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Very simple question really. If the sin of Adam is passed down through the generations, so that all of us are born with a sin nature, how can it be that Jesus was born of Mary (a human being), yet sinless?

I'm from a Protestant (specifically Baptist) background, and would be interested in knowing how we explain it. Most churches have rather vague doctrinal statements that don't address subtle issues like this.

The only argument I've beard before is that sin is passed via the seed of man, but I find no Biblical support for this, and it sounds like an artificially constructed argument to oppose some Catholic answers to this question which may require the sinlessness of Mary (which would be contrary to the Bible from the Protestant point of view).

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I never understand these sorts of "puzzlers" about points of Christianity. I mean, couldn't the Christian god create a sinless person no matter what the circumstances? (In fact, Catholics believe he did just that with Mary). Even if Jesus's parents had been a man and a woman and both scoundrels, a divine being could work around anything, right? –  Chelonian Dec 2 '11 at 5:17
    
These answers are all great. I would add just one missing piece: Faith. This is one of those areas that requires you to believe what the Bible says because it cannot be proven the same way gravity can be proved. –  Nick DeVore Dec 2 '11 at 18:17
    
While the subject matter is no doubt interesting, the question format needs to be edited to follow our guidelines. Asking for arguments from various sides is actually one thing we need to avoid. You can flag this to be reopened if you figure out a way to ask that won't turn the answer section into a vote contest between competing speculations. –  Caleb Dec 3 '11 at 7:08
    
@Caleb. Bummer, I was pondering a good answer for this. And answers from me are rare. –  JustinY Dec 3 '11 at 7:50
    
@JustinY Maybe you can pitch in and help the OP edit it into shape. Do you see the issue with it? Everybody has their own speculation on the how bit and it was turning into a vote competition between speculation rather than concrete referenced data points. –  Caleb Dec 3 '11 at 7:56

9 Answers 9

up vote 17 down vote accepted

The Bible is very clear that Jesus did not begin to exist in the womb of Mary. As the Second Person of the Trinity, He exists outside of the physical universe of time, space, and matter and with the Father and Spirit created the physical world.

He is holy, was holy, and will always be holy... and sinless and righteous and pure and blameless.

When Mary conceived, the eternal Son of God became flesh and entered into the physical universe. That act did not require that He become sinful. He retained His holiness, as He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

His being born of a virgin is an important part of this, of course. The doctrine indicates that without a human father, Jesus did not inherit the sin nature.

When He was born, He was given the name of Jesus (The Lord saves) because He Himself was the Lord who was saving His people from their sins.

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Did you mean to say, "Jesus did not inherit the sin nature"? –  JustinY Dec 2 '11 at 15:39
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@JustinY Yes!!! That's a very very important word! –  Narnian Dec 2 '11 at 15:44
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Before he was Jesus / Joshua / Yeshua / Iēsous he was Adonai. –  user1054 Dec 5 '11 at 0:23

When Mary carried The Lord in her womb as a foetus he had His own blood supply. Yes Mary was a virgin, when The Lord was born He tore her viginity from the inside out, just like the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom.

Sin is not passed on through the blood, sin is a spiritual and physical thing. When Adam ate (action) the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he was separated (died) spiritually and physically.

He didn't drop dead straight,t away sin caused a reaction to Adams actions. Death to man in a physical sense and a spiritual sense also. Adam and Eve started to age and eventually they would die. But if they did not repent of their sin they would die not only a physical death, but a spiritual death also.

When they repented of their sin God forgave them by His grace and Mercy. They would die once and live twice. That is what happens to all who repent we die once but live twice. We have to repent of our sinful actions and live a spiritual life in favour with God.

