We can be quite certain that God didn't originally create us as sinners. Rather Adam and Eve chose sin in the Fall.

The doctrine of original sin is widely held in Christian churches, but those opposing it are not a small minority, either. As original sin means that we inherit our sinfulness from the Fall, I think it might be equivalent to the question asked here: Are we born sinners?

Please provide at least the biblical evidence for an answer -- non-biblical arguments are, of course, welcome as additional information. Also, I might be wrong, and some believers in original sin might not think we're born sinners. If these notions are actually separate, please elaborate in the answers.

  • Possible duplicate: What about unborn babies and Where does prevenient grace originate in the bible
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 12, 2011 at 13:55
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    Since the questioner clearly understands the doctrine of Original Sin, and knows that many Christians hold it, this amounts to the the question "Are those Christians right?". We don't answer such questions. Commented Oct 13, 2012 at 18:24
  • This has hit the radar several times as something that doesn't fit our current site guidelines. Basically it's just asking for truth on a doctrinal point, "who's right, A or B". There are lots of ways we could frame this in a way that would be constructive but time has shown us that this isn't it. Several people have VTCed in the past (their votes have expited) and I've tried to ignore it as something grandfathered in, but it keeps coming up, so I'm going to close it. If you'd like help re-working it for re-opening I'd be glad to help.
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 9:08

4 Answers 4


Since I had to find relevant Bible verses for another purpose, I'll answer my own question with them. I still expect someone to write a more full answer. This interpretation/selection of passages is close to the Lutheran view.

David does seem to state that we're born sinners:

Psalm 51:5 (ESV)
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Paul also writes to the Romans, saying that "one trespass led to condemnation for all men"

Romans 5:12-13,18 (ESV)
12 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— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

He also makes a similar statement when writing to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:22 (ESV)
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

The Bible does seem to say that we indeed are sinful from birth because of the Fall of Man.

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    The passages you choose are the same as those quoted in my reference -- though also added is Job 14:4: "Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!"
    – Muke Tever
    Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 17:13

I hope this is a useful refinement. There is a non trivial distinction between being "born sinners" and "born into sin". "Born sinners" appears to condemn the innocent. I think the biblical principle that we are "born into sin" is subtly but profoundly different. Being born into sin is a bit like being born into a family, a sex, a country or a race. There's nothing you can do about it .... the new testament position is clear in that Christ by his death has condemned "sin in the flesh". Notice that it is sin which is condemned not sinners. So to say that we are born sinners implies condemnation/judgement for a sin which we haven't committed but which is "implied" - or that we are guilty of Adam's sin. I don't think this is the bible's line. I think that when the bible says we are "born into sin" it is saying that our nature (after the fall) is now a sin nature which is different to saying we are sinners, people who have and do habitually commit sin. The distinction is without difference in all cases except that of a new born baby; but that's the question here - because having this sin nature does in effect destine us to eventually consummate that relationship with sin, but critically we do have the choice. The kicker is that we are incapable of doing right. Paul says in Rom 7:20 ..

"Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

This apparent conundrum explains the distinction perfectly. The sin nature in us causes us to actually commit sin. The bible's position on us as having a sin nature is not one of condemnation (taking both NT and OT into consideration ... god was dealing with the issue via condemnation in the OT by by unmerited favour in the new ) rather one of pity. There is nothing we can do about our sin nature but to take take the medicine ( of Christs condemnation of sin rather than sinner ). Ultimately whether we are born into sin, born sinners or born holy it's not the question .... the question is about god's view of this his responsibility for his creation and ultimately love for us.

  • +1 Thanks for the answer and welcome to Christianity.SE! If this is a view taught by a specific denomination, it'd be great if you could include that information in your answer -- it's at least nice to know. Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 14:09
  • @dancek thanks - I'm no expert on denominations. I'm non denom myself really, but i thought most of that would be held to by the majority of reformation churches ... am i wrong ? Not entirely sure where i came up with my position exactly. I listen to a very wide variety of teachers, mostly charismatic/pentecostal. Plus I've studied meditated and prayed about romans 7 and 8 for many years. Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 14:24
  • It just adds value to the answer if the background is explicitly stated, that's why I asked. I'm quite interdenominational myself and try to keep track of who teaches what. Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 14:38
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    This reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes comic, where Calvin asks Hobbes the same question. "Do you think babies are born sinners?" "No," Hobbes replies, "I think they are just quick studies." Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 16:48
  • @AmbroseH sums it up well actually Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 13:39

We do not inherit sin

Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

We do not inherit sin, as you can see from the verse above. Animals die but this does not make them SINNERS. They only get the effects like the mother who has the sin of smoking. The baby will suffer the consequences but the sin of smoking is not transferred.

