MAN’S SINFUL NATURE – ANOTHER FALSE DOCTRINE

BY:  DEAN FINNESTAD

 

THE TERM “SINFUL NATURE”: WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

TWO BODIES OF MEN

THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH

THE BATTLE

WHAT IS DEATH?

WHAT IS THE SOUL?

NOT JUST SEMANICS

FIGHTING THE FIGHT

THE NATURE OF JESUS

PARTAKING OF THE DIVINE NATURE

A common teaching, that man has a sinful nature, is found not only in the traditional church but among those who reject the majority of traditional church doctrine. Why has this false doctrine, and it is a FALSE doctrine, been able to influence the true Body of Christ so much?

Many believers in the Body of Christ today think that because they have nothing to do with the teachings of the traditional church system they are immune from its influences. This is not true. The reason it is not true is because by far most of our modern day translations of the Bible have been done by men who deny the baptism into the Holy Spirit and who approach translating with doctrinal biases. This teaching about a “sinful nature” is a good example of doctrinal bias. 

THE TERM “SINFUL NATURE”: WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

The New International Version (NIV) was the first translation to actually use the term “sinful nature” as a translation of Paul’s concept of “the flesh”. But this term was fairly common throughout most of “Christianity” long before this translation was released. Where does this term come from?

This doctrine centers around Romans 6:6 “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.” From this verse the traditional church has taught that we have an “old man” and a “new man” living inside each one of us; that these two “men” are constantly fighting each other; that we can never overcome sin in our lives because of this; and that this equates to a “sinful nature”. Of course, most denominational theologians would never put it this way, but this is the basis of their doctrine.

Please understand that Satan knew that in order to make the church ineffective in this world he had to change its doctrines or teachings. This is because men live by what they believe. Hypocrisy is saying one thing but doing another. This means that hypocrites don’t live by what they say and this makes what they say subject to ridicule. This is the primary reason that today’s world scoffs at Christianity.

Paul warned both Timothy and Titus that when he was gone false teachers and false prophets would come into the church and teach “the doctrines of demons”. These doctrines often have a grain of truth but are for the most part “defeatist” in nature, i.e. to live by the doctrines of today’s traditional church is to live a life of defeat, not of victory.

TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

The teaching centering around Romans 6:6 came to the forefront in the early 1800’s. Back then there were two schools of thought. One said that the “old man” that had been crucified wasn’t really dead and that, being personal in nature, it could rear its ugly head anytime and cause men to sin. This “old man” (Adam) lives in competition to the “new man” (Jesus Christ) and they are constantly fighting one another inside each believer. This position was known as the “counteractionist” position and has been built upon to form the concept of a “sinful nature”, also known as a carnal or Adamic nature.

The counter actionist went on to use Romans chapter 7 as an example of the normal “Christian” walk. This meant that because men have a “sinful nature” they would DO things they didn’t want to do and NOT do the things they want to do. But this whole chapter was meant by Paul to explain life under the Law and the inability to become righteous by living under the Law.

The other position was called “eradicationist” and maintained that the “old man” was indeed dead and could never influence the life of a true believer — making sin an impossibility. This theological position was proven wrong when those who espoused it were found to make mistakes, i.e. sin. Both of these positions are wrong.

TWO BODIES OF MEN

If we back away and look at Paul’s overall argument beginning in chapter 5 and going through chapter 8 an entirely different picture emerges. Paul is very meticulous in chapter 5 of Romans in laying down his concept of the corporate body of Adam and the corporate body of Christ. Why would he suddenly desert this foundation in chapter 6? The answer: he doesn’t.

The “old man” in Romans 6:6 is the corporate body of Adam. For those who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is accomplished through baptism, this “man” (Adam) is dead. This is because believers have been moved out of the corporate body of Adam and into the corporate body of Jesus Christ. This is a positional change which results in the ability to live a whole new lifestyle, through resurrection power, including victory over sin. This positional change makes the experience possible HERE AND NOW.

This positional change is due to the work of Jesus Christ. Just as Adam’s work left an indelible mark on all future generations of mankind, so too does the work of Jesus leave its mark. Adam’s mark is disobedience and its resulting lifestyle of sin ultimately ending in death. Jesus’ mark is obedience and its resulting lifestyle of righteousness ultimately ending in resurrection life. See Romans 5:12-21.

THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH

But before Jesus came to form a new corporate body of men, mankind was subject to the law of sin and death. Living under this law is what chapter 7 of Romans is all about. Chapter 7 is all about legalism and this is the bondage which traditional church doctrine has foisted onto those who would attempt to follow the truths Jesus Christ taught. Truth is designed by God to set men free, but this “truth” of the apostate church has only made men slaves to sin. No wonder so many caught up in the terrible church system of today think of themselves as “sinners”. 

THE BATTLE

The battle that is fought over sin doesn’t involve an “old man” vs. a “new man” or a battle between “natures”. There is no carnal nature. There is no sinful nature. There is no Adamic nature. There is no old nature. There is no new nature.

The battle that is fought over sin involves the flesh and the spirit. This is described in detail in Romans chapter 8.  Nowhere in the New Testament will you ever find the Greek word for “nature” involved with a fight or battle over sin — not unless you pervert Paul’s meaning of the word “flesh” and translate it as “sinful nature” instead. This is because “nature” is “neutral”.

The word for “nature” comes from a Greek root word, a verb, meaning “to produce”. Production is limited by the physical laws that now govern creation. We often use the term “mother nature” when we see these laws operating in weather. A storm is labeled “bad” not because it is inherently evil, but because of its effects on us. But the storm is just a result or production of physical laws regarding climate. It is neutral and without evil intent, or good intent for that matter.

This same concept is used regarding the fruit of a tree. A good tree produces good fruit. A bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit and vice versa. This is all a result of the laws of nature. This analogy to nature is used by Jesus to comment on the conditions of men and how their condition affects the fruit in their lives. Thus a sinner produces sin and a saint produces righteousness.

But how does this teaching relate to the “nature” of man? The “nature” of man involves his neutral structure or what makes up a man. God made a man by combining an earthly body with a heavenly spirit to produce a living soul. The “nature” of man then, is body, soul and spirit. Any human being will have these three components. And this is the “image” which man reflects and which God reproduced in mankind, because God is also composed of body, soul and spirit.

What is it that makes one man to appear bad and another good? Or one a sinner and the other a saint? While the nature of man never changes, what he produces in life is dependent upon the spiritual force that directs him. The only two spiritual forces present in this world when Adam sinned were God and Satan. God produced mankind to live His kind of life. Satan, as God’s enemy, is out to destroy mankind and lead men to death.    

WHAT IS DEATH?

When Adam disobeyed his Creator he was cut off from the Spirit of God which was his source of life. He died spiritually. Death is separation from God.

The other primary spiritual force in Adam’s world was Satan. Because Adam was no longer living in obedience under God and no longer connected with God’s Spirit he became subjected to Satan and spirit of disobedience which Satan promotes. Instead of living in righteousness, Adam and all of his descendants found themselves cut off from God and living in sinful disobedience that ultimately results in death.

Even though Adam’s nature, i.e. his composition as a body, soul and spirit, had not changed, what his life reflected did change. Adam no longer was living a life of obedience. Adam no longer had that spiritual connection with his Creator. Adam’s life no longer reflected the righteousness, which was a result of that spiritual connection with his Creator.

The result of spiritual death was the death of Adam’s soul, i.e. over time Adam lost his ability to live and appreciate life as God intended. How do we know this? All we need to do is look at history after Adam left paradise. Men lost “right” life and began living “wrong” life. Men living in sin eventually led God to send the flood in Noah’s day in order to cleanse the earth of immorality.

WHAT IS THE SOUL?

Back to the soul. What is the soul? This word for life comes from the Greek word “psyche” and is translated “soul” or “life”. The soul is made up of the heart (emotions), the mind (reason), and the will (making decisions). These three things give men the ability to appreciate life in all of its many forms. It is the soul, which makes mankind unique in reflecting the image of the Creator.

The soul of man is influenced by two sources, the body (or flesh) and the spirit. While the flesh feeds the soul through the physical senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing and seeing the flesh can be more that just the physical body. The apostle Paul, especially in the book of Romans and chapter 8 in particular, gives new meaning to the word “flesh” as the source of a person’s appetites or desires. The flesh makes demands upon the soul for fulfillment. Many of these appetites must be fulfilled or we would die; examples are the need to breathe, eat, stay warm, etc. Other appetites of the flesh go     farther; such as greed, a lust for power, wanting what others possess, murder, lying, etc. Left uncontrolled, these appetites and desires will rule a man’s soul and spirit. This is what living for self is all about — letting the appetites of the flesh dominate the soul.

