Question / Comment - Has the sinful nature been totally eradicated within the believer? Or do we have one nature or two?

Dear JPN, I recently stumbled across your site and really enjoyed briefly reading through some of your materials. However, I disagreed with one point. In your statement of faith you state that a believer retains his/her sinful nature and is only rid of it once they see the Lord. If the Lord only "views" us as sanctified but we are actually not fully sanctified until we die or are raptured then the qualification to enter God's presence is not Jesus plus nothing but rather Jesus plus death (or rapture).

I contend that we are actually sanctified at the point of salvation and that our sinful nature is in fact eradicated. Before I go on let me state that I do NOT believe in sinless perfection. I still commit acts of sin but my behavior does not determine my identity. My identity, who I am...not just how God views me, is holy, righteous, sanctified, etc. The real me, soul and spirit, will not change at all when I die and enter God's presence even though I would be rid of the avenue through which the enemy tempts me to sin (flesh).

Your thoughts?
 
JPN Reply to their question:

Hi,

thanks for the email. Can't say I have met someone before that has had there sinful nature eradicated! Must be great... I didn't received that gift at salvation. I certainly received the gift of righteousness and God's precious Holy Spirit, but alas, I, like the apostle Paul, still find that in me (that is, in my fleshly nature), dwells no good thing. One question for you though... Does your wife (if you have one) think that your sinful nature is eradicated?

Ok, seriously... I'm being naughty and you'll have to forgive me as you sounded like a nice guy from your email. It's just that I really don't buy into the eradication thing... I don't believe it squares up with the teaching of the Bible or the experience of born again believers. As for the 'qualification' for entering into the presence of God, I believe that Hebrews chapter 9 and 10 tells us that the new and living way into the Holy Place of God is opened up through the blood of Jesus that has been poured out for us. There is no need to wait until death to enter God's presence!

But feel free to write and explain why you believe in eradication if you like. I would be interested in knowing whether you came to your conclusion from reading the Bible or whether it was from what someone taught you. And if your sinful nature is eradicated please tell me what you believe is the source of your ongoing sin that you still commit (both in action and in thought) - I presume you do still sin? If you have no sinful nature anymore do you attribute every sin to the direct influence of the devil?

Thanks, all the best.
 

Their reply:

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my email. My wife does agree that our sinful nature has been eradicated yet she fully recognizes (as do I) that I still sin. Herein lies the crux of the issue. My behavior does not dictate my identity. For example, Paul, in 1 Cor. 1:2 calls the members of the church in Corinth saints even though their behavior sure didn't validate that title. I have heard is stated like this, "What I do is not who I am but who I am has a tremendous impact on what I do.". My identity is defined by God's word not my emotions or my behavior. However, my identity in Christ will (or at least should) play a huge role in how I respond to temptation.

Furthermore, I believe the verb tenses in passages like Rom 6:6 and Gal. 2:20 indicate past action with a resulting state of being. I was crucified, not just wounded, in Christ. The question is what was crucified. Obviously my body was not, so it has to be the sinful nature. I believe you would agree that nothing sinful can enter the presence of God so how can a person, if they still have a nature that is sinful, come before God? To be clear, I don't mean "come before God" in the way we do in our earthly bodies (through prayer, worship, etc). I mean to come before God in the sense that our earthly bodies have ceased to exist and we are before God face to face.

I understand your previous reference to Heb. 9&10 but I don't believe this teaches we are just "covered" by Jesus' blood so the Father can stand to look at us. In fact, Heb. 10:10 states we have been sanctified or made holy (past action w/ resulting state of being)! We can't be holy if even one part of who we are (soul and spirit) is still sinful. So, if the sinful nature remains then when is it finally eradicated? As I stated before, if it is any other place than the cross then the cross of Christ was insufficient.

Additionally, I believe that it is not our acts of sin that keep us from a relationship with God, but rather tt is the fact that we are born with a dead nature. God told Adam in the garden that if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would die. Did he drop dead immediately? No. However, as you probably know, death in scripture does not always mean "cease to exist" but can mean "separation". Adam's sin resulted in his spirit becoming separated from God. Thus, from God's perspective, Adam died because He could no longer have a relationship with him. This dead spirit was passed on from Adam to all humanity (Rom. 5:12). Therefore, this had to be dealt with before anything else. Communion, as I see it, pictures this perfectly. We eat the bread symbolizing Christ's body first, representing our sinful nature being crucified with Christ. The juice (or wine) symbolizing Christ's blood is taken second, representing the forgiveness of our acts of sin. Both had to be dealt with but the primary object of separation between mankind and God is his dead, Adamic, sinful nature.

Before I go on I need to explain that I believe humans are a trichotomy. The body is the visible fleshly part of us that will one day die. Our soul houses the mind, will, and emotions. Our spirit is the part of us that communicates with God. Only our soul and spirit are eternal. I believe scripture seems to indicate that even lost people will realize the torment of hell showing that they can at least think and feel. Our spirit is the part of the believer that communicates with God. It is dead until we come to Christ and exchange our old dead spirit for one that is alive and able to communicate with the Lord.

Now to deal with what causes believers to sin. One thing that really helped me to understand this was when I realized that the word "sin" in scripture is not always a verb. In fact, "sin" is personified many places in scripture (Gen. 4:7 for example). I believe there is an entity called the "Power of Sin". While not a completely accurate illustration, it helps me to think of it as the anti-holy spirit.

Perhaps an illustration will best illustrate how a believer, who's sinful nature has been eradicated, can sin. I believe Satan, who is the prince of this world, uses events in our life to program habit patterns in our brain. Let's say that I see a pretty woman walking down the street. The enemy will use a habit pattern stored in my brain to tempt me to gawk at this woman thereby causing me to lust. At this point of temptation has sin occurred? No, but I am at a critical crossroad. What I do with this tempting thought may or may not result in sin. If I believe the enemy's lie and follow that temptation then I, the new man, have sinned. However, I am still a saint, not because of my actions, but because God said I was, yet I have committed an act of sin that must be confessed in order to restore clear communication between the Lord and I.

