In this series, I'll be going through the first column of my doctrinal perspectives chart, defining each topic and defending its priority. Reference the chart for more information.
Doctrine: Sinfulness of man
Definition: Every human being possesses a depraved nature from conception, is bent toward disobedience, and is separated from God, rendering each one the title of "sinner."
Why it's primary: The sinfulness of man is a topic that is discussed thoroughly in Scripture. Several passages of the Bible describe the fallen state of people, whether it's a snapshot of a particularly sinful scene or a theological exposé on human nature. The two passages that define this doctrine most clearly are Genesis 3 and Romans 5.
In the third chapter of Genesis, we learn how mankind entered into sinfulness. It's depravity described. Adam and Eve volitionally, purposefully, and cognitively disobey God's only command, that they should not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In the narrative, there's a moment of awakening -- a change occurs in the two.
Verse seven says this: "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked." Later on, YHWH said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil," (v. 22).
To understand this change in a fuller, theological sense, other passages must be referenced. The fifth chapter of Romans is the key to unlocking the meaning of Adam's disobedience. It's depravity defined.
1. We learn that death enters the world -- the entire world -- through that first sin:
"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned," (v. 12).
2. We learn that each person has died in Adam:
"For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many," (v. 15b, emphasis added).
3. We learn that we're all condemned because of Adam's sin:
"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification for all men," (v. 18).
The first five chapters of Romans are devoted to unpacking the doctrine of depravity. Paul spent so much effort explaining it because it's essential to the gospel itself. If a person does not understand the sinfulness of man, that person does not understand the gospel. It is because of man's fallen state that Christ had to die.
Thus, the sinfulness of man isn't just an arbitrary "primary doctrine," it's a part of the gospel -- as are the next few doctrines we'll examine.