Q) Why and how does one man, Adam, infect the entire future of mankind with sin? If we didn’t ask for sin, why do we have to ask for forgiveness?
A) This is a great question. A lot is said on this topic in Romans chapter 5. Lets take a look.
Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
They way I see it, God made the world, and all of his creations, perfect. Adam and Eve, the first people, were made glorious, and death had not entered into the world until after Adam had sinned. The moment Adam and Eve sinned, they began to die spiritually and physically.
Then, just like anything else, those parents passed on their characteristics to their children. They had a bunch of little sinner babies, and those babies had sinner babies, and so on.
It may not seem fair to be saddled with Adam’s sin nature, but it’s consistent with other aspects of human propagation. We inherit physical characteristics such as eye color from our parents, and we also inherit their spiritual characteristics. Why should the passing on of spiritual traits be any different from the passing on of physical traits? We may complain about having brown eyes when we wanted blue, but our eye color is simply a matter of genetics. In the same way, having a sin nature is a matter of “spiritual genetics”; it’s a natural part of life.
However, the Bible says we are sinners by deed as well as by nature. We are sinners twice over: we sin because we are sinners (Adam’s choice), and we are sinners because we sin (our choice). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are more than potential sinners; we are practicing sinners. “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away” (James 1:14). For example, if a driver sees the speed limit sign; he exceeds the limit; he gets a ticket. He can’t blame Adam for that.
“I did not eat the fruit.” True, but Scripture says that we, individually and as a human race, were all represented by Adam. “In Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22). A diplomat speaking at the United Nations may do or say things that many of his countrymen disapprove of, but he is still the diplomat—he is the officially recognized representative of that country.
“I did not eat the fruit.” True, you were not physically present in the actual Garden of Eden with the juice of forbidden fruit staining the corners of your guilty mouth. But the Bible seems to indicate that, if you had been there instead of Adam, you’d have done the same thing he did. The apple, as they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Whether or not we think it’s “fair” to have Adam’s sin imputed to us doesn’t really matter. God says that we have inherited Adam’s sinful nature, and who are we to argue with God? Besides, we are sinners in our own right. Our own sin probably makes Adam look like a puritan in comparison.
Here’s the good news: God loves sinners. In fact, He has acted to overcome our sin nature by sending Jesus to pay for our sins and offer us His righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus took the death that was our penalty upon Himself, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Note the words “in him.” We who were once in Adam can now be in Christ by faith. Christ is our new Head, and “in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Romans 5: 14-15 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
Romans 5: 17-19 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.