Q. I must ask you about Original sin and our “sin Nature”. Are these the same thing? I personally do not believe anyone is born with a sin nature but that we are born innocent. I believe in an age of accountability which seems to be a truth hidden well in the scriptures, if not well hidden, very little is spoken of it. The “Sin Nature” is something I just do not understand. Are we born sinful? Do we bring sin into the world or are we born into a sinful world?
A. To some, the idea of original sin and having a sin nature are the same. They believe all mankind inherited a propensity to sin from our first parents. This is a genetic flaw that prevents humans from living a sin free life and makes salvation for those who seek it wholly dependent upon the Lord’s death and resurrection.
Others take the view that original sin means we share in the guilt for Adam’s sin. This is summarized in the concept of total depravity which holds that because of Adam’s sin all mankind has been enslaved to sin and unable to choose to follow God, which makes it necessary for God to choose some among us to receive the gift of salvation as an act of His grace to prevent all of mankind from being lost.
Paul expressed the concept of an age of accountability by saying he was born with eternal life but later became accountable for his sins and was scheduled for death (Romans 7:9). It was then necessary for him to be born again to regain eternal life. This doesn’t mean he believed we are born innocent, but that before we reach the age of accountability God does not count our sins against us. He taught that once we are born again we revert to our former state and once again are not accountable for our sins (Romans 7:18-20).
In Psalm 51:5 David admitted He was a sinner while still in his mother’s womb.
The Bible doesn’t specify at what age we become accountable, so some groups set an arbitrary date (12-13 for Jews) while others say it’s the point at which a child becomes intellectually mature enough to understand what sin and its consequences are.