The Sin Nature
The Sin Nature is that part of the essence of the soul acquired at Adam's fall and subsequently passed on to every person at birth. The Sin Nature is the center of the soul's rebellion against God. The human soul has the following characteristics:
* The Sin Nature
The Essence of the Sin Nature
The Sin Nature has an "area" of strengths in which human good is produced, that is, those good deeds and thoughts which are acceptable to man but which are unacceptable to God for purposes of salvation or spiritual growth. Isa. 64:6; Rom. 8:8. In the Bible, human good is contrasted with divine good which is the work produced by the Spirit of God in the life of a believer who is walking in daily fellowship with the Lord under the control of the Holy Spirit.
The Sin Nature also has an "area" of weakness which directs the production of all personal sin. Heb. 12:1. Three types of personal sin are produced here: mental attitude sins, sins of the tongue, and open sinful activity.
The Sin Nature has patterns of lusts, or desires, the basic motivators of all the activities of human life. The basic drives include the desire for power, approbation, ego satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, material satisfaction, and so forth.
Trends in the Sin Nature
The Sin Nature has a system of trends, or inclinations, which vary among individuals. Some people have an inclination toward immorality or lasciviousness. Rom. 1. Others have trends toward morality or asceticism. Either trend is a product of Sin Nature activity.
The trends of the old sin nature are derived from the individual lust pattern. There are certain areas in which we lust, and other areas where we do not.
The trends of the old sin nature are classified in two categories, legalism and lasciviousness.
Legalism unrestrained results in moral degeneracy.
Lasciviousness unrestrained results in immoral degeneracy.
Both trends in the old sin nature result in distortion and erroneous conclusions.
For example, moral degeneracy with its self-righteousness and self-vindication is often mistaken for the Christian way of life. People who are morally degenerate are often considered to be great Christians.
Morality originates from the laws of divine establishment, designed for the entire human race. Morality is designed for both believer and unbeliever.
Anything the unbeliever can do is not a part of the Christian way of life. The Christian way of life is a supernatural way of life and demands a supernatural means of execution, i.e., the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Virtue supersedes morality in the protocol plan of God. But if your trend is toward legalism, people assume you're a great Christian.
There is also a distortion involving those with a trend toward lasciviousness.
Christians say such a person cannot do "those things" and still be a Christian.
Immoral degeneracy, with its fornication, violence, terrorism, murder, dope addiction, is construed as not being Christian.
So in the first distortion, people think that if you're very moral you're living the Christian life. In the second distortion, people think that if you raise hell you're probably not a Christian at all. Legalistic shock concludes it must have been a "head belief and not a heart belief."
Born-again believers still possess an old sin nature and still commit sins. If the believer has a trend toward legalism, he will commit sins related to moral degeneracy. If the believer has a trend toward lasciviousness, he will commit sins related to immoral degeneracy .
When born-again believers commit sins related to immoral degeneracy, they're judged by their Christian peers as being not really saved. They erroneously allege, "a person cannot do such things and be saved."
What determines the reality of one's salvation is personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, not the category of one's sins .
The believer out of fellowship, living in the cosmic system, can actually commit any sin that his unbeliever counterpart would commit, i.e., an unbeliever with a compatible old sin nature.
Bible Synonyms for the Sin Nature
There are several terms used in scripture to refer to what is known as the Sin Nature.
Sin (in the singular) -- Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12; 7:14; 1 John 1:8.
Flesh -- the emphasis here is on the location of the Sin Nature in the "flesh" or life of the individual. Rom. 8:8; 7:18; 13:14; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 2.3.
Old Man -- referring to the the believer's former manner of life as an unbeliever. Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:5-9.
Heart -- in some usages the word "heart" refers to a facet of the soul which is the source of sin. Jer. 17:9; Mt. 12:34; 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Ps. 58:2-5.
Carnality -- derived from the Latin for "flesh". Rom. 7:14; 8:6-8; 1 Cor. 3:1-3.
Principles Related to the Sin Nature
The Sin Nature is the source of spiritual death. Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1,5.
The Sin Nature is perpetuated in human beings through physical birth. Ps. 51:5; 1 Tim. 2:13,14. The believer continues to have his Sin Nature after salvation. 1 Cor. 3:1; 1 John 1:8. The believer under the control of the Sin Nature is called "carnal". Rom. 7:14; 1 Cor. 3:1ff
The Sin Nature frustrates the production of divine good. Rom. 7:15.
The Sin Nature is not found in the believer's resurrection body. 1 Cor. 15:56; Phil. 3:21; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 5:23.
Solutions to the Problem of the Sin Nature
God has arranged to provide all that is needed to deal with the problems caused by the Sin Nature in a believer's life. The personal sins of the individual were borne by Jesus Christ on the Cross. 1 Pet. 2:24. These sins will never be mentioned again because they have already been judged in Christ. Rev. 20:12.
Furthermore, Jesus Christ rejected the human good produced by the Sin Nature in terms of its use as "currency" to purchase salvation, Eph. 2:8,9. This made the way clear for God to provide salvation by grace. The unbeliever will be at the Great White Throne judgment because of his rejection of this grace provision. Rev. 20:11-15.
