Original sin is a spiritual blindness, a corruption of the human soul and mind. It is the
source of all other sin in our persons. This inbred sinfulness is a deadly, spiritual disease
we could never diagnose, understand or escape – apart from the grace of God.
The Bible chronicles the beginning of sin in Genesis 3. God’s perfect creation was ruined
by the rebellious disobedience of the first man and woman. They and their descendants
became subject to corruption and death in both body and soul. They also brought this
corruption to all the earth. Adam’s sin not only brought God’s anger, but because his sin
also corrupts his descendants, we are all under the anger of God. Adam’s sin corrupted
the perfect human nature which God created in His own image. Adam’s sin also corrupts
every single person whom God, by His good design and order, makes and brings into the
world (see Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5; Romans 7:18-19).
Original sin shows itself in sinful actions and conditions. We not only experience this
corruption in the great horrors of war and crime, but also in daily sins of disrespect for
authorities, people, marriage, property and reputation. Beyond the everyday meanness,
rudeness and unkindness with which we sinners conduct our lives, we also see the pale of
death which overshadows life. Tragic accidents, injuries, illness of body and mind are
evidence of the corruption and decay which has come upon our existence. Yet the most
tragic extent of original sin would remain undetected, but for the light of God’s Word and
St. Paul describes, with a universal indictment of guilt, this deep corruption of humanity,
which not good works can undo: “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one,;
there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.’ …Therefore by the
deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of
sin” (Rom 3:10, 20). The sad plight of our human condition isn’t just that we sin, but
that we are sinners – we sin because we are sinners. The primary purpose of God’s law is
not to reform our defects, but to accuse us as sinners under the anger of God.
St. Paul describes original sin as “sin death,” and praises the only remedy for it: “But
God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when
we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5a).
What the first Adam lost for us (sinlessness), the second Adam (Jesus Christ) restored for
us (Romans 5:19). Christ’s death for us conquers sin and death’s power over us. His
Easter victory means He lives to bring us the benefits of His obedience and His suffering
for sin: His holy, sinless birth and life through Baptism, and His life sustaining body and
blood through His holy supper. “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to
God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved
by His life” (Rom 5:10).
(All Scripture references are from the New King James Version.)