As I understand Original sin it is being guilty of sin at birth because of Adam and Eve's first sin.

I also understand that man has a propensity toward sin because of the inheritance of the Knowledge of good and evil which Adam and Eve acquired from that sin.

However having an urge to sin is not the same as knowing the difference between right and wrong.

If a child is born already guilty of sin and died within the first few years of life, they would not be able to repent, or ask forgiveness for that sin.

Are there any Scriptures that delineate what the difference if any is?


2 Answers 2


Original sin is the doctrine that explains why we are born sinners. I did not deserve to be born a sinner but since the guilt and condemnation of Adam's sin was charged against all humanity in Adam, I was born guilty and deserved to be born a sinner due to Adam's sin. In the same way, I do not deserved to be counted righteous and sinless when believing in Christ, yet his righteousness is imputed to be and I obtain life through the gospel. The idea of being judged by the actions of another Adam, or Christ, humanities two federal heads is the basis of the gospel.

The sinful nature is the result of Original sin. It means that as soon as a child is able to make a moral decisions it will be an evil one. As soon as a human knows right from wrong a human will do what is wrong. In other words as soon as a baby knows what it is to love God, the baby will not love God with it's whole heart. Yet there is more.

The sinful nature is not just a result of original sin but is a result of being found obnoxious and guilty under God's moral law. Therefore Christ must find a way to remove the law's ability to condemn us to restore the nature from its sinfulness. As long as the law has a right to judge, we will be cast into a fully corrupt nature. Only by removing the law's right to judge us can our nature be free from original sin and its guilt. This again is by Christ fulfilling the demands of the law and providing his perfect righteousness to us, so that under the law we are considered perfect. As the law no longer casts us into a sinful nature we are free from sin. Therefore the only way a human can do good is to first have the law removed through the death of Christ and the imputation of his righteousness to sinners. In fact the moral commands of the law was added that our sinful nature would become more sinful and thus be made known to our minds, revealing our sinful nature.

Non-Protestant churches accept a form of this doctrine called 'justification' but reduce its meaning to nothing by saying it is a life time process that you can ruin any time you wish. Protestants teach that this justification happens in a moment when a sinner believes in the gospel. In fact this is the greatest point of division between any kind of theology about God that can ever be made and the most important point to be decided on by a student of scripture.

Here is a good summary of what I am arguing and the distinction of the concepts:

For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NIV, Romans, 5:15–21)


Original sin is used as a theological shorthand for the fact that we are born with a sin nature, and why. In other words, the term "original sin" encompasses both the event of the original sin and the consequence, whereas "sin nature" only defines the consequence.

Because Adam and Eve ate the fruit, we,as their descendants, inherited the sin nature that they gained when they ate the fruit.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.

From the earliest times the latter sense of the word was more common, as may be seen by St. Augustine's statement: "the deliberate sin of the first man is the cause of original sin" (De nupt. et concup., II, xxvi, 43). It is the hereditary stain that is dealt with here. As to the sin of Adam we have not to examine the circumstances in which it was committed nor make the exegesis of the third chapter of Genesis.

For the most part, they both refer to the same thing, but the term "original sin" carries a more specific connotation.

  • @ David Stratton if the question is worth an answer why is it not worth a vote either up or down? If you don't think the question is worth a vote please have the courtesy to tell me so.
    – BYE
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 18:29
  • @CecilBeckum In point of fact, I DID vote the question up. I typically don't comment when I vote up, but I did vote it up. There are times, however, when I will answer without voting up or down, for the reasons fredsbend articulates at Why are questions worth answering but not worth an up or down vote? Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 0:09

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