All of Mankind: Dead in Sin! By Jack Kettler
It is obvious from a cursory reading of the Scriptures that man is fallen in sin. Because of the fall, humanity is more than just injured by sin, spiritual death reigns. If a man is dead in sin, how did he get this way? Bible commentators have used the theological term “Original Sin” to explain what happened to humanity in the beginning. Unfortunately, many have rejected the doctrine of “Original Sin” primarily because it is not in accord with human reason. What is the basis for this doctrine? The primary text is found in Romans 5:12-19. What does this passage say? This passage speaks about the fall and of man's guilt in this event.
Wherefore, as by one-man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. In addition, not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they, which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 5:12-19
This passage teaches the connection between Adam's sin and the human race. Adam as the covenantal or federal head of the human family brought sin to his descendants. This is proved by the fact that death now reigns in the world. The apostle teaches that “all sinned,” or all were made or constituted sinners because of their real shared guilt in Adam's sin. This teaching is what is known as “Original Sin.”
Because of Adam's sin, we all come into the world with a fallen nature. Because of our sinful natures, we make sinful choices. The original sin that we are all born with manifests itself throughout our lives in actual sins which violate God's law, both in sins of commission (active transgression of God's law) and omission (lack of conformity to God's law). In other words, we can say, in Adam, all have sinned and as a result, in Adam, all have died.
Is man really dead in sin?
In the view of some, man is not dead. Man according to popular belief just needs an opportunity and a little help. He is able to recognize his condition and call for help. When help comes, and assistance is provided, man is able to climb up a ladder out of the problem that faces him. In contrast, the Reformed view teaches that man is dead and unable to call for help or even recognize his condition.
We will now survey some passages from scripture along with comments to prove that the idea that man in his fallen condition can respond to the gospel is in complete opposition with the teaching of scripture concerning man and sin. The Scriptures declare that man is indeed dead and that he has a heart of stone.
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) (Emphasis mine)
The Hebrew word that is used in this passage twice is muwth and uses two different verb tenses, which translate "dying" and "die" and is for doctrinal emphasis. The last part of verse 2:17 can be translated literally as "dying you shall die." Adam and Eve's relationship with God was now severed. They died an immediate spiritual death and later physical death, which was passed on to all of their posterity.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
God sees and declares that thoughts of man were nothing but evil, or continually and utterly evil. Adam's posterity inherited his sin and death, yet it was humanity’s own sinful thoughts and deeds also.
“Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:15, 16)
Man in his corrupt and unregenerate state is much filthier than the heavens and is said to lust or crave wickedness just as he would drink water when thirsty.
“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalms 14:2, 3)
Here we see God speaking through David, and the description of the degeneracy of man's nature, along with the reprehensible debasement of all mankind. This verse echoes Romans 3:10-12.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalms 51:5)
David is speaking here of what was mentioned at the outset, “original sin.” This inherited sin is the stem or root of his existent sin that permeates his whole being.
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
When justice is delayed, man's sin is un-curbed. He becomes brazen-faced and audacious to sin even more.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
Every one of us have turned to evil ways. We have all gone astray and the Lord assigned or imputed to Christ the sin of us all.
“But we are as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind,have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
Our so-called righteous acts are nothing more than filthy rags, otherwise quite literally, “menstruous rags,” and because of our sins, the wind sweeps us away.
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)
In this passage, the prophet speaks clearly of man's inability to change himself by pointing out two impossible things that parallel man's condition. If your nature is evil, you cannot change.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9
Man's heart is desperately wicked, or it can be said to be, incurable, and even man does not comprehend the magnitude of his deceitfulness and depravity.
“The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up. The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.” (Micah 7:2-4)
This statement by Micah goes beyond the people of his day and is a general declaration that is in harmony with the apostle Paul when he says, that there is none righteous no not one Romans 3:10-12.
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
Men loving darkness is the cause of the condemnation, or it can be said to be the reason why men are going to be punished. Man desires sin rather than the holiness of God. Men try and hide in the darkness because their deeds are evil.
“Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53)
Outside of Christ, there is no life in man. All mankind like our father Adam, are spiritually dead.
