via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 57, No. 5, Feb. 7, 2008.
QUESTION: I have a friend that believes that all babies are born into the world as sinners because of Adam's sin. Could you please discuss this for me?
ANSWER: The idea of the "original sin" of Adam being passed on to all mankind is based on several different Scripture passages: "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 ... Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of Him that was to come ... So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous" (Romans 5:12,14,18-19). Notice that Romans 5:12 states that all became sinners because "all sinned" -- not because Adam made them guilty of his sin. He brought sin into the world, and that is the way all become sinners.
The apostle Paul writes on this subject again, "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive ... So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (I Corinthians 15:21,22,45). To claim that Adam's sin makes one a sinner, without any volition or action on his or her part, would (according to the passage above) make everyone saved in Christ without any volition or action on his or her part. That is, of course, ridiculous, as we shall show.
God declared to Israel, "Yet say ye, Wherefore doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? when the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all My statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. 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" (Ezekiel 18:19,20). In other words, each shall answer to God for his own actions, not for his father's nor for Adam's. This is affirmed repeatedly in the Bible.
"So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12). "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10). Notice that again, carefully. Each of us will be judged by "the things done in the body," in our own body, not Adam's body or our father's body. We "shall give account of ourselves" to God, not give account for Adam or our parents.
There is no such thing as "inherited sin." Sin is defined as "transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). What your parents did, or what Adam did, cannot make you a sinner, any more than they can make you a saint. It may influence you in that direction, but each person becomes a sinner or a saint by his own choices and actions. A sin is an act of disobedience to the Will of God, and each one sins when he or she makes the choice to disobey God. But it is his or her choice, not that of Adam or his parents or others.
It is clear, then, from the Scriptures, that "the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father." Each - father or son - shall bear his own iniquity and shall answer to God for himself.