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Sin, Original

(inherited; hereditary; principal; capital; Adam's sin; nature-sin; person-sin). 1. In its ordinary meaning this term does not refer to the origin of sin but to the guilt of Adam's sin imputed to his offspring (hereditary guilt, Ro 5:12–19; Eph 2:3; cf. FC SD I 9) and the corruption of man's nature that occurred when sin entered and which inheres in the human will and inclinations. Cf. Gn 5:3; 6:5; 8:21; Jb 15:14; Ps 51:5; Jn 3:6; Ro 14:23. Original sin is not an activity but a quality, a state, an inherent condition. It exists, though there be no conscious, voluntary act of internal or external powers, of mind or body. It is “the chief sin, a root and fountainhead of all actual sins” (FC SD I 5).

2. FC Ep I 1: “There is a distinction between man's nature and original sin.… No one except God alone can separate the corruption of our nature from the nature itself.… We … reject the Manichaean error that original sin is an essential, self-existing something which Satan infused into and mingled with human nature.” AC II: “Since the fall of Adam all men who are propagated according to nature are born in sin. That is to say, they are without fear of God, are without trust in God, and are concupiscent. And this disease or vice of origin is truly sin, which even now damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.” “Concupiscent” (drawn from the Lat. text) is explained in the Ger. text as “unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God.”

3. The Luth. Confessions condemn Pelagianism,* which denies the reality of original sin. FC SD I 10: “Original sin is the complete lack or absence of the original concreated righteousness of paradise or of the image of God according to which man was originally created in truth, holiness, and righteousness, together with a disability and ineptitude as far as the things of God are concerned.” FC SD I 11–12: “Original sin in human nature is not only a total lack of good in spiritual, divine things, but … at the same time it replaces the lost image of God in man with a deep, wicked, abominable, bottomless, inscrutable, and inexpressible corruption of his entire nature in all its powers, especially of the highest and foremost powers of the soul in mind, heart, and will. As a result, since the Fall man inherits an inborn wicked stamp, an interior uncleanness of the heart and evil desires and inclinations. By nature every one of us inherits from Adam a heart, sensation, and mind-set which, in its highest powers and the light of reason, is by nature diametrically opposed to God and his highest commands and is actually enmity against God, especially in divine and spiritual matters. True, in natural and external things which are subject to reason man still possesses a measure of reason, power, and ability, although greatly weakened since the inherited malady has so poisoned and tainted them that they amount to nothing in the sight of God.” FC Ep I 8: “Original sin is not a slight corruption of human nature, but … it is so deep a corruption that nothing sound or uncorrupted has survived in man's body or soul, in his inward or outward powers. It is as the church sings, 'Through Adam's fall man's nature and essence are all corrupt.' ”

4. Escape from the consequences of original sin is only by rebirth through Baptism and the Holy Spirit (see 2); cf. Mk 16:16.

Separation of the corruption of our nature from the nature itself (see 2) “will take place wholly by way of death in the resurrection. Then the nature which we now bear will arise and live forever, without original sin and completely separated and removed from it”; cf. Jb 19:26–27. (FC Ep I 10). FC SD L 46: “Precisely the substance of this our flesh, but without sin, shall arise, and … in eternal life we shall have and keep precisely this soul, although without sin.” FC Ep I 6: “Christ … will not quicken [original sin] in the elect, will not glorify it or save it. On the contrary, in the resurrection it will be utterly destroyed.”

See also Accident; Traducianism.


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod


Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

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