“As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there in none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
This is undisputed, the most forceful portion of Scripture when the apostle Paul declares man's depravity. All mankind is indicted by the apostle without exception.
“But we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9)
Here the apostle says; “we had the sentence of death in ourselves.” The word rendered “sentence” means a judicial ruling, outcome, or verdict. It not only means that Paul knew that he was condemned to die, but it also has broader implications for the rest of mankind and the just condemnation awaiting them short of participating in the resurrection to life in Christ.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
The apostle says that God made us alive or brought us to life after being dead in sins. This quickening is a spiritual resurrection to life.
Theological implications and Scriptural conclusions:
We have seen in this survey of Scripture and comments that man is dead spiritually. He does not desire the things of God.
Fallen man can lay no claim on God's favor. Man's wickedness manifests itself as religious works. See Genesis 4:3. Cain offered a religious work, the fruit of his own hands. Adam and Eve tried to cover their nakedness with the works of their own hands. God did not accept Adam and Eve's hand-made coverings or Cain's offering of self-effort. Many fabricated religions will dress themselves up to cover their sin such as Adam and Eve tried with outward religious trappings. These types of human works are filthy rags in God's eyes. A fallen man hates God and the things of God. Many fallen men will offend God by throwing humanistic religious works into God's face.
Man's nature is corrupted, and he makes all decisions based upon his corrupted or fallen nature. In the view of some man has a total and complete “free will.” Unfortunately, many never bother to define what they mean by the term “free will” and certain advocates not proving this belief in their particular notion of “free will” from scripture further complicate this problem. This so-called belief in total “free will” may be popular and emotionally pleasing. Is it Biblical? Many assume that there is something called “free will” and that it is taught in the Bible. In addition, shockingly, Shockingly, God is unable to save a man in this particular system know historically as semi-pelagianism unless man through the exercise of his “free will” says “yes.”
It is clear from the Scriptures that fallen man is spiritually dead, and consequently cannot really be free to sin or not to sin. The problem arises for many people because they know that they make choices or decisions. A man most certainly does make choices. The question needs to be asked, why does man choose one thing over another? The solution is found in man's nature. Fallen man makes decisions that are the result of the desires of his nature. Why does man reject the Biblical God? Because it is his nature to do so. Man chooses in harmony with his nature. Romans tells us the following:
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Romans. 6:16
Verse fourteen of this chapter says of those in Christ that we are no longer under the dominion of sin. We were the servant or slaves of sin. We yielded ourselves to sin because this was the inclination of our fallen nature. We are now the servants of righteousness and no longer the slaves of sin. Our sin natures have been changed. As the apostle, Peter tells us that “ye might be partakers of the divine nature...” 2 Peter 1:4. The believer now has a new nature. We still make choices or decisions. Since we have a new nature, our desires have been changed. We are now slaves of righteousness. Both the non-believer and the believer make choices but they are determined by either a corrupt nature or a changed nature. The will can be said to be free if it is understood that this freedom is always in accord with the desires of man's nature. The believer is now a new creation in Christ. We follow Christ because we love Him and want to please Him. The Holy Spirit lives in the believer, guides us, and convicts us to do what is right according to the scriptures.
When a person chooses Christ, one must ask, why did the person do this? Was it his decision on his own apart from God's action? Alternatively, does man act or choose for Christ as a result of God changing his heart by the power of Holy Spirit? The Scripture declares that unbelievers are dead (not just sick) and have hearts of stone. Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit changes our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. As said, unbelievers are dead spiritually and Christ quickens us or makes us alive. We are have risen from the dead when Christ regenerates us. Regeneration happens before we can exercise faith.
Therefore, Christ gets the credit for our decision to believe in Him. Unbelievers do not choose Christ, because they in their fallen state hate him and are spiritually dead. Furthermore, it should be noted that fallen man's nature is corrupt and fallen man freely chooses in harmony with his fallen nature to reject Christ. So then, when fallen man is regenerated and exercises faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's atoning work at Calvary, what credit does God get for this decision? “All” is the only possible correct answer.