If I appropriate the fact that I am dead to sin (Rom 6:10) and have the life of Christ in me who will give me the power to walk away from this thought then I can walk right by this woman and not sin. It is important to realize that thoughts only come from one of three places; Me, however I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and therefore do not naturally have sinful thoughts; God, who would not tempt me to sin; or the Power of Sin, who only wants to destroy me.

I believe one of the enemy's greatest lies is to mislead believers in to thinking the battle is between a good self and bad self rather than between the believer and the power of sin over who or what will have access to our minds and thus our ability to choose. I'm sure you are familiar with the Desert Storm war between the US and Iraq back in the early 1990's. The major reason why the US won that war so decisively was that we convinced Iraq's Royal Army that we would attack Baghdad from the south when in actuality we attacked from the north and west. Similarly, many believers live defeated Christian lives because they believe the battle is taking place on a different battlefield.

In fact, I used to think this same way. I believed, and was taught, that if I prayed more, read more scripture, and witnessed more then I would begin to have victory in my Christian walk. However, what happened was that the battle intensified and I experienced more and more defeat. I realized, through reading scripture and my mentor at the time, that I was fighting the wrong battle. I needed to appropriate the fact that I had been crucified with Christ, that Christ now lived in me, and desired to life His life through me. I needed to realize that the source of temptation was not me wanting to do something bad but was the power of sin trying to tempt me into sinning. Living from this vantage point freed me of the performance pressure to be a better Christian. Instead I am free to rest in Him. I read scripture not because I have to but because I want to in order that I may learn more about His character and His ways. I don't have to pray but I get to pray.

I continue to struggle against sin and commit sins on a daily basis but I believe the Lord has shown me where the battle actually is taking place and that He has given me the tools to fight. However, I don't believe I will ever reach a state of sinless perfection until the avenue of temptation (my body) is removed through death or the rapture.

Thank you for taking the time to read my (lengthy) reply. Please know that I in no way am trying to change your mind. I just hope you have somewhat of a clearer understanding of my position. While I do think this is an important issue I don't believe it is one that should create division so I'm thankful for the opportunity to have a friendly debate!
 

JPN Reply:

 

Hi,

 

I have finally got some time to respond to your email. Firstly thanks for taking the time to write what you believe and for being thorough in that. I was pleased to see that you are obviously someone who takes your Christian faith seriously and want to know and walk in the truth. There were several things in your email that I appreciated. But before getting onto that, maybe I should tell you a little of my background.

 

Firstly, I’ve been a Christian now for 17 years and like you, I realized pretty early on that there had to be more than ‘try and be a good Christian.’ I learnt early on that I didn’t have what it takes – not for becoming a Christian or being the Christian I had become! Hence the website name ‘Jesus Plus Nothing’. If you have spent a bit of time looking at the site, you will see that it focuses heavily on the work of Jesus, our position in Christ, and what ‘Christ in you’ means for our daily lives. While I am no expert, I have spent a fair amount of time reading and meditating on the key truths of grace, substitution and identification as written specifically in Romans 3-8 plus other passages. In regards to this, it is also fair to say that I have spent a fair amount of time in the past reading books on ‘the higher life’, ‘the abundant life’, ‘the exchanged life’ etc. Some of the authors that have helped me, of which I will quote some below, are Watchman Nee, Miles Stanford, Major Ian Thomas, William Newell, & Lewis Sperry Chafer.  

 

Now there are several things that I agree with in what you have written below. I agree that ‘my behavior does not dictate my identity’. As mentioned above, I believe that it is very important that the believer knows who he/she is ‘in Christ’. The Christian life is ‘becoming what you are’. That is, it is becoming in your daily life what you are already ‘in Christ’ – Getting the order backwards and trying to achieve a position that has already been given you by God’s grace leads many to a life of failure. If interested, I wrote a study on it here:

 

http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/studies/online/positioninchrist.htm

 

I would also agree with you that the references to our crucifixion with Christ are past tense. We do not try to crucify ourselves or use the flesh to control the flesh! We have been placed ‘in Christ’ so his history is our history. I also agree that Hebrews 9 and 10 teach more than that we are simply ‘covered by the blood’. (For what it is worth, I didn’t say that we are just covered, but maybe that is what you have heard elsewhere???). The blood of goats and bulls is said to temporarily cover sins. Jesus’ death on the cross ‘took away sins’ (vs 4), made those that believe in Him ‘holy’ (vs 10) and ‘perfect forever’ (vs 14). In fact, one of the points I make in my study on ‘Eternal Security’ is that Hebrews 10:14 teaches that by one sacrifice we have been ‘made perfect forever’. Fantastic truth!

 

But there are obviously several things I don’t agree with. Your conclusion from the Hebrews passage is ‘We can't be holy if even one part of who we are (soul and spirit) is still sinful.  So, if the sinful nature remains then when is it finally eradicated?  As I stated before, if it is any other place than the cross then the cross of Christ was insufficient.’

 

Yes, we can be ‘holy’ in God’s sight while still being sinful. To me, you are confusing our position or standing in Christ, with who we are in of ourselves. We are “sanctified” or “made holy” because we stand ‘perfect’ in God’s sight because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. At the very same time we still have a nature that is sinful and that is why other commands are given elsewhere to ‘purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.’ (2 Cor 7:1) Our position before God is as one ‘sanctified’ or ‘holy’. Our walk often isn’t! But the latter doesn’t change the former! As to when the sinful nature is finally eradicated, that is when we are free from this body. Salvation is in three tenses in the Bible. We were saved (from the penalty of sin), we are being saved (from the power of sin), and we will be saved (from the very presence of sin – when we get our new bodies). It was all accomplished through the cross and resurrection of Jesus but it is all in its own time.

