Bible Teaching on our Flesh Nature

Romans 8:12-13 "therefore, brethren, we are debtors - not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

Who has to teach kids and babies to be self-centered and throw temper tantrums, or is it natural?

Romans 8:5-9a "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you."

We have a carnal mind according to Romans 8:6-7; 1 Corinthians 3:3-4; 9:11;

Romans 7:14 "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin." See also Romans 7:17-18, quoted earlier.

Romans 7:24 "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" So, apart from Jesus Christ, we are wretched people.

Ephesians 2:3: we "were by nature children of wrath"

Colossians 3:5,7 "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry... (7) in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them."

Does Everyone Sin?

Ecclesiastes 7:20 "For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin."

Ecclesiastes 7:27-29 "Here is what I have found, says the Preacher: 'Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, which my soul still seeks but I cannot find: One man among a thousand I have found, But a woman among all these I have not found. Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.'"

Adam and Eve were created upright and without sin, but they sinned. The Bible gives us certain knowledge that every single person that is born will sin. There is only one human being who has never sinned: Jesus. Plants don't sin; animals don't sin; most of the angels don't sin. But there is something that God has told us about the nature of almost every single human, which is different from the animals and most angels; people will all sin. It is their nature.

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

Psalm 53:1-3 "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there is any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; they have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, no, not one." This must be especially important, since it is also repeated in Psalm 14:1-3.

Who does this apply to? Is it just the few people who are fools, or instead, is it the "children on men", and everyone is at least a bit of a fool? That is an important question that Paul answers when he quotes this verse in Romans 3:10-12. Paul applies it to both Jews and Greeks in Romans 3:9. Paul concludes the section with Romans 3:23; that all have sinned. Paul is not saying merely that all kinds of people have sinned; rather that every individual has sinned.

The paradox is that no one has to sin, but everyone does sin. It is our flesh nature.

When Did This Certainty Occur?

David, speaking by the Spirit tells us it was from birth. Psalm 51:5 says, "Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me."

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

This was not true of Adam and Eve. How far back does this go? Paul answers this question.

What was the effect of Adam on us?

Romans 5:15 "...For if by the one man's offense many died..." See also 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. Is this only physical death, or also something more?

Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned - (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law: Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even our those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come." So spiritual death, or death by sin, spread through all people.

Paul reiterates in Romans 5:18: "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

This must be a crucial point, because Paul reiterates again in Romans 5:19: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous."

How Severe is our Carnal Nature?

We are not utterly depraved, as even evil people can do some nice things. Metaphorically, even a fresh corpse can look pretty or handsome.

But are we really dead as a corpse? - or is that overstating and exaggerating things?

Colossians 2:13 "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses."

Ephesians 2:1-5 "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world... (3) among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),"

Notice how frequently Paul says dead in trespasses. Paul also says "we all once" So it is no exaggeration.

Just How Bad are We?

While people are not as bad as possible, there are bad enough that Jesus tells us this.

John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." See also John 6:65. We are so bad that we could not come to God unless God drew us first.

Paul followed the law all of his life; and then He met Jesus. But after this Paul, speaking the by Holy Spirit, said Romans 7:17-18: "But now, it is not longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." Paul goes on to show that his case is totally hopeless, and then shows us how Jesus rescued him. Notice that Paul said that sin (singular) dwelled in him, and that nothing good dwelled in his flesh.

Paul says in Colossians 1:21: "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled" Have you ever had "bad relations" with a relative or someone you knew. God tells us to reconcile with others, but our need for reconciliation with the holy God is infinitely more than that. Jesus did not die on the cross to make good people better; He died to make spiritually dead people alive. See also Colossians 2:11.

We are so bad that we are as helpless as a corpse in coming to God. A term for this is "total depravity."

Objections to Believing our Flesh has Evil

1) Obviously, for a few, this doctrine is an insult to their pride. People don't take well to being told they cannot merit or be worthy of heaven on their own.

2) Separately, in a different and more subtle way, this doctrine goes against what we want to be true. Even if we know that we cannot get to heaven without at least a little help from Christ, we insist that we are partly worthy of heaven. As one Mormon missionary told me, "It is like we are in a pit and Christ lowers the rope down half way, and we build a ladder to climb up half way." I said that a more Biblical illustration is that we are in a pit and we cannot move, and Christ comes down and saves us all the way.

