Why Do People Suffer for a Sin Adam Committed Long Ago?

As Christians, it is our responsibility as ambassadors of Christ to be able to answer questions about our faith to the best of our ability. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” That is my intention here.

So why do we still suffer today for the sin Adam committed long ago?

First, Adam, as the head of the human race, sinned. Therefore his sin was considered to be the sins of all people and his penalty is now our penalty. This is called Federal Headship, which author Matt Slick explains, “…Is the teaching that the father is the one who represents his family, his descendants.” Although the doctrine is not named in scripture, it is supported by several verses. Hebrews 7:9-10 teaches the representative nature of Abraham over his descendants, “Even Levi who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Romans 5:18; “one trespass led to condemnation for all men”, and 1 Cor.15:2:‘In Adam all die’. Apologist Clay Jones points out, “Just as a country’s leader may declare war without Polling that country’s individual citizens, so Adam, the federal head of the human race, chose to rebel against God, thus also making rebels of his race. Anyone still angry that one sin could hurt us all should be angry at sin. Perhaps there is a cosmic lesson here for all free beings: hate sin!

Second, We were seminally present in Adam when he sinned. Jones contends, “All of humankind was in ‘Adam’s loins’ when he rebelled, and since we were really present at his sin, we also are therefore guilty of his sin.” Hebrews 7:9-10, which I mentioned above, also supports this doctrine.     Theologian Millard Erickson teaches,

“So we were present in germinal or seminal form in our ancestors…His action was not merely that of one isolated individual, but of the entire human race. Although we were not there individually, we were nonetheless there. The human race sinned as a whole. Thus, there is nothing unfair or improper about our receiving a corrupted nature and guilt from Adam, for we are receiving the just results of our sin. This is the view of Augustine.”

Because Adam was the first human, he represented all of mankind in his sin. But God provided us a way to be forgiven of that sin. Through His love for us, God sent his son, Jesus Christ to come and take the wrath of our sins for us. Sins for which we would have had to pay the penalty ourselves. Through our faith in Jesus, we are forgiven of all our sin. Ephesians 2:8 says, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Not any kind act of service, not by being “a good person,” since not one of us is good (Romans 3:10), not even by going to church on Sundays. The only way one can be saved is by putting our trust in the one who died for us, Jesus the Christ (John 14:6). My prayer for you is that you will allow Jesus to forgive you of the sin that Adam birthed in us so long ago and transform you into the person you were born to be.


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