SDA pioneer writers on all humans being sinners.

While some Christians are reluctant to admit the state of humanity that makes everyone in need of a Savior, I have found that the pioneers were not ashamed to admit this fact in my research of their writings from the EGW comprehensive CD ROM 2008 edition. I would like to share below a few examples of what I have found in my research.

Stephen Haskell  (1833-1922) (Pastor, Administrator, Missionary, and Author of several books)

“I will read you the 9th and 10th verses: “But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” Then where does David speak of his hoping? On his mother’s breasts; because he was a sinner on his mother’s breasts. The man was just the same, but the righteousness of Christ made all the difference.
Now, a question may arise, and it is one that I wish to notice in particular. How is it then with these little children before they know good and evil? How is it with them? Does God look upon them as sinners? Now I will tell you they are sinners, for the Bible says so; but there is some one that has to bear their sins, and that is the parents or guardians.” {February 15, 1893 N/A, GCDB 273.5}

Pastor Haskell is saying that King David was a sinner on his mother’s breast, and that even before little children know good or evil, they are sinners because the Bible says so. This is especially noteworthy because some say that little children or babies are not sinners because they don’t know good or evil.

E. J. Waggoner (January 12, 1855 – May 28, 1916) Seventh Day Adventist physician, minister and editor

“All men are sinners (Rom. 3:23) whether they are conscious of it or not; but (4) No one can know that he is a sinner until he examines the law of God, for “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom. 3:20, and (5) If a man did not find himself to be a sinner, he could not be induced to believe in Christ for the remission of sins; for if it is true that “they that are whole need not a physician,” it is equally true that they that think they are whole will not apply to a physician, no matter how sorely they may stand in need of one; therefore, (6) It is absolutely necessary that the law be in the world, in order to lead men to lay hold on the promises. The law of itself could save no one; the promises would be of no benefit to men without the law to show them their need of those promises. The law, by showing all men to be sinners, makes it possible for the promises to be extended to all the world. Whoever, therefore, claims that he is no sinner, puts himself outside the promises of God. And now, as we quote the text again, we shall have a better understanding of it: “But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise of faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Gal. 3:22. {September 11, 1884 EJW, SITI 553.22}

“Man’s relation to God, then, is simply this: By nature all men are sinners,-servants of sin,-children of Satan,-under the law,-condemned to death. By the righteousness of Christ, through faith in the blood, men may be made righteous,-servants of obedience unto righteousness,-children of God,-delivered from the condemnation of the law. Only those who are in Christ attain to this high honor; but this does not free them from obligation to keep the law. This can be seen from the very fact that it is sin that brings condemnation. Now it those who have been freed from condemnation,-have been taken out from under the law,-should transgress the law, they would thereby show their lack of appreciation of the grace of God, and would bring themselves into condemnation,-would bring themselves under the law.” {November 17, 1887 EJW, SITI 695.11}

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11. To all men “the Spirit and the bride say, Come.” With every man that enters into the world, the Spirit strives to cause him to renounce the service of Satan, and to become a child of God. But, alas! with the exception of a few who esteem the reproach of Christ, “the whole world lieth in wickedness.” Reader will you place yourself on the Lord’s side? If so, you must come to Christ, who is the way (Ps. 119:1), the truth (Ps. 119:142), and the life,-the one in whose heart is the law of God,-that you may become changed into the same image, having, like him, the law of God completely formed in your own heart. W. {November 17, 1887 EJW, SITI 695.12}

“Sin is a personal matter. A man is guilty only of his own sins, and not of those which another has committed. Now I can not sin where I am not, but only where I am. Sin is in the heart of man; “for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within.” Mark 7:21-23. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Jer.17:9. Sin is in every fiber of our being by nature. We are born in sin, and our life is sin, so that sin can not be taken from us without taking our life. What I need is freedom from my own personal sin,–that sin which not only has been committed by me personally, but which dwells in the heart,–the sin which constitutes the whole of my life.” {1900 EJW, GTI 86.1}

“Nothing is plainer in the Scriptures than that all the disabilities which we inherit by birth from our parents are counteracted and overcome by the birth from the Spirit. We inherit sinful dispositions. It is not the specific acts of sin that a man has committed, that will cause his everlasting destruction, so much as it is the evil nature that is in him, even if it has not manifested itself in any way that is noticeable by men. We have the evil in us, and always with us, and again and again we have said, “It’s no use; I cannot possibly overcome this sin; it is a part of my very being,” and have felt almost in despair, or else we have apologised for the hateful thing by saying, “Oh, it’s only my way; I don’t mean anything bad by it; but I simply can’t help it; and God will not hold me responsible for what I am not to blame for. I had this way from birth.” Now read: “As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Rom. v. 18, 19. {January 12, 1899 EJW, PTUK 21.3}