3) Then what is the point of obedience to God? If you obedience does not help get you saved, and it does not help keep you saved, then why worry about being obedient at all? The simple answer is that if you don't want to worry about obediently loving God you don't have to; but know this; you are not saved and not going to Heaven. If I stopped breathing for a minute, I would still be a live. But if I never breathed again, that would be very strong evidence that I am dead. We are not saved by serving, but saved to serve. Loving obedience gives us no merit towards salvation, but it is the natural, or rather supernatural, response of those who are genuinely saved.

4) Then that is not fair! Consider the possibility that God is not asking for your permission. God is not always fair. He is just, but there is a difference, which Jesus illustrates clearly in Matthew 20:1-16

Bible verses are from the NKJV.

 

Bible Teaching on our Flesh Nature

We do not inherit guilt for Adam's sin, but Romans 5:12 shows that Adam's effect on us was severe.

Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned - (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law: Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even our those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come."

Romans 5:19: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous." How many were made sinners? Romans 3:23 says all have sinned. What is the root cause given in Romans 5:19? - one man's disobedience. How many will be made righteous? - whosoever believes in Jesus according to John 3:16.

Look again at Romans 5:18: "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. Everyone became liable to condemnation and death (both physical and spiritual). But when Christ came the free gift of salvation was offered to all; though many do not have the faith to accept it.

Acts of Sin vs. our Carnal (Sin) Nature

While we do not carry the sins or guilt of Adam (or anybody else) don't confuse that with the fact that we do carry effects of Adam's fall. Don't confuse "sins" and "sin": sinful acts that we all do, and the thing in us that makes it natural for people do those sinful acts.

We agree that we are not born liable for sin, but we also agree that there is a 100% certainty that everyone grows up committing sin. What is that thing inside us that gives us this 100% certainty? The Bible calls it the flesh, the carnal mind.

See the first page for quotes of Romans 8:5-9a, Romans 7:14,24, etc. Yes, these and other verses only refer to people who have fallen and sinned. But these refer to 100% of all people.

What is Sin and What are Sins?

In Romans Paul only uses the word "sin" singular, relating to our sin nature in 43 times in Romans 1:1-8:10, plus Roans 14:23. He only uses it plural 4 times in Romans: 3:25; 4:7; 7:5; and 11:27. For Paul in Romans, people's sinful acts were not the major problem; the problem was inside the people themselves. It was not just some "out-of-character" slip-ups that were the problem, rather the issue is that it is just so natural for us to sin. One cartoon movie counsels people "just follow your heart". But unless you are born again, that is really, really bad advice. It was the evil heart of people, causing the sins, that was the major problem. That is why if Christ only forgave us our sins that would not be good enough. In addition, we also need cleansing of our sin.

Is the flesh nature something that only some people have, and others don't and are sinless? No, everybody has it, because everyone sins.

Some have a too light a view of sins. If you don't murder, steal, and basically follow the Ten Commandments, then are you not sinning? James says otherwise. "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17)

Romans 14:23 says, "But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin." While the immediate subject is food, the truth is for everything that violates your faith.

Do we all get the flesh nature from the time we first deliberately sin, or do we get it from birth?

Scripture says in Psalm 51:5, "Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Is David speaking falsely here? - of course not.

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

Ecclesiastes 7:29 does Not say God made every baby with no flesh nature. Both Adam and babies were born with a "clean slate" of no sins against them. But Ecclesiastes 7:29 is the concluding part of Ecclesiastes 7:27-29. To summarize: everyone will sin (except for one man), but nobody was born with sins.

Ecclesiastes 7:27-29 "Here is what I have found, says the Preacher: 'Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, which my soul still seeks but I cannot find: One man among a thousand I have found, But a woman among all these I have not found. Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.'"

So was Solomon right in Ecclesiastes 7:29, or was David right in Psalm 51? I believe both of them were right. We are born without any guilt of the sin of others, but we are born with that 100% certainty, caused by our flesh nature.

Now while all of us are not as bad as possible, we are bad enough that none of us can seek God on his or her own.

John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Paul followed the law all of his life; and then He met Jesus. But after this Paul, speaking the by Holy Spirit, said Romans 7:17-18: "But now, it is not longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." Paul goes on to show that his case is totally hopeless, and then shows us how Jesus rescued him. Notice that Paul said that sin (singular) dwelled in him, and that nothing good dwelled in his flesh.