By nature children of wrath (1)

“Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2:3-emphasis mine, mb).

Take note of the phrase, “by nature children of wrath.”

Our friends who endorse Calvinist theology insist that this little five-word phrase supports the doctrine of hereditary total depravity. That is, they believe Paul here affirms that all people not only inherit the effects of Adam’s sin (e.g., physical death-Romans 5:12), but they also acquire the guilt of his transgression in the garden:

“Adam’s transgression was not confined to himself, but was transmitted, with its long train of dire consequences, to all his posterity.”/1

“Since the fall of Adam all men are born with a depraved nature, with sinful propensities.”/2

“Our first parents being the root of all mankind, the guilt of their sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature were conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.”/3

Don’t miss the import of these statements, because they suggest that all of us are born with a morally corrupt and totally depraved nature.

“Even infants bringing their condemnation with them from their mother’s womb, suffer not for another’s, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God.  Hence, it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt.”/4

But is this what Paul was actually saying in the text? Are we all born in sin as these authors suggest?  The answer is an unequivocal, “No.”  Reason with me from Scripture:

  • Sin is something a person does. “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). What law of God do babies transgress by simply being born into the world?
  • Sin cannot be inherited.  “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son…” (Ezekiel 18:20a).
  • If a person inherits a sinful nature from his parents, then Jesus was born a sinner since he was a descendant of Adam (Luke 3:23-38).  And yet Scripture affirms, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26).
  • If a person inherits a sinful nature from his parents, could he not also inherit a righteous nature?  If not, why not? After the Flood, eight righteous people departed from the ark to re-populate the earth (cf. Genesis 6:9-10; 7:1; 1 Peter 3:20). Exactly how did these eight righteous individuals impart a totally depraved nature to their offspring? (All of the wicked and depraved people of the world had drowned (cf. Genesis 7:21).
  • Children are not born evil. “And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:2-3; cf. 19:14; Luke 18:16; Deuteronomy 1:39; 1 Corinthians 14:20).

Continued Next Week
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1/ James Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, 226.

2/ Augsburg Confession

3/ Easton’s Bible Dictionary, 1090

4/ Carradine, The Old Man, 71-72

4 thoughts on “By nature children of wrath (1)

  1. You said: “Sin is something a person does.”

    As I posted elsewhere: people don’t make choices at random. When Eph2 goes on about the “dead,” they are marked by their evil actions. You assume that their actions are the cause that results in their being “dead,” but it’s more accurate biblically to say that our actions result from our nature:

    Luk6:43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

    Jam3:11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

    1Cor2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Spiritually dead people are only alive to their flesh, so that dictates their desires and their understanding. Their choices reflect their nature…who they are.

    You said: “Sin cannot be inherited. “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son…” (Ezekiel 18:20a).”

    So were children innocent during the Exodus or not?

    “Exod20:5 For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”

    Ezek18:20 also says that the father does not bear the guilt of the son. I don’t think it really has much to do with what you think it does.

    You said: “If a person inherits a sinful nature from his parents, then Jesus was born a sinner since he was a descendant of Adam (Luke 3:23-38)”

    Denying the virgin birth? Really? Luke3:23 says, “He was the son, SO IT WAS THOUGHT, of Joseph.” All Luke 3 says is that Joseph was a descendant of Adam.

    It’s amazing how much of the bible some are willing to deny if it proves calvinism is wrong…

    You said: “If a person inherits a sinful nature from his parents, could he not also inherit a righteous nature? If not, why not? After the Flood, eight righteous people departed from the ark to re-populate the earth (cf. Genesis 6:9-10; 7:1; 1 Peter 3:20). Exactly how did these eight righteous individuals impart a totally depraved nature to their offspring? (All of the wicked and depraved people of the world had drowned (cf. Genesis 7:21).”

    John3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

    Their righteousness came by faith (Heb11). Genesis 9 would have told you that Noah and company still made some very fleshly-based choices.

    This is an old article but some of these points are so messed up that it needs a response…it’s amazing that someone would ever need to explain that “by nature” just means “from birth.” Infants have the same human nature as adults.

  2. Calvinists love to talk about how no one can do any thing good by nature, but listen to what Paul said:

    “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,” (Romans 2:14)

    Were they doing evil things in the law? God forbid. The law was good (Romans 7:12). They were doing the good things of the law by nature! A nature that Calvinsits say can’t exist.

    It’s sad how someone has to condemn infants to support his/her false teaching.

