Location: New England, United States

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Original Sin?

What is Original Sin? The Bible states that each of us is born with Original Sin, but what is it? Is Original Sin just the capacity to fall short of perfection, or is there more to the story?

I remember when my son was a toddler and he would fall and hurt himself or become frustrated with something he wanted to do, but couldn't, and he would cry, "I want to go home." Many times he would speak these words while we were at home and I would shake my head in bewilderment telling him, "We are home." He would look at me with his tearful face full of disdain and proclaim, "Not this home - my other home!" Eventually, I discussed this with one of my sisters and in her wisdom she told me that perhaps he remembers where he came from. He remembers being in the kingdom of God.

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them. Mark 10:14-16 RSV

When small children do something wrong - climbing on stairs, jumping on the couch or touching something that may break - they have no sense that they are doing anything wrong. There is no shame; no guilt. That is, until their parents point out that what they have done is not appropriate, over and over. We call this teaching or disciplining our children; knowledge.

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." Genesis 2:16-17 RSV

Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They now have brought something into the Garden that God never gave them. This something produced discord, separation and destroyed their peace. What they brought into the Garden was shame and guilt.

"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. " Genesis 3:7-8 RSV

So we see that it is shame and guilt that separates us from God by stealing the peace and joy of our soul. What do we do when we feel shame and guilt? We hide from others. We blame others. We become angry at others. It is when we are filled with shame and guilt that we sin, for when we are filled with shame and guilt, we fear, and fear is the root of all evil.

The Old Testament is filled with animal and cereal sacrifices purposed to obliterate the guilt and shame. Some of these sacrifices are actually named, "Guilt offerings". When Jesus died for our sins - our guilt and shame - he freed us from these twin accusers - releasing us from guilt and shame and returning our souls to peace and joy. We now have the opportunity to repent - turn away from our actions, ask for forgiveness and be confident that we are forgiven without shame; without guilt. This is true freedom - a life free of guilt and shame can be lived in peace and joy.

" Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour." 1Peter 5:8 RSV

Satan is our accuser. His mission is to keep us in a constant state of shame and guilt. Beware, Christ already paid for your shame and guilt. Every time you feel shame or guilt, remind Satan that Jesus paid the price - and he will flee - leaving you with peace and joy.


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