2c - The problem of original sin in Romans 5

Romans 5 seems to be saying that somehow, because of Adam’s sin, we are condemned (v18). Unbelievers find this a problem. How would you answer them?

There are various explanations of how we could have been involved in Adam’s sin:

  1. We are held responsible for Adam’s actual sin.
    1. The whole human race somehow was present in Adam at the moment of his sin, therefore we are all guilty of the original sin.
    2. Even though we were not involved in Adam’s sin, we are treated as if we are guilty of it because he was our representative.
  2. We are held responsible only for our own sins.
    1. Because of Adam’s sin, we are all born with sinful natures, and therefore inevitably sin.
    2. We all sin `in Adam’ because we inevitably follow his example and sin ourselves.
    3. When Adam sinned, the whole of Creation `fell’. We are born into a fallen world and therefore we inevitably sin.

Answers 1. & 2. cannot be true becuase in Ezekiel 18 God clearly states that we are never punished for the sin of another person, even if he is our father.

The best solution is to understand the difference between guilt and consequences

  • we suffer the consequence of Adam’s sin—a fallen nature
  • we are only held accountable for the guilt of our own sin

For this reason I would favour explanation 3.