- Sin is a violation of one’s conscience. “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). How is it possible for an infant to sin against his conscience when he has yet to have developed one?
- The Bible teaches that each individual himself is responsible for committing sin. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6a; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10).
- If each of us is born in a totally depraved condition, then why did the apostle Paul say that, “…Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13)? How can a person become more depraved than totally depraved?
- If each of us is born in a totally depraved condition, then how could Luke describe some as “certain lewd fellows of the baser sort” (cf. Acts 17:5 KJV)? How it is possible to be “baser” than totally depraved?
- If the doctrine of hereditary total depravity is true, then how can any of us condemn sinful behavior of any kind? A man who rapes, murders, or steals could honestly say, “I just can’t help it-it’s my nature!” If not, why not?
- If Ephesians 2:3 teaches that infants are born in a totally depraved condition, would that not then logically imply that babies who die in that condition are therefore lost since the text obviously describes them as “children of wrath?” Again, if not, why not? Are our friends who endorse who endorse total hereditary depravity who endorse total hereditary depravity prepared for the consequences of their dogma?
So since we are not born in sin as Calvinism falsely asserts, exactly what did Paul mean when he said that the Ephesians were by “nature children of wrath”?
The Greek word for nature, phusis, in this context refers to something that is habitual and gradually developed over time. Think of an action, for example-like typing, that a person performs repetitively until it becomes, as we sometimes say, “second nature.”
Therefore, when the apostle taught that the Ephesians had been “by nature children of wrath,” he was saying that prior to their conversion they had willfully yielded to sin until it had become an established custom or practice (cf. Romans 2:14; Galatians 4:8) in their lives (Colossians 3:6-7).
Illicit thinking had become rooted and ingrained within their hearts:
- They had “walked” (e.g., lived) “according to the course of [the] world. . .” v. 2a
- They had “followed the prince of the power of the air. . .” (e.g., the devil). v. 2b
- They had “conducted [themselves] in the lusts of [their] flesh. . .” v. 3a
- They had “fulfilled the desires of [their] flesh and mind. . .” v. 3b
By emulating Satan and systematically adopting his carnal mindset, the Ephesians lived as his children (cf. John 8:44) and therefore deserved the wrath of God (Romans 1:18; 2:5).
Neither Ephesians 2:3, nor any other passage in Scripture, teaches that people are born in sin. They are born with the capacity to commit sin, but they in no way inherit a sinful nature from Adam.