 

Which I guess brings us to that matter of the eradication of our sinful nature. As you believe that crucifixion means eradication, do you not find it strange that the Bible says:

 

  • ‘Our old man was crucified with Him’ (Rom 6:6) YET we are still told to ‘put off… the old man, which IS corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.’ (Eph 4:22) If the old man is eradicated and doesn’t exist, why are believers told to put him off? And why does it say that the old man IS corrupt (present tense) if he doesn’t exist anymore in Christians?
  • ‘And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.’ (Gal 5:24) YET in the same chapter we are told that there is a daily battle going on within the believer where ‘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.’ (Gal 5:16) If the flesh has been crucified (which in your understanding would mean that it is eradicated and doesn’t exist) then why is there still this on going battle with the Spirit against that which has been crucified and eradicated? Clearly co-crucifixion does not mean eradication!
  • ‘Our old man is crucified… that the body of sin might be destroyed’ (Rom 6:6) YET Paul, speaking as a Christian could also say that ‘sin…dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.’ (Rom 7:16) Why would Paul say that sin (not acts but the nature there of) dwells in him, and in him dwelleth no good thing if he thought that the sinful nature was eradicated? Would you, like Paul, agree that in you dwelleth no good thing?

 

To my way of thinking, you have confused that which is true of us ‘in Christ’ and that which is true in and of ourselves. The fact that God has placed us ‘in Christ’ and has crucified our old man in Him doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist anymore in us. Death, as you yourself said, means separation. When we die physically it is a separation of our soul/spirit from our body. The 2nd death mentioned in Revelation is eternal separation from God. The truth of Romans 6 is that we have been separated from the power of the sinful nature because of our union with Christ in His death and resurrection. As we reckon upon this spiritual fact, God makes it true in our experience through His life that indwells us. But we have to abide in Christ for we are separated from the power of the sinful nature in Him – not in us! In us, as Paul found out and expressed in Romans 7, that same nature still dwells. Watchman Nee, wrote a book on the truths of Romans 6-8 called ‘The Normal Christian life’. I’m sure you have heard of it as it is highly regarded and seen as a classic on the subject of our crucifixion with Christ.’ Yet he was very clear in the book however that the old man, the sinful nature, is not dead in ourselves! He writes:

 

“Now although we have already spent long on this matter, there is a further thing that may help to make it clearer to us. The Scriptures declare that we are “dead indeed”, but nowhere do they say that we are dead in ourselves. We shall look in vain to find death within; that is just the place where it is not to be found. We are dead not in ourselves but in Christ. We were crucified with Him because we were in Him… As we stand steadfastly on the ground of what Christ is, we find that all that is true of Him is becoming experimentally true in us. If instead we come onto the ground of what we are in ourselves we will find that all that is true of the old nature remains true of us. If we get there in faith we have everything; if we return back here we find nothing. So often we go to the wrong place to find the death of self. It is in Christ. We have only to look within to find we are very much alive to sin; but when we look over there to the Lord, God sees to it that death works here but that “newness of life” is ours also. We are “alive unto God” (Rom. 6:4,11).

 

In another book he writes about the error of believing that the sinful nature has been eradicated stating:

 

Let us note carefully that though the flesh may be so put to death that it becomes "ineffective" (the real meaning of "destroy" in Rom. 6.6), it endures nonetheless. It is a great error to consider the flesh eradicated from us and to conclude that the nature of sin is completely annihilated. Such false teaching leads people astray. Regenerated life does not alter the flesh; co-crucifixion does not extinguish the flesh; the indwelling Holy Spirit does not render it impossible to walk by the flesh. The flesh with its fleshly nature abides perpetually in the believer. Whenever opportunity is provided for its operation, it at once will spring into action. Until such time as we are freed physically from this body we shall not be able to be so delivered from the flesh that no more possibility of its activity exists. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh. There is absolutely no eradication of it until this body corrupted from Adam is transformed. Our body is not yet redeemed (Rom. 8.23); it waits for redemption at the return of the Lord Jesus (I Cor. 15.22, 23, 42-44, 51-56; 1 Thess. 4.14-18; Phil. 3.20-21). As long as we are in the body, therefore, we must be alert daily lest the flesh break forth with its wicked deeds.

 

In like manner, Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, writes from 1 John 1:8-10 in his book ‘He that is spiritual’ about the error of believing that the sinful nature is eradicated –

 

In 1 John 1:8,10 we have clear warning against any presumption concerning sin. First, Christians are warned against saying that they have no sin nature: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." This is distinctly concerning the sin nature of the Christian and has no application whatever to the unsaved. It is addressed to believers, and to all believers. It will not do to suppose that reference is made in the passage to some unfortunate, unenlightened, or unsanctified class of Christians. There is no class distinction here. It is the testimony of the Spirit of God with reference to every born-again person. For any such to say that he has no sin nature means that the person is self-deceived and the truth is not in him. This passage is evidently intended for "correction" to those Christians who are claiming to be free from the sin nature and who may have made themselves believe that they are free. A self-satisfied mind is not necessarily the mind of God . . . . The source of sin is, then, the sin nature rather than the new divine nature…”

 

Miles Stanford states that the error of believing in eradication of the sinful nature leads to the individual blaming sin in his life on Satan, past parental influences, etc. He is in denial as to the indwelling self-centered Adamic life and nature, and hence may not take personal responsibility for sins committed.’

