A common accusation against Christianity is that it unfairly judges people. In particular, some people say that God sets us up for failure and then punishes us for the failure that He caused. If that were true, it would indeed be an unfair situation. Is that the way Christianity works? Does God unfairly judge us for something we have no control over? The answers are found in the Bible.
To begin, we must find out what the Bible says about our being born in sin. David, the man after God’s own heart, wrote in Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” The apostle Paul wrote that we all gratify “the cravings of our sinful nature” (Ephesians 2:3). That means there is something naturally inside us that pushes us toward sin.
So, the Bible certainly does teach that we are born in sin. Did God just arbitrarily decide people were going to be born sinful? The answer is found in connection with the first man, Adam. When Adam was created (without sin) by God and placed in the garden of Eden, he was also given a simple law (Genesis 2:16–17). Adam disobeyed God’s law, and God pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to death. It was Adam’s choice to disobey that made him guilty before God. He was the father of the human race, and his traits were passed on to his children. Romans 5:12 says that sin entered the world through Adam, and death came through sin, because all sinned. As descendants of Adam, we received the sin nature passed down from our fathers. That makes us born in sin, with a natural inclination to do wrong.
Some might argue that we cannot choose our family, so God cannot hold us accountable for the sin nature. While we might not have any choice about how we’re born, the Bible is clear that we do have a choice about our sins. Earlier, we looked at Ephesians 2:3, which says that we gratify the cravings of our sinful nature. That is a choice. Romans 5:12 says that “all sinned.” We are sinners by deed as well as by nature. Our own sin condemns us, not just Adam’s. We are born in sin, but we continue to sin by our own personal choice. When we choose sin, we become guilty before God, and His judgment is fair.
God is not only fair, but merciful. The Bible’s teaching about personal sin doesn’t end with a declaration of man’s guilt. Romans 5, which tells us that sin and death entered the world through one man, also tells us of the greatest blessing, which also came through one man. God’s gift of grace came through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:15) and overflowed to many. Verse 19 says, “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.” God is just in applying Adam’s sin to the entire human race, and He is just in applying Jesus Christ’s death to all who will receive Him by faith. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, so that the world might have life through faith in His sacrifice. That’s not “fair”—that’s grace!