Spiritual - Sin and the Bible

Original Sin

 

You must know that my thoughts on this matter come from a relatively distant and ignorant point of view as I do not speak Hebrew or Greek. I have not read the entire Bible. I've discussed a few Biblical passages with those who are educated in the matter, but for the most part, I come to you with an opinion driven by the limits of my own pure thought of a religion that originated thousands of years ago, in a foreign land with it's teachings translated into the language of my birth. Nothing I say can be taken as Gospel (I always fall back on the old saying of Lao Tzu: "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao"), but I feel the need to articulate my personal feelings on the matter.

From what I understand, Original Sin has its roots in Adam and Eve's fall from grace. When they disobeyed God, they became labeled as sinners and we have been living with this legacy ever since. Some people believe mankind has a collective guilt for the original "fall" while others do not believe in the collective guilt, but believe that Original Sin means we are born sinners (we have a dark side) and begin our life in need of repentance from God. It's as if we inherited sin in our DNA. In other words, we can't help being sinners any more than we can help being a man or a woman. It's in our nature. We are easily tempted and are drawn towards things that we know are unhealthy, unwise or just plain hurtful to others. The question is why? Is it because of the doctrine of Original Sin? Is it the devil? Is it learned? Why is it so difficult to "do good" all the time?

Of course, these are deep questions and you might say, "speak for yourself, Mark." So, yes, I must admit at this point that I have a very hard time doing good all the time. But why is that? Someone might say "it's because you are selfish, Mark." But, why am I selfish? It seems there is something deeper than the symptom of my failings. I understand that many things deemed "sinful" or "bad" actually feel good or can provide things that make me happy, but why is it that I might prefer to take a shortcut to the happy times or pursue something that makes me happy all the time, even if I achieve these things "the wrong way?" Am I that desperate to live in my perceived state of bliss regardless of the admonitions of those wiser than I? Or am I just genetically predisposed to relish the dark side due to the failings of the biblical story of Adam and Eve? And is the story of Adam and Eve just a figurative narrative designed to alert us to the perils that lay within each and everyone of us?

Regardless of all these questions, the fact remains that, at one time or another, we have all behaved in a way that could be labeled as less than perfect. Ok, so what? Is it just a matter of degree or should we pursue perfection at all times? I don't intend to "do bad" when I wake up each morning, but at the end of the day, there invariably is something that I would like to "do over." We are all under stress from work, lack of sleep, our shortcomings and the like and these things combine to work against us. So, when I do something less than perfect is it because of the stresses of life or is it that mysterious Original Sin rearing it's ugly head? In other words, "did the devil make me do it?"

As I get older I personally feel the devil angle is a cop-out of epic proportions. I know the difference between right and wrong. I know the difference between helping and hurting someone. At this point, it's on me. But, is it merely because I have the strength to "fight the devil" or is it because I've done what everyone should do: look in the mirror? This is not to say that I am perfect; it is to say that I have no excuses for my actions.

As I've aged (as opposed to matured) I've become acutely aware how my selfishness can hurt others along with myself. I didn't see this when I was a boy, a teenager or even (especially) when I was in college. I just reacted to what I wanted. There was something inside of me that drove me in the wrong direction so many times. Where did this come from? Not from my parents. They provided me with every proper example a child should receive. Yet, I still was tempted and acted on that temptation. So, it became a matter of getting a handle on the direction of my wants. But, unfortunately, I had to suffer the consequences of my actions many times before I could gain control. But why did I not recognize this earlier in my life? The inner forces that drive my selfish desires remain. I still like what I like. The desire to please myself has not rescinded it's demands, yet I have the strength, at times , to say no.

The interesting thing is that as I typed about my apparent control over temptation, I was thinking "who are you kidding?" I realized that I was comparing today's control over the control exhibited by a child. As an adult, I am measured against a different standard and I realize my control is still far short of what it could be.

So, I find myself back to where I started. Am I wholly inadequate because of a dark nature eminating from Original Sin? The devil? The fact that I am just a human being regardless of the origins of my existence? It seems I cannot succeed in life. I can make money; make someone laugh; buy a present for a child; but I cannot achieve anything regarded as holy. So, do I need an advocate? Or am I doomed? Can I speak to God personally or do I need a proxy? It is at this point that I wonder about the need for Jesus. The story say's he died for our sins. He supposedly paid our debt to God because we do not have the holy capital to pay for our wretchedness. But, am I to avert my eyes from God? Do I have to shift my loyalty to Jesus? Is this not a form of idle worship? Are we worshipping God or Jesus?

