The meaning of Original Sin

The meaning of Original Sin

Original Sin could be called “original selfishness.” Our instincts are selfish. We are born with the selfishness principle in us by nature. This is observable even in infants. We do not, of course, personally blame them for being selfish, but as Saint Augustine argued, “As we grow older, we root out such ways and cast them from us: which means that we hold them to be bad – for no man engaged in removing evil would knowingly cast out what is good.”

Original sin is a very unpopular idea in the modern world. But it is an essential part of the Christian gospel, and “The Church, which has the mind of Christ, (263) knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ” (CCC 389). For sin is precisely what this “Savior” saves us from.

We have learned that Original Sin when Adam and Eve eat from the forbid tree. The act from eating from the tree was not the sin but when they did this they rejected God’s absolute sovereignty (CCC396) and the trust in their Creator died in their hearts. (CCC 397)

To begin with Adam and Eve was created in a state of original justice and holiness. Adam and Eve were destined to enjoy communion with God forever. God didn’t want to force them or to make them as a slave, so he gave both free will. Original Sin does not mean that we are “totally depraved” (Calvin’s term), or wholly evil, or more evil than good (how could that be measured?), or that our very being is evil, or that we are no longer infinitely valuable and infinitely loved by God. It -9- means that we are mortally wounded, a defaced masterpiece. The greater the masterpiece, the more terrible its defacement is.

Original sin is a difficult concept for us because we cannot appreciate the great difference between our present state and mankind’s first state of unfallen innocence, which we have never experienced. Our instincts spontaneously take our present state of selfishness as the norm rather than the abnormality.

But our faith and our reason tell us that the good God could not have created us selfish by nature; that we are all now “abnormal.”
Original sin, the inborn state of all humanity, explains why all of us commit actual sins. If we were all born sin-free and innocent like Adam, surely some of us would have chosen to remain so. Yet none do. (And the better and saintlier we are, the more readily and clearly, we admit it.) Why? Because we are not born innocent of Original Sin, only innocent of actual sins. And Original Sin leads us to commit actual sins. Our being conditions our actions. We sin because we are sinners, just as we sin because we are singers. Our nature conditions our acts, as an alcoholic’s brain chemistry and chemical dependency condition his act of drinking.

This does not mean we are not responsible for actual sins, for the will’s choice is also involved in the act – sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. We are not determined, but we are conditioned – led, pulled, influenced – by our sinful nature and instincts. But we also are free to choose to obey our instincts or to
resist them. We can and often do choose contrary to our instincts – for instance, when we fast, or sacrifice.

Satan wants to be equal to God and for this reason he was cast out of heaven. Genesis uses figurative symbol and language to reveal events that truly happen in our past or the human history. Satan was portrayed as the snake which seduced Adam and Eve to be more (“like God, “ but without God, before God, and not in accordance with God” Said St Maximum the Confessor) (GTD CCC 398)

The Catholic Church then identified this as the “original Sin”.  How Original Sin is transmitted from our first parents to all their descendants is a mystery about which we have imperfect knowledge. The same is true of the mystery of our very selves, the union of body and soul.

The origin of sin may be mysterious, but its existence, its reality and presence now, in our individual and social experience, is very clear. The dogma is confirmed by the data. “‘What revelation makes known to us is confirmed by our own experience. For when man looks into his own heart, he finds that he is drawn toward what is wrong and sunk in many evils which cannot have come from his good creator, (CCC 401), or from the wholly good world he created; so it must come from his own free “fall.”

After Adam and Eve committed the first sin, their son continued it by rising up against his brother. The World has become inundated by sin due to the sin that now dwells in man which is due to our wounded human nature. Freedom being intentional misuse is sin. (1st John 5:17) Defined it as a voluntary bad human act by St. Thomas. Opposed to goodness, right reason and truth is sin.

As a result of man’s original sin the devil additionally acquired a certain domination over man (CCC 407) We need the sanctifying grace which is the Holy Trinity indwelling in the human soul. Sanctifying grade grants us the ability to live in heaven and therefore a necessary to attain with the tripersonal God eternal communion.

Us, you and me as descendants of Adam and Eve are born with original sin and therefore deprived of sanetifying Grace. Baptism with Jesus Christ restores Sanctfying Grace, but remove all of the effects of original sin. The effects of Satan acquring a certain domanation over man that we have to fight daily.

Rick Brown

  1. Catholic Christianity
  2. The Luke E. Hart Series