Sin nature. We’ve all got one. Unfortunately…
What does a sin nature look like, you ask?
It looks like me, sitting at work, chatting with some women around my desk about the alleged hurricane (that we never saw much of here in AZ). As I’m sitting there, one of the ladies starts describing a flood awhile back that had shut down the university, including all the gory details and ensuing drama. I was politely listening and nodding along, as is my usual method of story listening, but then decided to say, “Oh, yeah” all knowingly, just to change things up.
Now, I was just trying to be polite and show her that I was listening and understanding, but she turned on me and said excitedly, “Oh, were you there?”
Now, at this point, I panicked a little bit. What had just happened? Did I say the wrong thing? Will it be super awkward if I just say, “No, crazy lady, I have no idea what you’re talking about” ?
Before I could even finish processing those thoughts, out my mouth came with a, “Oh, no, but I think I’ve heard about that flood before.” What?! I had never heard of this flood. I didn’t know a thing about this flood. I was hearing about this flood for the very first time.
Yet, in my panic, I flat out lied, almost without thinking.
“Sin nature” is the term often used in Christian circles to describe this natural inclination to go against God’s laws/plans/design, and I think there are two things that we need to remember about it. 1. It’s sin. 2. It’s our nature. Sin. Nature. Pretty straightforward.
But first, why do we even have it?
God created the Earth and the people in it at the beginning of the world with no sin nature. They were perfect and living in complete peace with the Lord. (Just imagine what that would be like!) God had left them with one command: not to touch the fruit of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17), but Adam and Eve both deliberately chose that they would rather have that fruit than follow God. They assumed their way was better (Genesis 3:1-6).
That decision, that rebellion, marred them. It changed their very nature. And they passed that new nature down to their children, who passed it on to their children, etc., and now we have it. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). That’s why we needed Jesus, the One who did not have that sin nature, to come and pay for our rebellious acts. Romans 5:18-19 says, “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. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
The most frustrating thing is, even once we have that gift through Jesus, we still sin! (Exhibit A: my lie) Paul, in his very confusing way, talks about this in Romans 7:15 when he says, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” He doesn’t do the right thing that he knows to do, and keeps doing the wrong things that he hates.
Anyway… Back to sin and nature and what we, as Christians, need to remember.
First, it’s sin. Just because we have a “sin nature” doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. Every time we choose to take our own way over God’s, it’s a choice and a wrong one. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” The temptation is there, but God has given us the ability and the opportunity to not fall for it.
Second, we have to remember that sin is our nature. We’re fighting a battle against our natural inclination. Think about other natural inclinations you have. I myself like to eat and to sleep. I didn’t choose to like those things. I just kind of came that way (and I imagine that you did too). Now think about how difficult it is to NOT do those things. The same sort of goes for sin. Without Christ, it felt more comfortable to sin, and even now, it is sometimes our first reaction. We have to be aware of that and be ready to fight it.
So what does that mean? Well, we have to be on our toes all the time, and need to be asking God to help us keep a lookout for sin (like I wasn’t doing when I lied). Otherwise, we might slide into the easy, more comfortable route and never even notice.
Sin is serious and it takes a lot of work to fight. There are temptations everywhere, and our own selves are already bent towards it. But, God promises to help us, and we, as Christians, have His Word and His Spirit there to encourage us and to point us the right way.
Even more exciting, we have the hope of being with Him someday where that nature will be gone from us completely. (1 John 3:2)
I can’t wait!