Remember, we were the servants or slaves of sin. We yielded ourselves to sin because this was the inclination of our fallen nature. We are now the servants of righteousness and no longer the slaves of sin. Our sin natures have been changed. As the apostle, Peter tells us “ye might be partakers of the divine nature...” 2 Peter 1:4. The believer now has a new nature. We still make choices or decisions. Since we have a new nature, our desires have been changed through the inward work of the Holy Spirit. We are now slaves of righteousness (not perfectly) by His grace.
In conclusion, both the non-believer and the believer make choices but they are determined by either a corrupt nature or a changed redeemed nature. The will can be said to be free if it is understood that this freedom is always in accord with the desires of man's nature. It can be said that the will is bound, yet free. The believer is now a new creation in Christ. We follow Christ because we love Him and want to please Him. The Holy Spirit lives in the believer and guides us and convicts us to do what is right according to the Scriptures.
The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter VI of the fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof
I. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
1. Gen. 3:13; II Cor. 11:3
2. See Chapter V, Section IV
II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.
3. Gen. 3:6-8; Rom. 3:23
4. Gen. 2:17; Eph. 2:1-3; see Rom. 5:12
5. Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Titus 1:15; Rom. 3:10-19
III. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.
6. Acts. 17:26; Rom. 5:12, 15-19; I Cor. 15:21-22, 49
7. Psa. 51:5; John 3:6; Gen. 5:3; Job 15:14
IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
8. Rom. 5:6; 7:18; 8:7; Col. 1:21
9. Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Rom. 3:10-12
10. Matt. 15:19; James 1:14-15; Eph. 2:2-3
V. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
11. Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 7:14, 17-18, 21-23; I John 1:8, 10
12. Rom. 7:7-8, 25; Gal. 5:17
VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto,  doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner,  whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God,  and curse of the law,  and so made subject to death,  with all miseries spiritual,  temporal,  and eternal. 
13. I John 3:4
14. Rom. 2:15; 3:9, 19
15. Eph. 2:3
16. Gal. 3:10
17. Rom. 6:23
18. Eph. 4:18
Rom. 8:20; Lam. 3:39
Matt. 25:41; II Thess. 1:9
THE SHORTER CATECHISM with the Scripture Proofs
Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God [a].
[a]. Gen. 3:6-8, 13; II Cor. 11:3
Q. 14. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God [a].
[a]. Lev. 5:17; Jas. 4:17; I John 3:4
Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein thy were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit [a].
[a]. Gen. 3:6
Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam [a], not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression [b].
[a]. Gen. 2:16-17; Jas. 2:10
[b]. Rom. 5:12-21; ICor. 15:22
Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery [a].
[a]. Gen. 3:16-19, 23; Rom. 3:16; 5:12; Eph. 2:1
Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin [a], the want of original righteousness [b], and the corruption of his whole nature [c], which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it [d].
[a]. Rom. 5:12, 19
[b]. Rom. 3:10; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24
[c]. Ps. 51:5; John 3:6; Rom. 3:18; 8:7-8; Eph. 2:3
[d]. Gen. 6:5; Ps. 53:1-3; Matt. 15:19; Rom. 3:10-18, 23; Gal. 5:19-21; Jas. 1:14-15
Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God [a], are under his wrath [b] and curse [c], and so made liable to all miseries in this life [d], to death [e] itself, and to the pains of hell for ever [f].
[a]. Gen. 3:8, 24; John 8:34, 42, 44; Eph. 2:12; 4:18
[b]. John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 2:3; 5:6
[c]. Gal. 3:10; Rev. 22:3
[d]. Gen. 3:16-19; Job 5:7; Ecc. 2:22-23; Rom. 8:18-23
[e]. Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 5:12; 6:23
[f]. Matt. 25:41, 46; II Thess. 1:9; Rev. 14:9-11
The Westminster Shorter Catechism was completed in 1647 by the Westminster Assembly and continues to serve as part of the doctrinal standards of many Presbyterian churches.
“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. He served as an ordained ruling elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He worked in and retired from a fortune five hundred company in corporate America after forty years. He runs two blogs sites and is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com