Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Notice the verse says death is passed on and not that sin nature is passed on to all men. Many denominations make our sin nature as part of their doctrinal statement.

searching under doctrinal statements and checking some links:

Southern Evangelical: ( see http://ses.edu/about-us/doctrinal-statement ) says in point 9 "total depravity of human nature, has been transmitted to the entire human race"

Ariel Ministries: ( http://ariel.org/doctrinal-statement.htm ) says under Man: Created and Fallen "totally depraved; that this fallen nature is transmitted to every descendent of Adam"

We see that Romans 5:12 says "death" and the statements say "depraved" or "depravity" and I have heard the term "sin nature" used by other organizations. Are these doctrinal statements twisting scripture?

In fact in Calvinism we have TULIP where the T stands for Total Depravity so perhaps this doctrine is Calvinistic in nature (pun intended).

  • If you vote this down then please include a comment as to why so that I can understand the problem with the question and edit it appropriately. Thank you.
    – user144668
    Apr 25 '14 at 14:47
  • The NIV uses the phrase "sinful nature" (instead of the literal "flesh"), e.g. Romans 7, 8. Regardless of how it is translated, the meaning seems to be that it's inherent in the flesh to have a propensity to sin.
    – mojo
    Apr 25 '14 at 15:25
  • According to a search on blueletter Bible what the NIV says for sinful nature is sarx or σάρξ and the single Greek word refers to the flesh (see blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/… ) Wayne Grudem is well respected and an editor for the ESV and we see in the ESV it is "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my FLESH. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." see next post ...
    – user144668
    Apr 25 '14 at 17:14
  • 1 John 5 (KJV) says in 18 "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." <--- It says here that saved people or those born of God "sinneth not" ... if those born of God do not sin then what happened to the sin nature and total depravity of man?
    – user144668
    Apr 25 '14 at 17:15
  • If saved people do not sin, then why did Paul say "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want." (Romans 7:14-25, NASB)?
    – mojo
    Apr 25 '14 at 17:56

The phrase " sin nature " is not used in the bible I use, KJV. However, there are verses that imply such.

Psalms 51;5 Behold,I was shapen in iniquity,and in sin did my mother conceive me.

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

Ephesians 2;3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

We are all children of wrath until we are born again, John 3;5.

  • Only the references to Paul are valid. Psalm 51:5 is being twisted, as is Psalms 58:3, both of which are merely poetic exaggeration. Apr 26 '14 at 5:10
  • There are no alterations to the verses cited.
    – V. Rollins
    Apr 26 '14 at 5:26
  • I didn't say there were. Just implications by their being used for a purpose other than their meaning. Apr 26 '14 at 5:42
  • I don't understand what you mean by " being used for a purpose other than their meaning" My understanding of the two verses is they mean what they say. Am I missing something?
    – V. Rollins
    Apr 26 '14 at 9:26
  • Nobody speaks lies as soon as they are born. Its obvious exaggeration, and notice how it is limited to the wicked, not everyone. The Psalmist is clearly not teaching that the righteous are born with a sin nature. He's not talking about a sin nature at all. He's merely exaggerating the wickedness of the wicked, extending it into a past it doesn't really begin in. Apr 26 '14 at 17:33

Where in the Bible does it say we have a sin nature?

The Bible does not say that we have a sin nature in those explicit words. Neither do we find "trinity," or "rapture" in Scripture, but the concepts are still present under different wording. In answer to your question, I suggest thoughtful reading of Romans 7 is in order, especially verses 14 and 15-25.

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.—Romans 7:14-25 AV

In verses 5-13, Paul uses the PAST tense, but beginning with the 14th verse and going through to the end of the chapter, Paul uses the present tense (I will bring this up again later).

In verses 15-25 we have personal testimony from the Apostle Paul himself with regard to the sin nature. Though Paul never uses the term, “sin nature,” it is evident that he is speaking of that very thing, regardless of the verbiage in which it is couched. Paul testifies of his own personal conflict between his new man and his old man. Apparently Paul thought this topic vital enough to use his own life as an example in order for us to understand the ongoing conflict regarding personal sanctification.

