A learned lady from a sophisticated denomination came upon the notion that we all fell in Adam and are born with a fallen nature which needs regeneration by the Holy Spirit. She promptly dismissed this entire doctrine as “some simple minded theology about our diseased spiritual DNA.” What does the Bible say?
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Good sister, some of the deepest and most profound thinkers through the centuries have confirmed what you so easily dismiss as “simple-minded.” I invite you honestly to consider whether any aspect of your own personhood is unaffected by the pride which puts self in place of God, or from the estrangement and brokenness which inevitably follow. If we are not thoroughly fallen, it is extraordinarily odd that every responsible human being except Jesus Christ begins to sin as soon as he or she learns how. Why does not someone always do what is right?
I had an insightful high school English teacher who used to remind grumbling students that “Shakespeare is not on trial.” Nor, I propose, are the great truths revealed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament in texts such as Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12-21. My own church heritage has never taken these texts nearly as seriously as it should. Because we have had a weak doctrine of sin, we have also failed to appreciate the need for grace. But God is greater than our doctrine and kept right on saving sinners anyway.
It is awesome to consider the list of effects which the Apostle Paul said proceeded from Adam’s sin: “the many died” (Rom. 5:15); “judgment arose resulting in condemnation” (v. 16); “death reigned” (v. 17); “there resulted condemnation to all” (v. 18); “the many were made sinners” (v. 19) and “sin reigned in death” (v. 21). In our fallen state we are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-2). Apart from Jesus, the human picture is not only dark but starkly hopeless. By the Holy Spirit, God gives life and new birth from above (John 3:1ff), opens our eyes (2 Cor. 4:4-6) and hearts (Acts 16:14) and gives repentance (Acts 11:18) and faith (Phil. 1:29) by which we enjoy all that Jesus has accomplished.