A Sinful Nature Can Be Developed By Sinful Choices | Jesse Morrell

AN EXCERPT FROM:

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DOES MAN INHERIT A SINFUL NATURE?

A Scriptural Discourse on the Human Constitution

By Jesse Morrell

211 pages

$12.00

To Order: Click Here

A SINFUL NATURE CAN BE DEVELOPED BY SINFUL CHOICES

The term “nature” and especially “sinful nature” is often left too ambiguous and undefined for a proper scientific theological discussion. Our discussion on the issue must begin with definitions to understand the terms and phrases that are used. The term “sinful nature” means different things to different theological camps. To some, a sinful nature is a constitution that is in and of itself a sin, which necessitates the will to choose to commit sin, and for having such a nature we are born under the wrath of God. To others, a sinful nature has meant that we inherit a nature which, in itself is not a sin, but which inclines us towards sin. They say that we are born with a constitution which is so biased towards sin that we, inevitably and unavoidable, will sin. The assumption for both views, however, is that the original sin of Adam somehow changed our constitution. And the latter seems to be confusing the temptations of our flesh with a “sinful nature” and thus confuse temptation with sin by calling temptation sinful. Others speak of the “sinful nature” of man, but it is evident by the way that they use the term that they are referring to man’s moral character or manner of living, not his created constitution or structure. A clarification of terms is evidently necessary in our discussion on this topic. Effective communication necessitates the defining of words. Therefore, the word “nature” must first be defined before we can ask if man inherits a “sinful nature.”

The word nature in the Greek can refer to a person’s “mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has become nature” [1] (Eph. 2:3; Gal. 2:15; 2 Pet. 1:4). Adam Clarke said that the word nature in the Scriptures is sometimes used to describe “a disposition formed by custom and habit.”[2] Through continual choice, a certain behavior can become like “second nature” to you. In other words, choices create habits, through which, a way of life can become like nature.

Pelagius was a student of the Greek language[3] and wrote books on nature and free will. In one of his letters he wrote, “Doing good has become difficult for us only because of the long custom of sinning, which begins to infect us even in our childhood. Over the years our sin gradually corrupts us, building an addiction and then holding us bound with what seems like the force of nature itself.”[4]

Pelagius also commented, “from what is by nature a wild olive tree. For long ago their fathers had fallen away from nature because they had forgotten the law of nature, and, when habit had become fixed through repeated sinning, they came to be bitter and unproductive as it were by nature.”[5]

This understanding of the meaning and usage of the word “nature” in the Scriptures, referring to second nature formed by habits, gives us great understanding of what was meant by the Apostle Paul when he said, “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.” (Eph. 2:3).

Adam Clarke said, “The words in the text have often been quoted to prove the doctrine of original sin, but… it is not, in my opinion, intended here; it is rather found in the preceding words, the lusts of the flesh, and the desires of the flesh and of the mind. The apostle appears to speak of sinful habits; and as we say Habit is a second nature, and as these persons acted… from the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, they thus became, by their vicious habits, or second nature, children of wrath – persons exposed to perdition, because of the impurity of their hearts and the wickedness of their lives.”[6]

Winkie Pratney said, “A sinful nature is not a transmitted, inherited, physical thing. It is something that is made and created by his own choices in rebelling against God… I believe man has a sinful nature until he gets saved. But I don’t believe it’s physical and I don’t believe it’s inherited and I don’t believe Adam gave it to him. I believe he gave it to himself. In other words, I believe that sin is original – very original. It originates with the sinner.”[7]

The truth that men are capable of so perverting themselves as to create for themselves a sinful nature also helps us to understand what the Bible means when it says that sinners have “corrupted themselves” (Gen. 6:12; Exo. 32:7, Deut. 9:12, Deut. 32:5, Jdg. 2:19, Hos. 9:9). In this sense, it is not a sinful nature which necessitates the choices of their will, but the choices of their will which create and form their sinful nature. A sinful nature developed by free choice is something which sinners can be rightly blamed and justly punished for, but a nature that they are created with or inherited is involuntary on their part so that they cannot be responsible or held accountable for it.

A type of sinful nature, developed by continual choice and habit, is what is meant in the Scriptures when God said to Israel, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23). The Hebrew word used for “accustomed” means “instructed:accustomed, disciple, learned, taught, used.”[8] It is the same word used for disciple (Isa. 8:16). This extremely hardened sinful condition Jeremiah was rebuking Israel for was not the natural condition that Israel was created or born into but a way of living that they learned overtime and disciplined themselves in. Their wicked way of life became like nature to them.

Paul mentioned the power of sinful habit in his hyperbole of the struggle a convicted sinner has against sin. He wrote, “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom. 7:17, 20). Notice Paul said, “it is no more I” which means that it previously was him. The man put himself into that bondage to sin. Pelagius commented that the man in this chapter was battling with “habitual desires.”[9] Sinners choose to live in sin and can develop such a strong sinful addiction in their flesh that it is like their sinful habits take over and they continue to sin, even when their conscience is awakened by the law and the inner man of conscience doesn’t want to sin. Those who have struggled with drug addiction know what it is like to struggle with the habits and desires you have developed even after you no longer want to live that way.

The more you over-indulge your appetites and desires, the stronger their demands grow. Habitual choice of indulgence can create strongholds of addictions. If you properly control these appetites and desires as God intended when He gave them to you, the strength of these appetites and desires can be subdued and can fulfill their rightful place in life. Through wrongful and over indulgence, the members of your nature can become accustomed to being gratified through sinful means and can be perverted. This is how we can develop the “law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23) that Paul spoke of, which is in opposition to conscience or the “law of my mind” (Rom. 7:23, 25).[10] A law is a rule of action. A law of sin in your members and the law of God in your mind is that which demands or desires you to live and conduct yourself in a certain way.

