What Came First, Sin or Original Sin?

As I wrote about in Genesis 9:8-11 – The Recipients of God’s Covenant with Noah (Part 3) – The others were in God’s image, too, most of the world today is not descended form Adam.  They were created in God’s image long before Adam.  Adam however is the first person to have been given a command to believe and obey from God, and so the first person to actually fall from grace.  The rest of the world was given no law from God, and so had no law to fall from.  What does that say about the doctrine of Original Sin?  Well, if Original Sin is passed down through birth, then the majority of the world has not inherited it.

This is the logical conclusion from believing in an Old Earth, and I find that conclusion to be inescapable.  Most Christians would find it unacceptable.  So, the question is, are they sinners or not?  Are they saved or not?  Those of us who value the complementary relationship of scripture and science have to come to grips with this dilemma, and show that it is not a dilemma.  Otherwise, we have no chance of being taken seriously by people who would tell us our beliefs negate the Gospel.  Well thankfully, Paul has already helped answer the question in Romans 2…

 12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

And as we have seen in The Flood – An Epilogue (Part 2) – Jesus Shows Compassion in the Afterlife, people will be judged through Jesus.  While Paul wrote about the declaration of righteousness that will occur after death for those without God’s Law, Peter wrote of the declaration of unrighteousness…

1 Peter 3: 18For Christ … was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.  

2Peter 2: 5if [God] did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others … 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 

As an example, we then read in The Flood – An Epilogue (Part 3) – The Gulf within the Church… and the World about the rich man and the beggar in Hades, both awaiting their judgement by Jesus, but still being punished or comforted in accordance with their life.  We saw how the gulf between the saved and unsaved is not between the churched and the unchurched or the religious and irreligious, but between those believe and obey God’s Law (knowingly or unknowingly) and those who do not.  In fact, should be any doubt about those who were given no direct instruction or revelation by God, Paul wrote more than what I quoted above.  Here is some more context…

 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.

Now, to clarify, Paul was not establishing a doctrine of works, but confirming that people who believe God and obey Him will go to Heaven.  He was merely clarifying what people like that look like.  He was clarifying that while the Jewish people know more directly what God wants them to believe and obey, the rest of the world knows, too, if they look at their heart, as we saw in Romans 2:15 above.  God even said back in Isaiah 51:7a, “Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts.”

If we believe that mankind was created in God’s image 200,000 years before Adam, then we have to see that these people had the opportunity to obey or disobey God, based on the law written on their hearts.  They knew not God.  They had no direct laws from God.  Not one of them disobeyed a direct instruction from God.  That honor belongs to Adam and Eve.  Their sin was indeed original, and began mankind’s long journey of redemption through Jesus Christ, but sin itself was around from the beginning of mankind.  When you see how long people have been around scientifically, and read of the depravity of man biblically, then you will see that it must be so, or at least why I believe it is.


One thought on “What Came First, Sin or Original Sin?

  1. Mike Post author

    Just to clarity, what makes your action good in God’s eyes is based on the heart with which you commit the action. If you help the poor out of love, then you do good; if you do it to make yourself look good, then you do not. Good certainly comes from the help, but while people can only judge actions and outcomes (and so we judge by their fruits as Jesus says), God can judge us by our hearts, and so He does. Therefore, “doing good”, as written of by Paul, refers to God’s perspective.

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