 

It is interesting that in your email, you have got to the non-Biblical position were you see sin as a spirit. You wrote ‘I believe there is an entity called the "Power of Sin".  While not a completely accurate illustration, it helps me to think of it as the anti-holy spirit.’ I understand how you would get to this point, given your belief that the sinful nature doesn’t exist anymore (you obviously need something to blame for your continued sin), but as a brother in Christ, I need to say that is not right! Look at what the Bible says:

 

  • Jesus:  ‘But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts…’ (Matt 15:18-19)
  • Paul: ‘So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing…’ (Rom 7:17-18)
  • James: ‘Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin…’ (James 1:13-15)

 

Jesus, Paul and James didn’t primarily blame sin on Satan (thought he is one of the Christians three enemies) or some ‘spirit’ or ‘entity’ influencing the person. No, the problem is far closer to home than that. Jesus, Paul and James all pointed to the problem within. Whether you believe it or not, that is where the real battlefield actually is! Paul, in Romans chapter 7 got to the point where he cried out ‘What a wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’ Paul saw that he didn’t just have a problem – he was the problem! And only through seeing that, did he go on to discover the answer as described in chapter 8.

 

And that isn’t the only problem. If a person doesn’t understand that a believer has both the old and new nature within them, then they won’t be able to see that sin originates in the old nature, not the new! As Paul says ‘Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.’ The new man has been born again of incorruptible seed and cannot sin! (1 Pet 1:23, 1 John 3:9) It has ‘been created in righteousness and holiness.’ (Eph 4:24) It is not correct to state that the new man can sin as you have, but I understand why you come to that conclusion given that you don’t believe you have an old nature anymore.

 

Let’s think of this issue of eradication in a different manner. Let’s back the bus up a little. Why are we born with a sinful nature anyway? Well, because our parents had a sinful nature passed to them and it was passed onto us - that which is born of the flesh is flesh! Tracing the problem all the way back we come to the fall of Adam and Eve. Now, if I was to take your example, you state that both you and your wife have had your sinful nature eradicated. If that is true, then you will give birth to children that do not have a sinful nature! Fantastic! But did you? I’m not sure if you have any children, but if you did, I’d put my money on the fact that once they got to around 2 years old, they were well and truly exhibiting that same self centered, self willed, stubborn corrupted nature that we all have. Your children will be a living testimony that the sinful nature hasn’t been eradicated in their parents!

 

That fleshly, adamic, sinful nature still abides within us! It’s not dead in us, although it is sick! It doesn’t improve or change. Although we are set free from its power through reckoning upon our union with Christ and His life in us, and seeing that we don’t have the means to control it ourselves. Major Ian Thomas writes:

 

“There is no climactic experience by which the evil influence of the flesh may be eradicated once and for all, though the flesh itself in its subtilty would like you to believe it – in the interests of its own preservation! Only be persuaded that the flesh no longer exists, and you are not likely to cause it further inconvenience as it perpetuates its wicked activities in your soul! Nothing could please the Devil more than that! Appropriation of the victory of Christ demands more than just one act of faith – it requires an attitude of faith. It is a moment by moment reckoning… Walking in the Spirit is a continuous process, one step at a time…” (from ‘If I Perish, I Perish)

 

Well, I have written enough. (I’m sure you think so!) Let me close on something else that I was pleased to read and agree with. (After all the above I’ll try end with something positive!) You wrote: ‘I needed to appropriate the fact that I had been crucified with Christ, that Christ now lived in me, and desired to life His life through me… Instead I am free to rest in Him.  I read scripture not because I have to but because I want to in order that I may learn more about His character and His ways.  I don't have to pray but I get to pray. 

 

I totally agree with this. We all need to know more of what those two great truths mean for every day life – that is, our identification ‘in Christ’, and ‘Christ in us’. May we both learn to rest, as you have written, in all that He is and all that He has done!

 

I trust also that you take all the above in the spirit in which it is written – that is, as you mentioned, an important, yet “friendly” debate. That is certainly my intention though I believe you to be misguided on the idea of eradication.

 

All the best

  

P.S Miles Stanford dedicated much of his life to teaching and living the ‘identification’ truths of Romans 6. Check out his website:

http://www.withchrist.org

 

And you may wish to read some of his articles written against ‘eradication’ and ‘one nature’ - http://www.withchrist.org/MJS/onenature.htm

 

P.P.S One of my most favorite books is called ‘If I Perish, I Perish’ by Major Ian Thomas. It is fantastic and it would be great if you could read it. I think you will really enjoy it and benefit from it. I know I certainly did. If you can’t find the book, there is a pdf of the entire book here: http://www.amcbryan.btinternet.co.uk/perish.pdf
 

Their reply to JPN Reply to their reply to JPN Reply to their question... (Stay with me!)

Thank you again for your reply. I honestly don't believe we are that far apart on what we've been discussing. There are a few differences and we may just have to wait until we meet Jesus and then ask Him to sort it out. I do look forward to meeting you either on this side of heaven if the Lord wills or the other. I believe we would have much in common.

There are a few points that I would like to bring out from your response.
Regarding 2 Cor. 7:1, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." I believe this is referring to behavior; not an actual cleansing of ourselves. We are as holy as we will ever be IN OUR PERSON from the moment we accept Christ; however our behavior must begin to line up with who God made us. We are not able make ourselves more holy but we can, through the Spirit's instruction, make our behavior more holy.

You state, " As to when the sinful nature is finally eradicated, that is when we are free from this body. "
I would ask what verse links our body to the sinful nature? Our sinful nature has nothing to do with our body. Again I point out that if our body must be removed, presumably through death or rapture, and that's when we are holy enough to enter the presence of God (not just "holy in His sight") then the cross of Christ was insufficient. From that line of thinking it takes the cross plus death/rapture to enter the presence of God. I just don't believe that is true.

Regarding Eph. 4:22, "that, in reference to your former manner of life, you ( BB)lay aside the (BC)old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the (BD)lusts of deceit," Eph 4:22 is not a "timed" statement; the verb tense, aorist infinitive, does not allow you to say when the action happened or will happen. It is like saying "in reference to salvation; you ask for forgiveness because the sin keeps you from God" This statement is 100% true but only in context. This is what you did at salvation even though all the verbs seem to be present tense but are in a past action. In the same way, we do not lay aside the old self but that is what we did in reference to the former life and in the context of the passage (especially vs 20, 21) when we come to Christ we learn to lay aside the old self. Once.

