Monday, March 19, 2018

Good News vs fake news: Christians Still Have a Sin Nature

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in an extended study of the Good News of Jesus Christ, contrasted to that of the fake news of religious tradition. Today, it seemed good to tackle a highly controversial topic. This idea or concept that Christians still possess a sin nature.

 In your Christian life, have you ever heard discussions or sermons referring to believers "winning the war within?" Or the idea that there is a black dog and white dog within you warring for supremacy? That deep inside your chest there exists two natures. One positive, one evil and the one you feed will be dominant?

 These concepts are birthed from the traditions of men. Traditions designed to explain why Christians still sin. Traditions created to answer for the seemingly continual moral failures among Christians. This is also where the dying to ourselves concept was birthed.

One Nature or Two?

 How many natures then do believers have? Christians have two natures in their spirit? One pure and the other evil and unclean? Are we really expected to believe that God, who is holy, to dwell in an unclean temple? 

 Allow the Scriptures to be the final authority on this subject;
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, Colossians 2:11 NKJV

Paul in Colossians 2 (here), clearly illustrates the old man, the old nature, the sin nature being put off or cut away. In circumcision, there is a removal of skin. It is cut away, it doesn't remain in place. Paul revealed in Christ, our old man passed away and we were raised to new life and receive complete forgiveness.

In Romans 6:3-11 NKJV we clearly see baptism representing the passing of the old nature and rising with a new nature. Paul uses such phrases as;
...that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4b NKJV
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:6 NKJV

Here we see clearly illustrated that baptism symbolizes the death and removal of the old nature and the rising again with a new nature. 

 In Ephesians 2:1-10 NKJV, we see yet another clear statement revealing the New Creation reality of those in Christ.Paul makes strong statements like;
 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1 NKJV
The old nature was dead, spiritually separated from God. Now we are made alive in Christ. 

Finally, Paul really dismantles this nonsense of two natures, or believers retaining a sin nature in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NKJV. In this beautiful passage, Paul details our full identity in Christ. 
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

 It doesn't get any clearer than this. The old has passed away. The old is done away with in Christ. In Him, you are made totally and completely brand new! 

Paul also reveals what God made us in Christ when the old was removed.
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
God declared us righteous and then by virtue of the New Birth and New Creation He actually made us the very righteousness of God in Christ! 

 What fellowship, therefore, is there with light and darkness? What do righteousness and evil have in common? God admonished us through Paul not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In other words, don't join in union with darkness because it is corrupt and doesn't share your values. If He is telling us outwardly to avoid being in union with darkness, why would he join two opposing natures inwardly? 

If there is no sin nature why do Christians sin?

 This question alone should raise awareness of the traditions of men. This question lends credence to the performance and works rooted gospel of men. Under performance, our actions and efforts are paramount. So we become desperate for ways to be more perfect and when we fail to measure up no matter how hard we try we find a scapegoat, must be our sinful nature making me fail.

 Then we create customs, and traditions to try and curb this evil nature within. We distance ourselves from people, from family, from any form of entertainment. Yet, so many still see failure in one area or another. So again they blame this sinful nature within.

 This is not victorious living. This is also a subtle form of condemnation that we intake on a continual basis. We are continually agreeing that there is something wrong with us. That is a total disregard of the Finished Work.

 The Cross worked! The Finished Work took all our sin and shame and inferiority and exchanged it with His wholeness, total forgiveness, perfect acceptance and New Life and complete righteousness. We are not sinful, lost, depraved beings. We are New Creations in Christ Jesus. We are made new and walk in newness of life.

 Why do we sin then as believers? Why do we find ourselves missing it? Why do we stumble? Why are we beset by addiction or bad habits? There is an answer in Scripture.

1.) Temptation. 
 Even though we are made new the enemy comes to tempt us. This temptation is outward not inward. It is rooted in unrenewed desire, more on that shortly. The enemy comes with enticement to sin. James 1 expounds on this.

2.) Unrenewed Mind
Romans 12 clearly expounds on this. As believers in Christ and with a greater understanding of the New Creation, Righteousness of the believer, and the Grace of God, we are aware of the dangers of wrong thinking and wrong believing. 

3.) Unrenewed desire
This is an often ignored subject. Paul speaks of it in Colossians 3.  We understand wrong thinking but we also must address wrong bodily desires. 

 These three areas are where we must grow in Grace to find victory over sin and bad habits. Religion makes rules that isolate people but it doesn't alter desire, it just doesn't give it a place to express itself. Over time people will find some place or time to express that desire, or rather the enemy will help you find ways to express it.

 This is where we must use wisdom. When traditional folk speaks about not feeding that old sin nature they are partially right. Not that we have a sin nature but there is a partially true principal about not feeding desires. 

 Before we were saved, our old nature was that of sin and desires that were contrary to God. In other words, it was all about self. In this time, our thinking was developed to justify our actions. Our physical bodies were trained to then enjoy certain activities. Not just sexual immorality. Things like gossip, judging others, being full of strife and anger. Harboring resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness. 

 After we are born again the nature within us changes. Often many of these things lose their appeal. Sometimes though our bodies and thinking are still desirous of these activities. This is why Paul speaks of renewal. 

 We renew our thinking by feeding on the Word and knowing who we are already in Him. This also renews bodily desires. This is where the not feeding the old comes into practice under Grace. In other words, not because of condemnation or performance but because of our New Creation we don't give attention to or "feed" negative desires. 

 If we see we are struggling with addiction, why subscribe to magazines that entice that specific addiction? If it's a sex addiction, why go to movies that are sexually charged? If it's nicotine it would probably be best to not join your friend on a smoke break, just talk to them afterward. 

 I am aware this is a fine line and many become really legalistic in this area if they are not careful. The solution is to be led by the Spirit, and realize this is what God is leading you to do and not make your boundaries the boundaries that everyone else should follow. Allow God to lead and guide and direct His children. Also, we all know within us what is feeding a desire and what activity isn't if we are sincere. While we don't feed the negative desire, we should renew our desire with new desires rooted in love and Grace. Letting Him live through us is key.

As for temptation, we should use wisdom. We should avoid temptation situations if at all possible. This is accomplished by establishing Spirit directed boundaries. Being as blunt as possible, don't go to bed with your girlfriend and pray for strength not to engage in sexual activity with her. That is foolishness. Use wisdom.

 In summation, do believers have a sin nature? No, absolutely not. Jesus made us New. The Cross wasn't a shoddy work. It fully accomplished redemption. He didn't leave us as bad as He found us. He made all things new. As believers, identifying with the risen Christ within us, renewing our minds to the Word, and forming new desires in Grace, we will see growth and freedom from addictions and sin. Also, the good news is while we are on the journey of maturing into who He already made us inwardly, there is no condemnation no matter how often we fail. This isn't an excuse to remain in sin, but rather the empowerment to grow in Grace and freedom.
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at