Did Adam have a sin nature?

Hello friends! I was in a conversation recently with someone who believed that Adam was not created perfect because he disobeyed God. Since Adam did not have any earthly parents, did Adam have a sin nature? or did he acquire a sin nature that was hinged on his first conscious decision to disobey?

Thank you!

3 Likes

Back in my wild hippie days, I used to hang out with an atheist named Michael who had grown up in church but got his kicks out of tripping up Christians with trick questions. His favorite set up was to ask the unsuspecting Christian, “Adam and Eve were created perfect - right?” And when they gave the automatic agreement, he would follow with, “Then the Bible contradicts itself, because if they were perfect, they would have never sinned!”

I don’t know how many times I heard him do that to people!

And yet, after I received Christ and began reading my Bible, I almost fell for it myself!

A lot of my old stoner friends circulated the word, “Hey, man - have you heard? Lyons has ‘gone Jesus’ on us!” And some came to check it out. And one day, Michael showed up at my door trying to deconvert me back into the goat fold. And true to form, he pulled out his favorite line - “Look, Lyons - God made Adam and Eve perfect in the garden, right?”

And he did it so smoothly that I almost agreed. But in an instant, there flashed across my mind’s eye the heading over Genesis 1 in the Schofield Study Bible that I’d been reading which said, The Dispensation of Innocence. And I immediately said, “No, Michael - if they’d been perfect, they never would’ve sinned. They were innocent, but that’s not the same as perfect.”

It was the only time I ever saw Michael flounder on that question!

I hope this will help you with one aspect of your question.

9 Likes

Hey @jlyons, thank you for your response! That does help! So in explaining it to someone, would it be correct to say that perfection means you cannot sin while innocence means you have not sinned?

It seems like we get confused with both words when God said that everything was very good, that it was perfectly preserved from sin, rather than not having been introduced to sin.

And that would also give room for a choice to obey or not obey rather than a predestination to imperfection.

Just thoughts about the ramifications of that understanding and wording. It really does help! Thank you!

4 Likes

@AnnaLinzey
I posted this a while back. Over the years of trying to think through sin as a topic, I find myself leaning towards a Jewish understanding of sin, an understanding that Eastern Orthodox Christians believe today.

2 Likes

Great Answer. I have to put this story in my repertoire.
Dan

3 Likes

Hmm, trying to define perfection as not being able to sin sounds a bit tricky - it implies that the only perfect world would be one with no free will. Which I suppose you could say, but it means that sharing the gift of free will inevitably leads to an imperfect world. If you’re ready to say and defend that, then yes - you could go with it. Just think it through first.

2 Likes

So are you saying that God’s creation of an “innocent” humanity would be more accurate than to say than that He created a “perfect” humanity? Is there a way to have a perfect world and still have a choice?

One sense of the word means “complete” while another sense means ”fully informed”.

I can see how God created a complete creation, while He did not create a fully informed creation, otherwise we would be as God. But in the latter definition, could a “perfect”—fully informed— creation of humanity eliminate the freedom of choice?

While if He originally created man as innocent, then it could also explain how each one of us are responsible for our own actions. Adam was just the first man to sin which brought the consequences of sin into the world making our carnal nature our default mode without God’s intervention. Am I understanding this correctly?

I don’t know if this makes since, but I am enjoying the process of searching this out. Solidifying my foundation and trying to think through the logic behind these fundamental truths is important to me, and I appreciate the help to clarify and refine my understanding.

Sometimes these concepts can seem very complex, but when they are reworded and/or view from a different angle, it helps to clear up and even remove misunderstanding, not only for me, but for those I have the opportunity to talk with. Thank you!

2 Likes

Because the word perfect has some tricky elements to it, and a definitve consensus on what that would mean could prove elusive, I think I would use the description that God Himself gave of His completed creation - “it is very good”. Everything was working the way God had meant it to work. There was nothing acting out of place. Man being innocent of good and evil, yet having the freedom to choose, the freedom to love God, was exactly what He wanted in Genesis 1 and 2.

