The answer is  “yes!”  Every person is born into the world with a corrupt nature (inborn tendency to sin).  This nature comes from our father, Adam (Jeremiah 17:9).  When a person comes to faith in Christ, however, he receives a new nature, which the Bible calls being born again (1 Peter 1:23).  The new nature continually inclines us to follow God in our lives.  As Paul said, “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”  It is obvious that the old nature is still present after conversion and is a force to be resisted.

Paul said, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in the members of my body, urging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work in my members (Rom 7: 22,23).  It is clear that both the old and new natures are competing forces of control in the believer’s life.

Paul also taught the Ephesian believers to put off “your old self” (old nature) and put on “your new self” (new nature).  Why would the believers in Ephesus need to put off the old nature, if it no longer was present in their lives?  “Putting off” and “putting on” are metaphors for yielding to conflicting forces in life.

In Galatians 5:17, we again see that the old nature is in conflict with the Spirit in the believer’s life, but that doesn’t make sense if the believer no longer has an old nature.

The best way to interpret 1 John 3:9 is to understand that no one who is born of God will practice sin in a habitual, life dominating way.  The Greek present tense has a durable meaning in this passage, rather than a single action meaning.  It refers to doing something as a dominant pattern.  Someone born of God no longer will have sin as the driving force of his life.  He will still trip and stumble, but will no longer practice sin as an unsaved person practices sin.

If 1 John 3:9 meant that one born of God does not sin even once, then 1 John 3:7 would mean anyone who does one righteous deed is righteous, for the present tense is also used in this verse.  The obvious meaning of 1 John 3:7 is that a person who habitually practices righteousness is righteous.

I do not think Hodges, the author of the commentary under discussion, actually believes that the believer does not have a sinful nature.  For example, on page 894 of The Bible Knowledge Commentary, N.T., he wrote, “The Christian will experience a genuine struggle with the flesh and overcomes its impulses only by the help of the Holy Spirit.”  He then cites Galatians 5:16-26, which clearly depicts more than just physical urges, but also impulses of the old nature, i.e., idolatry, witchcraft, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, etc.  The term “flesh” refers to the old nature.  Hodges is teaching that the believer will experience a genuine struggle with the flesh, which refers to the impulses of the old sin nature.  I believe Hodges believes in the ongoing presence of the old nature in the life of the believer.

It also should be noted that Hodges believes that when a believer sins, it does “not stem from the believer’s regenerate nature, God’s seed,” but rather from the believer’s old nature (p. 895).

I believe Hodges made an unfortunate statement when he wrote, “the child of God does not sin.”  It is confusing and subject to  many misunderstandings.




Ask the Pastor

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s