Response to Provisionist Belief on the Fall and Human Nature

Provisionist belief asserts that the Fall did not change the moral nature of man concerning the disposition toward or away from faith. It maintains that humans did not become morally blind but were simply removed from the light, which, if accessible, they could see. Leighton Flowers, a proponent of this view, suggests that the Fall did not cause a change in human nature, preserving the ability to respond to God. First let us demonstrate the reality of the affect of human natue through the authority of Scrioture:


The doctrine of original sin is foundational to Christianity throughout the ages as well as Reformed theology, asserting that the fall of Adam and Eve rendered a profound and pervasive change in human nature. This change, characterized by a corruption of our very essence, is passed down through generations, affecting all of humanity. The defense of this doctrine is grounded in Scripture and the teachings of the early Church Fathers. This essay will explore the nature of original sin, its transmission, and its implications for human nature, supported by biblical references.

The Concept of Original Sin

Original sin refers to the inherent corruption and moral deficiency present in all humans due to Adam and Eve's transgression in the Garden of Eden. This doctrine is well-supported in Scripture. Genesis 6:5 states, "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." This early biblical assertion indicates a deep-seated corruption in humanity's nature from its earliest days.

David's confession in Psalm 51:5 further reinforces this concept: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." Here, David acknowledges the inherent sinfulness present from conception, indicating that original sin is not just a matter of actions but of nature.

Transmission of Original Sin

The transmission of original sin is a subject of theological debate. However, Scripture provides clear insights into this process. Romans 5:12 explains, "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned." This passage reveals that Adam's sin introduced sin and death into the world, affecting all his descendants.

Paul's writings in Romans 5:19 further clarify, "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." Here, Paul contrasts the disobedience of Adam with the obedience of Christ, illustrating how Adam's sin imputed guilt and corruption to all humanity.

The Nature of Original Sin

Original sin manifests as a comprehensive corruption of human nature. This corruption affects the mind, will, and affections, rendering humans incapable of righteousness on their own. Jeremiah 17:9 describes the human heart as "deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" This verse highlights the profound moral and spiritual depravity inherent in human nature.

Paul's struggle in Romans 7:18-19 echoes this sentiment: "For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." Paul's lament underscores the pervasive influence of sin, even in the redeemed.

The Effects of Original Sin

The effects of original sin are both spiritual and physical. Spiritually, humans are separated from God, incapable of true righteousness, and subject to divine wrath. Ephesians 2:3 states, "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath."

Physically, original sin results in death and suffering. Romans 6:23 affirms, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." This verse illustrates the dire consequences of sin while also pointing to the hope of redemption.

Redemption from Original Sin

Despite the pervasive nature of original sin, the gospel offers hope through Jesus Christ. Redemption involves a profound transformation of human nature, described as being "born again." John 3:3 records Jesus saying, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." This rebirth signifies a spiritual regeneration, reversing the effects of original sin.

Paul elaborates on this transformation in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" This new creation involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, enabling believers to overcome the power of sin and live in righteousness.

The Role of Baptism

Baptism plays a crucial role in symbolizing and sealing the washing away of original sin. Colossians 2:11-12 draws a parallel between circumcision and baptism: "In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead."

The Necessity of Regeneration

Regeneration is essential for overcoming original sin. Titus 3:5-6 explains, "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior." This renewal by the Holy Spirit restores what was lost in the fall, enabling believers to pursue holiness.


The doctrine of original sin, rooted in the fall of Adam, explains the pervasive corruption of human nature. Scriptural evidence supports this doctrine, illustrating the inherent sinfulness and moral deficiency present in all humans. The effects of original sin are profound, affecting both spiritual and physical aspects of life. However, through Jesus Christ, redemption and regeneration are possible, offering hope and restoration. This transformative process involves baptism and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, enabling believers to overcome the power of sin and live in righteousness.

Now let's use additional scriptural exegesis to respond to the Provisionist belief, demonstrating the biblical case for the profound impact of the Fall on human nature, particularly regarding spiritual blindness and moral inability.

Biblical Exegesis Against the Provisionist Belief

1. Total Depravity and Moral Inability

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV): "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."

  • Exegetical Insight: Paul describes humanity as "dead in trespasses and sins," indicating a state of spiritual death and moral inability. This spiritual deadness implies an incapacity to respond to God apart from divine intervention. The phrase "by nature children of wrath" suggests an inherent sinful disposition, not merely a lack of light.

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV): "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"

  • Exegetical Insight: The prophet Jeremiah underscores the inherent deceitfulness and corruption of the human heart. This description goes beyond a mere removal from light and points to a fundamental change in the moral nature of humanity, resulting in a deep-seated spiritual illness.

2. Spiritual Blindness and the Need for Regeneration

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (ESV): "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

  • Exegetical Insight: Paul teaches that unbelievers are spiritually blinded by the god of this world (Satan), preventing them from seeing the light of the gospel. This blindness is not merely an external removal from light but an internal incapacity to perceive spiritual truth, necessitating a supernatural work of grace to restore sight.