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Both men and women are born with original sin/sin nature. But original sin / sin nature is transmitted by man only. Woman are recipient only and do not transmit original sin.   Scientific background:   i. Human has 23  pairs (n=46) of chromosomes. Receiving one set (n=23) from each parent. The 23rd pair is either a pair of XX (female) or XY(male) ii. All the cells in female body contain only X chromosomes, and no Y. While men has both X and Y chromosomes.   Virgin birth is a supernatural act of God   b. Miracle one – a virgin birth –  Biologically unfertilized egg inside Mary started to undergo mitotic–division. The process of division is supposed to undergo mitotic division only when it is fertilized. Unfertilized egg degenerates when it travels to fallopian tube from ovary and is discharged from the body through menstruation.   c. Miracle two – even if conception occurred without fertilization, because Mary’s body does not have Y chromosome, the offspring will always be a female and never a male.   d. Miracle three – Jesus having the exact same chromosomes (identical DNA coding) as Mary, should have an identical physical feature as Mary- not to mention that the offspring of a virgin birth should have been a girl.   e. Miracle four – God supplied the Y chromosomes by the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus for him to become a man (not a woman)   Origin and spiritual characteristic of Y chromosomes     2. Creation of Adam and Eve a. Gen 2:22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] (a part of) he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.   God could have made Eve from the dust just like He made Adam but instead God made Eve from a part taken out of Adam. Eve should have identical chromosomes/DNA with Adam, this means Eve should have been a male. Science tells us that the only difference between chromosomes /DNA structure of male and female is the absence of Y chromosome in female. That leads to growing into an entirely different anatomy for female. Reading from the foot prints of God’s creation, God must have taken out the Y chromosomes from the part taken out of Adam when He made Eve.   God took out the Y chromosomes from pre-fall Adam and held it in abeyance until Jesus.       Romans 5:13 13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.   Romans 4:15 because the law brings wrath. And here there is no law there is no transgression.   1 Timothy 2:14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. Romans 5:12   [ Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ ] Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— Note; (not Adam and Eve) Romans 5:14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. Gen 3: 16 Gen 3;16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”   Gen 3;2 We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”   In the economy of God, Adam was given the command before Eve and becomes the guardian of the command. God has also put him in charge of everything. At the fall, Adam transgressed the law of God and abdicate his responsibility as the commander in chief. The consequence given to Adam was different than that of Eve because of difference in responsibility.   Both Adam and Eve have sinned. Adam now through procreation passes/transmit his “Depravity” to his offspring. Eve has also sinned and her offspring like her has become the recipient of “depravity”. In other words, Man becomes the transmitter of sin while women are recipient and not transmitter of “depravity/original sin/sin nature”. Like man all women are born depraved, but they do not transmit the original sin. This means Jesus has to be born of a virgin birth- not known by man. Because women do not transmit sin that makes Jesus to have been born sinless.   All human comes from a single fertilized cell. Therefore in the embryonic level, Y chromosomes becomes the transmitter of original sin while X chromosomes becomes the recipient and not as transmitter of original sin.   When Mary conceived without the help of a man, the fertilized egg contain only X chromosomes and the offspring should have been a female.   Luke 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadowyou. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God   Conclusion   God took the Y chromosomes He took out of pre-fall Adam and held in abeyance and now put into the egg of Mary resulting in a XY / male offspring. Since the Y chromosomes was taken out of pre-fall Adam and that XX chromosomes/woman/female do not transmit original sin therefore Jesus was born without sin.

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That was an interesting comment about God taking out the Y chromosome from pre-fall Adam and placing it into Eve. Surely none of the early Church fathers, being ignorant of these scientific matters, would never have considered this. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jan 20 '13 at 19:24
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I can see that you took this from this blog post, which is looks like you wrote... you should give this page of formatting tips a read, as your answer is very hard to read in its current format. –  Jeff Bridgman Jan 21 '13 at 13:33

Surely Yahshua's mother had to do with His conception- she had to contribute DNA so that He would be "the seed of David according to the flesh" "that of the fruit of his (David's) loins according to the flesh He would raise up Messiah to sit upon His throne"

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Welcome to Christianity.SE! This is a reasonable point, but the connection to the question should be more explicit. If you could clarify your answer some, it would be better. –  Affable Geek Mar 8 '12 at 20:31

Being born with a "sin nature" is very different from being born a "sinner." Having a "sin nature" means it is natural for you to want to sin, but being a "sinner" means you actually do it. We get tempted to sin and sometimes we fall into the temptation, other times we don't. Since we have all fallen into a temptation to sin at some point, we are all sinners. That is what separates Jesus as sinless: though he was tempted (Mt 4:1-11), he never fell into those temptations.