Regarding Gal 5, It is important to note that flesh and sinful nature are not the same thing. We have a battle going on between the flesh and the spirit because the flesh is the only avenue the power of sin has to tempt us. By flesh I mean the physical part of us...that part which will one day rot away. I agree with you that we experience a battle everyday but we differ on where that battle is taking place.

Regarding Rom 6:6, 7:16: The old self is crucified because that is the only way that sin (noun) can be done away with in our soul and spirit, and eventually in our body as well. When Paul states that no good thing dwells in him he clarifies and says in my flesh (v. 18) referring to his body not his inner man. Paul obviously believed that good dwellled in himself his inner man. He taught that Christ Himself dwelled in us. He at least believed the Romans were full of goodness (Rom 15:4). I agree that nothing good dwells in my flesh but my flesh does not make up who I am! I am a spiritual being housed in a body not a body that houses a spirit (2 Cor. 5:1-6).
You state, " To my way of thinking, you have confused that which is true of us 'in Christ' and that which is true in and of ourselves." You are correct in saying I believe what is true of me "in Christ" is also true in and of ourselves. However, I don't believe there is any confusion. I would contend that your line of thinking puts too much emphasis on experience rather than what God says about you. In fact, this is how I thought for many years. I allowed my experiences to dictate what I thought about me. When I sinned I was a no good sinner. Now when I commit a sin, I see myself as a saint that has committed a sin and needs to deal with it with the Lord. My action does not dictate my identity. Only God defines my identity.

Regarding 1 John 1:8.10, I may be showing my ignorance here but I just don't believe this passage is referring to the sinful nature but rather to acts of sin. I believe John is speaking against the idea of sinless perfection. If that means I disagree with the renowned Lewis Sperry Chafer then so be it. He can be wrong as can I.
Now to touch on what I call the Power of Sin as an entity. I believe Rom. 7 clearly teaches that sin is a thing, a noun called the power of sin or law of sin, and that it dwells in our unredeemed flesh. First I will deal with the passages you listed:

Mat. 15:18-19 - Jesus is obviously talking to unredeemed self righteous people. Plus, He is teaching pre-cross. Therefore Jesus is correct to say that out of their hearts come evil thoughts. They had not even had the opportunity to be redeemed. They still had a sinful nature so, yes, evil did come from their heart.
Rom. 7:17-18 - The key here is to properly identify what Paul refers to as "it". I believe the "it" Paul talks about is temptation. Paul, in vv. 21-23, also says that the principle of evil is "in me" (outer man - i.e. flesh). He goes on to say that he joyfully concurs with the law of God in his inner man (soul/spirit). Paul again, in v. 23, contrasts what is going on in his members (flesh). Incidentally we see here where the real battle takes place. Paul says it takes place in his mind...not between two natures. With our mind we have the ability to either choose to follow God or the temptations of the enemy.
James 1:13-15 - Temptation is not a sin, everyman is tempted by the lust of his flesh. Even the lust is not a sin. The lust (or desire) of the flesh is natural and is not sinful when fulfilled in a Godly way. We desire food, justice, intimacy etc. However, the enemy uses those to tempt us with gluttonous thoughts, anger, or sexual temptation. But who causes the temptation? The power of sin does! Then the "lust when it conceived", how does conception happen? It takes two separate distinct individual beings to cause conception. This verse clearly states that there are two entities at work here. One that is the man and one that is clearly not the man. Sin is not asexual. Nor can you conceive with yourself. If so a lot of guys would be pregnant! :)

Going back to Rom 7 to deal with vv. 24 & 25 (the wretched man verse). Wretched is a proclamation of feeling not position. He is realizing that his body is unredeemed and that it is an open door to the enemy. Imagine being the first to figure that out! It would be a downer! He realized he had a problem and no solution which is why he included the next verse. He thanks God because He has the solution and then he restates the problem that his inner man is redeemed, complete, full of the spirit of God but that his outer man in unredeemed and has the power of sin still in it. In chapter 8 Paul illustrates that the choice is ours. We can either walk after the Spirit of God or after the desires of the flesh.

You state, " It is not correct to state that the new man can sin as you have,... ". Yes, I believe that I, as the new man, can sin but I don't believe that makes me a sinner. I also don't believe that it is the new nature that causes sin. As I've said before when I submit to the temptation of the enemy I will commit a sin. I'm not sure why you seem to have a hang up with the idea that Satan tempts us. Is that not what he does? I also don't believe this line of thinking means that I don't take personal responsibility for committing sin. In fact, I believe it adds MORE personal responsibility. When I sin I fully realize that I made a conscious choice to choose an action against what the Lord would have me to believe. I could just as easily say that believing in two natures leads to a defeatist attitude and a lack of desire to live in holiness..."Well, yeah, I know I sinned but that's just the way I am. I have a good dog and a bad dog and sometimes that ol' bad dog comes out ahead."
Next, I will deal with the passing along of the sinful nature. The old man is not spiritual-DNA past down from father to son. It is a lack of something. It is a lack of life that cannot be past down. All are born spiritually dead because of Adam's original transaction not because their parents are or are not sanctified. My son is my physical offspring not my spiritual offspring. That is why Jesus was not born with a dead spirit because His Spiritual Father had life to give to His Spiritual offspring not because of anything to do with his physical parent.

Finally, you state, referring to the sinful nature, " It's not dead in us, although it is sick!" Can you show me chapter and verse that says the sinful nature is sick? The only verses I can find say that it is crucified. Jesus didn't come of the cross sick. He came off dead. Thank you again for taking the time to read yet another lengthy email. You have caused me to really think about my positions and I'm thankful for that. However, I am still firm in my position as I'm sure you are. If anything, I regret that I may not have clearly presented my position but I do hope you can, at least, see where I am coming from. If you would be interested, I would be happy to send you a copy of the Romans course that my mentor, Bob Warren, wrote which was the beginning for much of what I believe today. If so, please send me a mailing address and I will send one to you.
 
