Do Christians have a Sinful Nature?
Ever heard the one about how you have two natures wrestling inside you and the one that dominates is the one you feed the most?
It’s not true.
Christian, you do not have a sinful nature. One with the Lord, you have a new heart and a new mind with new desires (1 Cor. 2:16). As a new creation, you get to share in the divine nature of Christ (2 Pet. 1:4).
You don’t have a sinful nature, but the devil would love for you to think that you do.
He will tell you that you are wicked and inclined to sin. The devil wants you resisting yourself because then you won’t resist him.
“Die to yourself daily.” Heard that one? It’s one of the devil’s best lines. So many churchgoers are trying to die daily because they don’t what happened to them at the cross:
Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him… (Romans 6:6)
Your old self is gone. The person you used to be died with Christ (Col. 2:20). The moment you came to the Lord you were baptized by the Spirit into his death and resurrection (Rom. 6:6–10). Your old self was nailed to the cross and no longer lives.
You don’t need to die daily. Once was enough.
The difference between your old self and the person you are now is found in three words: Christ in you.
Formerly you were inclined to follow the flesh down the well-worn path of self-destruction. But now the indwelling Spirit of God helps you to live whole and righteously.
Formerly, you were corrupted by the sinful choices you made. But now the incorruptible seed of the living Word is bearing good fruit in your life.
Why do I still sin?
Although Christians don’t have a sinful nature, we can be tempted to sin just as Adam and Eve were tempted. When we give into that temptation, perhaps because we have forgotten who we are or because we are not resting in Christ, the result is sin (Jas. 1:14–15).
But unlike Adam and Eve we are not alone in our struggle against temptation. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit. It’s us and Him versus the Tempter. It’s a totally unfair fight against an already-defeated enemy.
With God on your side, how can you lose?
From time to time we all make mistakes. But when you stumble, the Lord is right there to pick you up and speak in your defense (1 John 2:1).
How do I stop sinning?
When we come to Jesus we are set free from sin, but we may need to unlearn some sinful habits. The Bible calls this laying aside the old self and being renewed in the spirit of our minds (Eph. 4:22–23).
If in your former life you were a judgmental bully, by the grace of God you can become kind and compassionate.
If you were bitter and unforgiving, you can learn to forgive others as Christ forgave you.
You were not born bitter and judgmental; you learned these bad habits. And since you learned them, by the grace of God you can unlearn them.
It may seem that sin has a strong grip on your life, but God’s grace is stronger still. Where sin abounds, his grace super-abounds.
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)
Christians do many things in response to sin; we confess our sins, we hold ourselves accountable for our sins, we discuss our sins. We pray against sin, preach against sin, and warn against sin.
But when it comes to sin, there is one thing we must do above all, and that is reckon ourselves dead to it.
When sin comes knocking, don’t open the door.
When sin calls, don’t answer.
A dead person cannot react and cannot be tempted by sin.
Alive to God
That is the first part of the verse, here is the second: reckon yourself alive to God in Christ Jesus. Once upon a time, we were disconnected from the life that is in Christ (Col. 1:21). But now we enjoy fellowship and intimacy with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.
In Christ, the deepest longings of our heart are fulfilled.
Every one of us wants to feel truly alive, to be full of life, energy, and purpose. Not merely existing but connecting, thriving, and being everything God made us to be.
This is the life we have in union with the Lord.
To be “alive to God” is knowing and being known, and it’s loving and being loved. It is seeing the touch of God in everything you do and in everyone you meet.
This new life begins with a revelation of God your Father and yourself as his dearly-loved child.
God delights in you. He rejoices over you with singing. You are the apple of his eye. When you know Who is for you, it changes everything (Rom. 8:31).
No one who abides in him sins. (1 John 3:6a)
Those who abide or make their home in the sinless Son drop their sinful habits like rotten garments.
No one who is born of God practices sin, because his seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)
One with the Lord, you are a sinner no more. John is not saying you will never sin (see 1 John 2:1). He is saying it is not in your new nature to sin. Sinning has lost its appeal. Having been set free from your old way of life, you no longer want to sin.
And why would you, when you have found something better by far.
Thank you for fresh encouragement. I need this today.
Thank you, Paul! I have begun teaching a group of senior believers (ages 60-90+) at my church (Church of God) several times a month, and my subject is Who Are We In Christ – i.e., our Identity in Christ. Many of these precious people seem to believe we are saved by grace but we stay saved by keeping the law. Your post today hits the nail right on the head. I am going to forward it to several other intercessors who are praying along with me for real spiritual revelation for this group. May I have your permission to quote from today’s post? Blessings! Bette Cox, Florence, SC, USA
Share away, Bette. Our identity in Christ is just about the most important thing we need to learn. All the best with your class.
