Hi everyone, I’m hoping someone could shed some light on my questions. Thank you in advance.
Is evil/sinful nature apart of our free will and if so why didn’t God just remove that evil/sinful nature that is sort of us?
@Matthew Our fallen nature was a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve did not yet have a fallen nature, but they did have free will to choose. So no, a sinful nature is not part of our free will. Adam and Eve freely chose to sin, which resulted in a fallen nature.
Adam and Eve did not have the Spirit of Jesus the way that Christians do today, so even though they did not have a fallen nature they still chose disobedience. We have a fallen nature but we also have the Spirit, by Whom we crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. One day in Heaven we will have free will and the Spirit without any fallen nature - that is the day we long for!
- Garden of Eden: Man without fallen nature and with free will
- After Eden: Man with fallen nature and with free will
- After Christ: Man with fallen nature and with free will / God’s Spirit - beginning of New Creation
- Heaven / Eternity: Man without fallen nature and with free will / God’s Spirit
You may also find this thread helpful:
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, but I still have some doubt. Isn’t disobedience to God’s commands a sin? Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, so doesn’t that suggest that they had a sinful nature even before choosing to eat the fruit? I’m sorry, I’m not trying to argue or cause confusion. I just don’t understand. I hope that you can answer my question. God bless you.
@Matthew Why didn’t Adam and Eve know they were naked before they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Because they did not yet have a fallen nature. However, they still had free will to choose to obey God or not. Here is one way I have thought about it:
- in the Garden of Eden temptation came from outside - Satan tempted Adam and Eve - Adam and Eve had desires, but they were not yet corrupted desires
- after the Garden of Eden temptation comes from within and from without - we have a corrupt nature prone to evil desires
We see this fact if we dig deeper. Forgive this being a bit technical. If we look at Romans 7:18 the same word translated ‘sinful nature’ is literally translated ‘flesh’.
Romans 7:18 - For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.
Romans 7:18-20 - For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
If we move on to Galatians, we find that the flesh and the Spirit are opposed to each other:
Galatians 5:16-18 - So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
And in James we see that it is our evil desires that lead us astray:
James 1:13-15 - When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
So, my synopsis would be that Adam and Eve had free will before and after the fall, but before the fall they were not enticed by evil desires of the flesh. Their temptation came from without.
Hi Matthew! I appreciate your question, brother. If I may, I’ll briefly add on to what Sean was explaining.
Ironically, this morning, I was reading through 1 John 4 which includes the statement of truth: “God is love” (1Jhn4:16) Those three simple yet profound words are extremely telling to God’s nature and to how God creates. See, it isn’t just that God does loving things or acts lovingly. It’s actually much deeper in that. God IS love. Everything He does, ie His rebuke, reward, correction and creation are ALL done from and through the base point and prism of perfect, divine love. Fittingly, not only did God create Adam and Eve (humanity) IN and MOTIVATED BY love but God also created us TO love. Now here’s the part where it’s most connected to your question, Matthew. Love is intrinsically a choice. I’ll substantiate that claim in two ways:
- All throughout the Scriptures, there are commandments by God to love – Him and our neighbors. A commandment ‘to love’ implies that it is as much (if not more or exclusively) the choice to accept or reject a divine directive as it is an emotion. As Ravi Zacharias says in his book, “I, Isaac, Take Thee Rebekah”:
“Love is as much a question of the will as it is of the emotion. And if you will to love somebody, you can." - Ravi Zacharias’ brother
Implicit in handing out any commandment is that there is the built-in choice to obey or not obey. So when Jesus is citing The Father’s command (not suggestion) that we “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ AND ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:30-31) – the statement is also implicitly presupposing that we have the God-given freewill to either disobey or obey that command (and reap the consequences). Love or not love.
- It is impossible to truly love someone without the choice not to. That’s one of the many profound aspects of marriage: a person is choosing to commit to one other person (within a sea of many) to a lifelong partnership and covenant. Love is chosen. Love is not love if it is forced or coerced. Forced “love” is not love but more akin to rape.
