The Doctrine of Original Sin: Romans 6:12-14
“12) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13) for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” Romans‬ ‭5:12-14‬ ‭
Paul now makes an important observation about the entire human race. He establishes what is often called “The Doctrine of Original Sin.” Not only was the guilt of Adam’s sin passed on to all of his descendants, so was a tendency or predisposition toward sin. This text establishes the point that all people are sinners both by nature and by personal choice.
It appears that both the guilt of Adam’s original sin and the nature to sin are both passed on through the male at the time of conception. This is what makes the virgin birth of Jesus Christ so important. Because God was His Father, Jesus Christ had neither the stain or guilt of Adam’s original sin over His life, nor did He have a sin nature. He was in every way sinless.
In the same way, because Mary was His mother, Jesus was therefore part of the human race and could become a substitutionary atonement for all of humanity. He was the sinless Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) He was a “type” of Adam with a clean slate. (Romans 5:14)
But Paul makes another point in these three verses that is very significant. In both Romans 3:19-20 and 4:15, he had stressed the point that the violation of the Law is the basis of establishing guilt and placing the sinner under Gods wrath. The problem is that the Law was not given until Moses. So does that mean that all people who lived prior to the giving of the Law were innocent?
In tackling this objection, Paul points out that death reigned over all humanity from Adam to Moses. (See Romans 5:14) People from every generation died. How can we explain this apparent inconsistency?
The answer is found way back in Genesis 2:16-17. God’s original command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the consequence of death, were given to Adam prior to his transgression. It was his willful breaking of this basic command that placed him and all of his descendants under the condemnation of death. The doctrine of the universal guilt of sin on the entire human race is actually illustrated by the physical death of all people who lived prior to Moses and the giving of the Law. It serves to punctuate the Doctrine of Original Sin.
This brings us to another commonly asked question; “What about the innocent?” What about newly born children who are in a state of innocence because they have not committed personal sin? The Bible constantly points out that the original sin of Adam is passed on at the moment of conception. For example, in Psalm 51:5 David observes; “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Again, I stress that because of the virgin birth, Jesus Christ was the only human ever conceived without the stain of Adam’s original sin and the resulting death sentence on their life.
In these three verses, Paul convincingly argues both the concept of original sin and the concept of a sin nature in all people. The result is that all people are sinners and worthy of the judgement of death. (See Romans 3:23 and 6:23) When properly understood, this doctrine underlines the urgency of the Gospel.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global