I want to talk to God directly. I want to understand why I am the way I am instead of just pleading guilty via my lawyer (Jesus). I may or may not have this option, but it seems to me that I should stand forward and receive my judgement. I understand the Christian argument that I cannot earn my way to heaven and that grace is my only option. But, I feel this let's me off the hook. Somehow, I have to have a greater force to change my ways. The free gift of paradise makes it seem as if I can have my cake and eat it too. But, maybe this is the difficulty of Christian doctrine. Saying "I accept Jesus" and all will be well seems too easy. Maybe the real answer is this: God knows your heart. If you repent, he will know even if we mere mortals remain skeptical. Frankly, our skepticism is meaningless if God really exists because we are not asked to judge or advocate on behalf of one another. We are merely luckless pedestrians (Steely Dan reference). So, the death row conversion may seem unfair to you and I, but God knows if this person has suffered. The death row conversion is truly a bitter pill to swallow by those who have suffered at the hands of the murderer, but we are not wise in the ways of Godly forgiveness and rehabilitation. We only dream and poorly conceive of heaven. We know nothing of the transition from this world to the next. So, as Jesus said: "render unto Caesar that which is Caesars' and render unto God that which is God's."

I know that I am human. Tomorrow I will fail someone. I will not blame them for unreasonable expectations. I have to ask myself why it is that I cannot perfect myself as an adult. I am the only one who can do this. Continuously blaming others only delays what might be the true bliss of life: the blessing of giving...

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Comments 22 comments

Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

Mark,

I caught this hub while "hopping", wrote you a comment on it, clicked a button and...poof...gone.

I just wanted to say it was refreshing to stumble upon a "religious" commentary that was not just another regurgitation of narrow-minded interpretations of biblical passages.

Thanks.

My take on the whole concept of original sin thing is: we are all mortal mammals with the instinct for survival encoded in out DNA. The inherent leanings toward selfishness are long established and undeniable.

During our evolution we have developed family and social constructs that contribute to our continued survival, but that conflict a bit with that "ME ME ME" streak.

We have developed religions with codified and implied rules of conduct, and stories and parables to illustrate...complete with dire warnings of the consequences of bad behavior.

Adam and Eve's only offense was ignoring an unreasonable prohibition that they (and we) should not seek to "KNOW".

Self realization and the quest for knowledge is the way we sinned and yet the very core of who we are.

"God" doesn't work that way'

The Golden Rule is the ONLY rule.

EMPATHY is our gift.

Conscience our burden.

I look forward to reading more of your work.

Peace.

CP


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 6 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Thanks for taking the time to read my piece and comment. I like what you said about Empathy our gift and consience our burden. That's a great way to view things. Giving is the answer... Why do I write so much when all that needs to be written is in those four words:

Giving is the answer....


imatellmuva profile image

imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

STP...Thank You for finding me!!! I enjoy your writing, and your style of writing; it draws me in and MAKES me want to read more...more!!!

This hub reminds me of a book I have called Religion & Morality by Paul W. Diener. It discusses the relationship between the two and how they are both seperable and inseperable.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Thank you for commenting imatellmuva...

This hub didn't gain much of an audience... maybe nobody wants to talk about sin! Ha.... most of this stuff is from my impressions from thousands of Sunday's in church and my own opinions....


Dorothe Orr profile image

Dorothe Orr 5 years ago from North Carolina

I don't know why this has so few hits.

You turn yourself inside out looking for resolution. The road to self awareness and resolution is a twisted, gnarled path and your honesty is riveting.

I began life with a somewhat strict conservative christian upbring. It never resonated and seemed always to conflict with my open childhood heart. Happily, not all christianity is expressed and manifested on a singular level. (I prefer the liberal branches of Unity, Course in Miracles, etc.)

Fortunately, all traditions (Budhism, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, and a multitude of others) contain the pure seed of God ("Be still and know that I am"). The problem is always gettin our early narrow programming and certainty of exclusivity out of the way in order to see.

Once again, you inspire:).


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@dorothe - thank you for taking the time to read and provide a thoughtful response. As time goes by I find myself questioning myself more and more. I hope to become a better person. I'll never know the meaning of life or if there is a God but the best thing we can do is understand our true nature in order to improve and help others. There may not be anything more to it than that.


Dorothe Orr profile image

Dorothe Orr 5 years ago from North Carolina

THAT is everything:)


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Dorothe - I agree!


mama victor 5 years ago

salvation by Grace sounds so simple,almost doubtable and

yet as human beings by our own strength we remain in sin we are completely helpless and only a being with a higher power can rescue us. Thats where God comes through Jesus who died on the cross for a rescue mission such as this and then there is the holy Spirit who convicts us of the need to be rescued from trying to be good on our own. Thank you for good writing.


dwaynehood profile image

dwaynehood 5 years ago from 9535 Stoney Ridge Lane, JENKINTOWN, PA-19046,USA

nice post..


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@mama victor - thank you for commenting... yeah grace sounds too good to be true... maybe I make it too complicated but I guess I'm still working things out...

@dwaynehood - thank you for commenting!


Obelia profile image

Obelia 5 years ago from GA

This is a great place to begin.

Let’s see. It’s 2am, but I’ll add my thoughts and hope they come across clearly in a shortened version.