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So are you suggesting that Jesus was born with a sin nature? But he never succumbed to it? –  Jeff Bridgman Jan 5 '12 at 17:06
    
Whether he was born with a sin nature or not, I don't know, but I am saying he never succumbed to the temptations –  CameronW Jan 6 '12 at 0:57

If you consider the original sin to be an figure to represent that we, humans, are disconnected from God's will by having our own will, and behaving on our own purpose instead of God's, then the original sin has nothing to with the physiological details on which a person was created (i.e. human blood heritage, male semen, sexual intercourse, etc.)

If you can decouple the notion of original sin from physical aspects, and see it as an spiritual condition, the idea that Jesus is the impersonated face of God and never deviates of God's plan (even in face of death, Lc 22,42 "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.") can easily be regarded as the lack of original sin.

Every man and woman on earth inherit the original sin because no man and woman on earth had or will ever have the same full connection Jesus had with God. And Christ baptism frees us from it because there are not our sins that matters, but our good deeds.

I am very reluctant to accept such elaborated logic-dogmatic explanation to this problem, such as the catholic dogma of Immaculate Conception (and I am catholic), or that there is no corruption of man semen so there is no sin. The problem with these explanations is that they build meaningless reasoning chains on concepts that should purely spiritual, and deviates from the real meaning of the figure of Adam's sin.

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He was sinless because he was born of a virgin. In other words, he was not born of sexual desire.

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

No matter how perfect a life lived, we were all born "the wrong way". Instead of being born from God (like Jesus was), we came into the world by sexual desire, a process started in the garden of Eden when Eve disobeyed God's word.

John 3:6-7 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Because we were conceived in sin, the perfect antidote had to be conceived without sin (born without sexual desire, i.e. a virgin birth), paving the way for us to be reborn, but this time not by the flesh, but by the Spirit of God.

Jesus was sinless because He was born of God, not of man. Joseph and Mary had nothing to do with his conception.

Mathew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

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Do you regard any/all sexual desire as a sin? I thought that only unjust sexual desire (outside of marriage, or within marriage, but without love). My understanding was that sexual desire was not sinful, provided that it is based on the foundation of love, as opposed to love, within a marriage? - Are you saying that even "good" Christians who are married, are committing a sin when they wish to start a family? –  series0ne Jun 28 '13 at 13:26
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My answer was applying a broad paintbrush across the condition of man, and why we need a Savior. I did not intend to imply that you should not start a family. See also John 3, Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus. Why the need to be "born again" (spiritual) if your first birth (natural) was adequate? –  Bob Black Jul 5 '13 at 18:29

There's one possible answer to this apparent dilemma here. I've heard this repeated on Christian radio stations by protestant preachers from various denominations.

The basic outline of the answer is as follows:

  • Sinful heredity is passed through the blood.
  • Since Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, there was no corruption from the man.
  • The blood of a baby in the womb does not come from, nor mix with the mother. Instead, the embryo itself generates any blood it has.
  • Therefore, since there was no corruption from the seed of a human father, and no mingling of the blood with the mother, the sinful nature is not passed on.

Whether this is, in fact, the real answer is something that I don't believe we can know for sure.

What we can rely on is that this is what Scripture teaches: Jesus was sinless. The mechanism by which He is able to be sinless is not central to Christian doctrine for most denominations. The fact of His sinlessness is.

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Per the Nicene Creed, He was begotten not made. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, but born of the Virgin Mary.

The idea is that since he was born of woman but not man, as God's son, he did not inherit sin. Catholic doctrine goes further, adding the idea of an immaculate conception - for Mary - that Jesus might be born sinless. ( I know, I always thought that the Immaculate Conception refered to Jesus, but it's really Mary ! )

Now, if you're saying, but where is this in the Bible? The answer is that it ain't! The whole idea of inherited sin is theological speculation. It's grounded in Paul talking in Romans 6 when he says, "If sin entered through one man, Adam. ..." and then proceeds to talk about how it is defeated by Christ.

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And it's theological speculation I for one don't adhere to. This is a fallen, a corrupted world, and that's Adam's (and Eve's) doing. Since we're born into this, we're part of it. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Dec 2 '11 at 22:07

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