We do not have to go outside of Genesis 3 to find proof that the penal consequences of which fell upon our first parents after the fall were inherited by all generations. What God said to them was said to all of mankind, for since the sin was common to all, so was the penalty also.
- “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” (v.16). And such has been the lot of all Eve’s daughters.
- “Cursed is the ground for thy sake: in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; …in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground …for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (vv. 17-19).
This has been the curse of Adam’s sons— in every generation and in all parts of the earth. The calamity of evil which then descended upon the world continues to this day. Despite how sophisticated mankind believes to have arrived the age-old curse of slavery to sin and their judgement to death can never be wiped clean on their own merits. Thus Adam and Eve’s children are equally involved in the sentence of the pain of childbirth, the curse on the ground, the obligation to live by toil and sweat, the decay and death of the body.
Though severe and painful, are trivial in comparison with the divine judgment which has been visited on man’s soul. They are but the external and visible marks of the moral and spiritual calamity which overtook Adam and his race. By the disobedience of Adam and Eve they had forfeited the favour of their Creator, fell under His holy condemnation and curse, received the awful wages of their sin, came under the sentence of the law, was alienated from the life of God, became totally depraved and, as such an object of abhorrence to the holy One, was driven away from His presence.
Since the guilt of Adam’s offence was imputed or judicially charged to all mankind represented, it follows that they participate in all the misery that came upon him. Guilt consists of an obligation or liability to suffer punishment for an offence committed, and that in proportion to the aggravation of the offence. In consequence, every child is born into this world in a state of antenatal disgrace and condemnation, with entire depravity of nature and makeup which inevitably leads to and produces actual transgression, and with complete inability of soul to change his nature or do anything pleasing to God.
- “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Ps. 58:3).
Firstly, from the moment of birth – every child is morally and spiritually cut off from the Lord—a lost sinner. Matthew Henry described it thus: “estranged from God and all good: alienated from the Divine life, and its principles, powers, and blessings.”Adam lost not only the image of God but His favour and fellowship too, being expelled from His presence. Including his children who were born outside Eden, born in a state of guilt and condemnation.
Secondly, in consequence of this, Adam’s children are delinquents, warped from the beginning. Their very being is polluted, for evil is bred in them. Their “nature” is inclined to wickedness only; and if God leaves them to themselves they will never turn from it.
Thirdly, it is evident that due to the separation from God and with an innate desire to rebel against God having corruption of hearts. So even at the earliest of age – the child inheritance of the fallen feature of Adam and Eve.
- “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child” (Prov. 22:15), not childishness but foolishness— leaning toward evil, entering upon an ungodly course, forming and following bad habits. It is “bound in the heart”—held firmly there by chains invincible to human power.
But in all ages, there have been those who sought to blunt the sharp edge of Psalm 58:3 by narrowing its scope, denying that it has a race-wide application; these are determined at all costs to rid themselves of the unpalatable truth of the total depravity of all mankind.
- “And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3). That statement is, if possible, even more awful and solemn than Psalm 58:3. It signifies much more than that we are born into the world with a defiled constitution, for it speaks of not simply “children of corruption,” but “children of wrath”—obnoxious to God, criminals in His sight.
Depravity of our natures is no mere misfortune; if it were, it would evoke pity, not anger. The expression “children of wrath“ is a Jewish expression, a very strong and emphatic one. The original rendering of 1 Samuel 20:30 and 2 Samuel 12:5 mentions “the son of death,” that is, one deserving death. In Matthew 23:15 Christ used the fearful term “the child of hell”—one whose destiny is Hell-bound; while in John 17:12 He designated Judas “the son of perdition.”
Thus “children of wrath” implies that those who are deserving of wrath, heirs of wrath, fit for it. They are born to wrath, and under it, as their heritage. They are not only defiled and corrupt creatures, but the objects of God’s judicial indignation. Why? …Because the sin of Adam is imputed to them, and therefore they are regarded as guilty of having broken God’s law.