So perhaps just calling it “very good” and leaving it at that would be the safest way to put it. Perhaps it would be best to reserve the description of “perfect” for God alone - Matthew 5:48.

What would you think of that?

5 Likes

I agree :slight_smile: I like what you said:

That sums it up, offering a realistic approach and platform to address the heart issue with care rather than getting stuck on definition of words and wading through loopholes in theology.

4 Likes

Hi Anna,
Nice question! Here are some of my thoughts.

  1. First, we need to admit that our understanding of the word ‘perfect’ is itself limited and imperfect. For all practical purposes however, as far as scripture is concerned, the word perfect refers to a state without sin, without blemish / corruption.

  2. An assumption we are making here is that the one who is perfect is incapable of sin. As pointed out by @jlyons, this means that the perfect person (Adam here) was not without free will - he is capable of sinning because he could choose to sin or choose not to sin.

Now the question here is this; was Adam ‘perfect’? I think so, if one were to use the definition of perfect being ‘without sin’. He was perfect in the way God intended him to be, yet he could sin and unfortunately did so. Jesus, who was also perfect and without sin was also interestingly called the ‘last Adam’ or ‘second Adam’ (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Was Adam also innocent - yes he was. He was perfect and innocent. Yet he was also perfectly capable of choosing to sin (or not). In choosing to sin even though he had a perfect being in a perfect garden - the best possible advantages - his act of sin was a deliberate act of rebellion and that is what makes it so heinous.

Pardon me, but I will digress a bit here…

Now the interesting question that arises in my mind is this - was Jesus, the last Adam who was ‘perfect’, capable of sin? The answer is yes. He took on the nature of man and was capable of sinning, but did not sin (unlike Adam) even when He was tempted ‘in every way just as we are’. If He was incapable of sin, his temptation in the desert was a farce. If He was incapable of sin, then He could not be justified in saying that He truly identified with our weaknesses. How could He identify with our weakness if there was no weakness in Him? It was in choosing not to sin, even though He could, that Jesus became the perfect lamb without blemish who could take away our sins and make atonement through his blood. In one sense, the last Adam came to rectify and redeem mankind from the consequences of the act of the first Adam (and his progeny).

Hebrews 2:14 - Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil… (Berean)

Hebrews 4:15 - For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (NIV)

Jesus the Messiah came not only to save us from our sins, but also to show what man was truly meant to be, that we might be transformed into His image.

6 Likes

Hello Anna,

It looks like you have gotten some great answers to this so far, but I just want to add a little bit. This is an awesome subject, and also a very difficult one, I think because it involves some amount of understanding that may not be entirely within our grasp at this present time. Namely, what it was like to have that righteousness that we were originally created with, and also to be living in a world free of sin. There are a couple of things we can look at in dealing with this subject, however, that I think can truly help us to understand it a bit better though, and I hope that the following will help a bit.

I think that one of the things that we must understand first of all is the concept of original sin.
David states in Psalm 51:5, “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
According to just that part of Scripture, we are sinners the second that we are born. We are conceived fallen in iniquity.
Yet…when God created this world and everything in it in Genesis, He concludes creation in 1:31 with this, “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”
He completes creation with the recognition that everything, including man, is very good. We usually say that things are pretty good, or really good in more human terms when we are recognizing that something is pleasing to us, but not by any means perfect. But what does such terminology mean when it comes from the holy and perfect creator of the universe? Can a perfect creator create something that is not perfect? I do not believe it makes sense to say that God, being perfect, could create something that is imperfect. I also do not believe that it makes sense to say that He intentionally created something with imperfections present within it, as that would inherently make Him responsible, at least in part, for our fall. Rather, I think that we must come at this whole subject from a different angle.

Does perfection in creation inherently mean that we are incapable of sin?