JPN final reply to their reply:

 

Hi,

 

Thanks for your reply. I will try keep my reply quite brief and answer specific points you have raised. (Post reply comment – ok, I’ve just finished writing and it isn’t brief! Sorry. After this I won’t be writing anymore about it as I think I have said more than enough on this subject!!!) Your comments are in red.

 

I would ask what verse links our body to the sinful nature?  Our sinful nature has nothing to do with our body. 

 

The Bible doesn’t pinpoint it’s location but does link the presence of the sinful nature to us dwelling in this body. It also links ultimate freedom from the sinful nature to being free from this body. Rom 7 shows the principle of the Apostle’s battle with his sinful nature. He states in verse 17: “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in meI know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” (Please note: even if you do not like the above translation and would prefer ‘flesh’ instead of ‘sinful nature’ then by your own definition of flesh being ‘the body – the physical part of us’ it would state the nature of sin, the ‘nothing good that lives in me’ dwells in our physical body.)

 

Then, as he carries on in verse 22-23 to state that this evil principle works within the members of his body:  “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.”

 

He then carries on and expresses his desire to be free from this body (and thereby, free from this sinful nature)

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (vs 24)

 

William Newell, in his classic book “Romans verse by verse” states “As long as we think lightly of the fact of the presence with us of the fallen nature, (I speak of Christians), we are far from deliverance…” And concerning ‘the body of this death’ quoted above he states “what a fearful description of the body! – unredeemed, unchanged, under the law of sin in all its members. No matter what the “delight” of the quickened human spirit in the things of God may be, to dwell undelivered in such a body is to find it a “body of death”. The redemption of the body, though guaranteed because of Jesus death on the cross, has not yet occurred. We will receive a new spiritual body. Until then, we dwell in a body that is said to have been sown ‘in dishonor” and “weakness”. (1 Cor 15:43)

 

Again I point out that if our body must be removed, presumably through death or rapture, and that's when we are holy enough to enter the presence of God (not just "holy in His sight") then the cross of Christ was insufficient.  From that line of thinking it takes the cross plus death/rapture to enter the presence of God.  I just don't believe that is true.

 

You have made this point a few times so you must believe it is a good one, but it’s not a valid argument for two reasons.

1. We are “holy enough” to enter God’s presence right now because of the death of Jesus on the cross… but not because of our own holiness, but because Jesus is our standing before the Father! He is our righteousness, He is our holiness, He is the door, He is our entrance into the Father’s presence right now! Not our own holiness! The Bible never declares that we have a holiness of our own that qualifies us to enter His presence! Christ is for us everything that we need. Including our holiness. As the Bible says: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:30

2. Our physical body never enters God’s presence anyway. When we enter the Holy of Holies during this life, it is a spiritual reality, not a literal entering into the Holy place in our bodies. And no one, whether through death or the Lord’s return, enters Heaven in this body. The Bible is clear - ‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.’ (1 Cor 15:50)

 

Regarding Eph. 4:22, "that, in reference to your former manner of life, you ( BB)lay aside the (BC)old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the (BD)lusts of deceit,"

Eph 4:22 is not a "timed" statement; the verb tense, aorist infinitive, does not allow you to say when the action happened or will happen. It is like saying "in reference to salvation; you ask for forgiveness because the sin keeps you from God" This statement is 100% true but only in context. This is what you did at salvation even though all the verbs seem to be present tense but are in a past action. In the same way, we do not lay aside the old self but that is what we did in reference to the former life and in the context of the passage (especially vs 20, 21) when we come to Christ we learn to lay aside the old self. Once.

 

In the midst of the aorist infinitives and Greek tenses, you have missed or avoided my point. Eph 4:22 says ‘Put off… the old man, which IS corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.’ The Old man IS corrupt. Not was. It exists in Christians though crucified in Christ! Paul wouldn’t write that the Old man IS corrupt in believers if it no longer existed or was eradicated. 

 

Regarding Gal 5, It is important to note that flesh and sinful nature are not the same thing.  We have a battle going on between the flesh and the spirit because the flesh is the only avenue the power of sin has to tempt us.  By flesh I mean the physical part of us...that part which will one day rot away.  I agree with you that we experience a battle everyday but we differ on where that battle is taking place. 

 

I think you are tying yourself in knots with that definition of the flesh because the Bible says that the flesh has been crucified (past tense) (Gal 5:24). Was it our physical bodies, the part of us that will rot away that was crucified? Of course it wasn’t. When the Bible, in passages such as Gal 5 and Rom 7 speaks of the flesh, it is talking about our fleshly sinful natures – that which we inherited from Adam. It is this that the Spirit wars against in Gal 5:17. He is not fighting against our physical bodies! Also when Gal 5 speaks of the acts of the flesh such as jealousy, discord, envy etc – these are acts of our fleshly nature, not our physical body. You are mistaken on your definition of the flesh.

 

And while on the topic of Gal 5:24 – I notice you didn’t reply concerning this verse. Given your belief that crucifixion means eradication, and also that ‘the flesh’ in passages such as Rom 7 and Gal 5 means the physical part of us, it must be a very bewildering verse for you! For it says that the flesh has been crucified. Past tense. Under your belief, that means that the flesh no longer exists. So you would end up saying, if we follow your previous thoughts, that the physical part of us no longer exists! And even if we take the flesh to mean the fleshly sinful nature (which I believe it is) this verse shows that that which has been crucified in Christ still exists because the Spirit continues to oppose the flesh in Gal 5:17. I understand why you left this verse alone because your theology can’t answer it. I would hope that this verse alone would ring some pretty big alarm bells in your head. I can only hope.

