Sin Nature

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by 4study, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. 4study

    4study
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    I’m here out of a sincere interest in discussing, questioning, and learning about this topic. Debate is not my motive. I’m an 18-year professed disciple of Christ serving in a local Baptist church so I’ve studied this topic over and over again and am well acquainted with the verses, interpretations, and theological views surrounding it.

    The “sin nature” is a common term used among Baptists denominations. So I’m not going to spend time reiterating what is generally taught about it. I’ll assume anyone reading this post will already have their own ideas about it.

    The reason we teach someone “needs to be saved” seems to hinge upon the whole idea of the “sin nature”. Most say that Rom. 3:23 places the entire human race in a “lost” (i.e. “going to hell”) condition and use it as a preliminary step to help the “lost” one understand their need for Christ. With this in mind, consider this with me.

    This idea implies that if there is no “sin nature”, there is no need for Christ. Now I’m not arguing that we are not sinful beings. Certainly we are. Yet we will probably also agree, that a good, moral person, is still “a sinner” and “needs to be saved”. Are we emphasizing the vulgarity and crudeness of what we call “Sin” to make the scriptures say something beyond what is intended? For example, we’ll probably also agree that the word “sin” has a meaning very plain and simple; to “miss the mark”. The term itself does not have to do with the darkest evil that any human being can carry out. Rom. 3:23 certainly doesn’t say “all have committed the ugliest and most vile sins ever to be committed”. Yet at the same time, we’ll use a verse like this to support the idea of a “sin nature”; that all human beings are prone to do ungodly things due to an innate characteristic inherited from the fall of Adam. Furthermore, we also say that this is the very reason for Christ our need for a Savior. Thus Rom. 3:23 turns into a verse that says “this is the reason we all need to be saved”.

    I’m wondering if we’ve overdone it. In my mind, we need Christ INSPITE of sin. That’s why a good, moral person needs to trust in God just as much as a murderer does. And I wonder if the “sin nature” really isn’t what we’ve made it out to be (if there really is such a thing to begin with).

    We’ll agree that children, under the “age of accountability”, will not be sent to hellfire (thus saying they’re not “lost” and do not need to “accept Christ”). We’ll also debate over those who do not have a mental capacity to comprehend their need for salvation and place them in the same class as children. For the rest of us, we apply the idea of “sin nature” and suggest that it is the reason for our need to “accept Christ”. We’ll also say that we were “born this way” and use the handful of common scriptures to support this.

    Are we sure that the scriptures really say this? Is the “sin nature” really the trigger that puts us in need of a Savior? Or do we need Christ regardless?
     
  2. Helen

    Helen
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    Taking your last question first, do we need Christ regardless -- I certainly need Him even with a new heart and new birth in Him! Now, He has given me a new nature that does not WANT to sin, but does, much to my regret. So I definitely need Him there.

    But as far as the first question goes, yes, it is sin nature which is the primary thing.

    In Genesis 9:21, God mentions to Noah that the hearts of all men always incline, or tend, toward evil from their youth. That is sin nature -- the inclination toward rebellion and disobedience.

    Jesus came to free us from ourselves. Our sins condemn us, so He paid the price, releasing us from the power of sin, which is death. He is our strength when we are weak, our health when we are sick, our sanity when we doubt our own. For me, that combination covers about 99.999% of my life! There may be a quick moment when I know myself sane, healthy, and strong, but that illusion seems to pass very quickly! :D

    My sins brought me down. He lifts me up. He is the lifter of my head, as the Psalmist writes. So I needed him not only for saving me from the death I deserved, but also to lift me up from where I had been left by sin nature.

    In short, I need Him on both sides of salvation.
     
  3. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    Yes, there is a sin nature.

    The "good and moral" person possesses it to the same degree as the murderer.

    I have never believed that the sin nature leads only to the vulgar and crude sins that we all abhor.

    The sin nature leads to all sin. For example, even telling someone who is going through the ravages of chemotherapy that they are "looking better" simply to make them feel better when they actually look horrible.

    That's what a "good and moral" person might do, wouldn't they? To pep that person up and make them feel better, wouldn't even a moral person sometimes make up a little white lie?

    And how do you know that the "good and moral" person isn't just a phony?

    What if you see a wonderful church lady taking food to a bereaved family. She has spent all day cooking for the family and is walking up the side walk with a joyful expression and carries the food to them and even sits and cries with them a little.

    One might say, "Wow! She is a good and moral person!"

    But what you don't know is that the whole time she may be thinking in her heart.....

    "This is the last blasted time I EVER get rooked into doing this! It's always me that the bereavement committe calls. I'm %*#@ sick of it. And why should the church be helping this man's family at all?? He drank himself to death anyway........"

    So you see, even the "good and moral" can have vulgar hearts.