Can you help clarify something. Paul in Romans 7 talks multiple times about his Sinful Nature that he was battling. He gave us the solution but didn’t deny the Sinful Nature existed
The phrase sinful nature is found nowhere in Romans 7 – unless you happen to be reading an old version of the NIV.
True, “sinful nature” is a modern wording, yet Paul said in Romans 3:9, “for we have before proved both Jews (who have the law) and Gentiles (who do not), that they are all under sin;” Could this, “under sin” be considered the same as “sinful nature”? …
I don’t think it’s helpful to equate our captivity under sin with a sinful nature. Paul described sin as a tyrant or slaver that owned us, which is why Jesus came to ransom us. That’s what Rom. 3:9 is about.
Sure, because, “death spread to all men, because all sinned”,so, Christ came in order to replace it with life! It is inconceivable to think death spread, yet not sin! For, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6:6. NLT say’s it even clearer. “old man” here seems to mean “old nature”, which being dead to sin, is now alive to righteousness. For right, “A dead person cannot react and cannot be tempted by sin.” as even the other Paul mentioned in Romans 6:2, and Peter in 1 Peter 2:24.
From these it seems that, if we do nothing to receive the righteousness of Christ, except to be born again, so we do nothing to receive the original sin of Adam, except to be born. Thanks
You have raised a number of points, but I’m not sure what relevance they have to the article – unless you are stating that Christians do have a sinful nature? Sin is a huge topic. If you would like to discuss original sin, please comment under this article.
I am stating Christians have such, Paul tells the Christians to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Rom 13:14). He writes to the Christians at Galatia (Gal 5:16-17) saying, God gave us His own Holy Spirit to indwell us, as, it and our flesh are perpetually at war, and will continue to be at war until we are taken home. The believer’s part in the conflict is to yield to the Spirit.
This has nothing to do with our spirit being saved, rather the prosperity of our souls, and Which is what Ephesians 4:22,23,24 is about, this laying aside the old self and is part and partial to sanctification process, the work of the Holy Spirit and ultimately completed in Glorification. This, “Put on” or put in practice, is so these features of the new man will be seen in us as children of light, as we “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-25). Thanks
As peter said, we can “escape (not to, but from) reality” of corruption that is in the world on account of lust (our sin nature?).” Yet such escape needs our participating in the “Divine Nature”, as opposed to our sin nature.
So you think flesh = sinful nature. I disagree. In Christ, the old has gone. We are a new creation with a new heart and new desires. We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Does Christ have a sinful nature?
We do not have a sinful nature keeping us captive to sinful desires. We are free. We have a choice. We can walk in the old way of the flesh or the new walk of the spirit (Rom. 8:4–5, 7, 13, 2 Cor. 5:7, Gal. 3:3, 5:16, 6:8).
You know Christ did not have a sin nature, as he was not “under sin” (Romans 3:9) as the rest of the world, for he “did no sin” 1 Peter 2:22, and thus confirmed saying; “for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me”. John 14:30. Christ’s blood would have been sinless since it came to him through his father, God, not his natural mother, Mary. He was not born under Adam, but under his heavenly Father, not having tainted blood, thus the last Adam, able to cover the sins of the world with his pure blood, if they believe John 3:16.
Calling our tainted blood a sin nature is a bit misleading, seeing our sins are washed away by untainted blood of the Lamb, therefore, “if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” For, “Christ has made us free”, yet this must be tempered with Galatians 5:13.
For, we still have our tainted blood, dead body (“flesh in regard to its lust”) to contend with, so right; great verse “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Thanks
Those in Christ don’t have “tainted blood” or demonic DNA or a sinful nature or whatever you may call it. We are one with the Lord. We have his mind, his heart, his nature. “As He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
I was brought up to believe and used to believe what this post claims and lived my life for 40 years believing that there was something terribly wrong with me because nothing in me naturally was anything like JESUS! I was totally defeated until Holy Spirit revealed Gal.5:16-17 to me. That it was totally normal for me as a Christian to be experiencing this battle going on inside of me: the flesh desiring what was contrary to the spirit and the spirit what was contrary to the flesh! Once I knew that I was normal the enemy could not longer beat me up with the idea that there was something terribly wrong with me! As I’ve chosen to say no to the flesh and yes to the spirit I’ve become more and more like Jesus!
