This is a challenging theological question that many struggle with. If humans are born with a sinful nature, inherited from Adam’s original sin, how can God rightly judge us for the sins we commit? Wouldn’t it be unjust for God to condemn people for sins they were predisposed to commit from birth? This article will dive into what the Bible teaches about humanity’s sinful condition, God’s judgment, and how God makes provision for salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Origin of Humanity’s Sinful Condition
According to the Bible, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the human race (Genesis 3:1-7). Where before Adam and Eve only knew good, now they understood evil. This original sin corrupted not only Adam and Eve, but also their descendants. As Romans 5:12 explains, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Through Adam, the inherent sinful nature spread to all humanity.
We see evidence of this inherited sinful nature early on, as Cain murders his brother Abel in Genesis 4. Genesis 6:5 also describes the extent of human wickedness leading up to the flood, stating that “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The sinful bent of mankind ultimately leads to God’s judgment in the form of a worldwide flood (Genesis 6-9).
The consistent biblical testimony is that sin is part of human nature from birth. King David lamented, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). The New Testament affirms this doctrine, as Paul states in Ephesians 2:3, “We all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
So the Bible is clear that all people are born with a sinful nature, inheriting the corruption of original sin from Adam. This predisposes all people to commit sins against God. But how does this impact God’s judgment of mankind’s sin?
God’s Righteous Judgment
Despite humanity’s inborn sinful condition, the Bible maintains that God is justified in judging people for their sins. God’s laws reflect His righteous and holy nature, so any violation of those laws constitutes an offense against God Himself. Although humans are predisposed to sin, people make a willing choice to rebel against God’s commands. This merits God’s just punishment.
Ezekiel 18 is a key passage on this topic. God says, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son” (v. 20). While sons inherit their fathers’ sinful nature, God does not punish people for the sins of previous generations. Rather, He judges each person according to their own sins.
Ezekiel 18 goes on to present a proverb circulating among the people of Jerusalem: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (v. 2). This proverb basically protested that it was unfair for God to judge them for sins they inherited from previous generations. God strongly corrects this objection, saying:
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. But if a man is righteous and does what is just and right…he shall surely live (Ezekiel 18:4, 9).
While people inherit a corrupt nature, God does not condemn anyone for the sins of their forefathers. Each person is responsible for their own moral choices. Those who sin face death, while those who repent and obey God will live. God’s judgment is impartial and fair.
The New Testament also rejects the notion that God is unjust for judging sinners. Paul explains in Romans that everyone has general revelation about God’s existence and righteousness, yet people willfully suppress this truth and choose to worship idols instead (Romans 1:18-25). All people stand condemned because when they knew God, “they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (v. 21). God is therefore just in pouring out His wrath on the morally corrupt human race.
God’s Solution: Salvation Through Jesus Christ
A key point in this discussion is that we should not view God’s judgment as the end of the story. Despite humanity’s hopeless condition as dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), God provided a way of salvation through Jesus Christ. What we could not do for ourselves because of sin, Jesus did on our behalf.
Romans 5 explains that just as sin and death spread to all through Adam, now righteousness and life abound to all through Jesus Christ (v. 12-21). Jesus accomplished what Adam could not: “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (v. 19). Whereas Adam led the human race into sin and death, Jesus provides the free gift of redemption (v. 15).
Jesus served as the perfect representative for all humanity, standing in our place to fulfill God’s righteous requirements. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” On the cross, Jesus took the penalty for our sins upon Himself so that through faith in Him, we can be forgiven and made righteous before God.
This is the amazing truth of the gospel: Out of sheer grace, God Himself made a way through Christ to rescue lost, condemned sinners. While God’s judgment of sin is just, He nevertheless lovingly sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins and clothe us in His perfect righteousness.
In summary, humans do have a sinful nature from birth that predisposes us to sin and warrants God’s judgment. But God does not condemn people arbitrarily or unjustly. Each person makes willing choices to sin against God’s commands and will face the consequences of those decisions. Thankfully, God does not leave us without hope! He powerfully intervenes to save those who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.