    Goodness and morality are mutually exclusive from the existence of the sin nature.

    Goodness and morality cannot cancel out the sin nature nor can they be used to make someone "less" of a sinner than a murderer or rapist.

    The little white lies and defying authority by driving over the speed limit are results of the sin nature, just as stabbing a knife into someone or watching pornography.

    The sin nature is in us all...to the same degree. That why we all need the same thing. Jesus, the Christ.

    Peace-
    Scarlett O.
    &lt;&gt;&lt;
     
  4. 4study

    4study
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    Helen,

    Thanks for responding.

    I share your sentiments 100%. I also need Christ at all times!

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to take a phrase you used to make a point and ask some further questions. You said, “our sins condemn us”. Yet if I asked about the condition of a newborn infant, you would probably agree with me that it was “safe in the hands of God”. Like David, whose first child died shortly after it was born, we have the same certain hope. God certainly does not send newborn infants to hell! However, doesn’t a newborn have the “sin nature”? So the question is, does God condemn a soul based upon nature or upon accountability (i.e. consciousness of sin)? I don’t see how it can be both.

    To be fair, we have to honest with ourselves concerning “condemnation”. God makes the determination of who is condemned and who is not. So the idea of condemnation is not really about the sin nature. Nature has to do with the intrinsic characteristics of something. The essence of a being that makes it what it is. If there is a “sin nature”, then a newborn child has it from conception. Furthermore, if death is the result of “sin nature”, then a newborn child should be sentenced to hell without regard to accountability.
     
  5. 4study

    4study
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    Scarlett O.,

    Yes, no one is perfect. But even if we could think of someone as being perfect (i.e. without a "sin nature"), would that mean they could exist without God and thus have no need to trust in Him? If so, then we should say that once the Kingdom of God is established (i.e, the new heaven and new earth), and the "sin nature" abolished, we should have no need for God. Of course this is a rediculous conclusion, however, it's a logical "next step" if we really think about what we're saying the "sin nature" is.
     
  6. Rhetorician

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    4study,

    It is not that we are as bad as we could be, it is how bad off we are w/o Christ. The Scripture says that we are dead in trespasses and sins, there is none righteous no not one, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked-who can know it, we are all like sheep who have gone astray, no one seeks after God, the fool has said in his heart-NO (to) GOD!!!!

    IF we could stand before God having kept all of His commandments we would not be able to enter into His Kingdom b/c we would have kept them to get the glory for ourselves.

    It is like this: if a boat is tethered to the dock with a chain of ten links breaks, then the boat is still adrift regardless of which of the links (commandments) has been broken. When one breaks the chain is still broken so it is with God's Law.

    We are all sinners by nature, sinners by practice, sinners inwardly, sinners outwardly, sinners by omission, and sinners by commission.

    To enter God's Heaven we would have had to keep the "Big Two;" loving God with all of our hearts-minds-souls-& strength AND our neighbor as ourselves every minute of every day since would could make rational choices.

    The old Puritans & Reformers called this Total Depravity but not Complete Depravity. Each one is a dead, desperate, and damned sinner. Some are just not as "black-heated" as others; but they are still dead nonetheless b/c they have broken God's Moral Law.

    We are a bad dead lot that must have a work of grace from the outside in!!!!!!!!!!!!

    sdg!

    rd
     
  7. standingfirminChrist

    standingfirminChrist
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    I disagree. The work of grace must work from the inside out. The heart of stone must become a heart of flesh first.
     
  8. Helen

    Helen
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    4Study, you are welcome. We are all born with sin natures! That is not even a question, right? But Paul has some interesting things to say in Romans 7:7-11. He says that he was alive before the law came (meaning 'into his life or his conscious recognition of it'), but when the law came, sin 'sprang to life' and he died. That sin nature was there all the time, but it did not have the power to separate him from God (Jesus said in Matthew 18 that the angels of the little ones are always seeing the face of the Father in heaven) -- it was dead in that sense -- powerless to harm him.

    The reason for that, first, is that Christ is the sacrifice for ALL sins, known and unknown. So even if a little one sins, it is an unknown sin and it is covered by Christ. However, since the price for ALL sin was paid, it is also necessary to say that no one goes to hell for sinning! According to Jesus' own words in John 3:16-18, a person is condemned for not believing on Christ, not for sinning...

    So it really doesn't matter if a little one sins or not! His sins are unknown anyway, and thus covered in that way by Christ.

    Can a little one reject Christ and thus be condemned? There is no indication anywhere in the Bible that that is even remotely possible. In fact, Jesus only mentions children who believe in Him, never any who don't.

    As far as accountability is concerned, there is an interesting note to make about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. When they were in the desert and rebelling and complaining consistently, God had finally had it, right? So he declares that those 20 and over will die in the wilderness but those under 20 will be able to enter the Promised Land.