So, to your question, Matthew, it wasn’t that Adam or Eve had a sin nature and that’s why they disobeyed. They disobeyed because – being created with, from and TO love – they intrinsically were endowed with the God-given ability to either obey their Creator or to not obey their Creator. Does that make sense?
Hey Matthew. Your asking good questions. I’ll try to see if I can help a little bit. So let’s think about what God said after He finished the creation process. He said “and it was VERY GOOD” right? Would you agree that what God makes is good? If you do then that brings the next question into play. If what God created was deemed “Very Good” and Adam and Eve were a part of that creation then they must have been “Good” as well. God chose to give us a free will. But why? The simple and short answer is that the ability to love is only possible if there is the possibility of choosing otherwise. Love is not just an emotion. It is an act of the will. Forced love is not love it is divine rape as Norman Geisler says. God created a world where the ability to love Him and others was possible. Before the fall Adam and Eve had both the ability “To Sin” and the ability “Not to Sin”. In other words they were not inclined or predisposed toward sin in any way shape or form whatsoever. They were not yet slaves to sin. Adam was the representative for all mankind because God commanded him to not eat of the tree of the “Knowledge” of good and evil and he disobeyed that commandment when Eve gave him the fruit and she caved to the devils temptation and deception. Adam was not deceived. He knew exactly what he was doing. Why did he do it? We dont know!!! That’s the most honest answer there is. The bible doesn’t tell us why he did it. He most certainly knew the consequences before engaging in the act because God himself told Him directly. So something interesting happened after the fall. Adam passed that sin curse on to all of mankind. So now after the fall man now possesses both “The Ability to Sin” and “The Inability To Not Sin”. In other words mans very nature is now inclined or predisposed toward sin. We have lost the power or ability to choose otherwise in and of ourselves. Our free will is still intact but that is precisely the problem. Man chooses according to his strongest desires at any given moment. The bible tells us that in our natural state we desire only that which is sinful. That doesn’t mean we dont desire some good things. It just means we “Cannot Not Sin” and that in our “Natural State” we will never choose God because we are “dead in our trespasses and sin”. We are separated from God because He is Holy. But then something absolutely amazing happens. The Holy Spirit begins the work of “Regeneration” in us and begins to “Sanctify” us. We are saved by God through His Son Jesus Christ who is God and the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us and He is “our seal of redemption”. So what happens then is that man then still possesses “the ability to sin” but has now regained “the ability NOT TO SIN” through the saving power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words if you are truly trusting and believing in Christ you now have the ability to say no to sin because Christ has given you that power. You will not be sinless but you will start to SIN LESS!!! Then once glorified in heaven we will possess “The Ability Not To Sin” and “The Inability To Sin”. We will be free from any inclination, desire, predisposition, or even possibility to sin. It will literally be “Impossible” for us to sin. But we will still have free will. Admittedly this is a little mysterious to us now and difficult to understand just how that could be but I think we will know why and how that is possible when we get there. But you can see how we are affected by our sinful natures now and still have free will no matter if we are in our natural state or regenerated state. We choose according to our strongest desires. In our glorified state we will desire only that which is good and Holy. A great book that is short and simple that deals with this subject is a book by R.C. Sproul called Chosen by God. I dont have time to post the link but if you just google it you’ll find it. There are other views to this on the Arminian side and Sproul deals with many of those in this book. I highly recommend studying both sides of the issue to come to a fuller understanding of this topic. I wish I would have had time to put all the scripture references in this for you but I dont right now. I hope this helps.
@WarnerMiller, thank you so so much for your answer. Perfectly makes sense. God bless you man! @SeanO Thank you brother for patiently answering my questions. It definitely cleared my mind. @Prestonp1985 amazing explanation/answer. I’m truly blessed and move by the 3 of you. I thank God that He has given you all wisdom and understanding. Thank you very much once again. Your answers have honestly made my day. God bless.