Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sin Nature - Answering Verses

After reading my article on churchianity a reader asked:

"Verses like Psalm 51:5, Romans 7:5, Romans 8:4 & 9, Galatians 5:19 & 24, etc, all talk about sin nature. My NIV bible says 'sin nature', my KJV bible says 'flesh'. Is this the same thing? I always took them to mean we are all born with sin already in our hearts."

This is a great question. She asked if flesh and sin nature are the same thing, and the answer is no. First, there is no such thing as "sin nature" and we'll be looking at that scripturally. Secondly, flesh is flesh - it's what gets burned, cut, gets a rash, gets buried - flesh is flesh.  The greek word for flesh is sarx and it's used 144 times and translated as flesh 143 of those times in the KJB.

Let's look at the first verse asked about in Psalm 51. Reading the chapter for context, we see that David is praying a sinner’s prayer before God and mourning over his sin.  He says “that in sin did my mother conceive me.” 

The verse doesn't say that he had a sinful nature. It said he was conceived in sin. So when David’s father, Jesse, went into David’s mother, were they sinners? Was she a sinner? Was Jesse a sinner? Yes they were. When the conception took place in the womb, and sperm and egg came together, did it occur inside of sin? It sure did. David was conceived in sin.

It didn’t say anything about his nature, or about the state of his being or his character. It is David in his mourning over his sin. He’s thinking, referring back to the fact that from the very first moment of his existence, which was conception, it was in a state of sin.

Not once does the word “sinful” ever appear with the word “nature” in the King James Bible. In fact, every time that the word “nature” is used the opposite is implied. Only books like the NIV replace it with the invented term "sinful nature".   

The sin nature doctrine says that sin would be God’s fault, not mine, because I was born predisposed to sin and incapable to doing anything else. If it were true, it would be the best of all excuses for sinning. 

When we are born, we are born separated from God. And that makes us predisposed to independence which leads to sin. But we are not born with some kind of a fixed inclination to sin. We are born with a fixed inclination to indulge. Which is what God created Adam with. 

Adam had a desire to see things pleasant, feel things pleasant, to eat food, to be wise. All of these are gifts God gave him. And it is those very attributes that Adam exercised that led to his sin.

So if the presence of universal sin can only be explained by sinful nature, how would you explain Adam having sinned or Lucifer having sinned before that? (Luke 10:18Certainly there was no possibility of any kind of an evil nature being present. 

Or how would you explain the fact that Christ was tempted in all points like as we are?  Certainly he didn’t have Adam’s nature. Yet he was tempted. What was the nature of the temptation? What was in him that could be aroused to lust, to disobey God, except his God given human attributes? 

If you take your King James Bible you’ll find no mention of "sinful nature" nor will you find that the bible EVER teaches or intimates in any way that the spirit of an individual is dead. There are no verses that teach that - that you have a dead spirit. Or that your spirit needs to be regenerated. That’s simply not taught in the Bible. That’s a matter of theology. It’s not in the Bible. 

The Bible teaches that what needs to be regenerated is your body.  What your soul needs is to be rightly related to God in the forgiveness of sins. When Adam sinned, he lost proximity to God. He no longer walked with God.  

So if you say that you have a sinful nature inside of you: 

  • Where is it inside of you? 
  • If you took the sinful nature out, would there still be a nature there? 
  • If you added a second nature that was not sinful, would you have two? (That’s what is taught.) 
  • Is that sinful nature in your mind? 
  • If you forgot those thoughts would it not be sinful anymore? 
  • Is the sinful nature in your spirit? 
  • If it is, what’s the nature of the sinful nature? 
  • They say, ‘it’s an inclination to sin’. 
  • So, that inclination to sin, does it dominate every aspect of your spirit and mind? 
  • Is that the only nature you’ve got is one sinful nature? 
  • If I’ve got a sinful nature, if I AM a sinful nature, could I do anything other than what’s consistent with my sinful nature - would I always sin? 
  • Could I ever do righteousness? 
  • Would I ever WANT to do righteousness? 
  • Would there ever be a struggle between good and evil if I were just a sinful nature? 
  • And when did I get that sinful nature? 
  • Was it created by God?  They say, “no it happened when Adam sinned”.  
  • Did Adam re-created his own substance? 
  • Did he change the substance of his soul or of his body when he sinned?  
  • Or did God come in right behind his sin and recreate him and re-tool him and turn the screws and reprogram him so that now all he wants to do is sin? 
  • Is that what happened?  
  • If sin will do that to you, if sin changes your nature, and if then that sin is passed on to future children (as it’s taught) then what about when Cain sinned and murdered? Did all of his descendants by nature become murderers in consistency with that?  
  • And what about when your dad sinned - did you inherit his sinful nature as well?  
  • And what about all the sin of all of our past fathers - did all of those sins, each one, change the nature of future generations?
  • Did each one re-create his own nature with every act of sin so that ultimately we are the accumulation of all the sins of the past? 

There are only a handful of verses that are used to promote the sinful nature teaching and we're going to be examining each one in the coming weeks. We'll begin with Psalm 58. 

Ps 58: 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb. They go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies.

Remember what this doctrine is attempting to prove is that when a baby is born, the baby is born sinful. 

The theologians are not trying to prove that all men are sinful, or all men or lost or all men are deserving of damnation or that all men sin.  We all believe that. 

What they’re attempting to prove is that all babies, as soon as they come out of the womb, are already in a state of condemnation and blame.  That the babies are guilty and deserving of hell. That the babies come out with a record of sin to their charge as soon as they’re born. 

If taken to the extreme, we’d have to conclude that as soon as the child is conceived, he or she is a sinner. That the little baby kicking around in your womb is guilty and has a record. Because it's taught that in “Adam all sinned”. The bible doesn’t say that, but that’s what is taught. 

