What is inherited sin? from Compelling Truth
All people have inherited a sin nature from the first humans, specifically from Adam. The key questions involved here include, “What is sin?” and “What does it mean to inherit sin?”
First, sin is defined as anything that falls short of God’s perfect standard or glory. Romans 3:23 reads, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is also defined as breaking or transgressing the law of God, since John wrote, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
Our sins include both sins of omission and sins of commission. Sins of omission are sins we commit due to our failure to do something we should. For example, instead of standing for something that is right, we remain silent. Sins of commission are sins we actively commit. When we tell a lie, we actively sin. Both types of sin fall short of God’s glory.
Second, what does it mean to inherit sin? The word inherit refers to receiving something passed down from one generation to the next. In contrast to the idea that people are born neutral and without the stain of sin, Scripture indicates we are born with a sin nature that is inherited from our parents and their parents before them.
Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, sin has been an “inheritance” for all of their descendants. Romans 5:12 tells us, “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.” We inherit our sinful nature similar to the way we inherit our parent’s physical characteristics. David wrote, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).