The Effect of Sin

John Telgren

The Bible tells us that sin entered the world through Adam and as a result, we were made sinners (Rom 5:19). This is not to say that we somehow inherited Adam's sins genetically. The Bible says we bear the penalty for our own sins. The son does not bear the punishment for his Father's sin (Ezek 18). Clearly, the way the "many were made sinners" does not mean that we somehow carry the sin and guilt of our forefathers. However, the passage clearly states that we have been affected by a line of sin that goes all the way back to Adam that has wreaked havoc ever since.

We often think of sin as strictly a legal problem. There is a sin debt to pay that we cannot pay. Jesus offered up his own life on our behalf, therefore the debt has been paid. This is one way the Bible describes the problem of sin. But it appears to go even deeper than this. Sin has affected our very will.

"...the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able {to do so," (Rom 8:7).

"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 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" (Rom 7:18-20).

Sin has weakened our will so that we no longer have the strength to be obedient. This is why Paul said, " is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). Due to sin, we need both our desire and God's strength in order to be faithful. God strengthens us through the Spirit who "renews" us (Tit 3:5), strengthens us inwardly (Eph 3:16) and gives us the ability to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom 8:13).

Sin has also affected our mind and intellect. Paul said that sin "deceived me" (Rom 7:11). He also said a natural/unspiritual man "cannot understand" the things of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). Because of sin, "the heart is deceitful above all else" (Jer 17:9). Sin has caused us and the whole world to be enslaved to corruption (Rom 8:21). This is why God needs to continually transform us. When we receive the Spirit, we are "renewed" (Tit 3:5), and are being transformed to the image of His son (2 Cor 3:18).

No wonder Paul said, "Oh wretched man that I am, who will save me from the body of death?" (Rom 7:24). The solution to sin does not come from human effort because we were "helpless" in our sin (Rom 5:6). We were helpless legally, morally, and intellectually. Any godless human attempt to right the wrong in our lives and the world will fail and perhaps exacerbate the problems. There can be no such thing as a secular, godless solution. The only solution is found in Christ who not only saves us by paying the debt, but also renews, transforms, and restores the image of God in us that sin had twisted and distorted.