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“Original Sin” and Our Need for Salvation

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What is “original sin?”

Sometimes it seems like Christians are saying that God holds me responsible for something that someone else did. How is that fair? I’m a good person. Why do I need Jesus Christ to “save” me from sin just because Adam and Eve ate a piece of fruit thousands of years ago?



Great question — and we’re glad to explain the doctrine of original sin. Before that, though, we want to assure you that it doesn’t mean God holds you responsible for something someone else did. Ultimately, you will answer for your own actions.

Salvation is individual

We read in the Bible, “In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes. But the children have a bitter taste in their mouths.’ Instead, everyone will die for their own sin. The one who eats sour grapes will taste how bitter they are” (Jeremiah 31:29-30, NIRV).

In other words, every individual is responsible for their own choices. And the only choice that really counts is the one you make in response to this question: “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22, ESV)

  • Will you reject Him? If you end up spending eternity separated from God (Matthew 8:12, Matthew 13:42), it won’t be because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. It will be the direct result of your own failure to embrace the gift of God’s forgiveness and grace made available through Jesus Christ (John 1:17, John 3:16).

No one — not even family and friends — can make that decision for you. You have to make it for yourself.

Why do I need forgiveness if I haven’t done anything wrong?

It’s easy to think we’re good because we parent well or are involved in the community or hold a well-respected job. However, the Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, ESV). And Jesus says that “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18, ESV).

The idea that nice, good people go to heaven is common. But it’s not true. We have a great article series on our website that dives into the details: Is Christ the Only Way?

So, what is original sin?

The Bible tells us that every human being is born with a sin nature. Pay special attention to Romans, chapters 5 through 7. The apostle Paul argues that, from a certain point of view, human sin and death are a corporate problem rather than an individual one.

He tells us that “one man’s sin [Adam] brought guilt to all people” (Romans 5:18, NIRV) and that “sin entered the world because one man sinned. And death came because of sin” (Romans 5:12, NIRV).

This is why each one of us remains a “slave of sin,” unable to please God with our own actions until we’re “set free” by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:20-22, NIRV).

In other words, we were in Adam when he broke God’s commandment. But as believers in Jesus, we are now in Christ through faith. That’s why Paul can say, “By the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous”” (Romans 5:19, ESV).

Want to talk more about it?

Call our licensed or pastoral counselors for a free over-the-phone consultation. They’d welcome the chance to hear your story and answer your questions!


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Do Nice People Go to Heaven?

What Every Christian Ought to Know Day by Day: Essential Truths for Growing Your Faith

The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters

Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know

Mere Christianity

Basic Christianity

What the Bible Teaches: The Truths of the Bible Made Plain, Simple, and Understandable

The Bible Answer Book

Christian Research Institute

Insight for Living

Becoming a Christian

Christian Worldview

Don’t All Good People Go to Heaven?

Is Christ the Only Way?

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