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What Is the Sin Nature?


“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  (Galatians 5:19-21)

The sin nature is that aspect in man that makes him rebellious against God.  When we speak of the sin nature, we refer to the fact that we have a natural inclination to sin; given the choice to follow God’s will or our own, we will naturally choose to follow our own desires.

Where did our sinful nature come from?  Scripture says that God created humans good and without a sinful nature.  However, Genesis 3 records the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  By that one action, sin entered into their nature.  They were immediately afflicted with a sense of shame, and they hid from God’s presence. (See Genesis 3:6-8)  Then when they had children, Adam’s image and likeness was passed along to his offspring. (See Genesis 5) 

The sin nature expressed itself early in the family tree when the first child born to Adam and Eve, Cain, became the very first murderer. (See Genesis 4:8)  And ultimately the sin nature was passed down to all of humanity.   Paul tells us in Romans 5:12 that, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” 

The prophet Jeremiah commented on the sin nature when he wrote that, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Many of us struggle with our sinful nature.  If you are a little confused about what is sinful, the Bible lists just a few in our passage from Galatians 5.  And the scripture says that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.   It does not mean that if you sin and mess up that you are disqualified from the kingdom. 

It is an intentional act to give in to your own desires and follow after the flesh rather than God.  If you follow your sinful nature you are turning your back on God.  Remember that this list is specific but it also says, “…and the like. I warn you, as I did before.” (See Galatians 5:24)  Don’t think that because it’s not explicitly listed that it is okay to do.

You may not be an alcoholic or a drug addict but let me ask you this, are you allowing your sinful nature to control you?  Are you giving in to the fleshly urges of bitterness or anger that your sinful nature wants to produce inside you?  If you give in to these desires, they will destroy your relationships and fill you with negative attitudes that steal your joy and peace.

I love to fish.  If I can catch fish that’s even better!  However, sometimes it is not always easy to catch fish, which is why I have a collection of different types of baits and lures.  Imagine that we are all a bunch of fish swimming around in the sea.  And imagine that Satan is the fisherman.  He has every type of bait that you can imagine to lure each one of us.  On one line he puts the bait of jealousy, on another he places the bait of sexual immorality.   Underneath every piece of bait is a sharp hook. 

Every person is tempted by the bait and desires to have it, if only you could see the hook that is hidden by the bait.  You see, it is the hook that catches the fish, not the bait.  Remember, every time you struggle or are tempted to give in to your sinful desires you have a choice.  You have a choice to take the bait and bite down on that hook never to be released, or you can resist and run away (swim) as fast as you can.   

So make the decision today that you are not going to take the “bait” of your sinful nature.  Colossians 3:5 tells us to, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Turn your attention to the Holy Spirit, and decide to let Him produce a life of freedom in Jesus Christ!

Through His finished work on the cross, Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against sin and provided believers with victory over their sin nature.  “He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) 

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Reproduced with permission from Russ Sharrock.

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