Original sin cannot deny the perfect creative power of God. Man is not created sinful. We become sinful through choice of self above God in a fallen world.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. (Psalm 139:14)
An unfortunate effect of the doctrine of original sin is the tragic understanding of many that inherent sinfulness denies the perfect creative power of God. Many teach that man is sinful from the moment of conception. But today’s verse raises up a wonderful truth to refute this. For those struggling under the weight of sin and condemnation, it provides a reprieve. Also, it enables us to see the wonderful truth that, whatever happens in our lives, God’s original creation is perfect. It may be for only a split second in eternal time, but the entire ministry and sacrifice of Christ is the process whereby God is returning His creation back to that perfection. Through this lifetime process, He will present us perfect, without spot, blemish, or wrinkle, at the last day. His creation is perfect at the beginning and will be perfect at the end.
Original sin and a perfect creator.
Genesis tells us that God looked at all He created and saw that it was good – around seven times, actually. God Himself is utterly holy and perfect. There is no imperfection in Him, and He can therefore not create anything imperfect. Whatever God creates is ‘perfect’ – wonderfully made and a marvellous work. The doctrine of original sin, which is contained in both Christian and Hebraic teaching, concerns what happened after the moment of creation. Psalm 51:5 is often used erroneously and creates confusion if misinterpreted. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. This is essentially a psalm of repentance. David is acknowledging his sinful nature, the result of being born into a sinful world and to parents who were also sinful.
Firstly, marriage and procreation are both instituted and blessed by God. Conception, therefore, cannot be sinful. Secondly, the ‘spark of life’ that creates us – makes us living beings – can only come from God. It is part of His breath and Spirit, and cannot be anything but perfect. Finally, God knits us together in the womb. The creation of mankind isn’t a zap-moment. It’s a careful, loving, interactive process. Just as Adam was formed from the earth, so each individual is carefully formed by God Himself. Original sin is certainly valid when it comes to our living – and sinning – in a fallen world. But it is utter blasphemy to stretch it to the point where God is accused of creating imperfectly. He simply cannot. What God creates is always perfect, and that includes every single human being.
An imperfect creation and original sin.
The problem with man happens once he is created. As it happened with Adam, so it happens with us. It’s not our creation that’s an issue but what we do thereafter. The very heart of the doctrine of original sin is that man lost his perfection through sin, a weakness that has perpetuated itself in every succeeding generation. Christ is the living example of how God intended His perfect creation to live – pure, sinless, and in obedient worship. This is part of the basis of our being transformed into the likeness of Christ. It’s God’s plan to ‘remake’ us as He originally intended. God didn’t make us as a mistake. But He did have foreknowledge, and salvation is His plan to ‘unmake’ our mistakes. It is man’s choice to assume the legacy of a fallen world. Mankind essentially chooses imperfection.
Of course, the reality is that Satan is the god of this world. We face the same battle Adam did. The reality is that we don’t have to succumb. Jesus proves that to us, and that His power to overcome came from His total surrender and obedience to the will of God. The real relevance of original sin is that we pattern ourselves on Adam rather than on Christ. We succumb to the temptation to put self before God. We perpetuate Adam’s original sin through our own choices and human weakness and wilfulness. Adam’s original sin opened the door for Satan to direct and control mankind through their own choices. God created us as absolutely perfect. We choose to make ourselves imperfect because we choose to do it ‘my way’ rather than God’s way. We mess up, not God.
Original sin and our true spiritual identity.
In Psalm 51, we see the agonised repentance of a humble, honest heart. We see David looking at his life and acknowledging that he has followed the course of original sin. But he does not use this as an excuse. Rather, it’s an admission of his culpability. He is saying that he has made imperfect what God created perfect. His repentance is not a statement that all of us are cursed to repeat the original sin. Rather, it’s that all of us will through our own weakness and choice. The reality is, of course, that we are human, weak, and prideful, and way too fond of self. What this means is that we do repeat the sinful patterns. But the doctrine of original sin doesn’t condemn us to this. Nor does it justify it. The truth remains that we can choose to seek the original perfection intended by God.
This is the relevance of our true spiritual identity in Christ. Through Jesus, we are restored to our intended perfect condition. Because God knows that we will live as inherently weak and sinful creatures, He sent Christ to make the way. It is absolutely true that we cannot be perfect in and of ourselves. Also, just as the process of creation took time, so will the process of ‘re-creation’ through life in Christ. Babies are not perfectly formed in an instant. The same applies when we are born again. In Christ is, in a way, our spiritual ‘womb’ where we are restored as the new creation. This is the joy and promise of salvation. God’s infinite grace means we do not have to do it ourselves. We only need to make the right choice. If we surrender and choose perfection, God Himself will do what only He can – perfectly create.
The power to overcome original sin.
So many who have been inadequately or incorrectly taught struggle with constant condemnation. They live with a debilitating sense that there really is no point. After all, if they were conceived and born in sin, what hope do they have? At best, this becomes a justification to continue sinning. At worst, it denies the perfect power of God to create us perfect and make us perfect at the last day. Realistically, none of us has the power to overcome original sin. But Jesus is the ‘last Adam’ sent to unmake our mistakes. He has already made the right choice. In Him, we are able to do the same. The choice is very simple – choose the will of God – the perfect will that intended us to be perfect. While we cannot expect instant results – or even lifetime results, – at the end it will be. God wills it and God accomplishes it.
Father, forgive us for perpetuating the cycle initiated by original sin. Help us to remember that our choice is what is the problem, not Your perfect will. Thank You for the reminder and the assurance that we are Your creation, perfect in Your hands, and that You will make us perfect at the end. We acknowledge Your grace and power today to do what we cannot. Thank that through Christ, we can come in boldness and faith. Help us to live in this righteous identification with our Saviour, and to surrender to Your transforming work so that we can be presented perfect, without spot, blemish, or wrinkle, on the last day.