All men are sinners because all are born in sin. It is the nature of man from conception. Man possesses the genetic trait of rebellion to God because Adam rebelled against God. It is that simple – and that complex.
We can only wonder at the nature of Adam prior to the fall. We can speculate about his spending time with God, walking with God, and being in loving relationship with God. It sounds very idyllic. Wonderful. But love is a strange thing for man. Love is the thing man most desires and needs – and yet there is something else which often conflicts with love, (which is others-centered and sacrificial,) and that is self-rule.
Knowing this potential for conflict, Satan exploited the opportunity for choice in man’s nature and set that very choice before man. To Eve first, and likewise Adam who was with her, Satan presented the potential of being, “like God.” (This sounds like something we would all aspire to in our best moments.) But Satan meant it in the sense of being the ‘god’ of yourself, to be under self-rule, and therefore no longer having need for God or to obey God. In a very real sense, to make God in your image instead of desiring to be made in His.
To bring this about, it was necessary for man to disobey God, and to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – of which they had been expressly commanded By God not to eat, “lest they surely die.” Satan lied to them. Satan told them they would not die, but instead they would “be like God.”
With only one commandment of God to obey, man chose otherwise – and so it goes. The Spirit of God in man died in the moment man chose self-rule over God-rule. And death has reigned in man ever since, as this genetic trait of rebellion now dominant in Adam was passed down to all men born of man. Except Jesus.
Conceived of the Holy Spirit, we now understand the importance of the virgin birth. This is not a side-line doctrine of optional philosophical or esoteric value but is a critical doctrine essential for our salvation. Among all men, ONLY Jesus was not conceived of the sin of Adam, but the perfection of God apart from Adam. Jesus alone was born without sin.
His sacrifice for man was long-promised. Would Jesus obey God for the express purpose of reconciling man to God? (In essence, Jesus faced the same choice as Adam.) Satan likewise tempted Jesus in the desert. Would Jesus choose to obey God? Satan came again to tempt Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Would Jesus choose to obey God?
We know the answer. For the joy that was set before Him – in the potential to reconcile mankind to God – Jesus established a new genetic heritage for all who would choose as He chose; to be ruled by God, and to obey God. And so, God made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us that we may become the righteousness of God in Him. Our life in Adam dies in the moment we are born again in Christ.