The Law comes from God who is Spirit (John 4:24) and that law expresses God’s will for man's life on this planet. Paul said the problem is that, "I am unspiritual (“fleshy, made of flesh”).

While giving his personal testimony in 7:14–25, Paul always used the present tense whereas he had used the past tense (vv. 7-13). It is obvious that Paul was describing his present, personal, inner turmoil as a Christian with indwelling sin (read as sin nature) and the continuing efforts of that nature to regain control in his daily life.

While it is accurately declared that the unregenerate are, “sold under sin” (AV), but sin still resides in believers. And it is to be remembered that even believers are still subject to physical death which is sin’s penalty. Thus, indwelling sin (read as Sin Nature) always seeks to exert itself in the life of a Christian.

Vs. 15–17

At the very start of his testimony, Paul confessed...

For that which I do I allow not...(AV)

Here I prefer the rendering of the CJB or JB, both of which have it as...

I do not understand my own behavior...

Paul was doing things that he knew were wrong (sin) yet, to his horror, he found himself doing them anyway. What he wanted to do did not get done, but what he held in contempt in his thoughts and understanding, THOSE were the things he did.

Again, this same statement may easily be made by an unregenerate person at the zenith of his grandest moral and ethical experiences; but it can also, with equal ease and veracity, be said by someone born-again. Paul was, without question, describing his experience as a believer at that time.

Paul agreed that the Law is good, and because he agreed with the goodness of the law, Paul's conclusion was...

It is no longer I myself who do it but it is sin living in me (literally, “but the dwelling-in-me sin”).

Vs. 18–20

Paul also concluded that...

"nothing good lives in me."

Paul qualified that statement “in me” by stating "in my flesh." We may understand this as a reference to the "sin nature" when compared with verses 5 and 25.

So as not to leave anything to doubt or question, Paul further stated...

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out

Again, I fund the CJB more pungent here than the AV...

For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me—that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can’t do it!

This, indeed, is the heartfelt cry of believers universally. While we so desperately desire to right by our God and Savior, what we actually do is to participate in actions that we both inwardly and outwardly detest.

Verses 19 and 20 are, again, colored vividly by the anguish Paul experiences even at the time of his writing this epistle to the Christians in Rome...

For I don’t do the good I want; instead, the evil that I don’t want is what I do! 20 But if I am doing what “the real me” doesn’t want, it is no longer “the real me” doing it but the sin housed inside me. CJB

What believer has not wanted to be more understanding and less judgmental about someone or some group, only to find that when next in their presence, you are even less understanding and more judgmental than before. Paul here equates the new man, the regenerate man as, "the real me." Ever believer has experienced this duality of existence. On the one hand we love the things that speak to righteousness and holiness; we hate that which is unloving and lacking in grace, but on the other hand we fail to do the good things we love and end up doing the sinful things we hate. Paul says this is owning to the Sin Nature which is alive and well in all believers, the Apostle Paul notwithstanding.

Vs. 21–23

Paul explains why these things are so, not just in his life, but in the lives of all Christians.

I find this law at work.

He is not speaking of the Mosaic Law, he speaks of a principle drawn from his own experience, and one shared by all believers.

This law (or principle) is the reality of the ever-present inclination toward evil in an individual whenever he wants to do good. Paul did not back down from the fact that...

In my inner being I delight in God’s Law (compare this with verse 25).

The “inner man” is also used 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Ephesians 3:16. The psalmist declares his delight in God’s Law in Psalm 119 (e.g., vs. 16, 24, 47; and Psalms 1:2).

Since our regeneration (New Birth), we have a new nature; a new capacity for loving the things of God. But Paul said he saw yet another law (principle) at work within him. This is the principle of sin, the "old man," the "Sin Nature." Paul referred to it as “sin living in me” (Romans 7:17, 20), “evil” right there with me (v. 21), this is rightly understood as “the sinful nature” (vs. 5, 18, 25).

This Sin Nature is continually at work doing two things:

  1. Waging a non-stop war against the law of the believer’s mind (the new man), and
  2. Attempting to make him a prisoner of the law of sin (Sin Nature) in his body (flesh).

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