“We are not responsible for having been born sinners. Since all our ancestors were sinners, it was inevitable that we should be born sinners if born at all; and we had no voice in the matter of our birth; therefore God does not hold us responsible. But that does not mean that He excuses the sin, and holds our being sinners as a light thing. No, He does not hold us responsible for the sin; for “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” 2 Cor. v. 19. And this reconciliation is effected by undoing all the evil that was entailed on us by our first birth. Because God does not hold us responsible for the sin that is born in us, He provides for a new birth, direct from Himself, which will make us strong where we are weak by nature. We are “heirs of God,” of His person and character, of all that He is and has. We cannot understand it, but the knowledge and belief of the fact makes us “strengthened with all might according to His glorious power.” {January 12, 1899 EJW, PTUK 21.4}

“So Adam died, and because of that, every man born into the world is a sinner, and the sentence of death is passed upon him. Judgment has passed upon all men to condemnation, and there is not a man in this world but has been under the condemnation of death. The only way that he can get free from that condemnation and that death is through Christ, who died for him and who, in His own body, bore our sins upon the cross. He bore the penalty of the law, and suffered the condemnation of the law for us, not for Himself, for He was sinless.
As by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin . . . even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” What is the free gift? It is the free gift by grace and it appertaineth unto many. The work of Adam plunged man into sin; the work of Christ brings men out of sin. One man’s single offense plunged many into many offenses, but the one man’s obedience gathers the many offenses of many men and brings them out from beneath the condemnation of those offenses.” {March 17, 1891 EJW, GCDB 137.8}

“By nature, all persons are in a state of bondage. They are born into a prison, and this prison is represented by the carnal nature. Men may not realise the fact, like the Jews who said to Christ, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man;” but the truth is not affected by man’s ignorance. “Whosoever committeth sin is the bond servant of sin.” John viii. 34. All men are by nature sinners. “Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is He brought in bondage.” 2 Peter ii. 19. Satan is the author of sin. Satan overcame Adam, and thus the whole human family were brought into the bondage of sin.” {November 30, 1893 EJW, PTUK 550.10}

Joint Heirs with Christ .-“And ye are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Col. ii. 10. If by faith we receive the Spirit of God, then we are children of God; “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Rom. viii. 17. “Heirs of God;” not merely of His possessions, but of Himself. “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance.” Ps. xvi. 5. “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Rom. v. 19. We were made sinners by birth; we are made righteous by the new birth. Just as by our natural birth we inherit evil dispositions, and all the tendencies to evil that dwell in the flesh, even so by the new birth we inherit the graces of the Spirit. To doubt this, would be to say that God is less powerful as Father than man is. {July 15, 1897 EJW, PTUK 434.4}

“Through no fault of our own, but “by one man’s disobedience,” through the sin of our first father Adam, we are all born sinners. This is why even little children have naughty thoughts and ways, and are sometimes disobedient, and unkind to each other.
But there is a way of escape for us out of the old sinful nature that makes us do these naughty things. Listen:-
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” To be made righteous is to be made again into the beautiful image of God, able to obey His Word and do His holy will.
We did nothing to make ourselves sinners; we are born so, but the first Adam dragged us all down with him in his fall. Neither can we do anything to make ourselves good; but the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, by His perfect obedience to every word of His Father, has redeemed us all, and lifted the family of man back again to the place where God meant for them.” {November 23, 1899 EJW, PTUK 746.11}

“As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so through the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Just as surely as we are made sinners, and not merely reckoned so, through the sin of the first Adam, so surely may we be made-not merely counted-righteous, through the obedience of Christ, the second Adam. We have all felt the motions of sin working in our members and forcing us to do this thing that we would not, testifying to the fact that we were made sinners by birth. In like manner, but in as much greater degree as Christ is stronger than Satan, and righteousness than sin, may we know that we are made partakers of the Divine nature of holiness, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight.” {May 1, 1902 EJW, PTUK 288.2}

“Who is this One, whose perfect obedience has power to undo the evil effects of the sin of the first man, and bring back his family to obedience and life? It is the One Man-the Man Christ Jesus. Just as we were made sinners, born sinful, through the disobedience of Adam, even as we may be made righteous, born again God’s obedient children, through the obedience of Jesus.” {July 4, 1901 EJW, PTUK 426.10}

“To how much of the law of God is the carnal mind not subject? Can it be subject to part of that law, and not subject to the remaining part? Certainly that could not be. The heart must either be subject to the law in its entirety, or not subject to it; and the carnal heart, as the text declares, “is not subject to the law of God.” This carnal nature is the nature we get by birth, and this nature we must retain, no matter what our station and occupation among men, until we allow the Lord to transform our hearts by the power of His grace. And therefore every person in whom this natural, or carnal, heart exists is at enmity with every precept of the Divine law. He is not only at enmity with the command which says, “Thou shalt not covet,”-as very respectable persons can be-but he is also not in harmony with those commands which say, “Thou shalt not kill,” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” He may not feel the enmity stirring him up to commit some shocking deed; but nevertheless, it is there.” {December 27, 1894 EJW, PTUK 823.3}

“As children of the first Adam, we partake of the dying nature of Adam. But through the imparted life of Christ, man has been given opportunity to win back again the lost gift of life, and to stand in his original position before God, a partaker of the divine nature. “As many as received him,” writes John, “to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” “I am come,” said Christ, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” {ST, June 17, 1897 par. 15}
“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” And the life which Christ offers us is more perfect, more full, and more complete than was the life which Adam forfeited by transgression. Mrs. E. G. White.

