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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : The "Sin Nature"

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 The "Sin Nature"

Here is a question meant to stimulate our thinking and exegesis and get us thinking about whether we receive teachings because they just sound good.

1. Where is the Sin Nature mentioned in the Bible? I see the Flesh mentioned in Romans, but not the Sin Nature.

 2010/11/8 13:09

Joined: 2007/6/27
Posts: 1573
Omaha, NE

 Re: The "Sin Nature"

Sin is a principle at work in our
bodily members. The Greeks could
not find a word or term to
associate with; so they referred
to the flesh. Romans Ch 7 is the
best exegesis concerning the effects
and the principle of sin within us.

Martin G. Smith

 2010/11/8 13:12Profile


Did Adam and Eve have a "sin nature" before they sinned?

 2010/11/8 13:17

Joined: 2006/8/10
Posts: 661

 Re: The "Sin Nature"

Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Rom 7:23 But 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.

It is obvious from the context that sin mentioned in the above 2 verses is not talking about individual acts of sin, but a principle or "law" of sin that indwells the individual and inclines them to commit acts of sin.

 2010/11/8 13:18Profile

Joined: 2010/8/24
Posts: 1035


Did Adam and Eve have a "sin nature" before they sinned?

The verse that is used to prove that is Eccl 7:29

Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Also Adam and Eve did not have knowledge of good and evil.


 2010/11/8 13:34Profile


Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Here we are talking about individual works or acts of sin.

Is it about "flesh vs spirit", or is it ok to blame our problems on our "sin nature"?

I am just trying to understand clearly what the Bible says on this.

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Scripture seems very clear regarding Romans 8:5-9. It's all about Flesh vs. Spirit. I don't see anything about "sin nature".

Why do Christians fall into sin? Because we put our mind on flesh instead of spirit. I can relate to this. Scripture makes it easy for me. But "sin nature" seems too esoteric. It certainly is not part of our DNA, otherwise it could be removed through genetic engineering.

If our flesh is just left alone as Adam was left alone, what happens? I am sure that Adam did not have a "sin nature" before he sinned. But he did have flesh.

Okay, so we do agree that there is no actual term "sin nature" in the Bible. But, we see that there is a "law of sin" in our flesh and Paul says, "sin that dwelleth in me". Maybe we should concentrate on what these are.

There is a lot of Christianese wording out there and it is better to stay with exactly what the Bible says and understand it from that perspective.

Is it right to say that "my sin nature got the best of me" or is it more like, "I yielded to my flesh instead of to the Spirit"?

Contending with you guys for a proper understanding according to what the Bible says. Sometimes we receive everything taught to us so easily and readily that we forget to bring it through the filter of God's Word.

Thanks a lot.

 2010/11/8 13:54

Joined: 2010/8/24
Posts: 1035


I understand the "sin nature", "flesh", "old man" to all refer to the same thing.

It is there. it is never eradicated. Whenever the Spirit dominates, the sin nature is put to death. Whenever the Spirit is weakened, the sin nature rises.

Gal 5:17

For 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.

you notice the language in the end of the verse is similar to that of Romans 7: 16,19,20

19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

but that is when the flesh dominates.
That is why Paul says in Gal 5:16

[This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

He is saying in effect, there is a remedy to not fulfilling the lust of the flesh, that remedy is to walk in the Spirit.


 2010/11/8 14:12Profile

Joined: 2006/11/26
Posts: 5185


I hope that this post by Watchman Nee on "A Talk With Young Believers" will be helpful as many times the terms sin nature, old man, and flesh can be confusing. Yet, as it was mentioned in a previous post it would seem that these terms are one and the same.

"Before we speak of our present condition, we should first understand the kind of person we were before we believed in the Lord. After that, we will speak of our condition after we believed in the Lord. We know that we are persons made up of three parts—the spirit, the soul, and the body. The spirit is the organ with which we fellowship with God. Animals have no spirit. Hence, they can never worship God. The soul is the seat of our personality. Our will, mind, emotion, and sentiments are all functions of the soul. The body is our outward shell. Although man has become fallen, he still possesses these three parts. After man is regenerated, he still has the same three parts. When God created man, He created him with a self-consciousness; man was a living creature with consciousness. He had a spirit. Hence, he was different from other lower kinds of creatures. He had a soul. Hence, he was different from the angels of light, who are purely spirits. The center of man was his spirit; it controlled his whole being. It controlled his soul and his body. Man was living totally for God; the emotions of his soul and the demands of his body were all headed up by his spirit, and they were for glorifying God and worshipping God.

