Total Hereditary Depravity, Part 2 – The Bible Simply Does Not Teach We’re Born Sinners!

From Genesis to Revelation you won’t find a single verse that teaches all of mankind is born completely corrupt and incapable of anything good spiritually the moment we’re born! You would think that would settle the issue, but sadly it doesn’t. Despite the fact that the Bible doesn’t teach Total Hereditary Depravity there are some people who still love to try to make it do so!

People who teach we’re born sinners love to quote David when he said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) They don’t love quoting it in context but they still love quoting it. But for some reason they don’t like to quote Job when he said, “But from my youth I reared him [the poor] as a father, And from my mother’s womb I guided her [the widow].” (Job 31:18) I wonder why not???

When did Job say he began guiding the widow??? So what did Job mean by that? Same thing David meant when he said he was conceived in sin! They were both speaking in hyperboles to describe the lifestyle they were living at that particular time. It’s not that David was literally conceived in sin any more than Job was literally serving the widow from the womb! They were symbolic phrases to describe the feeling they had in their heart.

People who teach we’re born sinners love to quote Paul when he said, “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3) They don’t love to quote it in context but they love to talk about how we’re children of wrath by nature – attempting to make Paul teach that we’re born that way. But they don’t like to quote Paul when he said, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,” (Romans 2:14). Again I wonder why not???

Never mind the context of Ephesians 2:3 that says the nature of wrath comes from disobedience in verse 2 or that the nature is actually talking about a learned nature, let’s pretend for a second that nature means we’re born completely corrupt, and by nature we can’t do anything good spiritually! If people are born with a nature that can’t do anything good spiritually then how did the Gentiles of the old world follow God’s law by nature??? If people are born with a nature that can’t do anything good spiritually and the heart is nothing but corrupt, then how did Jesus describe the heart as good and honest that the seed (God’s word – Luke 8:11) fell into in Luke 8:15?

How can any of that happen? It’s because we’re not born sinners! We’re not born spiritually depraved! Total Hereditary Depravity is totally wrong!!!

The Bible teaches that we are all born spiritually innocent and we become guilty like Adam when we choose sin over righteousness. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of “knowledge of GOOD and EVIL” – not the tree of “knowledge of EVIL and EVIL.” The heart of mankind goes astray from God – it’s not born astray from God!

Listen to what the scriptures teach – “…Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Genesis 8:21). “Truly, this only I have found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). “They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:12) “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” (Romans 7:9)

Mankind isn’t born evil – we become evil. Mankind isn’t made evil – we seek out evil. Mankind isn’t born “aside and unprofitable” – we turn aside and become unprofitable. Mankind isn’t born spiritually dead – mankind learns God’s will and rebels against it. Read the scripture references above again!

The effects of Adam’s sin can be seen in every one of our lives the moment we’re born, but not the guilt! “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” (Ezekiel 18:20) It’s true that certain circumstances in life can be decided by decisions of parents, grandparents, great grandparents – but the Bible teaches that a person is not guilty spiritually of sin because of the choices made before they were born. Sound familiar with what some try to teach with Adam’s sin???

When someone tries to teach about Total Hereditary Depravity they soon love to start talking about what the “church fathers” said about it. Why is that? Because the scriptures are too plain! The scriptures don’t teach it. The Bible teaches, like Adam and Even in the garden, that men and women in the world today must choose to sin against God because the choice has not be made for us…but that’s for another topic of Calvinism’s “TULIP.” EA

Next Article: Total Hereditary Depravity, Part 3 – The Tangled Web that THD Weaves!

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  1. I should have studied this article a little more before I made the comments on the first one. I was all ready to use some verses I knew that referred to original sin, but you listed them already in this article! I agree that the way you explained the verses makes a lot of sense, except I’m still a little unclear about a “learned nature” that you mentioned in Eph.2. How can a nature be learned?
    I understand and now agree that babies are not born in original sin. I still don’t understand why, if we all do eventually sin, how that cannot be considered a sinful nature? Would it be correct to say we are not born in sin, but born with a nature to eventually sin? If no one can remain sinless except Jesus, it seems like something we can’t help from doing because of our nature.
    I’m sorry I’m just not getting this; I don’t mean to be argumentative.
    I guess this leads to other thoughts like if we can’t help but sin because it is our nature, then my original thought that we were made this way still stands.