The believer's sins were borne on the Cross by the Lord, as were those of all people. 2 Cor. 5:21. When a believer sins, Satan accuses him in heaven. Jesus Christ is our Advocate; He pleads our case, and the case is thrown out of court.
God has provided confession of sin as a means of restoring the broken fellowship with God caused by the believer's personal sin. The believer can repent and confess and be filled with the Spirit. 1 John 1:9; Prov. 1:23.
Human good, rejected by Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8,9), is never acceptable to God, and it does not produce blessing in the life of the believer. It is contrary to the principle of Grace, in which God does the work. In Christian growth, the Holy Spirit provides for the production of divine good in the believer's life, through His filling, control, and teaching functions. God does the giving; man does the receiving.
Legalism is human good production for the purpose of earning and receiving merit or blessing from God. In Legalism, man does the work and receives the credit. Therefore, Legalism is a product of the Sin Nature lust patterns. Under Grace, God does the work and receives the "credit" (glory). Human good production of the Sin Nature will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is called "wood, hay, and stubble" and will be burned. The "gold, silver, and precious stones", of divine good production of the Holy Spirit, will remain. 1 Cor. 3:10-15
Christians can overcome the sin nature by being filled with the spirit.
To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with Christ. The Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ. Therefore, if I am filled with the Spirit, I am abiding in Christ. I am walking in the light as He is the light, and the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse and keep on cleansing me from all unrighteousness.
I am controlled by Christ because the word "filling" means to be controlled. And if I am controlled - not as a robot but as one who is led and empowered by the Spirit - the Lord Jesus will walk around in my body and live His resurrection life in and through me.
This amazing fact that Christ lives in you and expresses His love through you is one of the most important truths in the Word of God. The standards of the Christian life are so high and so impossible to achieve, according to the Word of God, that only one person has been able to succeed. That person is Jesus Christ. Now, through His indwelling presence, He wants to enable all who place their trust in Him to live this same supernatural life.
If you are willing for Jesus Christ to live His resurrection life in and through you, you will bear spiritual fruit as naturally as a healthy vine will bear an abundance of fruit.
Jesus said, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." You can be a great preacher, a Christian scholar, a deacon or elder, attend church meetings daily, live a clean, moral life, memorize hundreds of verses of Scripture, direct a church choir, and teach Sunday school, but if you are not bearing fruit in the sense that you are introducing others to Christ, you are not filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit according to the Word of God.
Some people say, "I witness for Christ by living a good life." But it is not enough to live a good life. Many non-Christians live fine, moral, ethical lives. According to the Lord Jesus, the only way to demonstrate that you are truly following Him is to produce fruit, which includes introducing others to our Savior as well as living holy lives. And the only way you can produce fruit is through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our Savior came to "seek and to save the lost," and He has "chosen and ordained" you to share the good news of His love and forgiveness with everyone, everywhere. To fail to witness for Christ with your lips is to disobey this command just as much as to fail to witness for Him by living a holy life is to disobey His command. In neither case can the disobedient Christian expect God to control and empower his life, nor can he experience the reality of God's presence and blessing.
Not only do you receive a supernatural power for witnessing when you are filled with the Spirit, but your personality also begins to change. As you continue to walk in the control and power of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit becomes increasingly obvious in your life.
In Galatians 5:22,23, Paul explains, "When the Holy Spirit controls our lives He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control..."
The Christian's relationship with the Holy Spirit is both critical and progressive: critical , in that one learns that the Christian life is a life of faith rather than a life of works and has no reference to emotions ("The just shall live by faith."); progressive , in that, as one walks consistently in the power and control of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit will be produced in his life.
A word of caution is in order. Do not seek an emotional or mystical experience. Do not depend on mystical impressions. The Word of God must be the basis of your spiritual growth. There is an interesting parallel between Ephesians 5:18 , which admonishes us to be constantly and continually directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and Colossians 3:16 , which admonishes us to "let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you..."
The end result of both letting the Word of Christ dwell in you and being filled with the Holy Spirit will be that you will talk much about the Lord quoting psalms and hymns and making music in your heart to the Lord.
It is very important to recognize the importance of the balance between the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The Word of God is closed to our understanding and has little meaning to us apart from the illumination given by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is hindered in speaking clear and life changing truth apart from the Word of God.
When the emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is in proper balance in your life, the result is a life of power and great fruitfulness in which our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is wonderfully honored and glorified. As you continue then to allow the Holy Spirit to control and empower you, and as you meditate upon the Word of God, hiding it in your heart, your life expresses more and more the beauty of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit which Paul lists in Galatians 5:22,23 . These attributes of our Lord Jesus Himself, plus fruitful witnessing, indicate that the Lord is actually living His life in and through you!
Being filled with the Spirit results in an abundant and overflowing life. Jesus of Nazareth once cried out to the multitude, "If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John adds, "By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive."
Truly, this is "the abundant life," yet most Christians are experiencing little of it.