But alas, man fell! This fall did not annul any of the three elements in man. However, the order of these three elements has been upset. The condition in the garden of Eden shows us clearly that mankind rebelled against God; his love for God ceased, and he declared his independence from God. Genesis 3:6 says, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [this was the lust of the body, which comes first] and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired [this was the love of the emotion in the soul, which comes next] to make one wise [this was Satan's suggestion, `And ye shall be as gods, knowing' (3:5); this was the spirit rejecting God, and man satisfying the cravings of the soul and the body; this comes last]." In this way, man fell, and his spirit, soul, and body were all affected. The spirit became subject to the soul, and the soul was controlled by its many senses. The body developed many abnormal cravings and lusts, which enticed the soul. Originally the spirit took the lead. Now the body takes the lead to satisfy its lusts. In the Bible, this lust of the body is called the flesh. From this time on, man became flesh (Gen. 6:3). This flesh is now man's nature after he sinned; it is now his natural constitution. Our nature is the life principle or constitution that directs our whole being. Since the time of Adam, everyone born of woman bears this sinful nature; all of them are of the flesh. After understanding the origin of the flesh and how the flesh is just our sinful nature, we can now consider the character of this flesh. We cannot expect this flesh to improve. Human nature is hard to change. In fact, it will not change. The Lord Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." We should focus on the word "is." That which is born of the flesh is flesh. No matter how much a person reforms, improves, and cultivates himself, the flesh is still the flesh. No matter how much a person tries to perform charitable, benevolent acts, send relief aid, love others, or serve, he is still the flesh. Even if he can do all these things, he is still the flesh. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." Since it is the flesh that is born, it will be the flesh that will result. No man on earth can change his flesh. Neither can God in heaven change man's flesh, that is, man's nature.

Since God saw that it was impossible to mend, improve, or change man's sinful nature, He brought in the present wonderful way of redemption. We know that the Lord Jesus died for us on the cross at Golgotha. We also know that when we believe in Him and receive Him as our Savior, we are saved. But why does God deliver us from death to life once we believe in His Son's name? If this believing does not involve an exchange in our life, which is different from a mere change, will not God be delivering a man who is still full of sin into heaven? There must surely be a profound message here.

After we have believed in the Lord Jesus, God does not leave us to walk according to the old sinful nature, that is, the flesh. He sentenced the Lord Jesus to death because He intended, on the one hand, that the Lord become sin for us, and on the other hand, that the old Adamic creation be crucified with Him, so that He could give us a new life. When we believed in the Lord Jesus as our Savior, God gave us this new life with its new nature. "Through these you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world by lust" (2 Pet. 1:4). At the time we believed, He dispensed into us His own life, the life of God, with the nature of God. This nature is entirely new; it is totally different from our old sinful nature. This nature does not come from an improvement of our old nature. This mysterious transaction took place at the instant we believed in the Lord Jesus as our Savior. This is regeneration, which is to be born from above and to receive God's life and nature. This regeneration is not something that man feels. Rather, it is the work of God's Holy Spirit in our spirit, recovering our spirit's lost position and installing God's life in our spirit. "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it goes; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8). All those who have genuinely believed in the Lord Jesus have the Holy Spirit working in them in this way. Those who believe only with their mouth or their head are not regenerated. All those who have believed with their heart are saved (Rom. 10:9) and are surely regenerated."


 2010/11/8 14:54Profile

 Re: The "Sin Nature"

Hi Pilgrim, great topic!

There is a lot of Christianese wording out there and it is better to stay with exactly what the Bible says and understand it from that perspective.

Yes, I agree. Additionally though, it is possible to understand how such a phrase arose, because Rom 6:6 clearly states that 'our old man' was 'crucified' with Christ. Christ died. In Him, WE may die. I dare say if I do not receive His death to myself, I am not 'in Him'.

You said of Adam
But he did have flesh.

I put it to you that it may not have looked like ours, and before the Fall, may not have 'thought' like ours.

Here are some more points to consider:

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him;

'... Adam, which was [the son] of God. (Luke 3, last verse.)