The spirit of a man also influences the soul. When Adam died he was first of all cut off from the life-giving Spirit of God. He suffered spiritual death, i.e. his spirit was disconnected from God’s Spirit. This resulted in his soul slowly dying. Adam’s ability to appreciate life became less and less over time because his soul no longer had the input of his Creator’s Spirit. This was the death of his soul. Finally, after an age, Adam died physically.

Jesus came to reverse this process. First He reconnects a man’s spirit to God’s Spirit. Then, over a period of time, the soul is renewed as a result of this spiritual connection. And finally, resurrection life for the body will be realized at Christ’s second coming.

The life, which a soul receives and gives, depends then, upon which of these two dynamic forces are in control. In Romans chapter 8, Paul identifies that the great battle for the soul of man is between the flesh and the spirit. Allowing the flesh to rule will never accomplish God’s purposes for anyone (this is why Satan and his army of demonic spirits focus their attacks on the flesh). Allowing the Spirit/spirit to rule will result in pleasing God in every way and becoming just like Him.

NOT JUST SEMANTICS

These concepts are not a matter of semantics (using different words to express the same thought). The battle over the soul is never between “natures” because natures do not change. Men have no control over their nature and God is not out to replace or renew man’s nature. God IS out to save souls, however. And the battle over the soul is between the flesh and the spirit. This is why the baptism into the Holy Spirit is so important. While God is not out to change our natures He is out to enable us to partake of or share His nature. He does this by sending His Holy Spirit to live inside each of us. If   God’s Spirit is dwelling within, His Spirit will be helping our spirit fight against the appetites and desires of the flesh and we will live the “right life” that God has designed for us to live. This sharing of the Holy Spirit is what makes men who receive God’s Spirit new creations.

FIGHTING THE FIGHT

How do we fight this fight? By exercising humility. If we try to live by setting up a list of do’s and dont’s we will fail. This is the same as living by the Law. Trying to live this way is legalism and is living in defeat according to Romans chapter 7. Today’s traditional church has turned the New Testament into a new set of rules to live by. Living by rules will always produce defeat.

This is why most “Christians” in today’s churches live in defeat. They are held in bondage by false teachings which deny the very freedom and victory over Satan, sin and self which Jesus came to give His followers HERE AND NOW! Jesus talked the walk and walked the talk. He gave us every principle of life as it is lived in heaven and lived it Himself here on earth in order to show us how to live the same way HERE AND NOW! Because His spirit was connected to God’s Spirit He was able to overcome Satan, sin and self but His victory was not without pain and suffering. And we are challenged to endure that same agonizing struggles that Jesus did in order to obey God and not the flesh.

The only way to effectively battle the desires of the flesh is to walk in humility with the Spirit. It will be painful. When the flesh rears its ugly head and demands its way we can acknowledge the demand, admit that we can give in to this demand, turn to the Spirit for strength, and use the word of God to say “I choose not to.” This is the example Jesus set when He was tempted by Satan. He used the word of God to reply to Satan’s attempts to lead Him into sin.

THE NATURE OF JESUS

Consider the nature of Jesus Christ. Jesus set aside His divinity and took on the role of a servant, i.e. a man. To do this He had to take on the nature of a man, i.e. body, soul and spirit. If He was different from us regarding His nature then His work as the Son of God and His example of how we are supposed to live is invalidated. If Jesus was different from us, His ability to overcome temptation would be meaningless, and OUR ability to overcome temptation through the resurrection life, which He provides, to those who believe in Him would be a joke.

PARTAKING OF THE DIVINE NATURE

But it’s not a joke. Victory over Satan, sin and self is possible here and now. Scripture says that men can be partakers of God’s divine nature. How does this happen? It happens when God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside each and every one who declares that Jesus Christ is Lord and believes that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9, 10). When this happens we receive a new source of strength and power to be all that God wants us to be and do all that He wants us to do. This is what salvation is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAN’S SINFUL NATURE [Dean Finnestad]          1

 

Pin It on Pinterest