Sin NatureBy Robin Schumacher
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The Old Testament prophets also affirmed that a sin nature exists in everyone born of human parents. Jeremiah said, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The prophet Isaiah stated: "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away" (Isaiah 64:6).
In the New Testament, Paul affirms an inherited sin nature when he says, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). And the Apostle John says this to his readers: "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).
Students of Scripture have all reached the conclusion that the Bible teaches each and every person possesses a sinful nature, with Charles Spurgeon summing up the reality when he said: "As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived."
In one sense, Dr. Helen Morrison was right in her assessment of human nature. When children are conceived, they are predetermined — not to necessarily become a serial killer like John Wayne Gacy, but to sin in some form or fashion.
Misconceptions about the Sin Nature
Although the biblical teaching of a sin nature is clear, there are a number of misconceptions that both Christians and non-Christians have about it. First, some people think that a sin nature means that a person cannot tell right from wrong or behave in a "good" manner towards someone else. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus acknowledged that someone could perform good acts and yet still have an evil sin nature when he said, "What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:9-11, emphasis added).
In fact, the Bible says each person is equipped by God with a conscience that instinctively knows right and wrong. Paul confirms this truth when he says, "For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them" (Romans 2:14-15).
Next, some believe that a sin nature means that every person will eventually end up a like a Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy. However, this isn't the case at all. A sin nature does not mean that every person will be as bad as they can possibly be, but rather than each person is as bad off as they can possibly be from a spiritual standpoint. Every person is spiritually dead and cut off from God, but the degrees of wickedness in each person will vary.
Lastly, some Christians have been taught that they lose their sin nature once they receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. But Scripture says that the sin nature remains after a person becomes a believer in Christ and that a struggle with that sin nature will continue until they are glorified in eternity. Paul bemoaned his struggle when he said, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate...But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me" (Romans 7:15, 20).
The struggle between the sinful and regenerated spiritual nature in a Christian will be quite evident to a person who has been born again, but such a battle will not occur in a person who has not become a believer in Christ. They remain spiritually dead and are not sensitive to sin as a Christian is.
The story is told of a man who once came to a preacher and said, "You talk about how heavy sin is, but preacher, I don't feel a thing." The preacher thought for a minute and then asked, "If we put 400 pounds of weight on a corpse, do you think he'd feel it?"
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Image Credit: Billy Wilson; "Apples"; Creative Commons
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