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it... 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Gen 3:23
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Rom 5:14
death reigned from Adam to Moses,

Genesis 5:1
This [is] the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat [a son] in his own likeness, after his image;

Matthew 1:1
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory... 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

2 Cor 5:17
Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, ALL things are become new.

 2010/11/8 15:04

Joined: 2010/11/7
Posts: 193

 Re: to Untobabes and Pilgrim's posts

But that begs the question, what are the lusts of the flesh? Or most importantly, what is "lust"?

Our modern conception of the word "lust" is that it must be evil. In James 1:14-15 the word occurs, but that same word in James is in Phillipians 1:23 that same word is translated "desire" as in Paul desiring to be with Christ, which cannot indeed be evil. It is also translated "desire" when Christ said He "desired" to take the Passover with the disciples. (I don't have a reference off the top of my head right now, forgive me) So the word "lust" or lusts are not neccesarily or uncontrollably evil, it is when they are against the will of God that they are evil. For instance, when is hunger gluttony? When it goes beyond your needs and becomes simple desire of selfish pleasure in that food you are eating. When is wanting something evil? When you covet it, and obsess over it. The lusts of the flesh, are Biblically spoken of as evil, but where did they come from?

I would say, through much prayer and Bible study for a year on this subject alone, not from sinful nature. For I do not believe in the sinful nature. The lusts of the flesh can be simply understood, if you look deeply into the ways of the flesh and when the Bible speaks of them, they always refer to actions that the unregerate indulge in and the child of God does not. For instance "There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. . .So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Please understand that what I mean is a Christian can sin after the sins of the flesh, but not as a lifestyle.) The lusts of the flesh, can be easily understood to be like cigarette and alcohol addictions. It is terrible and miserable the first time, but that which is awful soon becomes something that you desperately desire. The first sin that a person commits in full knowledge of what sin is, is an awful torture to their conscience, but as they go on it gets easier. . .and easier. . .and easier, until it is something they crave.

Another question, what is the old man?

I concur with your statement sir, on the remedy is to walk in the Spirit, but that is reference to true conversion. (Romans 6)

Romans 7 is a man who is under deep conviction of sin, a legalistic hypocrite who has found himself, in his self-righteous state, condemned under the law and a slave to his own sin. (hence his self-condemning langauge) But contrast that with the previous chapter, and we see two very different walks. (Please take note of that phrase "the law of sin" in 7, then read chapter 6-7:3 understand the death to sin in chapter 6 and re-examine the first three verses of chapter 7) Chapter 7 speaks of a man that is battling his old man, (Romans 7:19) But chapter 6 speaks of a man that has seen his old self crucified! (Romans 6:6-7) Logically speaking, when you fight a dead man, then you will win every time.

The sin nature:

I say this with compassion and love, but sinful nature is heresy. It was founded and propogated by the Roman Catholic Church and is one of their foundational dogmas. It was introduced to Protestantism by John Calvin who was a student of Augustine, a Catholic, and Calvin was also a Catholic before he left that denomination, but held on to that doctrine. Luther did the same thing, but he as well kept transubstanation though retitled it. (See Luther's Catechism)

Now to say that sin is a nature is to say that is must be transmitted somehow. Sin cannot be physical, for that denies it's very principle. Sin is a HEART problem (Matthew 15:16-20, James 1:14-16, Psalm 81:12, Romans 1:24) And if it were physical, then it could not break a spiritual law, (I John 3:4b) Romans 7:14) But sin is spiritual, in it's nature and function. So if sin were to be placed anywhere as a nature, then it must be in the soul, which means that God would give it to you, for God fashions you and places your soul in your body. (Psalm 119:73, Job 33:4, Zechariah 12:1, Malachi 2:10, Psalm 100:3)

Sorry to write a book about it, but I felt that God would have me post this. My prayer is that you will not simply reject it, but consider slowly these words.

For more reference on this subject, go to and click on the "Articles" find the list of them and scroll to the bottom. There are ten articles on sin nature there. Also, for a wonderful and explanatory exposition of Psalm 51:5 God to and scroll to the bottom of the page where it says "topics of interest" and click on "Original sin" Best documentation on the subject though, would be a book "ARE MEN BORN SINNERS?" By A. T. Overstreet. You can find it free online.

God bless you richly.

Mike Wright

 2010/11/8 15:23Profile

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