The Bible defines original sin as the consequence of the first human sin (Genesis 3:1-13). This definition is represented by the story of Eve and the Apple. This consequence became a hereditary taint that all humans are born into.
(Romans 5:12) Therefore, just as through one person, sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all since all sinned.
(Wisdom 2:24) But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world and they who are in his possession experience it.
Legends aside, what original sin is can be defined as our nature or tendency to sin. From youth, we are creatures of desire. Want comes naturally to human beings. All sin comes from desires. Not to say all desires are sinful, but without moderation, it will become corrupt. No need constitutes sin. This truth is recognized in scripture. Since all people are born with original sin (except through divine intervention), our souls require justification through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation to obtain the sanctifying grace needed for salvation.
(Mark 16:16) “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned”
(John 3:5) Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”
Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines justification as the following:
The judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law.
The Holy Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism replaces circumcision in the New Covenant. Baptism in the early Christian Church was commonly referred to as the Bath of Rebirth. The word baptism comes from the Greek word baptizo, which translates to wash or bathe. It was called the Bath of Rebirth because scripture tells us through baptism our old, sinful selves die with Christ’s death, and we are reborn into new creations in the eyes of God.
(Colossians 2:11,12) In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
(2 Corinthians 5:17) So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.
Baptism is a sacrament of faith instituted by Christ to save us from the death we inherit from Original Sin. By recognizing our flaw, we come to God to seek justification. He lovingly accepts our flawed, sinful nature. By beseeching God to overcome our shortcomings, He adopts us as His own.
(Romans 5:17-19,21) For if by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ. In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous … so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Matthew 28:18-20) Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
The Council of Trent affirmed that after the proclamation of the Gospel, there could be no justification without Baptism or the desire for the same. The following verses from the Bible reinforce this statement:
(Titus 3:4-7) But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ, our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in the hope of eternal life.
(1 Corinthians 6:11) That is what some of you used to be, but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.
(1 Peter 3:21) This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
What makes a valid baptism?
Baptism of Water
Baptism of Water is the common and instructed ritual of baptism. Sprinkling, pouring or immersing in water all make a valid baptism because it’s not the water that baptizes but instead the Holy Spirit that baptizes. The water is symbolic of the “washing away” of sin to allow the Holy Spirit to infuse into the human soul.
In some cases, Baptism by water can be replaced by Baptism of desire or Baptism of blood. However, one requirement for the Baptism of Water to be considered valid is the use of the name of the Trinity. The words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” must be spoken when the water is used to be considered valid.
(Matthew 28:19-20) “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
(John 3:5) Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”
Baptism of Desire
Baptism of desire is the implicit desire for baptism of water by a person who makes an act of perfect love of God, based on faith and with a feeling of sincere sorrow for one’s sins. Such was the case in the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter encountered pagans who, moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the greatness of God.
(Acts 10:46-47) Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the holy Spirit even as we have?”
According to other parts of scripture, perfect love possesses justifying power.
(Luke 7:47-50) “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at the table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(John 14:21) “And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
Baptism of Blood
Baptism of blood signifies martyrdom of an unbaptized person, that is, the bearing of a violent death or of an assault that leads to death, because of one’s confession of the Christian faith, or one’s practice of Christian virtue.
(Matthew 10:32) “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.”
(Matthew 10:39) “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Does baptism remove your sins?
Yes. As seen earlier, through the Sacrament of Baptism, we enter into Christ’s sacrifice, and thus all of our transgressions are washed away by His blood.
(1 Corinthians 6:11) That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
(Acts 22:16) Now why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name.
(Acts 2:38) Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.”
(Colossians 2:12-13) You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And even when you were dead [in] transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.
The Holy Sacrament of Confirmation
The Sacrament of Confirmation is the completion of our justification. Scripture and the early Church refer to this sacrament as the Sacrament of Renewal or Sealing. Following Mark’s formula, one must both be baptized and believe to be saved. Our journey towards salvation begins with baptism. Through baptism, our sins are forgiven, and we’re counted among God’s children. It is through the Sacrament of Confirmation that we make a declaration of faith and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are granted through the Church by the imposition of hands. We see a perfect example of the Sacrament of Confirmation in scripture.
(Acts 8:14-17) Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit.
(Acts 19:1-6) While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and came (down) to Ephesus where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a holy Spirit.” He said, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.” Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid (his) hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is typically given when the recipient is old enough to make their own declaration of faith. If they were baptized as a child, they would receive Confirmation at or after the age of reason (typically ages 14 or 15). Adults who convert are confirmed immediately after baptism.
Why are children baptized if they’re not old enough to be confirmed?
Salvation is a promise made to all, including children.
(Acts 2:38-39) Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”
Baptism is only one of the sacraments of initiation. The justification for children is covered by proxy from the faith of the parents or godparents. We see this example multiple times in scripture. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul mentions baptizing the entire household of Stephanus. In Acts 16, we see that the woman Lydia became a believer, and as a result of her faith, her whole family was baptized. The same for the jailor in the same chapter.
(Acts 16:30-33) Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.” So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once.
Like Lydia, the jailor’s entire family was baptized because of his faith. This would include any children. So, in Catholicism, as with most Christian denominations, children are baptized in the faith which they will be reared.
(Joshua 24:15) As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Does justification guarantee that we will go to Heaven?
No, unfortunately, it doesn’t. We are responsible for keeping the covenant made between us and God through baptism.
(Romans 2:25) Circumcision, to be sure, has value if you observe the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
(Romans 11:22) See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.
(Hebrews 10:26-27) If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries.
(2 Peter 2:20-21) For if they, having escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of [our] Lord and savior Jesus Christ, again become entangled and overcome by them, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment handed down to them.
We can see that the covenant of the new circumcision, which is baptism, can be broken by not following God’s laws. Throughout the Bible, we can continue to see examples that teach us that even after being baptized and accepting Christ, we must continue to obey Him to remain in his grace. You can find more on the effects of sin by reading the FAQ on Sin and Confession.