The dictionary definition of perfection is “The condition, state, or quality of being free, or as free as possible, from all defects.” - Dictionary.com

So does being created free from defects mean that we are created without the ability to make mistakes? When we are talking about the personal relationship that God created us to share with Him, then we are looking at a whole new dynamic. Perfection in such a case does not necessarily involve the inability to sin, but rather I would describe it as the perfection of innocence from sin. We were created in a state of righteousness, completely innocent from sin. We also can look at the difference between the perfection of God in contrast to the perfection of something He created. God is perfect not only because He is holy and free from sin, but also because He has the very reason for His existence within Himself. He is eternal and self-existent. That is not a quality that anyone, except for God, can have. All other life is created, and owes its existence to something outside of itself, namely God. So, maybe our being created “very good” is a more apt description of our state of righteousness then the term perfection.

But, of course we must also note that in order to share a truly loving and personal relationship with our Creator, we must have been created with the ability to choose whether or not to obey Him. That would mean that we were created in perfect innocence from sin, but with the free will to choose what we want, and the moral liberty to choose either good, or evil. In having this ability to choose, Adam and Eve sinned, and humanity as a whole fell, losing in that fall, the liberty of choosing good. Why? Because we are now dead in our trespasses, in total rebellion against the only true source of good which exists…God Himself.

This inherent fallen condition that David lamented we are born into is original sin. The term “original sin” does not refer to the first sin that Adam and Eve committed, but rather to the fallen condition of being dead in sin that is now inherent in every human being. Adam and Eve were the roots of the tree of all humanity, and if the roots are bad, then the rest of the tree will be so as well.

The Westminster Confession of Faith states it this way: “Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.” - WCF 6:1.
Romans 11:30-32 states this in support of this, “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all.”
God was not ignorant of the fact that Adam and Eve would make the choices they did. But He created human beings anyway. Why? Because, as the Confession states, it pleased Him to do so. It was according to His perfect wisdom and the counsel that He shares within Himself that He allowed it all to happen.
To say that He created us in a way that caused the fall to happen would place some amount of blame on God, so we must not allow ourselves to think that God created us in a way to make us sin. He did indeed create us “very good,” and just because we had the moral ability to choose whether to sin or not, does not change that fact. We must allow for the fact that we are created beings. Only God is the eternal and uncreated, perfect being. Nothing else can share in such glory as He does, but what He created in the beginning was, as He saw “very good.” It was by our own choice to disobey Him that we fell out of that state of righteousness. Which we see again in the further parts of the Confession, “By this sin, they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.” WCF- 6:2-4.

So, now we must answer the further question. Was Adam created with a sinful nature? The answer to that, in my opinion, is no. Adam and Eve, the Bible tells us, were created without sin. They were in a state of righteousness before the fall. A state, as it were, of perfection. It was in disobeying God, in their sin, that they fell from that state of righteousness into a state of death in sin. As God told Adam in Genesis 2:17, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Then, we see Paul telling us in Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

The radical nature of the fall is far greater than some people recognize. We were dead in trespasses. Completely aligned against God in the depths of our hearts. In complete rebellion against Him, and wholly inclined to all evil. We are so radically depraved that it is only by the amazing and awe-inspiring grace of God that we ever are granted the regenerate heart that is capable of being reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. The love and grace of God is absolutely staggering, in just as much the way that his wrath and justice against sin are absolutely terrifying.

In the final analysis, I believe that this is the case: That Adam and Eve were created in a state of righteous and perfect innocence from sin. That they, by the moral liberty and free will given them by God, chose to disobey His command not to eat of the forbidden fruit. That they then, by their disobedience, fell from that state of righteousness into a state of total depravity and death in sin. Now, because of that fall, all human beings having been descended from Adam and Eve, just as tree inherits its health from the roots, have inherited that fallen nature and are born in a state of total rebellion against God.

Now, what does this mean about the incarnation of Jesus Christ? Was He born sinful, or with a nature of sin? The answer to that is a resounding NO. He was born in the same state that Adam was created in, righteous and innocent of all sin. Why? Because He is the Son of God, eternally begotten of Him in all righteousness, holiness, and perfection. He is the only one who could have been born in such a state after our fall. He was born of a virgin, lived His life in perfect obedience to God, as we did not and cannot, and willingly laid down His life on the cross. In this, God imputed to our sin to Christ, and imputes to us His righteousness. It is not by our righteousness, but by the righteousness of Christ, that we are saved. That is why no one can boast(Ephesians 2:9).

