By C.D. Cole


    This is one of the most difficult questions in theology. Since God

 made everything good in the original creation, how did sin get

 started?  How was a good creation thrown into rebellion against its

 Creator? By whom and how was sin originated? There is much we cannot

 know about the question. But there are some necessary inferences.


 1. Sin is not eternal; it had a beginning. The Gnostics believed

         in two eternal principles: good and evil.


 2. Sin was not created by God. God created everything good; He is

         not the Author of sin. Moral beings were without sin when

         created.  Satan was created a sinless and perfect being "Thou

         wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created,

         till iniquity was found in thee" (#Eze 28:15).  God made

         man upright. "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made

         man upright; but they have sought out many inventions"

         (#Ec 7:29).


 3. Sin was not the necessary result of finiteness. Some claim

         that because God made man a finite being sin was inevitable.

         But if this be true, men will always be sinners for none of us

         will ever become infinite. Infinity belongs only to God.


 4. Sin had its origin in a principle of negation, which means

         that it is not the result of any positive force. Moral beings

         were created good, but not immutably and independently good.

         This would have made them equal with God; it would have

         involved the absurdity of God creating another God. God alone

         is immutable and independent.  There cannot be more than one

         God, self-existent and self-sufficient, sovereign and supreme.


    Moral beings, angels and man, were dependent upon God in remaining good.

 A sustaining power must continually go out from God if moral creatures

 continue as created. "Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our

 feet to be moved" (#Ps 66:9); "For in him we live, and move, and

 have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also

 his offspring" (#Ac 17:28); "For by him were all things created,

 that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether

 they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were

 created by him, and for him:   And he is before all things, and by him all

 things consist" (#Col 1:16,17); "Who being the brightness of his

 glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the

 word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the

 right hand of the Majesty on high:" (#Heb 1:3).


    Now this sustaining power is of grace and not of debt. It is not a matter

 of justice. God could exercise this grace or not as it pleased Him. He could

 have upheld and confirmed in holiness all moral beings. He could have

 prevented sin from ever getting started among the angels, just as He

 graciously prevented it from spreading, confirming in holiness those

 referred to as the elect angels: "I charge thee before God, and the Lord

 Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without

 preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality"

 (#1Ti 5:21). He could have kept the sinless Adam from sinning. It

 will not do to say that because God made Adam a free moral agent, He could

 not prevent his sinning without violating the freedom of his will. God

 withheld Abimilech, king of Gerar, from sinning by not allowing him to harm

 Sarah. "And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this

 in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against

 me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her"  (#Ge 20:6).


    So sin had its origin in the withholding of that grace necessary to

 sustain moral beings in a state of holiness. If God had not permitted sin

 there could have been no display of some of His most glorious attributes.

 There would have been no display of mercy, for mercy must have an object of

 misery, and there could have been no misery apart from sin. There would have

 been no exhibition of wrath and anger and hatred, for these are the exercise

 of justice and holiness against sin. There would have been no display of

 such gracious love as is seen in God's gift of His Son, who was punished for

 sinners that they might not perish in their sins. Surely it is not too much

 to say that God permitted sin that He might overrule it "to the praise of

 the glory of His grace" (#Eph 1:6).  "Surely the wrath of man shall

 praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain"

 (#Ps 76:10).




    Sin originated among the angels. That slimy, slippery, shining,

 subtle thing we call sin was hatched the day Lucifer, son of the

 morning, said, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will

 be like the most High" (#Isa 14:13,14). Lucifer sought equality with

 God in government, and sovereignty was the bait he held out to man to

 turn him against his Maker. And in sinning, man has become the tool

 and ally of Satan.


    Most people have a woefully inadequate conception of sin. Sin is

 the abominable thing God hates. Sin is something more than a slight

 misdemeanor for which God merely gives man a scolding; sin is a

 species of high treason against the Almighty and thrice-holy God, and

 is to be punished by consignment to the lake of fire.




    In the human race sin was derived from the first man: "Therefore,

 as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin;

 and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned" (#Rom 5:12 R.V.)


