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.