I hope that helps to kind of outline this issue and provide an answer Anna. If you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to ask. May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you seek the truth that only He can give. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

5 Likes

Amen, free will made it possible

@tonyabthomas and @mmingus36, thank you both so much for your well thought out answers — They were very helpful!

@tonyabthomas, I appreciate how you explained that Adam was perfect in the way God made him, innocent and without sin, but not without a choice. I also appreciate how you followed through with my question in regards to whether or not Jesus was capable of sin and how He, unlike Adam, chose obedience.

I loved what you said in your concluding statement here:

@mmingus36, there are so many good pointed that you brought out which helped to clarify my question and explain an answer to it. First of would be this one:

And I appreciated your clarification here, again supporting what @jlyons and @tonyabthomas said by positioning the definition of “perfection” in terms of God’s creation:

This is such an incomprehensible, yet beautiful truth, and one that anchors our lives the more we can come to grips with it:

I thought this well-balanced summary adequately explained the core answer in a nutshell:

…and this shed light on why sin passed upon all of mankind:

The next two quotes are powerful, and I just love how both yours and @tonyabthomas explanations culminated with Jesus!

Again, thank you to all who have added your thoughts, I have been educated and encouraged reading them. This community is amazing!

3 Likes

Hi Anna,

I have been reminded in my readings that Satan is the origin of sin. It entered the world through Adam.

Its great to question things if our desire is to have as great of a relationship with our Savior as possible.

Satans mind was on other things. Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation. In the sides of the north.

Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so.

Hello Anna Linzey, how are you? I would like to say that it is written in Genesis that HE created male a female and that his creation was very good, and the word perfect is not mentioned in the creation, either for human or the rest of creation of the world, our world. The sealer of perfection was a guardian cherub full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, he was perfect in his ways until iniquity was found in him, I believe that he knew perfection and made a conscientious choice to rebel and to desire the position of GOD, his creator, he wanted to become like GOD, a being who knew perfection because he was the sealer of perfection, a being who knew perfection choose to sin against GOD and we followed in his rebellion by choosing a lie instead of the truth.

In conclusion Only God is Perfect, we are made to reflect Him, Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Apart from Him we can do nothing. I believe that is not stated in the bible that we were created perfect human beings. Adam did not have sin in his nature otherwise he would have been doomed from the very second he started to exist, moreover God would not have said “it is very good” about his creation because it would have been bad if sin was inside the man’s nature. Sin entered the world because we were deceived, and we sinned against God in disobeying his One command, it seems that we wanted to become gods also and make the rules.

Sincerely

Andrés González

Refer to Ezekiel 28.
Satan was the seal of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty, anointed as a guardian cherub and blameless in his ways. He was a spiritual being and in spite of all his great attributes he decided to rebell against God.
Adam and Eve were not created as spiritual beings. Adam was created from earth and Eve from that body of earth. They were warned not to do just one thing, yet they chose to ignore the warning and disobeyed God.

The freedom of choice or free will was present in Satan and in Adam and Eve. Ask yourself whether Satan the high ranking angel and his angelic followers or Adam and Eve all have sinful nature or that sinful nature comes from being rebellious and disobedient to God. The later makes sense to me. I am not putting the cart the horse.

1 Like

I think you write what you believe very well with regards to Jesus being capable of sin. You make a compelling case. However, I do not believe that Jesus was capable of sin because His divine nature controlled His actions and the divine nature cannot sin. Even so any temptation He endured was still real and He can still empathize with us. He is the perfect man and has no kryptonite that can change Him or influence His actions contrary to the divine nature. We, too, one day, will be conformed to His image and incapable of sin. When we get to heaven I think we will see who is right on this, but I doubt it will matter to us then.