Many have fallaciously assumed that the “sin that dwelleth in me” and “the law of sin which is in my members” was some sort of sinful nature inherited from Adam, when this Paul never mentions. Notice that Paul never even mentions Adam, birth, or inheritance in the entire chapter. This law of sin in his members or sin that dwelleth in him was not something that he was born with but something that he had developed by his own choices. Sinful choices create sinful habits, until sinning itself becomes like nature to you.


[1] Thayer’s definition of “phusis.”

[2] Adam Clarke’s commentary on Eph. 2:3.

[3] Unlike Augustine, who did not know Greek, who taught that we are born with a sinful nature.

[4] Letter to Demetrias, VIII

[5] Pelagius’s commentary on Romans 11:24

[6] Adam Clarke’s commentary on Eph. 2:3.

[7] Winkie Pratney, 1971 Hilo School of Evangelism, Original Sin Lecture

[8] Strong’s definition of “limmûd limmûd”

[9] Pelagius’s Commentary on Romans 7:23

[10] Many have mistakenly assumed that the law of sin which Paul described as in his members in Romans seven, and the sin that dwelleth in him, were inherited from Adam at birth. These verses have been interpreted so as to refer to “original sin” and a “sinful nature.” This assumption is completely exegetically unfounded, as the chapter mentions nothing at all of birth, Adam, Adam’s original sin, or inheritance.

SEE ALSO

The Natural Ability of Man: A Study On Free Will & Human Nature by Jesse Morrell is an exhaustive theological volume that defends the Christian doctrine of man’s free will against the false Gnostic/Calvinist doctrine of man’s natural inability.

This volume explains the truth of man’s freedom of choice in light of Church history and other doctrines like total depravity, regeneration, atonement, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, predestination, repentance, faith, the believers security, original sin, etc. One Bible teacher called this book “the most comprehensive exposition on man’s natural ability in print.”

690 pages

$20.00

To Order: Click Here

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THIS BOOK:

“Jesse Morrell has provided much needed evidence that man is capable to meet his obligations to God. He has compiled evidence from historical Christian leaders, Biblical declarations, and the compelling demands of man’s conscience and reason. An honest mind will see the truth with clear conviction.”

Dennis Carroll,

President, Gospel Truth Ministries

 “By appealing to Scripture, logic, common sense, examples from civil government, and some of the greatest minds from Church history, Jesse Morrell has annihilated every excuse the careless sinner has to sin.  He also has torn down the last refuge for religious sinners, which is the Augustinian/Calvinistic doctrine of inability.”

Brother Jed Smock,

President, The Campus Ministry USA  

“Jesse Morrell has written a complete apologetic for natural ability. His research rivals and exceeds most doctoral thesis. The primacy of Scripture and logic in proving his points, makes this work a must read for those interested in defending God’s justice in eternal punishment.”

Dave Coke, M.A.

“It is Biblical truths like the ones found in The Natural Ability of Man that vindicate the character of God and put full responsibility for sin upon man, where it belongs.  To deny free will is to blame God for sin, which is blasphemy in the highest regard.  Christians everywhere would do well to consider the truths found in this book with a willing heart and an open Bible.”

Evangelist Kerrigan Skelly,

President of PinPoint Evangelism

“The Natural Ability of Man is a well-researched, powerful, and readable book that clears away confusion and makes this vital Biblical truth crystal clear. The author effectively demolishes dangerous errors that have grown up around this doctrine. It will be a very valuable tool for Biblical evangelism and discipleship.”

Pastor Mike Wiley,

Hope Church, Oregon

“Jesse Morrell’s new book ‘The Natural Ability of Man’ is one of his finest works next to his “Vicarious Atonement” booklet!  The language is simple and understandable by even the new believer.  I’ve been using nearly all of Jesse’s works i.e.: videos, DVD’s and booklets (especially his Atonement Series) in my YWAM School of Evangelism (SOE) here in the Philippines in preparing my missionaries-in-training in their theology as preachers and evangelists.  I so appreciate Jesse taking the time to put all of these important doctrines in print during this generation.”

Mitch Metzger,

Missionary with YWAM Philippines

“The Natural Ability of Man by Jesse Morrell is so comprehensive that it may be the standard in theology for many years to come. It is the most comprehensive exposition of man’s natural ability in print. It could be the primary “go to” text on the subject for many years to come.”

Dean Harvey,

Pastor, Author, & Itinerate Bible Teacher

“In a day when it is common to hear statements like, “God only gave us the law to show us that we cannot keep it” or “We all have to sin every day” or “Even repentance and faith are not our choices but God’s work in our lives,” Man’s Natural Ability provides a necessary and refreshing rebuttal to these common misconceptions. Jesse Morrell’s Man’s Natural Ability is thorough and well documented, giving abundant Biblical and historical references to support the truth of the natural ability of man to repent, keep God’s commandments, and persevere in a relationship with God. I recommend Man’s Natural Ability as a welcome refutation to the false doctrine of the natural inability of man.’

Michael R. Saia, author of

“Does God Know the Future?”

and “Understanding the Cross.”

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One Response to A Sinful Nature Can Be Developed By Sinful Choices | Jesse Morrell

  1. John Gooch says:

    Jesse is a genius. His love help dyslexic believer. I am mild to moderate deslexic. My name is John Gooch. God loves the written Word and blesses scribes.

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