I don’t understand this scripture: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5 NIV)
Was I born a sinner? I thought all children were born sinless?
The NIV reading of that text sure sounds like David is saying that he was born in sin, but the NIV isn’t a word-for-word translation and takes liberty in translating that verse (read “What’s The Best Translation” for more details on Bible translations). Other translations, such as the New American Standard and New King James (much more literal translations), simply say “I was brought forth in iniquity.” (NKJV) This is a much more generic statement than saying David was born sinful. Ps 51:5 could mean one of two things:
- David was born sinful.
- David was born into a sinful world.
We need to look at other verses to see what the Bible teaches about babies being born in sin. The sum teachings of the Bible say that babies are born without sin, and babies are perfect in God’s sight (even David, the writer of Psalm 51, recognized that his dead child was going to be in heaven [2 Sam 12:23]). Sin is not a birthright; it is a choice (Gen 4:6-7, Jas 1:13-15). Humans sin when they choose to do wrong; they are not born in sin.
The false teaching of ‘original sin’ is very common in today’s society. If a congregation teaches that you are born in sin, they are false teachers. Sin is a choice we make in life (Isa 7:15-16), and all humans are born upright and good (Eccl 7:29).