    1. No problem on the first comment.

      Some say we sin because we’re sinners (continuation of a sinful nature inherited from Adam – and I would also say Eve, by default) but I believe we’re sinners because we sin. Once sin enters our heart, sin begets more sin, and because of that we sin because we’re sinners. This is the idea of a learned second nature.

      For example, listen to these verses that describe what children had yet to “learn”:

      This prophetic statement that uses truth about a child’s nature: “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.” (Isaiah 7:16)

      Also there is this statement made by God concerning the children of Nineveh: “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”” (Jonah 4:11)

      And finally, Solomon’s observation about the spiritual situations we place ourselves in without any sinful/righteous tendency being mentioned or involved: “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.”” (Ecclesiastes 7:29)

      What these verses tell us is that sin comes from violating the knowledge of good and evil that we gain as we mature (also think about Paul’s words in Romans 7:9-11), and once we choose sin we begin to give place to its desire with our body, heart and mind (Romans 6:12-14) until, eventually, we become depraved. I don’t believe we are born depraved but the truth of the matter is that the scriptures teach depravity is real (sadly observed in the world everyday), but also that the depravity is a learned and habitual way of life. For a small illustration – someone who has never used drugs doesn’t feel the pull of desire’s/addiction’s power, but once the drug-use begins and it creeps into our heart and mind, the loss of the control we have over the drugs gives way to the drug’s control over us … so it is with sin (John 8:34, Romans 6:16-19). Also, an athlete isn’t born with the ability they master, they practice their skill until it becomes second-nature (i.e. they don’t even have to think about what they’re doing because they “just” do it). And I bet you don’t have to think about everything you’re doing while driving, do you? That’s what second-nature is all about – doing something we learn until it’s like we never had to learn it to begin with.

      Your last couple of questions are ones I’ve struggled with. What I am about to say would sound “blasphemous” to some, but to me it’s the only logically conclusion. I think we can remain sinless – we just don’t due to us giving into sin’s temptation (this kinda gets back to the comment I was making in TFR on Ron’s post about the Law’s Righteous Requirement). One, I don’t believe God would tell us not to do something (and that thing in this case would be sinning) if we are not able to actually keep from doing it (why would God have held Adam/Eve responsible for their sin if they couldn’t keep from doing it?). Why hold people accountable for something we cannot keep from doing? Two, I don’t believe it’s our flesh in and of itself that makes us sin because Jesus wore the same flesh you and I wear (Romans 7:5, 8:3, Hebrews 2:14-18, 4:15). The Bible teaches he was born of a virgin, not that he was immaculately conceived. Mary needed a Savior just like us (Luke 1:46-47), and that means she was a sinner who gave birth to a son who lived sinlessly…so much for inheriting sin.

      I can’t explain every question that can be raised about this topic, but what I find when I read the Bible is that we choose to sin because we choose self over God…like the sinless Adam and Eve did. All sin isn’t related to the flesh (there is the pride of life that also drives us alongside the lust of the flesh and eye – 1 John 2:15-17 – this got Adam and Eve). God’s people stand rightly, live rightly and choose rightly when we stand in God’s will as bowed servants – this is true of characters from the OT and the NT. Jesus kept the servant mind-set his entire life (Philippians 2:1-9, Luke 2:48-50, Matthew 26:39). We choose to be served over serving and thus we fail.

      1. Thank you for your long and detailed explanation! It really helped me understand. I agree with you although I think it might be misunderstood by some. It makes sense to me that God would not tell us to do something we are incapable of doing. But the truth is, I think, that only one person, Jesus, actually did it (and I don’t believe he used his divine nature because that would have been cheating). But he did it! And because he did, he is worthy to be the sacrificial perfect lamb that saves us from our sins. No other human has been able to do it! One tiny little sin would spoil it for us, and realistically we just can’t do what Jesus did. However, he wants us to try.
        I think I understand now, but I have one more article to go. Thank you for your patience and taking time to explain things to me. I am so hungry to know more about God. Do you mind if I look through some of the other articles on this site and ask questions about things I don’t understand. There is not a way I can do that on TFR unless a topic just comes up.

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