If you had a sinful nature and were inclined to sin, you wouldn’t say no to the flesh. Your wise choices testify to the new heart and mind that God has given you. That you are free to choose reveals that you are new in Christ. Slaves to sin do not enjoy this freedom.
Amazing life giving exciting message . I’m already a grace addict and my addiction is growing every day . Thank you . Keep posting. This is the true Good News we all need to hear. Rose
Thanks so much.
Rev. Emmanuel Patrick Undie
The whole idea of struggling between good on one side and evil on the other sounds like a certain tree in Genesis.
It does, doesn’t it.
Hi DPE, I love this article, and wondered if I could ask you a question? (Apologies for the length): I have this “concept” that “sin” (singular) refers to the lost condition we’re born in, affects our “vertical” relationship with God (we’re born “dead” – spiritually), has “eternal” consequence – and only Jesus could (and did) remedy that. We could never resolve this issue and only our faith in his atonement remedies it. THEN: I see “sins” (plural) as harmful choices we make in the “temporal” realm (and therefore do not have eternal consequences), and cause harm in our “horizontal” relationships with others, and are actions that we DO have control over and responsibility for. (Picture S-I-N written on the vertical beam of cross and S-I-N-S on the horizontal).
Does this sound screwy-goofy to you? Or possibly helpful for distinguishing between New Covenant commands about sin and its effects in the horizontal/temporal arenas that should not (but do) get confused for those of eternal consequence?
Thanks as always for all you do!
Not screwy at all. Paul regularly used two different words to define sin.
Thank you DPE!
Amen Paul apologies for misquoting your name in a previous comment. There are too many churches who have not understood this and a lack of leadership in application. We cannot be both sinners and new creations? Yes I was taught feed the good dog as an infant believer. How we see God determines how we apply His teaching. I am not a saved sinner, no! I am by His grace a new man in Christ. I may not be perfect but God’s seed in me is perfecting holiness and Righteousness as I continue to accept the new man or sonship bought by Christ and paid for. Given as a free gift for me. It is so vital that we all walk in newness of life and not get down when character sins emerge. The good news is when they do we overcome praise the Lord.
We need to keep on keeping on hearing Gods word,gospel of grace,good news the good opinion of Him and His good opinion of us through and in Christ and Him crucified at the cross for us and why and not just until it “sinks in” and we think we have got the revelation because we never actually get it nor can we keep hold of it that’s the Holy Spirits job .We need to be bombarded by His goodness(grace) aggressively,daily,constantly in the Holy Spirits unconditionally loving way not in our “earthly”way as our way turns into works,conditions,judgements etc. I personally need to be “reminded,enlightened” daily of ABBA Gods gospel,good news in Christ by His Holy Spirit whether in private times or from Holy Spirit inspired peopleCONSTANTLY.
Seriously disagree with Paul. Adam and Eve after they sinned bequeathed two things to us. Every newborn baby inherits:
1. A mortal body – hence the reason why babies and adults die.
2. Their sinful nature. That perfect, sinless human nature created by God was tainted by Adam and Eve’s sin.
(2) is why we need to partake of the divine nature as Peter tells us in order to keep the sinful nature under. Paul said I die daily so disagree with Paul on that one as well. It is presumption to think that while under grace one can continue to sin. Read the last verse of Romans 5 and the whole of Romans 6. He came to save us FROM sin, not IN sin. Watch it friends, the wages of sin is death and SIN is the transgression of God’s Law 1John 3:4
If we inherited a sinful nature from Adam, wouldn’t we inherit a righteous nature from Jesus? You seem to say Christians have two natures.
Jesus crucified our sinful natures at the cross,giving us a born again,righteous spirit in/ of Him,To say otherwise is dishonouring Christs horrific redemption work for us at the cross. it’s our souls/ bodies that are in the process of being redeemed,purged,purified and protected while He is doing this BY HIM not us.We therefore as believers do not want to sin or advocate sinning using grace as an excuse for “sinful” behaviour as we “now have a get out of jail free card “ NO,NO,NO,this is misunderstanding/misusing completely Gods beautiful gospel of grace.We just understand by Gods grace that our bodies/ souls are in this redeeming process and that we fail and that’s why we need/have a Saviour, an Advocate in Heaven and that we know our only hope and safety,answer is to look to Jesus constantly and Him.crucified only not to ourselves at all and to constantly ask Holy Spirit to help us and that it is. We are being real when we say yes we are saved however we still fall short and that is why we need our Saviour constantly. Look to Jesus and Him crucified alone and let’s be real about our total inability to be the people the Lord wants us to be. It’s all Him,from Him,about Him to us Titus 3
Hi Sally, I know some teach that our spirits are redeemed and saved but our souls are in a process of being redeemed or saved, but this is not Biblical. You are not half-saved and half-unsaved. You are either born again or you need to be. You are either dead in sin or alive in Christ.