Romans 5:12-13,18 (ESV)

12 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— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

Thoughts on verse 12

Note that the death being talked about here is eternal death--not temporal. Verse 12 says just as sin came into the world through one man... before Adam sinned there was no sin. So sin came into the world through Adam. Note that verse 12 says nothing about that sin (of eating the fruit) being inherited. Verse 12 goes on to say 'and death by sin; that is, death (eternal) has entered into the world of men by sin. the last part of verse 12 says, and so death spread to all men because all sinned, that is Eternal death has spread to all men because they have chosen to transgress the law of God contrary to the usual thinking that death spread unto all men because Adam sinned.

Thoughts on Verse 18

verse 18 includes choice. I am sure no serious Christian holds to the doctrine that all people whether they like it or not are justified at birth because Jesus died for them. So why do people hold on to the doctrine that all people whether they like it or not are born sinners and condemned.

Adam's sin does not separate us from God

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

We are not born separated from God at birth because of Adam's sin. God separates Himself from us because of our own sin (DON'T BLAME ADAM). If Adam's sin separates from God then David was lying when he wrote:

Psalms 22:9-10 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. 10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly

Psalms 71:5-6 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. 6 By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

The issue about Jesus

Another argument concerns Jesus. Most people want to ignore it but they mustn't. This is salvation we are about here. If Jesus was born of a woman then surely He was born a sinner. I remain convinced He was born in sin but was not a sinner just as He was born into this sinful world but committed no sin. For He was in the flesh but did not yield to the flesh having condemned it, Romans 8:3.

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    Welcome to Christianity.SE. We are happy to have your participation. This is a good and through answer. +1. I encourage you to continue answering. Please see the faq and the meta posts linked there and then look around at all the other questions. You will find much to comment and answer on I am sure.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 18:55

We are not born sinners. Think about it, if we were, then Christ would have been a sinner and therefore the entire story would collapse.

1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

You do not break any of God's laws by merely being born, as by his design, nor by being in existence, as per his design.

ISAIAH 7:16 (KJV) For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

We see that every child has the option to Obey or Disobey God in Isaiah.

Matthew 18:1-4:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

We see Jesus telling us to be like the children. If the Children were sinners, Jesus would not have likely condoned their activity.

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    If we were not born sinners, then why was Christ required to be human, and why was it necessary that He be born of a virgin? Also, if you examine the passage about the children, you'll see the key to interpreting it is in the last verse you listen. They key is humbling, not freedom from sin. I think you're mixing two doctrines together in such a way that you're confounding them. Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 19:13
  • Christ was born a man in order that he live a perfect sinful life and therefore be the perfect sacrifice for all men, that we may live through his righteousness. Sin has everything to do with Obedience to God. He was born of a Virgin as evidence of his Deity. Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 16:51
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    Last post from me on this: Romans tells us that the penalty of sin is death. When an infant dies, since he's not born a sinner, what penalty is he paying? There is no such thing as a "perfect, sinful" life. They are contradictory. Different sects have different views on the nature of Christ in the flesh, but only the unorthodox (which you may be) would claim that he was a sinner. Your claim regarding evidence being the primary purpose of the virgin birth is also suspect. The virgin birth in and of itself says very little about His Deity. It says only that he was conceived of the Holy Spirit, Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 21:31
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    and unless you argue that the Holy Spirit and the Son are the same identical persons (which has been condemned as heresy in all Christian orthodoxy), all you've demonstrated is that some form of God miraculously conceived a man similar to how it was done in the beginning. It's not even that I disagree with some of your position because I don't. It's that you have some "non-sequitur" logic errors that can lead you into some really dangerous places. Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 21:34

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