One question I remember being asked many years ago when I was a pastor was this: If I didn’t choose to be in Adam, why am I guilty of his sin? Well, most of that question is valid. Let me dispel the false part of that question. I know this goes against everything I was taught in seminary and the local church business I was brought up in, but here goes. No one but Adam is guilty of his sin! Now, I know that makes perfect sense to the majority of people because it is only reasonable. We don’t punish one of our children for the sins of the other, do we? No, we don’t! Most Christians would agree that throughout the Old Testament (most all of it, especially from Moses forward) the Law spelled out an eye for an eye, justice and restitution. No more, no less. You steal a lamb, you give up a lamb and possibly some interest, money lost because they couldn’t use that lamb that was stolen. But, it wasn’t, “You stole my lamb, now you die.” Certainly, though I am not spelling out every law here, but the law would never indict an innocent for the sins of another. That would not be fair.
So, what about the rest of the question?Am I indeed in Adam? Or, if I am not guilty of Adam’s sin, what am I guilty of? What is it I inherit from Adam? Well, first off, the first and last question just posed are answered the same way. Yes we are “in Adam,” meaning we inherit something from him because we are human like him. What we did inherit is death. If you are born into this life you will surely, one day, die. Adam’s sin was Adam’s sin and he was expelled from the Garden, promised he would work the ground with his hands until he died, and lost immortality after his sin. We believe that if Adam hadn’t sinned he would still be alive today, in the physical sense. Though we are not told specifically that people would have immortality if there was no original sin, we do know that death was specifically given because of that first sin. It is possible that God never planned or made people immortal from the beginning, at least as we are told from the record of the beginning, Genesis.
So why is this a deep and important subject? For this reason, among others; if we never chose to be in Adam, then we also never choose to be in Christ! WHA-A-A-T?! Human free will has nothing to do with either situation, meaning we have no choice whether to be born and die, nor do we have any choice whether we will have immortality (typically assumed to be from belief in Christ, a free choice or a choice of God for only an elect few). To keep this short and on point, without straying any further than I should, Adam sinned and everyone after him inherited death. Likewise, Christ died and paid sin’s penalty and everyone will inherit immortality (life with God). 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” You have to twist the clear meaning of the Greek text to get anything but this! The parallelism in this verse is exactly the same as that we find in Romans 5, my new favorite passages in the New Testament (Bible). Why else would Paul compare Adam and Jesus? One brought death to humanity, ALL HUMANITY, and the other brought life to humanity, ALL HUMANITY! Period, exclamation point.
Dwell richly in these thoughts my friends and see if the joy of Jesus’ birth isn’t magnified in your mind and life! God bless you!