What is the original sin?
You will not find the notion of “original sin” in the Bible. It is a term used by the theologians to refer to the sin that entered into the world through Adam:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
From this text we conclude that the effect of sin in the man’s life is “transgression”. To say it differently, the original sin that entered into the world through Adam makes us sin.The Greek dictionary gives us a better understanding of this word. There are two words translated as “sin” from Greek. They both have the same root, but different meaning.
1. The sin – “αμαρτία” (hamartia)
In Romans 5:12 the word “αμαρτία” (hamartia) is used, which literally means “missing the target”, but this etymological meaning was lost in the New Testament in a great measure. The word sin “hamartia” is the most wide term used for moral misconduct. Actually, “hamartia” describes man’s fallen condition as a result of Adam’s sin which produces sin in the man’s life. To put it differently, the man is not sinful because he commits sin, but he commits sin because he is sinful. It’s a wordplay which highlights the meaning of the doctrine of the original sin. In fact, the original sin describes the sinful or fallen nature of man. This state of the fleshly or earthly man is described by the apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25:
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (Romans 7:19)
As we see, the original sin that lives in us produces bad deeds. In the same text the apostle Paul names this original sin “the law of sin”:
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)
In conclusion, the original sin is a law that works in our members and makes us sin, even against our will.
2. The sin – αμάρτημα “hamartema”
The sin αμάρτημα “hamartema” is the product of the sin “hamartia” (the original sin) or the effect of the law of sin in the man’s life.The sin “hamartema” describes a specific sinful deed such as theft, fornication, murder or anything of this kind. This word is used only 4 times in the Bible. Let’s read the texts to see the difference between the two words translated in Romanian as “sin”:
“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29)
whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed (Romans 3:25)
Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
We can see very clearly from the texts above that “hamartema” refers to specific deeds(sins).
So, the original sin is the law that works in the members of the man and makes him sin, even against his will and describes man’s fallen condition. This is not an acquired condition, but it is innate, inherited from our forefather Adam.
I recommend you to do the Precept Bible Studies on Romans, Part I, Part II and Part III to learn more fundamental doctrines about salvation including the doctrine about sin.