Just as our spirits have been purified (2 Cor. 7:1), our souls were purified when we heeded the truth of the gospel and were born again (1 Pet. 1:22). This may surprise you, but your born again soul does not want to sin (1 John 3:9). When you were born again, you were given a new nature with new desires to please the Lord. This is why the old lusts of the flesh wage war against you (1 Pet. 2:11).
Obviously, there is much more to say about this and I will be releasing a study note on the Spirit, Soul, and Body soon.
Paul,nothing surprises me,I know I’m not half saved/unsaved,just confused/ unclear sometimes! I’m just one of Gods kids whose had enough of missing out on enjoying the full benefits of my Lord/Saciour” His “Person” because of being fed/fallen for lies/deception. So am open/ravenous to know Him more,better,deeper,further,wider,truthfully. Am still/constantly.learning so am also open to correction about the truth of Him whilst at the same time still finding my voice,personality,relationship with Him which I did not really have before due to the “religious spirit” I- we all fell under at some point.Yes along the way I get things wrong due to “ ignorance,unenlightenment,lack of knowledge but phew the main thing is am open to correction about the Lord so thanks for your explanation and bible verse,much appreciated because I want to know Jesus’ truth so that His truth can set me free to know,benefit from Him as my Saviour
We need to define ‘sinful nature’.
An inclination to sin.
Paul, this is an outstanding post and I’ve been reading it over and over. Question: It seems to me that many sinful actions, choices and mistakes that have become ingrained in us were exacerbated (and perhaps even created) by bad things that have happened to us in our past such as trauma, abuse, molestation, bullying, deprivation and attacks directed against us, especially when we were younger and more vulnerable. Does not having a sinful nature also mean, in the same way, that we aren’t actually emotionally wounded from our past due to our regeneration by the Holy Spirit?
Hi Ed, I’m not sure how to interpret your question. Wounds and trauma can be inflicted on believers and non-believers alike, and unhealthy patterns of behavior can arise in either case. The difference is the believer has options the unbeliever lacks. The believer can lean on the Lord for healing and grace.
Hi thank you for this article, in light of this can you explain 1 John 1:8? “If we say we have no sin we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us.’
Hi Cecilia, you can find my thoughts on that passage, and hundreds of others, on the Grace Commentary.
Paul our flesh is the problem! You not only have a new nature, but you also have an old body. You have a new inside and an old outside…The new nature that is in me has been purified, but the body that it lives in is a mess. When I go to heaven I don’t get a new inside, I get a new outside. If I could just remove my good inside from this bad outside, I could really live…’ In my new creation life the new nature is there, but surrounding it is the flesh.
Hi Lidia, our bodies are not the problem – they are living and holy sacrifices we offer to God (Rom. 12:1) – but they are certainly the battleground where we encounter temptation and sin. This is why we are exhorted to offer our members to righteousness and not unrighteousness (Rom. 6:13). So instead of saying the flesh is the problem, I would say choosing to walk after the flesh is the problem. More here.
Paul, thank you for always taking the time to clarify my point about the flesh, and refer me to your article.
God bless you!
Now as believers we do not have a sinful nature but what we do have is a “mindset” that needs to be renewed with,,changed,re-educated,”reprogrammed” with ABBA Gods word,Gospel of His grace/good news of His good opinion of Himself and His good opinion of us and His love for us and about Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour and what He did for us at the cross and WHY and so to understand that He showed us in action through Christs sacrificial work at the cross just how much He loved us and had done everything to get us back to Him,to save us. It is our lack of His revelation knowledge and understanding of this that still causes us problems with regards to “still “squirming” before Him in various ways and trying to earn His forgiveness,vindication ,love etc. Our belief,opinion,assumption,attitude,idea,view,understanding of Him needs to be renewed not our “spirits,souls,bodies. Right believing produces “rightl living,behaviour = right,desired results from the Lord.
So, what does the “die daily” scripture mean? I am 100% on board with everything you have said in this email. But, that scripture, it confuses me.
Thanks for responding!
Hi Sue, I deal with this scripture in The Grace Commentary.