    That is interesting about that age, and it may be a generous limit on God's part, but having raised children, taught hundreds, studied biology, and asked tons of questions of many people, some things have become apparent to me.

    1. The reason kids do things has nothing to do with right for the sake of right or wrong for the sake of wrong. It has to do with getting a privilege, escaping punishment, pleasing friends, making parents happy, getting good grades, taking a dare, etc. Think of these as 'horizontal reasons' -- they are all connected with the life that child is living day to day.

    2. And when I looked at young teenagers, especially, I saw exactly the same things! Their brains are starting to change, but the reasons they do things are the same -- grades, peer pressure, escape punishment, get paid, etc. Again, horizontal reasons.

    3. The human brain does not stop developing for two decades.

    4. It is not until the late teens or early twenties that a person starts thinking about right and wrong for their own sakes and begins 'wrestling with God.' Gone are the parents' coattails. Or at least rapidly disappearing! Striving for his own life, the young person starts defining his own terms and choosing his own way to go. This is a critical time; these are watershed years.

    So I am willing to take a look at God's choice of this age of delineation and look at my own experience with kids and see, I think, that God is telling us that by the age of 20, or thereabouts, the law has come into a person's life and sin has sprung to life and the person has been separated from God by sin -- deliberate and unrepentant sin.

    And somewhere after that point, be it at 15 or 25, that person is going to have to make a choice about Christ. His conscious, deliberate sins have separated him from God -- that is spiritual death. Unless He believes on Christ, he will 'die in his sins', for his unbelief will condemn him.

    Our sins condemned us to death, but Christ took that death for us. Now it is our unbelief which will condemn us to hell eternally.

    I hope that answers your questions on my own thoughts. You will find there are those here who fight bitterly about this, declaring that I am not only wrong but heretical. I can't help that... [​IMG]

    If I am wrong, however, I am only wrong. Not heretical. And I trust the Holy Spirit will correct me. But when I put the Bible together, in context, and see that the life I live and how I have worked with others and watched them -- that this all agrees with what the Bible is saying, then I do stand by my conclusions regarding sin, death, and condemnation.
     
  9. partialrapture

    partialrapture
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    There is alot to be said here...
    I would only like to say that if an adult was guilty of a particular sin and was not aware of it, is it sin to him and is God upset with him? yes it is still sin and God will not hold him guiltless,
    Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
    48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.
    notice how there was still beatting in both instances
    in regard to this "sin nature" "death passed on"
    remember...
    Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
    Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners,
    May God Bless his Word in your hearts
     
  10. Brother Ian

    Brother Ian
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    Yes we have a sin nature. Because of this sin nature, we are prone to sin.

    Don't discount the requirements to spend eternity with Christ in heaven. Perfection. We cannot do it. We need Christ. Even before the age of accountability as you have mentioned, we need Christ's grace and mercy.

    Here is a hypothetical situation. Let me say I know this cannot happen, but just suppose....setting aside the sin nature and that we are born in sin. . . .

    If you could possibly live your life without ever sinning even one time, would you go to heaven or hell?

    Actually, you would never die, because it is the wages of sin that brings death. So if you could live a perfect life, in theory, you would go to heaven.

    Now, we know that cannot happen so we need Christ. Don't minimize a "little" sin. Every sin committed is just as grievious as others in God's eyes. It is us that minimize some sin, i.e., a "white" lie. Plain and simple, it is a lie and misses the mark. Every sin needs God's forgiveness through Christ.

    So yes, we have a sin nature. Yes, every person needs Christ's grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It is up to us to get that word out.
     
  11. 4study

    4study
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    Helen and Brother Ian,

    You've both said some things I would like to respond to but just don't have the time this weekend. Look for this thread to pop up again early next week. I'll have some responses by then. Thank you.
     
  12. 4study

    4study
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    Helen,

    You make some good points; both reasonable and logical in my opinion. Yet what you’re saying is not what is preached by the mainstream. As I understand, and how I’ve been taught, the “sin nature” is what sends a person to hell, not their rejection of Christ (i.e. unbelief as in John 3:16-18). The idea being that our “nature” is what separates us from God and thus keeps us from the “gates of heaven”. Now of course we also say in addition to this that if one rejects Christ, they’re condemned. So both go together. It’s the former idea I have a problem with.

    Again, I don’t argue that we sin. I’m only questioning the way most have interpreted the scriptures to say the we have a “sin nature” and it is this that sends a person to hell. For example, most will say that if a newborn child comes into the world and reaches the age of 25 and yet never consciously rejects God or Christ, the individual will still go to hell because they have “not believed”. In other words, “unbelief” is suggested to also be a passive act.

