation from god. The texts claimed in its support cannot be said to represent a clear case (Ec.12:7; Zech.12:1;Isa.42:5,57:16; Heb.12:9, as well as Gen. 2:7). The flaw with this view is how can one justify God putting a pure and innocent soul in a sinful body.
The third view, traducianism, teaches that the soul is inherited from the human progenitors along with the body, there being no further act of soul-creation by God. It is transmitted the same way as the physical body at conception. Genesis 2:21, Acts 17:26, Hebrews 7:9-18 shows us that the sons of Levi had the tithes given through the loins of Abraham. The Bible's teaching on the solidarity of the human race in sin (Rom. 5:12.) are all lined up in support of this view. Gen.46;26 the soul is in the loins of the man. The begetting process includes the image of god which is immaterial. The sin nature is present at conception and in it.(Job.14:1-4,15:14; Ps.53:3 Jn.3:6) This is related to the biblical teaching on the unity of man.
Man is has two components and is a unified being of a material nature and immaterial. Whether one believes he is a trichotomy (body , soul and Spirit) or dichotomy (body and Spirit), he consists of a body and a spiritual nature, material and immaterial.
Man is a free moral creature yet we have the inherent inability to choose contrary to our nature. This is like gravity we can only jump so high on our own. This is why before a new birth we cannot choose and practice Gods standards and ways. We do not have the ability to change our own moral state. Augustine was right, man as a free moral creature will be held accountable for our own character, conduct, and actions to ourselves and others. When we talk about total depravity it is described as man being a corpse unable to choose God. We are dead spiritually held captive by our own nature. Sin has touched every aspect of our lives and we have the capacity to be as bad as possible. While some claim this means we can do no good at all, this is not so! Yet man is still able to do good so it does not deprive us from doing any good but it does eliminate it from coming naturally. Can one tell the difference from a Buddhist doing good works and a Christian, No. If a Christian helps someone who is poor and one who is an atheist from the outside the deed can look exactly the same to man, but only God can look at the heart and see our motives. What it does mean is that we can do no spiritual good, what makes one acceptable to God and another rejected is that one is done with motivation of his standard and spirit, the other is not. Only deeds done in Christ are spiritually acceptable to God. Other deeds outside Christ are done with the works of the flesh yet they can still accomplish good. Even Paul said the gentiles without the law can obey its precepts, yet no one will be justified in the sight of god by the deeds of the law.
If we inherit our physical features and even hereditary defects from our line, then why would it be so difficult to believe that our sinful nature could be passed on as well? How else could a child's death be explained if they are truly innocent and die before they willfully have a chance to sin? Death is the consequence of sin. This is the very reason why we need to be born again. Our dead spirit needs to be regenerated (Rom. 8:1, Gal. 5:24) by the Spirit of God. One is made alive spiritually to God and is able to have a vital relationship through Jesus Christ. We need a new nature. Anything short of this cannot remedy our desperate situation. If there is no sin nature then we can by our own efforts reform ourselves to have a right standing before God. Rules and regulations only conform the outer man and we then depend on our own works to merit right sanding before God. Real obedience is found in giving our control over and yielding to the Spirit of God who lives inside those born anew. God's solution is a permanent indwelling to change us by changing the source of where sin emerges. Their view of not having the sin nature goes deep into their theology. They believe that water can wash away one's sins, since there is not a need to affect the inner nature of man, but only his outward actions, because this is how they look at their disciples' obedience. The problem is that man cannot cleanse away the inner man's corruption, as Peter states, even in baptism a righteous work, "It is not the removal of the filth of the flesh" (1 Pet.3:21).
Only Christ was born without sin passed on. God went quite far in assuring this by having a miracle to make this happen. If it is not man's inner nature that needs changing, then all we are left with is rules to obey. These can never change the inside but only conform us on the outside.
The Bible says, "The heart (man's spirit) is deceitfully wicked out of which flow all kinds of evils." The only solution is God's solution - change the heart. How? By the new birth on the inside of man. To deny that the sin nature is passed on to all humanity poses many problems. The Bible says that this is the very reason Christ came to solve the predicament of sin which all humanity shares in. Those who believe on his sacrifice have his righteousness imputed to us to counter the effectsof sin. Once one is born again of Gods Spirit we become free from sin, it no longer has the power to rule over us and keep us in its grip. While the sin nature is not eliminated it constantly wars against the old nature that is still present. If we rely on God submit to his power and ways we can overcome all that the enemy uses to tempt us with. This becomes a new way of living a lifestyle of training and discipline in holiness. Only Christ has the solution, no other religion can deal with the fallen nature of man. Because Jesus Christ is the creator.