So they teach when Adam sinned, your little baby was there in Adam eating the fruit of the tree. And that God got so angry and upset with not only Adam but your little baby, eating the fruit of the tree, that God damned your child at that point.  And that when your child is born, he’s born with a nature inclined to sin that started at that point and that he’s born blameworthy. 

As always, the context of the passage must be sought to seek understanding of the verse. Let’s read:

Psalm 58:1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?

He’s addressing adults, right? “ye sons of men”. He’s not addressing children. 

2 Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.

He’s speaking to adults about their heart and about what they weigh and about their violence. You wouldn’t accuse an infant of being violent. Next, what does he say they were they from the womb? Were they evil from the womb? Is that what he says? Were they sinners from the womb? Did he say they were guilty from the womb?  What does the scripture actually say that they were “from the womb”? Let's read:

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb.  

Now what does estranged mean? It means separated. It means removed from, out of contact with. When Adam sinned, didn’t God separate himself from Adam and in that act, he seperated himself from Adam’s descendants so that all babies who are born, are born into a kingdom that’s outside God’s domain?  There’s nothing deep or profound about that. It's very understandable and written in plain terms.

Who is estranged from the womb? The Psalmist said the wicked are. He’s already told us who the wicked are. It’s these who are commiting violence with their hands. The New Testament says the wicked are “without God and without hope” (Eph 2:12). That’s a statement about relationship not a statement about nature. That’s a statement about how one relates to God not the quality of his heart. It goes on to say:

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 

Notice it’s as soon as they’re born, not before. How would an infant go astray speaking lies? The difficulty in that verse isn’t at all in the fact that they’re lying, but that it’s a baby doing the lying. How would an infant speak lies? Can a baby speak lies? 

Well as soon as an infant is born, he has a desire for pleasure. He seeks to be warm, to be held, to nurse, to breath freely. Babies seek all manner of pleasure. And babies soon learn they can communicate with the outside world and cry and say ‘I’m hurting, save me from this pain”, or cry and say "I’m cold, make me warm’. 

Babies soon learn that crying gets a response and they figure out they can cry as though they're in pain but really they just want to be picked up. So looking at it this way, we could possibly attribute that from the womb, from birth, the child begins to lie. But does God account it to the child as sin? What does the Bible say?

To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not to him it is sin.  ~ James 4:17

The Bible tells us that where there is no law there is no transgression. In other words, God does not impute the 'lie' to the child as sin. 

And to take it further, if he did impute it to the child as sin, then all this verse has taught is that children begin willful sinfulness from the moment they’re born. Because a lie is telling an untruth. 

All this verse teaches at the worst case scenario, is that from the moment a child is born, he tells untruths. 

It doesn’t say anything about the condition of the child before his birth. Nor does it say anything about the quality of his soul. Only about his actions.  

Reading on:

4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent:
they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;

5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers,
charming never so wisely. 

The Psalmist is describing the wicked. That is some strong language. And he has the response to these wicked who go astray from the womb:

6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth:
break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord.

So the Psalmist says that these wicked who go astray from the womb should have their teeth broken out. How many babies are born with teeth? Not enough to quantify that the wicked referred to here are babies. Have you ever prayed a sincere prayer that God would break out the teeth of the babies? Break out their teeth?  He goes on to say:

7 Let them melt away as waters which run continually:
when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces. 8 As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away:

Have you ever poured salt on a snail? The Psalmist is praying that these wicked who go astray from birth would melt like a snail and pass away...

like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. 10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.

Now this wicked person he’s talking about here who goes astray from birth speaking lies, he’s prayed for God’s vengeance and he said that when this vengeance comes, that the righteous will rejoice and wash their feet in the blood of these wicked ones. 

Do you really believe that the author here is talking about God’s hatred and wrath for infants? Or is he describing a willful, grown, adult sinner who’s engaged in immorality and violence and bloodshed, and that from the day that this individual, this wicked sinner was born, he went astray speaking lies?

In other words, he’s using the language of description to illustrate the longevity of the sin of this particular individual.  Do you see that? He’s using expositive language saying that this wicked man standing here, this blood thirsty, Godless criminal, ought to have his teeth broken out and his blood be shed and we’ll walk in it and rejoice because this man has been a sinner his whole life, from the day he was born, he was lying. 

That’s not a statement of his nature. It’s a statement about the way he’s lived his life. 

Regardless of doctrinal position, I don’t know of anyone that would pray for God to break out the teeth of a baby and walk in his blood and rejoice in his judgment. 

Do you think hyper-calvinists who take their infant to get sprinkled and make a covenant with God to wash away his original sins (which is what they do) to guarantee his salvation (covenant theology - they make a covenant with God) and the preacher woman comes up and sprinkles a little water on him, that the parents looking down at the face of their infant really believe that God hates him? That God’s going to put him in the fires of hell if he doesn’t get sprinkled and get this covenant made? 

I don’t think that they believe that. In one hand they seem to hold their doctrine while in the other they hold the truth. 


Courtney said...

Thank you for addressing and answering my question. This makes sense. I guess I just never thought about it this way before. I grew up in ( and still attend) a baptist church and have been a Christian for many years, and there's still so much I don't know!!! Lol:)

Random side note: My husband likes to joke around, and when I showed him this post and told him you were answering my question, he said, " Good job ruining her Saturday. This must have taken her half the day."
( I thought maybe you would think that was funny:)
But seriously, thank you for a thoughtful answer.


Simply Keeping Home said...

My pleasure, Courtney. Though I do get your husband's humor, no day is ever ruined by studying the word of God. I love it! Hope you had a good Mother's Day!