The Tanakh Teaches That Mankind Is Wholly Corrupt

Often when we speak of the Messiah, the discussion turns to what the Messiah will actually achieve. If the Messiah is the Savior of the world, it stands to reason that He will gain victory against the world’s greatest evil. 

Haredi Jews may tend to look at the world as a spiritual battle between the children of Israel and the children of Edom and Ishmael. Many Jews even go so far as to associate Christians with Edomites as well as followers of Muhammad with Ishmaelites. They look forward to a day when Israel will be the supreme kingdom of the land, with other nations subservient to it. 

Yet Scripture plainly teaches us that the world’s greatest problem is not political or socio-economic. It is not the battles between various earthly kingdoms but rather, sin. Therefore, Messiah’s great role is to defeat sin, and that is the purpose of His mission. 

The Jewish Virtual Library suggests that Augustine was the first theologian to hold to original sin, and claims “The doctrine of original sin is totally unacceptable to Jews”, adding “Jews believe that man enters the world free of sin, with a soul that is pure and innocent and untainted.” It also says, “Substantiation for this view is found in the New Testament where Paul says,

Romans 5:12

Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. By one man's disobedience many were made sinners.

Judaism rejects the doctrine of original sin. The celebrated rabbi Maimonides considered the story of Genesis to be allegorical rather than literal, which runs contrary to the thrust of the book of Genesis. Moses clearly wrote a history of mankind, detailing the genealogy of Adam down to Noah, Noah down to Abraham, and Abraham down to Joseph. We see this attention to historical detail mirrored in the New Testament too, in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. 

Sin in Judaism refers more to the actions of men, than their state of being. Yet Scripture testifies that man is indeed wholly corrupt, and our consciences bear witness to this fact. When G-d sent the flood to destroy the world, he testified that “And G-d saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:4). Lest we think the human heart improved afterwards, the prophet Jeremiah laments, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9).

When Augustine wrote about original sin, he was not inventing a new doctrine. Speaking of Adam and Eve, Augustine wrote: “by them so great a sin was committed, that by it the human nature was altered for the worse, and was transmitted also to their posterity, liable to sin and subject to death”. Augustine read about original sin in Scripture. The apostle Paul, a great influence on Augustine, had himself read of this teaching in the Tanakh. In Romans 3, Paul quotes several verses from the Psalms especially:

Psalm 14:3

They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: 

there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 5:9
"For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;

their inward part is very wickedness;

their throat is an open sepulchre;

they flatter with their tongue."

Psalm 10:7
"His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud:

under his tongue is mischief and vanity."

Psalm 36:1

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart,

that there is no fear of G-d before his eyes.

Taken together, we see that man, following Adam, has become completely corrupted. Scripture testifies that men are altogether filthy, unfaithful, inwardly wicked, flatterers, full of mischief, and so on. This is the record of G-d, and cannot be disputed. 

But if original sin were untrue, then why do all Jews profess to seek repentance on Yom Kippur, at least outwardly, and confess their sins? 

The truth is that the human conscience bears witness to man’s sinfulness, and this is true for both Jew and Gentile. You yourself will know the many times that you have disregarded the Lord’s instructions, dishonored your parents, and committed murder or adultery in your heart through the sinful affections of hatred and lust. You have coveted what is your neighbor’s, and you have spoken ill of your neighbor in an unjust manner.

Your symptoms reveal your disease, a sinful heart, and it is a hereditary sickness.

Remember this clear statement that Augustine made:

"Everyone is damned as generated:

None is delivered, but as regenerated."

The Christian doctrine of original sin agrees wholly with the message of the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures. Without being born again, you have gone astray (Psalm 14:30) from the path of the Lord, and you are wholly corrupt. 

Only the Messiah, Christ Jesus, can bring you back on the right track, as he defeated sin in His people judicially, by dying on the cross for the sins of those who truly believe in him. 

Christ’s defeat of sin is far more significant than anything Judaism can possibly imagine that a conquering king should do. Jewish people everywhere ought to repent of their sins and trust in Christ Jesus. 

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