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HomeSpiritual GrowthWhy Do Born-Again Christians Do Bad Things?

Why Do Born-Again Christians Do Bad Things?

Answering from a Biblical Christian Worldview, we need to take the Scriptures as a unified, inerrant, God-inspired document and look at all types of sin.

Three Types of Sin

Mankind has three sources of sin we must deal with. 

1. Adamic or Original Sin

Adam and Eve violated God’s command and ate the forbidden fruit. They lost their innocence, gained the knowledge of good and evil, and lost the Garden of Eden as their home. That “original sin” remains as a hereditary disease in every human being born ever since. 

Romans 5:12, 19 – Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned… For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

This theology is not just based on Scripture. We know from observing human behavior that children have an independence and a rejection of authority as part of their nature. Any new parent would likely testify to that sinful nature which surfaces at a very early age. 

Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

The Psalmist states that he was born with a sin nature (brought forth in iniquity), but his mother before him had her own continuing sin nature even before he was conceived.

2. Man’s Continuing Sin Nature

The original sin we all inherited from Adam, is unrepairable as we grow into adults. All of mankind are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23) based on our own actions. Said differently, we have the disease as part of our nature (DNA), but we also can’t resist exercising it, based on nurture (association with others). Our sin nature can unquestionably be seen in everyday behavior as we compare ourselves to the standards set by God in His word. That sin separates us from the Lord (Isaiah 59.2). It is important to point out that our inherited sin and our continuing sin are both internal and personal. 

3. Sin and Temptation from Satan and Fallen Angels

Finally, there is an external source that can initiate human sinful behavior, the source being supernatural evil from Satan and his minions, fallen angels.

Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Is There a Solution to our Sinful Behavior?

Man has been in a war between good and evil since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. It consists of many battles, as we attempt to discern “what would Jesus do” in the decisions and actions of life, and then attempt to have the fortitude to turn away from our sin nature and do “good”. 

Of course, the Sunday School solution to winning the war against our bad behavior is Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins. Living a perfect life as fully God and fully man 2,000 years ago, He provided payment for all our sins, past, present, and future. All we have to do is accept His payment by asking Christ to forgive us of our sins, come into our lives, and fill us with the Holy Spirit. Simply put we need to acknowledge that…

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

And therefore, we need to…

Romans 10:9 – If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

However, there is a question that remains, which I was recently asked… “Do Christians have a new nature in Christ where the old nature has been put to death…OR do we still have the same sin nature that we had before being born again? What is your opinion on this?” 

Does the Believer Have the Same Sin Nature?

My answer is that we continue to have the “same” sin nature after salvation, but should demonstrate the ability to better control it.

First to the question of the word “same”. The sins expressed by our nature as original, continuing, or acted on through temptations initiated by external evil are all the same behaviors expressed in the Bible for the lost and the saved. 

Second, there remains the question of wheather sinful behavior continues after the salvation of a born-again Christian. The Bible has numerous examples of God, Jesus, and especially the apostles preaching to believers about their continuing sin nature (1 John 1:10). That is evidence enough that sin continues beyond God’s justification. But further, one needs to take only a passing glance at Christian behavior, regardless of their spiritual maturity, to recognize the absurdity of thinking we no longer sin. 

However, there is a theological term called Sanctification that expresses the reality that growing closer to God and following His commands (the opposite of sin) is a process that should continue over the remaining lifetime of the believer (Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 10:14). One is never “fully sanctified” on this earth just as no born-again Christian stops sinning before their physical death. Believers are given a Counselor, the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity of God to help facilitate sanctification. 

John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

1 Corinthians 6:19 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.

We now have an advocate to help us resist our own sin nature as well as outside influences from the evil one. It is a change from an unsaved, unbeliever to a born-again, saved believer that James 2:14-26 is talking about when he says, 

James 2:26 – For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

This verse is not an inditement on the importance of faith over deeds. It is a statement that the believer’s faith is demonstrated by his/her deeds. Salvation for the believer must produce a demonstratable change in our lives that is evident in our deeds. 

Ephesians 4:22-23 – to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds…

So, to the question of a new nature for born-again Christians, I would offer that yes, we do have a “new nature” in Christ. However, our sin nature remains, continuing to fight against that newness. Paul offered the following insight in that battle when he offered, 

Romans 7:21-25 – So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

This is a conundrum believers finds ourselves in. We desire to do good but evil lies within us and around us. However, as we look back on our lives, we must see a change between our old nature and evidence of our new nature, through the Holy Spirit, engaged inwardly and expressed outwardly. 


Salvation – Eternal Life in Less Than 150 Words

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AuthorJeff Hilles | BCWorldview.org 

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