Religion and Human Nature.-It does not in any wise commend a religion to say that it agrees with human nature. Recently the Catholic religion was alluded to in PRESENT TRUTH as “the religion of human nature;” and the expression was emphatically commended by a Catholic lady. In agreeing with the statement she unconsciously condemned religion as anti-Christian; for human nature has to be changed for the Divine nature before an individual can become a Christian. Human nature is evil, because man is fallen. Catholicism is a religion which appeals to this fallen nature, in common with other heathen religions which, though different in name, are built upon the same essential principles. Christianity makes no appeal to human nature; on the contrary, it cuts directly across it. {April 26, 1894 EJW, PTUK 263.8}

Then Christ was made like us. He possessed the same nature that we do as well also as the divine nature; and when he was on the earth, he was subject to all the temptations that we are, and yet without sin; and he emptied himself of self just as much and as really as we are to empty ourselves of self in overcoming and partaking of the divine nature. He laid down his own self. He was divine. We are mere selfishness. Full of sin. He did not lay down any sin; but he took on himself our sinful natures and yet without sin.” {February 9, 1893 N/A, GCDB 214.2}

“The statement is sweeping: Nobody can enter the kingdom of heaven except by a new birth. The birth that brings us into the kingdom of men, does not introduce us into the kingdom of God. Nobody is born a Christian. No matter how godly a person’s ancestry may have been, nor into how pious a home he may be born, he must be born again, or he cannot be saved. Pious parents are a blessing, and a wonderful help in the way of life; but there is a work that must be accomplished in every individual soul by the Holy Spirit alone. The child who has truly God-fearing parents must grow up to be a Christian, and should become one very young; but nobody is born a Christian. He may have learned Scripture language as a matter of course, from hearing so much, and may never have heard words of scoffing or profanity. He may have been trained from earliest infancy to read the Bible and to engage in family and public religious exercises. All this is good, but nothing that anybody can get from human beings from first to last, no matter how closely related or how good, can take the place of the personal work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. As great a blessing as pious training is, if it is depended on as being sufficient, the individual is in a worse condition than the one who has never known religious associations, and who knows that he is a worthless sinner.” {January 12, 1899 EJW, PTUK 21.1}

“The works of the flesh are manifest. They cannot be hid. That which is in the heart must show itself in the life, no matter how much one may endeavor to conceal it. “An evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil.” Luke vi. 45. All the evil things that are named in Gal. v. 19-21 are in every human heart by nature. No man is responsible for their being in his heart, for he is born with them. They form our inheritance from our ancestors, from Adam down. But we are responsible if they are allowed to remain in the heart; for the Spirit of God will utterly remove them if allowed free access.” {May 5, 1898 EJW, PTUK 277.11}

It is easy to notice that these pioneers had no problem acknowledging that by nature we are all sinners, and that we are not responsible for having been born sinners. Since we had no voice or choice in that matter God has provided another way out for every human being in the world through His Son Jesus. We cannot do anything to make ourselves righteous but we can choose to accept Jesus and His righteousness and be made righteous only by the merits of Jesus Christ.

In order to sustain their belief that humans become sinners later on after the age of accountability, some people raise objections to the phrase that Waggoner used several times, “sinners by birth”. They claim that since he didn’t say: “sinners at birth”, it doesn’t mean that we were sinners when we were born.

But this same author used the phrase “by birth” when he was describing the Sonship of Jesus in his classic book, Christ and His Righteousness.

“The angels are sons of God, as was Adam (Job 38:7; Luke 3:38), by creation; Christians are the sons of God by adoption (Rom. 8:14, 15), but Christ is the Son of God by birth. ” {1890 EJW, CHR 12.1}

“But the point is that Christ is a begotten Son and not a created subject. He has by inheritance a more excellent name than the angels; He is “a Son over His own house.” Heb. 1:4; 3:6. And since He is the only-begotten son of God, He is of the very substance and nature of God and possesses by birth all the attributes of God, for the Father was pleased that His Son should be the express image of His Person, the brightness of His glory, and filled with all the fullness of the Godhead.” {1890 EJW, CHR 22.1}

So if Christ was the Son of God BY BIRTH, it means that ever since his divine birth from God in the ages of eternity He was always the Son of God. Or does it mean as the Trinitarians claim that He became the Son of God only at Bethlehem?

These dear Christians use this phrase “by birth” about Christ to prove to Trinitarians that He was always the Son of God from birth, but they cannot apply the same logic to humans when it says that we are sinners “by birth”.

This truth is so simple: Adam dragged us all down through his fall by sin, but Jesus will raise us up to righteousness by his merits and perfect righteous character, if we will only accept it and allow Him to work in us.


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