One Man’s Sin Makes All Men Sinners – does it?

In Joshua 7 despite the command of God some of the Israelites took the things of Jerico devoted to destruction, and that caused the displeasure of God towards the people. It is often thought that because of the sin of a few all the people became sinners. Does the sin of a single man really makes all others sinners? If it is so, where is justice? If a family member commits a crime and because of it you are called a criminal though living righteously wouldn’t you cry out for justice?

We read in Romans,

Rom 2:9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Wow! So we will all be judge for our own sins, not for the sin of others. So then how should we understand the passage in Joshua 7 where certain Israelites collected the things devoted to destruction in Jerico and the anger of the LORD was kindled against them. These Israelites certainly sinned, but did their sinful act make the rest sinners? I doubt it.

So what happened then? Well, God clearly instructed the children of Israel not to take those things, and listen to what He had to say:

Josh. 7:13 …thus says the LORD, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in the midst of you, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies, until you take away the devoted things from among you.”

That is, not individual sin, but the sin of Israel as a whole is in question.
The sin of a few can have a very negative effect on the whole. How many wars were fought because of the arrogance of kings? When the leaders sin, the people suffer. Were they all made sinners? Not at all. Everyone is responsible for his own sins, but the community as a whole is responsible to deal with the sins of a few to avoid a greater tragedy.

Let me remind you that the Day of Atonement was for the nation, not for individual sins. Of course, to qualify for entering the Holy of Holies the high priest had to purify himself, but the sacrifice he offered was for the sin of the nation, that is, for the sin committed on the national level, not for the individual sins. Individual sins were taken care of by the sin sacrifices.

One passage used in support of the above theory is the following:

Rom 5:12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned

Does Paul mean that Adam made all sinners? Just read the passage carefully. Of course, before Adam there was no sin, so his sin was the first, but the passage doesn’t say sin was passed to all men, but that death spread to all men. Why? He gives the reason: “because all men sinned”. The very reason that death spread to all men is because they sinned, not because they were born sinners.

To understand what Paul says let us deal with the Genesis passage. God offered life or death to the first couple. They were to choose life.

Now here I need to warn about some of the false claims of Creation Science. I used to be their big fan, ordered their popular and scientific magazines, I still have many of them. Until in one of the issues they backtracked on a number of their earlier claims and stated that we should not have trusted them, but should have verified everything for ourselves. Wow!

That was the last time I had anything to do with them. If those who claim to be scientists are so blinded by fundamentalism that they twist reality, they should not be in ministry.

One of their old claims was that because God made everything perfect, entropy (the measure of disorder in thermodynamics) had to be zero. Such claim is utterly foolish. Entropy is related to heat. The hotter a system, the greater the entropy, and the greater the disorder. Zero entropy, that is, zero disorder requires that the tempreture be absolute zero (-273 Celsius – pretty cold indeed). On that temperature all movement stops. No life is possible. Where there is no entropy there is no friction, and without friction one could not walk on earth. It took many years for Creation Science to realise this very basic thermodynamical fact, and thoroughout those years they deceived their audience.

Now if there was entropy then death was built into the system. Entropy causes everything to wind down and die. Yes, without God’s life sustaining power Adam and Eve would have died. This is why they were to choose the tree of life. Without God’s sustaining power death is inevitable. Thus, when they sinned and were cast out of the garden they simply went on their dying ways. There was no need for some kind of genetic modification, for eternity was not built into the system. The source of eternal life was and has always been God. Apart from God everything is winding down, everything is dying. And Adam choose death over life.

Now look at what God says when they are cast out of the garden:

Gen 3:22 The LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, lest he put forth his hand, and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…”

Oh, they were kicked out to prevent them from eating of the tree of life, for if they ate of it, and only then, they would have lived forever. Their descendants, living in the absence of God’s life sustaining power, all died naturally, as entropy brings about death. Sin led to the lost access to the life-giving tree, and eventually to death.

Now let us return to Romans 5:12. We saw that because of sin death came to mankind. While they were meant to enjoy God’s life-sustaining power, they all had to live without it. It is not sin (or sin nature) that spread to all men, but death. And the passage says it is because all sinned, not that they were all born sinners.

Therefore the sin of one man cannot make all others sinners. Sin, as ever, remains the personal choice, not a nature. If it was a nature, one had an excuse.


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