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Do we as believers still have a sinful nature? Or is our sinful nature removed upon accepting Jesus as our Savior? What difference is there between the sinful nature of an unbeliever and a believer? Can Christians still sin?

Colossians says that we have been (spiritually) circumcised and that the "body of the sins of the flesh" has been removed.

Col 2:11

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:


Further, in Romans 6, it says that our old man is crucified and the the body of sin is destroyed. So, with these two verses, it's clear that the believers' sinful nature has been removed.

Rom 6:6-14

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.


However, it also says not to let sin reign in our body. It implies that Christians are still able to let sin reign (which is undeniable from empirical evidence). So, how can we reconcile the fact that our sinful nature has been destroyed, but yet we are still able to sin?

In Romans and Galatians, Paul says there is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit.

Rom 7:19-24

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.


Rom 8:10-14

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.


Gal 5:17-26

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are these ; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, wrath, contention, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, self-control: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. affections: or, passions 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.


The way to reconcile the fact that our sinful nature has been destroyed and yet we still have to daily battle temptations of the flesh is this. Positionally, our sinful nature has been destroyed. But, experientially, we have to claim the victory over the flesh.

Before the Israelites were able to occupy the promised land, God had given the land to them. They had full rights to the land. But, they had to fight for the land. They had to choose also to obey law.

Likewise, God has removed the body of sin from us. But, we have to choose to obey the spirit instead of the flesh. And as we do so, we will experience what God has given to us.

Deut 27:3

And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee.


In more theological terms, we have been regenerated and justified when we accept Christ. We no longer have any sin before God's eyes. There is no sin that God can point to in our lives and say we are guilty. We are completely innocent before him, just as Jesus Christ is completely innocent of any sin. In fact, when God looks at us, he sees Jesus Christ and His righteousness and says we are also righteous.

However, we don't yet walk in full possession of complete righteousness. We have to battle for it. We have to walk into the promised land and by faith let God destroy the enemies of Lust-ites, Greed-ites, Anger-ites, and all the other -ites in our lives.

We are in the process of sanctification. We are being separated from evil and being dedicated to God.

II Tim 2:20-21

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.


Rom 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


We have been saved, are we are also being saved.

Phil 2:12-13

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.


And in this process of sanctification, we will become more and more like what God has already given to us.

II Cor 3:18

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same
image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.



So, as Christians, we no longer have a sinful nature. But, we can still choose between deeds of the flesh and the Spirit. And we're called to possess what God has given to us and experientially live out what God has given to us. And to allow God to transform us into His image.


Links:
Sinful Nature - Xenos
Sinful Nature - Closer Walk
The Nature of the Flesh in the Believer's Life - FICM
Sin - Wikipedia
Sanctification - CVCC
Regeneration,Justification and Sanctification - Bible.org
Key Elements of the Christian Life - BiblicalResources
Sanctification - Christian-Faith
The Doctrine of Sanctification - Pink

Posted: 2003-10-23 10:39:12


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