OceanSide church of Christ

 Previous Return to Articles Next 


Victor M. Eskew


            There are religious groups that teach that man is born with a sin-stained soul.  Two doctrines espouse this thinking.  One doctrine is called “Original Sin.”  Original sin is the idea that all of humanity shares in Adam’s sin.  This sin is said to be transmitted by human generation.  The second doctrine that affirms that man is born in sin is “Total Hereditary Depravity.”  It is the teaching that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin and, that apart from the efficacious or prevenient grace of God, is utterly unable to choose to follow God, refrain from evil, or accept the gift of salvation that is offered” (Wikipedia, “Total Depravity”).

            These doctrines, however, do not reflect the teachings of God’s word concerning the nature of sin.  First, sin cannot be inherited.  In Ezekiel 18:20, we read:  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.  The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son:  the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”  Second, man will not stand before God and give account for another’s sins.  Paul teaches:  “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12, emp. mine, vme).  No one other than Adam will give an account for Adam’s sins.  In like manner, all of us shall give an account for our sins only.

            When man is born into this world, he is innocent.  His soul is a clean slate.  How can we be sure of this?  We can be sure of this because it is God who “formeth the spirit of man within him” (Zech. 12:1).  God would not make something that is corrupt, defiled, full of sin, and totally depraved.  God only gives good and perfect gifts to man (James 1:17).  Solomon knew man was born innocent, and wrote:  “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29). 

            The innocent child that is born into this world, however, will eventually transgress the will of God.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  At that time, his soul is stained.  What used to be clean is dirty.  What used to be pure is defiled.  What used to be spotless is soiled with sin.

            Because this happens on the inside of man, individuals are often not aware of their filthy condition.  And, because they cannot see it, they fail to take steps to remove the stains that are on their souls.  Israel was like this in day gone by.  Her people were full of sins, but they did not take steps to cleanse themselves.  Prophets, like Isaiah, were sent among the people to help them see their filthy condition.  Isaiah’s prophecy begins with a description of this sinful nation.  “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters:  they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.  Why should ye be stricken any more?  Ye will revolt more and more:  the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores:  they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isa. 1:4-6).

            When souls are covered with sins, they need to be cleansed.  Isaiah exhorted his readers to this end.  “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.  Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:  though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:16-18).  In the New Testament book of James, the inspired writer makes a similar appeal to his first century readers in James 4.  In James 4:4, he refers to them as adulterers and adulteresses.  In verses 7-10, he commands them, saying:  “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye doubleminded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep:  let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

            There are some people who truly do not realize that their souls are stained with iniquity.  Their condition is pitiable.  If many of these individuals really understood the stain that is upon their souls, they would desire to be cleansed.  Saul of Tarsus was like this.  He marched on in his bloody campaign against the church for a long period of time.  He did not realize the blotch of sin that was upon his soul until he was confronted by the Lord on the road to Damascus.  As soon as his sins were revealed, he asked the Lord, saying:  “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

            There are other individuals who are in the world who are fully cognizant of the stains that exist within.  Those who are in this category are a tragedy.  They know that sin is within.  They, however, are either indifferent to it, proud of it, or have become hardened to it.  In essence, they just do not care.  These individuals turn from the gospel (Acts 13:46).  They wait for a more convenient season (Acts 24:25).  They persist in their evil doings and grow worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13).

            This writer often wears suits with a white shirt and tie.  One of the most aggravating things that can happen is to get a stain on a suit lapel, a shirt collar, or a tie.  (Spaghetti is the worst).  Immediately, when a stain is present, I am ready to remove the article of clothing and get it cleaned. Would that all men would have the same desire when it comes to their soul.  Immediately, they should be upset when a stain is present (Matt. 5:4).  Their desire should be to get it cleaned away as quickly as possible (Acts 22:16; I John 1:7).  Listen again to the words of God’s seer:  “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil” (Isa. 1:16).