If Christians still commits sins after they believe in Jesus, does that mean Christians have a sinful nature? The short answer is “no,” but the true reason is greatly misunderstood. How about you personally, how would you answer that question before reading the remainder of this article?
If you consider some of the sins you commit, you may conclude that you have a sin nature insider of you. In that case, you would be using your behavior to determine your conclusion. However, God uses your birth, not your behavior, to define who you are.
Have you heard people say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace,” so often that you nod your head in agreement without giving it much thought? In reality, you will not find anywhere in Scripture that says Christ-followers are sinners. You may wonder about the Apostle Paul’s writing in 1 Timothy 1:15, where He says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” But, if you start reading in verse 9 and all the way to verse 17, you will see the larger story why he is making this statement. Paul is saying that because he persecuted the church before he met Jesus on the Damascus Road, he is the worst sinner ever. And, if God can save a sinner like him, He can save anyone.
When I (Mark Maulding) played basketball in high school, I set a record for the most rebounds ever in the history of the school. A rebound is when you grab the basketball after it hits the backboard or rim and doesn’t go in the basket. To my knowledge, I still hold that record a few decades later. Though I have graduated from high school and no longer attend there, would it be a fair statement to say that I am the “chief rebounder” at my high school? Yes, it would be, though I am no longer a part of that school. It is simply a part of my past, just as Paul being the chief of sinners was a part of his past, though he says it in present tense.
Another issue is that you may have been told most of your life that you have two natures as a Christian. The old nature and the new nature. However, the Bible is very clear that your old nature died once and for all on the cross with Jesus. It’s no longer in you. You only have a new nature – your identity in Christ. Romans 6:6 says, “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin”
One more challenge you may find is that you grew up reading the bible using the New International Version. I like it too, except where they translated the word “flesh” as sinful nature. That is very confusing because the old nature is dead and removed. However, God did not remove the flesh from the Christ follower. In addition, the old nature and the flesh are not the same. So when you see in places like Romans 8 that we are dealing with a sinful nature, it’s easy to make the assumption that you have one. To the NIV’s credit, the newest version changed 95% of those back to flesh, which is more accurate.
Rejoice today! Though you and I certainly act in a sinful way, you do not have a sinful nature! You have the new nature where Jesus has made His home in you! And you have the flesh which is not the old nature or the sinful nature. Galatians 2:20 says it died and no longer lives (my paraphrase).
Why is this point so important? Because it goes to the very heart of the Gospel about what really happened when Jesus died on the cross for us. We died with him. It goes to the core of who you really are inside. Are you both a sinner and a saint? Or, are you a saint who sometimes sins? According to Romans 6, you are a saint who sometimes sins. When we teach this truth to people and they embrace it, we’ve literally watched God change them. Why? The truth always sets you free! Will you believe the truth today so you can live freer in your own life?
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