There are many in the religious world who claim that all men are born into this world already guilty of sin. According to these doctrines, we inherit sin (and its guilt) from Adam.
The Catholics' version of this doctrine is called "Original Sin," and they, in responding to the notion that babies are born sinners, baptize babies (i.e. sprinkling) to wash away the stain of Adam's original sin. Then there are many Protestants who hold to a larger system of doctrine known as "Calvinism." One of the tenets of Calvinism is the doctrine of "Total Depravity," which is more accurately called "Inherited Total Depravity." The Calvinists general do not practice Infant Baptism, but they do believe that not only are we all born in sin, but we inherit a totally depraved nature that is incapable of ever choosing right.
Whether it is Original Sin or Inherited Total Depravity, Romans 5:12-14 is often used as a proof-text. Ironically, Paul’s words in Romans 5 actually teach the opposite, as we’ll see in this article.
In Romans 5:12, Paul does say, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Upon reading this verse, many conclude that all of us are born spiritually dead because of Adam (the “one man” under consideration). However, notice how this statement is qualified at the end of verse 12. In other words, why did death spread to all men? Is it because we inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin? No! Paul says that death spread to all men because “all sinned.”
Now notice Romans 5:14: “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of Adam…” This is consistent with what we just learned in verse 12. Adam’s sin wasn’t imposed on anyone, nor was the guilt of Adam’s sin imposed on anyone. All men were faced with spiritual death because we have committed our own sins. The implication, then, is that sin is a choice, and we’re not spiritually dead until we choose to sin. Babies cannot choose to sin, so they are not sinful.
Finally, notice verse 18: “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” The comparison here is between Adam’s sin and Jesus’ sacrifice. IF it is true that all men are automatically sinful because of Adam’s sin, then we must also accept that all men are automatically righteous because of Jesus’ sacrifice. We know that this is NOT the case (Mt. 7:13-14; 2 Pet. 3:9); therefore, Paul cannot be arguing that babies are born guilty of sin.
I understand that many other verses are used, or shall I say misused to support the doctrines of Original Sin and Inherited Total Depravity, but in this article, we have easily answered one of the key proof-texts.