  3. So I take it that you deny that Christ was born of a virgin, Eugene? I know you deny Jesus’ teachings – He claimed: ““Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Matt19:17

    Rom2 is simply saying that gentiles had “the law written in their hearts” (Rom2:15) – not that they were keeping the law. The bible teaches that “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal2:16) – and justified simply means that no one will be counted as righteous or good. You should also check out Rom14:23 “Whatever is not from faith is sin” and Rom8:8 “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

    Sure, those gentiles and non-Christians that don’t murder someone “keep the law” in a sense, but you are mangling the scriptures to say they are doing “good.” They can’t even keep the law which is written in their hearts.

    But then you hate the scriptures, which is why you censor disagreement on your website. Someone who actually reads the scriptures can easily expose your deceit. John8:44 describes you perfectly.

  4. Charles,

    It’s really a shame when someone has to continually resort to name calling and placing words in the mouths of others to defend their doctrine, something you have continually done.

    First, your devotion to a man-made doctrine instead of the truth is becoming more and more evident with every comment. You accuse me and Mike of teaching that Jesus was not born of a virgin. Why? Because we quote scripture that says Jesus was the son of Adam? Do you not comprehend what the phrase “son of man” means in connection to Jesus? Are you going to actually say that Jesus was not of the lineage of Adam??? Are you actually going to say that Jesus was not of the lineage of king David???

    Besides this obvious point with the direct connection to Adam in Luke 3, do you not realize that Jesus was born of a woman (Galatians 4:4)? And that this woman came from Adam, and that means Mary (the mother of Jesus) was of the lineage of Adam; which again makes Jesus the son of Adam, as well as the son of Abraham and king David! Who were both sons of Adam.

    I suppose you’re now going to say that only men pass along the “sinful gene” to their offspring and that Jesus was born through an “immaculate conception.” I think I’ve heard that somewhere else before too. I believe it was in some kind of creed book or some kind of catechism, but I know it wasn’t in the Bible.

    Calvinists love to try and use Matthew 19:17 to “prove” that no one is “good” and thus that means every single person is born a sinner and bound for hell the moment they’re born…talk about a leap of logic! As far as no one being “good” in the sense that you try to make it mean, have you ever read what the scriptures say about Joseph of Arimathaea in Luke 23:50? How about what Jesus said about the “good man” in Matthew 12:35 (which according to your teaching doesn’t exist even though you quoted Luke’s account that says the same thing…did you miss that?) or even the servant in Matthew 25:23? Maybe you’ve read what the Holy Spirit inspired scriptures say about Barnabas in Acts 11:24? We wouldn’t want something like the scriptures to get in the way of man-made doctrines now would we?

    You show your unwillingness to listen to the Spirit of God (who you are showing to be resistible after all) when you plainly deny that the gentiles in Romans 2:14 are doing something that Calvinism says CAN’T BE DONE. They by NATURE did the good things found in the law! Calvinism says a person can do NOTHING good because they are born completely/totally/100% spiritually depraved of any “good” nature. How much plainer does it have to be for you?

    Now back to the original points that you’re trying to side step…the man-made doctrine that you adhere to says that children are born deserving Hell! If a baby dies they are going to Hell. Did you not read any of the quotes that Mike gave in the article above? That’s your doctrine, Charles; a doctrine that you’re proud of? You can’t get around it. You try, but you try and you fail miserably. Yes, you say that children who die are given a special exception, only the “unconditionally elect” children die you say – – – but Charles, you can’t give ONE PIECE OF SCRIPTURE that teaches any of that.

    Only babies that are unconditionally elect die??? Where is this “special dispensation” mentioned at in the scriptures??? Where is ANY OF THAT in the scriptures? (1 Peter 4:11) You talk with the words of men because you cannot talk with the word of God.

    Here’s your chance, Charles. Since you claim that I am of the devil and that you stand upon the scriptures then give me just ONE scripture! Give me the word of God, not the words of Spurgeon, Piper, Mohler and Sproul that you had to resort to quoting in the past because of your failure to find one scripture. Give me the word of God that says that a baby who dies is given some exception to the judgment that Total Hereditary Depravity condemns them to! If you can’t, and I know you can’t, then own up to the doctrine that you so proudly defend that leads to only one conclusion – children who die are bound for hell! For what? For being born?! You sir have no concept of the responsibility of choices and sin.

    Charles, do you know why your doctrine starts with a man’s name and not the name of Jesus Christ? Because it’s a false, man-made doctrine that rests upon the condemning judgment of infants! Without that first petal, the rest of the odorous “tulip” is useless.

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