What is at the Core of Original Sin?

Sometimes Original Sin gets simplified into the eating of an apple. But the core of the apple is not the “core” I speak of in the title. Actually an apple is not mentioned. It is fruit surely but what fruit we do not know. But what’s the big deal about eating an apple or piece of fruit? OK, maybe they shouldn’t have eaten it. But really, did an apple lead to all the pain and grief we experience today?

As you may have guessed, No, it was not an apple or fruit  per se that led to all this. What was the Original Sin, what did it consist of? Consider that Original Sin was actually of cluster of sins: pride, disobedience, ingratitude, lack of trust, and a complete disregard for the wisdom and love of God. I am struck by how the Catechism describes Original Sin:

Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of.  All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness. In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God…Seduced by the devil, he wanted to “be like God”, but “without God, before God, and not in accordance with God” (CCC #s 397-398)

Notice the cascading effect that begins with a lack of trust. How did Adam and Eve (and all of us) fail to trust God? Simply in this, God had warned them of a certain tree, the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Pure and simple he warned they stay away from it for it would bring death to their souls. Now to “know” in the Bible always means more than intellectual knowing. To ”know” in the Bible means to have deep intimate and personal experience of the the thing or person known. Hence it is clear that God did not want Adam and Eve ever to have to experience the horrible reality of evil. He sought to protect them from its devastating effects. So God’s forbidding was made in protective love. We were called simply to trust God that evil is dreadful and we shouldn’t insist on knowing  that for ourselves, just trust God.

But the Devil tempted us in this sort of way:

“You can’t trust God! He is hold something back from you. Sure he gave this nice garden and all but that is just to placate you. He knows that if you eat that fruit you will become like gods and begin to rival him. No! God is trying to keep you from your true destiny, to rule and even to tell him what to do! Do not trust Him or what he is telling you. it is only to keep you down, he isn’t really good at all. Listen to me. I promise you will not die, you will become like gods!

So there it is Adam and Eve. Who are you going to trust? God who gave you everything or the Devil who has given you nothing but promises something on the other side of the sin? Who will it be?

Sadly, you know the rest of the story. And Adam and Eve’s temptation is repeated in every sin we are tempted to commit.

 ”Come on” says the Devil, “God is trying to limit your freedom, keep you down and doesn’t want you to be happy! His demands are unreasonable, he is trying to take away your fun and fulfillment. Sin will make you happy. God’s way is restrictive. Do as you please. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do!”

And so often we buy into it. And are we happy? Maybe for a moment, but the misery of sin is too clear to be denied. The Devil is a liar. But what do we do when we sin? We trust him over God. In so doing the Catechism says we abuse our freedom. How? Because freedom for a Christian is “the capacity to obey God.” We are free when are able to carry out what God says. Now the world and the Devil say that freedom is about doing whatever you please. No, not if it is sin because sin never leads to freedom, it leads to bondage. Jesus says, “Whoever sins is a slave to sin.” (Jn 8:34)  Look at the world today and try to tell me that sin leads to freedom. Look at the addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, anger, revenge and greed and tell me that sin leads to freedom. No, sin is never freedom, it is bondage and many get so stuck in destructive behaviors that they don’t know how to stop. The video below powerfully illustrates the horror and bondage of sin, it shows its awful reality. It is not freedom at all, it is sorrow, bondage and humiliation.

In sin, we choose ourselves over God as the text from the Catechism says. We think we will become like gods, but in reality we sink lower than the animals and do things to each other and ourselves that even animals don’t do. God wants to raise us to share in his nature to be sure but we insist that we can do it ourselves. We cannot. Look at our grandiose attempts and tell me if you think we have been successful.

The following video does a pretty good job of depicting where Satan’s promises to Adam and Eve led. Watch it if you dare and remember that the Devil is a liar. And God is still calling you!

6 Replies to “What is at the Core of Original Sin?”

  1. Yes, we want to think that we will happy and satisfied if we will only become rich, famous and powerful, the lure of the evil one, only to find out in the end that this kind of life is empty. But read the lives of the saints and we will see complete joy not just happiness in spite of persecution, pain and suffering. Our soul is restless until it rests in GOD. Happiness in the world is so minuscule in comparison with unfathomable joy in the presence of GOD. Obedience and love against rebelliousness and indifference wool give us wisdom. Yes, trust HIM and we will not go astray. HIS Mercy endureth forever.

  2. Since God alone is good, “revelation teaches that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone. God’s law does not reduce, much less do away with human freedom; rather, it protects and promotes that freedom. (I. Freedom and Law: Veritatis Splendor 1993)

  3. Loss of trust is often preceded by a failure of courage and giving into fear. Fear of change can block someone from trusting good advice. I think fear also played a role in Adam’s trust deficit. One is the fear of the presence of Satan. Adam surely knew that there was something very powerful and ominous in Satan, even as Satan had possessed or taken the form of a serpent. (I think some exorcists call it “the presence”) Adam’s other fear might have been the fear of fault—guilt— because Adam was responsible for securing the safety of his wife and the Garden, but he allowed an entry point for Satan. Another possible fear was the fear of sacrifice, that is, in confronting Satan he might have put his life at risk; this fear of sacrifice is a way of scorning God. On top of it all, there was the evident desire in the temptation to find “freedom” by avoiding his obedience to God and duty to his neighbor (in Adam’s case, his wife.)

  4. That lack of trust was at the heart of original sin became crystal clear to me when our son reached adolescence and began making a number of very bad life decisions. He took his life down some very dark paths indeed. He is now in the process of clawing his way out of some of the very deep holes he dug for himself along the way. During this time, tt became abundantly clear to me that, at some point, inspite of the love that had been lavished on him by us, he decided that we were untrustworthy with respect to life matters and he decided to place his trust in people who should have been the last persons to be trusted. This led to some truly disasterous results for him. I believe I can, in good conscience, say that we did nothing to incur his mistrust.

    The similarity between my experience with my Son and the story of the fall was obvious to me. Just as my son, at the encouragement of untrustworthy others, withdrew his trust from us and placed it where it didn’t belong, inspite of all the evidence in front of him, so did our first parents withdraw their trust, inspite of all the evidence of God’s goodness and love, from God.

    I suspect that this is why faith is necessary for salvation. In the presence of abundant evidence of God’s love our first parents chose not to trust. Now we must learn to believe in, and trust, the reality of God’s love, often in the absence of evidence – or at least in the absence of really sufficient evidence.

    Having said all that, I happy to say that our son is working to reverse some of the disasterous choices he has made and seems to be well on his way to reassessing his parents. He seems to be growing in the understanding that we were trustworthy after all and that if he *had* trusted us a bit more he could have saved himself a lot of grief. We hope and pray for continued growth and healing.

  5. Sin makes us so lonely amidst a world full of noise. Lonely for the presence of God. It is an aching void this world can never fill. Only our Abba can fill this dark, arctic void.

    It hurts, it gnaws at our souls. So we drink and take drugs to ease the terrible pain of separation from the One who truly loves us as we crave to be loved. Or we sleep around with anyone who can temporarily fill that void within us. Yet, in our selfish, self induced misery, we never once stop to see how we have hurt our loving Messiah, Jesus Christ. He really loves us. My heart breaks for Him. The video tore me up-“Adam, where are you?”

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