John 3:3-5 (ESV): "Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'"

  • Exegetical Insight: Jesus emphasizes the necessity of being "born again" (regeneration) to see and enter the kingdom of God. This implies that apart from the new birth, humans are spiritually incapable of perceiving and entering God’s kingdom, indicating a profound change in nature due to the Fall that requires divine renewal.

3. Human Inability and Divine Initiative

Romans 8:7-8 (ESV): "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

  • Exegetical Insight: Paul explicitly states that the unregenerate mind is hostile to God and unable to submit to His law. This is a clear indication of moral inability resulting from the Fall. The incapacity to please God underscores the need for a radical change in nature, which is only possible through God's sovereign grace.

1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV): "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

  • Exegetical Insight: Paul explains that the natural person (unregenerate) cannot accept or understand spiritual truths because they require spiritual discernment. This reinforces the idea that fallen humanity is morally and spiritually incapable of responding to God without the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.


Scriptural exegesis reveals that the Fall profoundly changed the moral nature of humanity, resulting in spiritual death, blindness, and moral inability. These biblical truths contradict the Provisionist belief that the Fall did not affect one's disposition toward faith and that humans merely lack access to light. Instead, the Bible teaches that fallen humanity is inherently corrupt and incapable of responding to God apart from His sovereign, regenerating grace. This underscores the necessity of divine intervention for salvation, affirming the Reformed doctrines of total depravity and irresistible grace.


Elaboration on 1 Corinthians 2:14 and its Relation to 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV):
"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

1 Corinthians 1:23-24 (ESV):
"But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

Exegesis and Relation

1. Spiritual Blindness and Folly

1 Corinthians 1:23-24: Paul explains that the message of the cross—Christ crucified—is perceived differently by different groups:

  • Jews: For Jews, the message of the crucified Messiah is a "stumbling block." This term (Greek: "skandalon") signifies something that causes one to trip or fall. The expectation of a triumphant political Messiah contrasts sharply with the idea of a crucified Savior, causing disbelief and offense.
  • Gentiles: For Gentiles, the message is "folly" (Greek: "moria"), meaning foolishness. The concept of God incarnate suffering a humiliating death on a cross is irrational and absurd to the Greek mindset, which values wisdom and philosophical reasoning.

However, Paul points out that for "those who are called," both Jews and Greeks, Christ is recognized as the power and wisdom of God. This recognition comes through a divine calling that transforms their understanding.

1 Corinthians 2:14: Paul further develops this idea by describing the "natural person" (Greek: "psychikos anthropos"). The natural person, devoid of the Spirit, does not accept the things of the Spirit of God because they are folly to him. The reason for this rejection is twofold:

  • Folly: Like the Gentiles in 1 Corinthians 1:23, the natural person finds the spiritual truths foolish because they do not align with natural reasoning.
  • Inability to Understand: The natural person "is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." This indicates an inherent incapacity to grasp spiritual truths without the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

Man's Moral Inability Apart from Grace

Concept of Moral Inability: The idea of moral inability is clearly presented in these passages. The natural person’s inability to accept and understand the things of God underscores the depth of human depravity and the necessity of divine grace.

  1. Human Condition:

    • Natural Person: By default, all humans are in the state of the "natural person." Their minds are darkened, and their hearts are inclined away from God. This is not merely a matter of lacking information but a profound spiritual deadness and blindness (Ephesians 2:1; 4:18).
  2. Role of Divine Calling:

    • Effectual Call: The distinction Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 1:24 between those for whom Christ is a stumbling block or folly and those who see Him as the power and wisdom of God highlights the necessity of the effectual call. This call is the work of the Holy Spirit, who enlightens the mind and regenerates the heart, enabling individuals to respond in faith (John 6:44; Romans 8:30).

Integration of Concepts

Inherent Inability and Divine Grace: The natural person's inability to accept the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:14) directly correlates with the perception of the gospel as a stumbling block or folly (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). This inherent inability stems from:

  • Spiritual Blindness: The natural mind is spiritually blind and cannot perceive the truth of the gospel.
  • Heart Condition: The fallen human heart is predisposed to reject God's wisdom and salvation plan, finding it offensive or foolish.

Need for Grace: Divine intervention is essential. The "called" in 1 Corinthians 1:24 are those whom God has graciously enlightened, enabling them to see Christ as the power and wisdom of God. This transformation is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in:

  • Regeneration: The new birth that changes the heart's disposition (John 3:3-5).
  • Illumination: Enlightening the mind to understand spiritual truths (Ephesians 1:18).


The connection between 1 Corinthians 2:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 underscores the profound moral inability of humanity to come to Christ apart from the supernatural work of grace. The natural person perceives the gospel as folly and cannot understand it due to spiritual blindness and deadness. However, those whom God calls experience a divine transformation that enables them to see Christ as the power and wisdom of God. This calling is not based on human ability but on God's sovereign grace, highlighting the necessity of divine intervention for salvation.


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