We who believe and have been granted faith are not depraved nor do we any longer possess a sinful nature.
I know that is a bold statement and it flies in the face of a lot of things we have been taught and believe, but before you reject this comment hear me out. Christ has saved us from sin. He has imputed his righteousness to us. He has replaced the old man with the new man. On that premise I would say that if we are still naturally sinful or depraved then the work of Christ was incomplete. I would be incomplete in the sense that it only has power over damnation and only brings us righteousness at the point of death. If we are still depraved then Christ merely helps to strengthen us, however if He has replaced our nature then Christ IS our strength. Now I have run these thoughts through my skull a lot before writing any of this, and I have thought of a lot of aspects of this truth and hopefully I will be convincing. I will go through the rebuttals to this that my mind generated There are six of them and they are as follows:
1.) We know that in our flesh dwells no good thing.
2.) We, though regenerated, still sin
3.) There is no one righteous
4.) Romans 7:14-15
5.) We still seem to have a natural attraction to sin
6.) Nobody is perfect / we cannot be perfect
Item 1— We know that in our flesh dwells no good thing.
This a very true statement and any believer surely can attest to the struggle with the desires of the flesh. In the epistle to the Romans Paul clearly outlines this struggle. In the naturally sinful depraved man there is no restraint to the flesh, nor should there be. It is unnatural for the unrighteous to starve the lusts of the flesh. Granted by guilt often the depraved and naturally sinful man will act against his flesh, but it certainly is not his nature to do so. On the other hand it is natural for the regenerated man to be at war with his flesh. My thesis is that a regenerated man is not naturally sinful nor depraved, if this is true the believer’s war against the flesh is a most natural thing. The natural desire of the believer is to NOT gratify the desires of the flesh. The flesh is a most unnatural thing to a believer.
Item 2 – We, though regenerated, still sin.
If we are righteous, why do we sin? Was Adam created good or evil? He was good, he was righteous and certainly no fallen. However by temptation Adam fell. Does that mean that he was not righteous prior to sin? No, it simply meansthat the righteous still may fall to temptation. Moreover if a righteous man is tempted does that make him sinful? If the flesh brings temptation does that imply sinfulness? No! we know Christ was tempted at all points yet he was and is righteous. This is one of the amazing facts of Christ. That he overcame all temptations. Moreover his righteousness has been imputed to us therefore it is possible that we can overcome temptation as well. Moreover it is natural for us to do so. I will address that shortly.
Item 3 -- There is no one righteous – no not one.
This statement is true with regards to all men, excluding the God-man, Christ Jesus. This statement though applies to man before he is converted. If we be in Christ we are a new creation, the old is passed away behold all things are become new. We have been recreated not with a righteousness of our own, but with the righteousness of Christ. We have been created wit hhis nature, we have not been recreated with the same depravity and sinful nature we once had. If we have been recreated and regenerated by God then our regenerated nature must be righteous and good. If we are still sinful by nature then God recreated us as sinful depraved creatures and the cross work of Christ wrought not for this present life, only deliverance from eternal damnation. I contest that Christ saves us in the present as well as the past and the future. Only acknowledging deliverance from hell we are neglecting so great a salvation. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
Item 4 – Romans 7:14-15 “For we know the law is spiritual, but I am carnal sold under sin, for that which I do I allow not: For what I would That do I not: But What I hate that I do.”
When initially recalling this passage and thinking about it I thought that it destroyed my whole premise. Here is Paul who is surely regenerated, yet he speaks as if he is naturally sinful, the exact opposite of what I am proposing. However when reading the context around this passage it becomes clear that Romans 7 does more to support my thesis than any other passage in scripture. Paul is writing specifically about how his flesh is completely unnatural to him. He no longer is naturally sinful, but he still resides in flesh which is inherently wicked. That fact that he is no longer naturally sinful allows him to say in verse 17 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” It is clear that Paul is naturally righteous because when a person is converted they have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. This whole passage is Paul making it clear how unnatural the sinful flesh is to the regenerated man.
Item 5 -- 5.) We still seem to have a natural attraction to sin.
This is the masterpiece of Satan. We most certainly are not attracted to sin. We are tempted all the time and because we think we are naturally sinful or depraved we view being tempted as a sin. We then feel like defeated sinful rejects. Being tempted is not a sin!! Because your flesh tempts you to lash out at someone does not mean you sinned. Did Jesus sin because he was tempted by Satan? No! of course not, the temptation is not a sin. Sometimes we are so focused on sinfulness that we will attribute to ourselves sins we did not commit. We are guilty of all sin as the apostle James clearly states, but we have not committed all sin. It is false humility to attribute sin to yourself which you have not committed, moreover it is dishonest. There are enough sins we have actually committed to confess to, so there is no excuse to attribute sin to yourself because you were tempted. So if I am tempted to lust yet the word of God comes to my mind and holds my thoughts captive and my mind is not permitted to wander into concupiscence, should I then get on my knees and repent and plead forgiveness for being tempted to sin? No, I should be on my knees praising God for providing me with that one verse or pure thought that proved to be more powerful than temptation. If we attribute the total depravity of man to the regenerated man we will view everything as a sin. We by clinging to depravity reject the power of regeneration.
Item 6 -- Nobody is perfect / we cannot be perfect
This is true in the unregenerate state. Without Christ’s imputed righteousness perfection is impossible. By the law no flesh is justified. The law makes it clear that in our natural state we are fallen. But by faith we are created anew. Moreover Christ commands us, “Be ye perfect as my father in heaven is perfect.” Did he say this just to prove once again that we fall short? Not at all, the law did that. Christ brought new commands, “I tell you that whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment.” He made these commands know full well that he would give us His righteousness, and that by his power they can actually be fulfilled. He did not say “be ye perfect” to condemn us. “Christ did not come to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved.”
I conclude: We who are regenerated are not by nature (our new nature) sinful. We are no longer totally depraved. We now have the righteousness of Christ imparted to us so that by his work we may be made perfect. There is no reason to be defeated, just obedient to our new nature which is the nature of Christ.