[Originally posted June 8, 2005]
Some people like to debate whether “we are sinners because we sin” or whether “we sin because we are sinners by nature.” The Bible is clear on this subject. Although God created Adam and Eve without sin, once they chose to disobey God’s clear command their offspring from that time on were born with an innate sin nature . . . a proclivity to act selfishly rather than in submission to their Creator.
All parents can testify that as much as they dearly love little Johnny and Becky, selfishness and rebellion come naturally to every youngster. We spend our nurturing effort on building godly character against strong opposition… recognizing all along that “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”
But what we often struggle to grasp once God in His grace sovereignly reaches out in His love and saves us through the blood of His Son, is that the new nature which He plants in us has the unswerving bent to act righteously. As new creatures, united with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection it should be inconceivable that we give in to the old man. As children of God, born from above, partakers of the divine nature, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, empowered by God’s grace, blessed with resurrection power… let’s yield the members of our body to fulfill the righteousness and good works to which we have been called.
But our experience tells us that spiritual victory is not that simple. The tug of sin remains powerful and the spiritual warfare can be quite intense. Those who profess attaining to some state of sinless perfection are simply kidding themselves and contradicting the teaching of 1 John 1 – denying the truth and calling God a liar.
So who are we? Not sinners hopelessly imprisoned in sin… Yet not sinless saints who have risen above the enticement of their sin nature. I guess we can best be described as a work in progress… sinners who are being transformed from the inside out to become more and more like the person of our Savior. A test of maturity should be that it is becoming more and more “natural” for us to live out our new nature and evidence the fruit of the Holy Spirit rather than the deeds of the flesh.