Editors note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers understand what sin is, how serious sin is, and how great the grace of God, who offers redemption to sinners from sin and new life in Christ.
- David Dunham opened our series on sin with a look at sin and biochemical brokenness.
- Zach wrote on overcoming a sinful theology of Lent and Fasting.
- Nick Batzig wrote on two dangers and three duties in confessing sin to one another.
- Dave wrote on indwelling sin, positional sanctification, and progressive sanctification.
- Dave wrote on living however you want a looking at Romans 6:1-2.
- Matt Perman wrote on the biblical evidence for original sin.
- Brian Hedges wrote on four thoughts on how sin does its work.
- Chis Poblete wrote on seven ways to wage war against sin.
- Matthew Fretwell wrote on the question, “Can sin exist in the Church?”
- Jason Helopoulos wrote on sin is no friend.
- Kevin Halloran wrote on serial killers, hiding sins, and the glorious hope of forgiveness in Christ.
- Mike Boling wrote on how to walk in the light and deal with the sin of hatred.
- Zach wrote on despising and embracing temptation.
- Brian Hedges wrote on the contagion of sin.
- Thaddeus William wrote on Mortification: Seven Phases Along the Sin-Killing Continuum.
- Nick Batzig wrote on no more conscious of sin.
- Matt Perman wrote on the imputation of Christ.
- Brian Hedges wrote on Crucified with Christ: How the Cross Kills Sin.
- Matt Perman wrote on the question, “What is the biblical evidence for the imputation of Adam’s Sin?”
- Mike Leake wrote on envy.
- Dave wrote on fleeing worldliness and pursuing Christ.
- Dave wrote on dealing with unrighteous and righteous anger in our lives.
- Today Matt Perman writes on the question, “What is the difference between original sin and imputed sin?”
First, as a result of Adam’s sin we all enter the world with a fallen nature. This is original sin–the sinful tendencies, desires, and dispositions in our hearts with which we are all born. Thus, original sin is something inherent in us–it is a morally ruined character. The original sin that we are all born with manifests itself throughout our lives in actual sins–the actions, thoughts, and feelings we have that violate God’s moral commands. So our sinful hearts (original sin) cause us to make sinful choices, think sinful thoughts and feel sinful feelings (actual sins). We are not sinners because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. We are all born totally imprisoned in original sin. There is no island of goodness left in us.
Second, the guilt of Adam’s sin is credited not just to Adam himself, but to us all. We are regarded as having sinned in Adam, and hence as deserving of the same punishment. This is imputed sin. Thus, we not only receive polluted and sinful natures because of Adam’s sin (original sin), but we are also regarded as having sinned in Adam such that we are guilty of his act as well (imputed sin). Imputed sin is the ruin of our standing before God and is thus not an internal quality but an objective reckoning of guilt, whereas original sin is the ruin of our character and thus is a reference to internal qualities. Both original sin and imputed sin place us under the judgment of God.
Since the consequences of Adam’s sin are twofold (original sin and imputed sin), the remedy of our salvation is also twofold. John Piper writes:
So we have seen two things that need a remedy. One is our sinful nature that enslaves us to sin, and the other is our original guilt and condemnation that is rooted not first in our individual sinning but in our connection with Adam in his sin. The book of Romans—indeed the whole Bible— is the story of how God has worked in history to remedy these two problems. The problem of our condemnation in Adam God remedies through justification in Christ. The problem of our corruption and depravity he remedies through sanctification by the Spirit. Or to put it another way: The problem of our legal guilt and condemnation before God is solved by his reckoning to us the righteousness Christ; and the problem of our moral defilement and habitual sinning is solved by his purifying us by the work of Spirit. The first remedy, justification, comes by imputed righteousness. The other, sanctification, comes by imparted righteousness. Justification is instantaneous; sanctification is progressive – and we will deal extensively with it in Romans 6-8, just we have dealt with justification in Romans 3-5. (John Piper, “Adam, Christ, and Justification: Part IV“)
John Murray, The Imputation of Adam’s Sin.
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, chapter 24, “Sin”
Jonathan Edwards, The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended in The Works of Jonathan Edwards Volume I, pp. 143-233.
Matt is an author, speaker, and consultant eager to help you do work that matters, and do it better. More than that, he wants to help you do your work and influence the culture in a gospel-centered way. Matt is the author of What’s Best Next and Creating a Business Plan that Actually Works.
He worked for 13 years at Desiring God leading the web department, serving as director of strategy, and helping build the ministry for greater spreading. With an M.Div. from Southern Seminary and experience consulting with churches and organizations, Matt started What’s Best Next to equip Christians theologically and practically.