    To me, this whole idea dramatizes the scriptures. I think what you’ve said is more sensible
     
  13. 4study

    4study
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    Brother Ian,

    Following your hypothetical situation (i.e. an individual who can live a perfect, sinless life), we should also say that this person would not need God. Let me take it a step further. Consider what will happen in the new heaven and new earth – sin having been done away and he last enemy, death, having being conquered. If sin is the only thing that caused a need for Christ, then theoretically, we shouldn’t need Him any longer once sin and death are abolished. Not only would we not need Christ, we would not need God. We would all be perfect . I’m sure we don’t think that. Yet it is a logical conclusion to your theory of what would happen if someone could live a sinless life.

    That’s why I think the idea of “sin nature” is over done. To me, it means that if there were no sin, there would be no need for Christ. And I cannot bring myself to comprehend God without Christ. That’s why I think we all need Christ INSPITE of sin. While sin may cause death and separation, it does not CAUSE our need for Christ.

    I’m also not convinced there is such thing as a “sin nature” anyway. Yes, we are prone to sin, but I think calling it part of our “nature” is carrying it too far.
     
  14. Brother Ian

    Brother Ian
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    4Study,

    I understand what you are saying, but we were created to have fellowship with God. Adam and Eve spoiled that opportunity for fellowship because they sinned. Without the sin, I believe they would have maintained the relationship and the fellowship. It is our sin nature that separates us from God. When we surrender our lives to Christ, our relationship is established. When we sin, our relationship remains the same, but the fellowship is broken. Through the blood of Christ, the fellowship is restored.

    So we do need Christ, to worship Him and fellowship with Him. Even if we could be perfect and we can't, we were designed to worship the Lord.
     
  15. Brother James

    Brother James
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    Said the prince of preachers CH Spurgeon, "There are some professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration; but, from my inmost heart, I loathe such speeches more and more every day that I live. Those who talk in such a boastful fashion must be constituted very differently from me. While they are congratulating themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ's Cross, and marvel that I am saved at all, for I know that I am saved. I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all-to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all-to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all considering what a polluted debased, depraved nature I find still within my soul, notwithstanding all that divine grace has done in me. If God were ever to allow the fountains of the great deeps of depravity to break up in the best man that lives, he would make as bad a devil as the devil himself is. I care nothing for what these boasters say concerning their own perfections; I feel sure that they do not know themselves, or they could not talk as they often do. There is tinder enough in the saint who is nearest to heaven to kindle another hell if God should but permit a spark to fall upon it. In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. Some Christians never seem to find this out. I almost wish that they might not do so, for it is a painful discovery for anyone to make; but it has the beneficial effect of making us cease from trusting in ourselves, and causing us to glory only in the Lord."
     
  16. 4study

    4study
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    Brother Ian,

    I agree; we were created for fellowship with God. However, if it is “our sin nature that separates us from God”, then are we going to say that a child is born “separated from God” (i.e. Ps. 51:5)? To be consistent, we should. Yet we don’t explain the young child’s disposition this way. Usually we talk about something like the “age of accountability” and put some emphasis on “consciousness of sin”. Not until we reach adulthood do we begin talking about “sin nature”. We usually accept the idea that any child that dies at a young age (i.e. too young to have a public profession of faith) is “safe in the arms of God”. Even people who are not faithful church-goers believe this.

    I’d like to reiterate this another way so I’ll say it terms of “going to hell”. Does our “sin nature” send us to hell? Or is it “conscious rejection of God” that sends us to hell? In my experience, both are taught, but more emphasis is put upon “sin nature” in any discussion of “winning souls for Christ”. We teach that a “lost” person’s “sin nature” is what is sending them to hell, not their “rejection of Christ”. Usually, the “rejection” is talked about AFTER a person is known to have had exposure to the gospel message and had obvious opportunity to make a choice. But BEFORE any so-called exposure to the gospel, we say its “sin nature”. And because the person has not made a choice to “accept” Christ, they’re “going to hell”. At least this is what I hear from the pulpits and Sunday-schools I’ve been around.
     
  17. Brother Ian

    Brother Ian
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    4Study,

    I believe the Bible teaches that babies are covered by God's grace as you have mentioned. This would also inlcude people that are not mentally capable of making a decision to follow Christ. Romans 5:12 says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Because we are born into sin, we are seperated from God. Children have that sin nature as adults do, but perhaps some do not call it that.

    As far as a conscious rejection of Christ? Remember what Paul said in Romans, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20) It looks like nobody will be excused for ignorance. There are some that will never hear the Gospel of Christ. While they may not be making a decision to reject Christ, it is the sin that sends a person to hell. It is the wages of sin that brings death (Romans 6:23). It is up to us to evangelize the world and get the Message out.
     

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