Original sin. Doctrine of depravity. Sin is inherited just as any other trait you have. I try not to think of it as a punishment but more as an equal playing field for every human. Had I been in the Garden of Eden, I might have done the same. Anyway, we are born with a fallen nature that opposes God. Our “goodness” doesn’t equate to “holiness”. People tend to think they're good compared to the next person and based off their standards. God is a perfect being that requires holiness in His presence. The penalty for sin is death and separation from God. Jesus paid that price. We have the option to try to pay ourselves eternally in hell or receive what Jesus did to atone for our sins. People tend to think the punishment of eternal hell is harsh, but the guilty party doesn’t get to choose his sentence against the One he offends.

Think of it this way. You have a new cream Armani suit. I’m serving appetizers and accidentally spill something on the chest area. I see it upsets you, so I hastily try to clean it by wiping it. The chunky or wet part is gone, but there is a stain I have no power to clean. It doesn’t matter how great the suit looks or how clean the rest is, eyes focus right on the unclean spot. Sin is that spot we cannot clean. Jesus’s blood is the only way to wash away our sin and unrighteousness.

There really are only two religions in the world. One is of faith and trusting that Jesus did everything necessary to restore us to God (grace). The other, in varied forms including pseudo-Christianity, is of works requiring the person to do something to try to earn his way to Heaven. You cannot “accept Jesus into your heart” to become saved. This is a wrong teaching spread through churches taking the verse from Revelation 3 about Jesus standing at the door at knocking. That verse was meant for Believers of that particular church and not unbelievers. Becoming saved requires a conversion of the heart. You repent and believe unto salvation. Jesus never asks how we feel about it. The command is to repent and believe the Gospel. We repent because we understand the offense we commit against a holy and righteous God. One sin over the course of our lifetimes is worthy of death because God’s standard is perfection which none of us can attain. We cannot keep His laws by ourselves. Jesus is the only One Who could. Once we are converted, the Holy Spirit helps us to live His laws. We still sin from time to time, but the occurrences are less, and we do not make habits of it because our hearts desire to please Him.

Worshiping Jesus is not idol worship because Jesus is God. It’s difficult to expand here, but Jesus is part of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus received worship, God’s joy is His Son, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Once Jesus died (prior to the resurrection), the veil was rent allowing everyone access to God through prayer. However, we can’t come to God in just any manner. We can't kick down a king's door and start making demands, and we certainly can't force a spiritual being to do our bidding. He is King and sovereign ruler and Creator. We come on His terms acknowledging Who He is, what He has done and our need for Him. Until you understand we all deserve hell (and will go if we do not repent and turn from our ways), you won’t understand the need for salvation.

Have a good evening!

(sorry, this really is a shortened version :-D)


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Obelia - first I must say thank you and that I am honored that you took the time to read my hub and provide such a "short" comment. Ha! Always feel free to write and expand on your thoughts on any of my hubs.

I must say this is an excellent explanation of the basis of salvation. It's not the first time I've heard this but you do a great job; especially with the Armani suit analogy (sadly I do not own one). I'm not going to attempt to dispute what you say because I'm not in the position to do so. You know more about scripture than I and as far as truly believing that is for each person to decide on their own.

I appreciate your clear-minded approach...


dusy7969 profile image

dusy7969 5 years ago from San Diego, California

As your knowledge about Spiritual - Sin and the Bible continues to grow, you will begin to see how Spiritual - Sin and the Bible fits into the overall scheme of things. Knowing how something relates to the rest of the world is important too.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@dusy - thank you for commenting...


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

I really like the response Obelia made here. It's the belief I share as well and I, too, enjoyed the analogy about the Armani suit.

Granted, people do ultimately choose to believe - or not - and you are not the only person who has gone through this debate. I hope you find the answers you are looking for.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Norma - thanks for commenting... Yes that was a good analogy used by Obelia... I seem to swing back and forth... I believe the Bible has many translation and credibility issues when you attempt to interpret everything literally; but on an emotional level I'll tell you this: last night I watched Jesus Christ Superstar and found myself wiping away some tears near the end....


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

S Poet, I grew up with Christianity and, as such, don't struggle with the issues many others face in terms of having faith without needing to "see" the evidence for that faith.

As for inconsistencies in the Bible, there definitely is a difference between the OT - when people were subject to the law - and the NT, whereby people were allowed to live because of grace.

It's also true that there were many writers of the Bible and some were more detailed than others. Another point to note is that the Bible is translated into English and translators used the best words they knew to convey the message passed along through each book of the Bible; it doesn't mean, however, that each word was 100% accurate.

This is where I believe we need to seek God when we have questions instead of doubting the Bible, in and of itself. It is the inspired word of God and only God can steer us in the right direction.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Norma - thank you again for taking the time to comment. You have a very rational view of Christianity and you and I are probably closer in belief than may be apparent by my comments. I once heard a great analogy: Think of the Bible as your finger and God as the moon and think of someone pointing at the moon... don't get hung up on the crooked finger.... I always liked that one...


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

LOL SP. My fingers must be exceptional: neither one of them are crooked. :)


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Norma - maybe you should be a hand model! HA......


Joanie 4 years ago

I find it difficult to think we can "choose" to believe or not to believe. I think either we do or we don't. Does faking it count?

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