 

Regarding Rom 6:6, 7:16: The old self is crucified because that is the only way that sin (noun) can be done away with in our soul and spirit, and eventually in our body as well. When Paul states that no good thing dwells in him he clarifies and says in my flesh (v. 18) referring to his body not his inner man. Paul obviously believed that good dwellled in himself his inner man. He taught that Christ Himself dwelled in us. He at least believed the Romans were full of goodness (Rom 15:4).  I agree that nothing good dwells in my flesh but my flesh does not make up who I am!  I am a spiritual being housed in a body not a body that houses a spirit (2 Cor. 5:1-6).  

 

You state, " To my way of thinking, you have confused that which is true of us 'in Christ' and that which is true in and of ourselves."  You are correct in saying I believe what is true of me "in Christ" is also true in and of ourselves.  However, I don't believe there is any confusion.  I would contend that your line of thinking puts too much emphasis on experience rather than what God says about you.  In fact, this is how I thought for many years.  I allowed my experiences to dictate what I thought about me.  When I sinned I was a no good sinner.  Now when I commit a sin, I see myself as a saint that has committed a sin and needs to deal with it with the Lord.  My action does not dictate my identity.  Only God defines my identity.

 

If you think my way of thinking puts too much emphasis on experience, you obviously don’t understand what I am saying at all. Where have I been talking about experiences or basing a Christian’s identity around their experiences? I haven’t. I have been talking about our position in Christ. These aren’t “experiences”. They are facts to be believed because they are true and God says so. I pointed you to my study on our position in Christ. It shows what in true of all Christians now that they are in Christ. It specifically says that ‘these positions are not experienced’, ‘these positions are not progressive… They do not grow or develop from a small beginning. They are as perfect and complete the instant they are possessed as they ever will be in the ages to come.’ I have clearly said that the Christian life is becoming (in your experience) what you already are (in Christ). I’m glad that you can see that your action does not dictate your identity though. I agree. But please don’t confuse what I am teaching with what you used to believe for many years.

 

Regarding 1 John 1:8.10, I may be showing my ignorance here but I just don't believe this passage is referring to the sinful nature but rather to acts of sin.  I believe John is speaking against the idea of sinless perfection.  If that means I disagree with the renowned Lewis Sperry Chafer then so be it.  He can be wrong as can I.

 

The passage contrasts ‘sin’ in verse 8 with ‘sins’ in verse 9. I’m sure it won’t help any, but for what it is worth, I thought I would check a couple of other sources (my Bible and a commentary I have at home) seeing you didn’t want to believe what Chafer wrote.

 

My study Bible on 1 John 1:8: have no sin: A reference to the indwelling principle of sin rather than to acts of sin.

The Believers Bible Commentary (William MacDonald) on 1 John 1:8 ‘Fellowship with God requires that we acknowledge the truth about ourselves. For instance, to deny that we have a sinful nature means self deception and untruthfulness. Notice that John makes a distinction between sin (vs 8) and sins (vs 9). Sin refers to our corrupt, evil nature. Sins refer to evils we have done. Actually what we are, is a lot worse than anything we have ever done. But, praise the Lord, Christ died for our sin and our sins. Conversion does not mean eradication of the sinful nature. Rather it means the implanting of the new, divine nature, with power to live victoriously over indwelling sin.'

 

Now to touch on what I call the Power of Sin as an entity.  I believe Rom. 7 clearly teaches that sin is a thing, a noun called the power of sin or law of sin, and that it dwells in our unredeemed flesh. 

 

Yes, yes, yes!!! Yeeeeeeesssssss! And yet it’s frustrating at the same time! You realize from the teaching of Romans 7 that there is still a power and a law of sin within us. You know it dwells within the flesh and has a power. But you don’t know what to call it. It is called our fleshly sinful nature inherited from Adam!!! And yet, you can’t call it our sinful nature because your theology won’t allow you to! And so you have given the sinful nature other names like ‘entity’ or ‘spirit’ (although that is obviously an inappropriate name given the fact that Romans 7 speaks of it dwelling within us. I’m sure you wouldn’t say that Christians have an evil spirit indwelling them!) Oh so frustratingly close in that paragraph!

 

Rom. 7:17-18 - The key here is to properly identify what Paul refers to as "it".  I believe the "it" Paul talks about is temptation.  Paul, in vv. 21-23, also says that the principle of evil is "in me" (outer man - i.e. flesh).  He goes on to say that he joyfully concurs with the law of God in his inner man (soul/spirit).  Paul again, in v. 23, contrasts what is going on in his members (flesh).  Incidentally we see here where the real battle takes place.  Paul says it takes place in his mind...not between two natures.  With our mind we have the ability to either choose to follow God or the temptations of the enemy.Going back to Rom 7 to deal with vv. 24 & 25 (the wretched man verse).  Wretched is a proclamation of feeling not position.  He is realizing that his body is unredeemed and that it is an open door to the enemy.  Imagine being the first to figure that out!  It would be a downer!  He realized he had a problem and no solution which is why he included the next verse.  He thanks God because He has the solution and then he restates the problem that his inner man is redeemed, complete, full of the spirit of God but that his outer man in unredeemed and has the power of sin still in it.  In chapter 8 Paul illustrates that the choice is ours.  We can either walk after the Spirit of God or after the desires of the flesh.

 

Your comment about the ‘it’ in Rom 7:17-18 doesn’t make sense to me. Here is what Romans 7:16-18 says ‘And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.’

The ‘it’ of verse 17 is doing what he doesn’t want to do, mentioned in the previous verse. While there is likely to be external temptation of some sort, you have missed the point of Romans 7 if you boil it down to temptation. The point of Romans 7 is that there is a battle going on within him, not externally, between the new and old nature. He knows the sinful nature still dwells in him and causes him to do what he (the new man) does not want to do! And his conclusion is ‘what a wretched man that I am!’ It is not just a feeling… it’s a fact! That old nature that he and me, and you have (though you may not wish to admit it) is wretched! Like Paul, I have no problem is saying that I, in my old nature, am a wretched man. I am. That nature doesn’t change. But at the same time, I know what and who I am in Christ – a righteous, blameless, child of the living God, indwelt by the Spirit of God… and that is here I look to find deliverance and freedom. 

