Q. Are we all born righteous and only become sinner when we choose to sin? In one statement (Romans 5:19) it seems clear that Adam’s sin has infected us, but other scripture tell us we do not bear the punishment of our fathers (Ezekiel 18:19-20). Then you have those who are adamant in stating we are all born pure and that sin is a choice. Because of Adam the flesh dies but the spirit only dies if one chooses to sin. As one person put it so directly: “Original sin is a doctrine of demons, we became a sinner by choice, not because of Adam.” Please help explain this subject?
A. All this is not quite as simple as people make it out to be because while we do have a choice about committing sinful behavior, we do not have a choice about being sinners. That’s because sin not is just a type of behavior. It’s a built in flaw in the system that controls the way we think and feel. Therefore, it’s not what we do that makes us sinners, it’s who we are that makes us sinners. Jesus said even our thoughts condemn us (Matt. 5:22,28).
The Bible is clear on this saying, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12-13). If becoming a sinner was a matter of choice then surely among the billions who have lived since Adam there would be some who would have chosen not to sin. Even one such person would have made Paul’s statement that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) untrue.
Ezekiel 18 is not about original sin. God was correcting the Israelites who believed that in the coming Babylonian captivity they were being made to pay for the sins of the previous generations, not because they themselves had sinned.
As to when we become sinners, David admitted being to sinful from the time his mother conceived him (Psalm 51:5). In His mercy God chooses not to count our sins against us as long as we’re too young to understand. But we are all sinners just the same. It’s in our nature. So according to the Bible, the person you quoted is incorrect.