    Now there are but two conceivable ways sin can pass from one to

 another. The one is by way of example, as Jereboam caused Israel to

 sin, and as Eve caused Adam to sin. The other is by partaking of the sin

 of another. It is obvious that our being sinners is not due to the force of

 Adam's example. Moreover, in the comparison between Adam and

 Christ  "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so

 by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (#Ro 5:19), it

 is intended to show that sin came by Adam as righteousness comes by

 Christ. Now we do not become righteous by following Christ as an

 example, but by partaking of His righteousness. "But of  him are ye in

 Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness,

 and sanctification, and redemption" (#1Co 1:30). This raises the

 question of Adam's relation to his descendants.




    Adam was the head of the human race. This headship was both

 natural and federal---natural by the principle of generation (like begets

 like);  federal by Divine appointment.


 1. Adam was the natural father or head of the race.


    "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all

 the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed,

 and the bounds of their habitation" (#Ac 17:26); "And so it is

 written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was

 made a quickening spirit"  (#1Co 15:45). Every person was seminally

 in Adam. He begat children in his own moral and physical likeness, not

 before but after his fall. His children became heir to all his ills of

 body and soul. They inherited his moral depravity and physical

 weakness. His nature was imparted to his posterity.


 2. Adam was the federal head of the race.


    This means that Adam was appointed a public and representative

 person. He represented the race in the covenant of works. "But they

 like Adam have transgressed the covenant" (#Ho 6:7 R.V.). The federal

 headship explains why Adam's sin was imputed (charged) to his

 posterity. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners"

 (#Ro 5:19). Adam was acting for the whole race and what he did was

 charged to all his descendants. This is the only way to explain the

 death of infants. Infants die because of Adams' sin, or they die for

 no reason at all, since they have not sinned personally "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" (#Ro 5:14). If Adam did not represent infants in

 respect to sin, then Christ did not represent them in respect to

 salvation. If they were not guilty with Adams guilt, they could not be

 righteous with Christ's righteousness. Babies go to heaven, not on the

 grounds of innocency, but on the ground of the blood of Christ. If

 Christ had not died the  whole human race, infants and all, would have

 been forever doomed. There will be nobody in heaven except those

 redeemed by the blood of Christ. Infants have the guilt of Adam

 imputed to them without their knowledge and consent. And on the ground

 of the death of Christ for them the Holy Spirit prepares their nature

 (which is sinful) for the enjoyment of heaven.




    In And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul;

 the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.  The first man is of the

 earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven"  (#1Co 15:45,47),

 Jesus is called the second man and the last Adam. This

 is not in respect of existence, but representation. He is not

 considered personally but representatively. Considered as an

 individual. He was not the second man or the last Adam. Individually,

 there were many men between the Adam of Eden and the Adam of Calvary,

 and there have been many men since Jesus. He is called the last Adam

 because there are but two public or representative men. God deals with

 all men through two men, and our destiny depends upon which of these

 two men we have our standing in before God. Believers are accepted in

 the beloved "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath

 made us accepted in the beloved" (#Eph 1:6), and are complete in Him

 "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and

 power:" (#Col 2:10).




    There are two aspects or branches of sin:


 1. That which consists of the guilt of some deed committed:


 2. Inherent corruption or depravity of nature contracted by that

          guilt. The sinner's standing is that of guilt before the law

          of God; his state is that of depravity or corruption of



    Two things resulted from Adams' first sin:


 1. He was charged

          with guilt and condemned by the law of God:


 2. He lost the likeness of God in holiness and became corrupt.

          Now which of these, or did both of these branches of sin,

          come from Adam? Some say the guilt of sin is imputed, hence

          their baptism of infants lest they should go to hell.  Others

          say the corruption of nature was imparted. But we believe

          that sin in its two branches was derived from Adam. Guilt was

          imputed, and the corruption of nature was imparted or

          inherited. In other words, depravity or corruption of nature

          is one of the consequences of Adam's transgression. Does God

          punish the innocent? The answer is a loud, No! Then we must

          all have been represented by Adam in the transgression or we

          would not be punished with a sinful nature.




    How many of Adam's sins were charged to his posterity? Only

 one for it is written, "For the judgment was by one (sin) to the

 condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification"

 (#Ro 5:16).


    Adam could convey sin to his posterity only as long as he was a

 public or representative person. Immediately after his first sin, he was

 put out of office and another covenant was published "And I will put

 enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her

 seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel"

 (#Ge 3:15).

 And when Adam exercised faith in the promised Redeemer, he

 was acting in a private capacity; otherwise, his faith would have been

 imputed as well as his sin. Let both writer and reader thank God for the

 last Adam who is a life-giving Spirit.