 

Now I certainly agree that the mind is a battle field. But one of the reasons for this is because we have two natures – our new and old nature – That is what makes it a battlefield (as well as outside temptations that act upon our sinful nature.)

 

Yes, I believe that I, as the new man, can sin but I don't believe that makes me a sinner.  I also don't believe that it is the new nature that causes sin.  As I've said before when I submit to the temptation of the enemy I will commit a sin.  I'm not sure why you seem to have a hang up with the idea that Satan tempts us.  Is that not what he does?  I also don't believe this line of thinking means that I don't take personal responsibility for committing sin.  In fact, I believe it adds MORE personal responsibility.  When I sin I fully realize that I made a conscious choice to choose an action against what the Lord would have me to believe.  I could just as easily say that believing in two natures leads to a defeatist attitude and a lack of desire to live in holiness..."Well, yeah, I know I sinned but that's just the way I am.  I have a good dog and a bad dog and sometimes that ol' bad dog comes out ahead."

 

I have no “hang up” with the fact that Satan tempts us. I have written about the influence of Satan in the first part of my study on the book of Nehemiah. But when I read the Bible, it puts a lot more emphasis on the problem of our own nature than blaming Satan all the time so I do have a ‘hang up’ with those that teach that  we have no sinful nature anymore and blame all temptations attacks from Satan or evil spirits.

 

And concerning your ‘two natures leads to a defeatist attitude’ theory, I personally don’t know anyone that thinks as you have said above. Understanding that we still have a battle going on between two natures leads to a realization that in ourselves, independent of Christ, we do not have what it takes to live the Christian life. And this leads to dependence upon the Lord to live His life through us. Nothing defeatist about that! Christ in us is our hope of glory.

 

Next, I will deal with the passing along of the sinful nature.  The old man is not spiritual-DNA past down from father to son. It is a lack of something. It is a lack of life that cannot be past down. All are born spiritually dead because of Adam's original transaction not because their parents are or are not sanctified. My son is my physical offspring not my spiritual offspring. That is why Jesus was not born with a dead spirit because His Spiritual Father had life to give to His Spiritual offspring not because of anything to do with his physical parent.

 

Ok, that was frustrating. I seriously do not believe that you actually believe the above. It’s like you are now making it up to come up with an answer… or you have not thought it through. Yes, everyone born is born WITHOUT the Spirit of God. But that is only half the truth and half the problem! They are also born WITH something. They are born with a sinful nature. Here is how the Bible describes the human heart (ie the nature of mankind – we don’t all live these acts out but our heart still thinks on some of them):

 

Matt 15:19 ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

 

Jer 17:9 ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’

 

Clearly the problem with mankind is MORE than just a ‘lack of something’! As well as being born spiritually dead, the Bible declares that we are all born with a corrupted sinful nature that is wicked and deceitful! If you think that the effect of the fall was just a lack of God’s Spirit indwelling man (which you said above) then where did mankind get its deceitful heart from? Where did they get a nature given to sin from? Where did we get that which the Apostle Paul spoke of as ‘sin living in me... I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.’ If we take what you wrote above we would have to think that Adam and Eve were created with a deceitful heart and a sinful nature to begin with! And obviously they weren’t!!! The effects of the fall of mankind caused mankind to be born WITHOUT the Spirit of God (spiritually dead) and WITH a sinful nature and this IS passed down to all that are born ‘in Adam’ for all that are born of the flesh are flesh.

 

So my initial comments still apply. If you think that you do not have a sinful nature and your wife doesn’t have a sinful nature, then your children would be born without a sinful nature (even though they would be born without the life of God). Clearly that is not the case and again illustrates the error in your theology.

 

Finally, you state, referring to the sinful nature, " It's not dead in us, although it is sick!"  Can you show me chapter and verse that says the sinful nature is sick?  The only verses I can find say that it is crucified. Jesus didn't come of the cross sick.  He came off dead.

 

Yeah, sorry. It was getting near the end of my reply and instead of writing lots I thought I would try a useful little pun (which clearly wasn’t useful because it used a word that is probably more common day slang than Biblical ‘Christianese’.) To spell it out, which I should have done originally, though dead ‘in Christ’ as we abide in Him, our fleshly sinful nature is not dead in us. It is still active within us (as Paul shows in Romans 7 and as this entire discussion has been about). The sinful nature isn’t dead in us, but it is sick (Oooops done it again so I had better explain - I wasn’t meaning it has caught a cold, or the chicken-pox, or it’s dying or sick in that sense for it doesn’t change in us at all… but it is sick and its deeds are sick for it is a twisted, corrupted nature from that which God initially intended). The deeds of this fleshly nature are sick – “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like… “ (Gal 5:19-21)

 

Thank you again for taking the time to read yet another lengthy email.  You have caused me to really think about my positions and I'm thankful for that.  However, I am still firm in my position as I'm sure you are.  If anything, I regret that I may not have clearly presented my position but I do hope you can, at least, see where I am coming from.  If you would be interested, I would be happy to send you a copy of the Romans course that my mentor, Bob Warren, wrote which was the beginning for much of what I believe today.  If so, please send me a mailing address and I will send one to you.

 

Yeah, after all this discussion I would think that we both have an understanding of where the other is coming from. Unfortunately in a discussion like ‘has the sinful nature been eradicated within believers’ we clearly can’t be both right for it is a yes or no answer. Thank you also for your offer of sending me a copy of the Romans course. I’ll let you save your money as I already have a fantastic book on every verse in Romans by William Newell and I think from our discussion that I have a pretty clear idea of what you and your mentor believe.

 

Obviously I got pretty frustrated at times in writing this response so I hope that I haven’t offended you in my response. That certainly isn’t my intention as I know you to be a genuine truth hungry believer in the Lord. I just don’t think you have been fed the truth by others on this particular issue.

 

But I do wish you all the best.