by Norman P. Grubb
May-June 1985 Union Life|
Q. Do Christians have evil tendencies? How do you explain the apparent downward pull in the born-again person? What about Paul’s Romans Seven words: “sin that dwells in me,” and “I see a 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”? Please explain.
A. This is a big question to answer in a few words. Put shortly, we humans have no nature of our own. We are branches manifesting the fruit of a vine (Rom. 6:21, 22), and so our nature is to produce the fruit of the vine of which we are a member.
But, you ask, what about the downward pulls experienced by Christians? Temptations, according to James 1:13, are the pulls on our humanity—the normal flesh impulses of body or soul (physical or emotional). When we were in our former condition as branches of the Satanic vine, the pulls were from the Holy Spirit without to return to God (just as God “temped” Abraham—Genesis 22:1). Now in our fixed union with Christ as branch to Him our Vine, the outer pull on our flesh is Satan tempting us. We might even succumb to the temptation, and thus sin, finding our restoration as indicated in 1 John 1:9.
But the “pulls” do not mean that we have two natures, but, rather, that our humanity is created in its aliveness to “respond to environment.” It expresses the one “deity” nature indwelling us, but it is also open to the temptation of the other spirit (see those who spirits named in 1 John 4:6).
Paul speaks of “sin that dwells in me” in the present tense of Romans 7:17, because he speaks as in the illusory condition of all believers, until by personal act of faith they move into the victory of Romans Eight. Paul exchanges his 7:17 statement of indwelling sin for the freedom of Romans 8:2. What he had once reckoned by faith (Rom. 6:11), he now realized in inner Spirit-knowing (Rom. 8:2). He finally recognized that the expressions of “sinful nature” which still appeared in him from time to time were the operations of, not he, but sin in him (7:17); and now he knew that it was “deceiving” him (7:11). Paul knew that “indwelling sin” had been cast out in Christ’s death and resurrection, but he had to recognize that fact by personal faith before it would become experience.