The Believer's Two Natures - "SIN" in the flesh and "SINS"

"SIN" in the flesh and "SINS"

George Cutting
The Old Nature

Very frequently, the evil principle, born in us naturally, is simply called SIN, while the evil actions, words and thoughts which are the consequence of possessing this corrupt nature, are called SINS. You will see the distinction in 1 John 1:8-9: "If we say that we have no SIN, we deceive ourselves," etc. And again: "If we confess our SINS, He is faithful and just to forgive us our SINS." This distinction is of the greater importance when we find in Scripture, that while, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, God does forgive our sinful deeds, i.e., our SINS; yet He never forgives SIN in the flesh, but "condemns" or judges it. Let me seek to explain how this is.

Suppose you have a child who has naturally a violent temper. In a fit of passion, one day, he throws a book at his brother, and breaks a large pane of glass in the window. Well, upon penitent confession of the naughty deed, you would be free to forgive him. But what about the bad temper that made him do it? Do you forgive that? Impossible! You detest it, and, if you could, would get rid of it—thoroughly rid of it. You utterly condemn it.

Now, the bad temper [though, in itself, only one feature of an evil nature] would answer more to indwelling SIN; while its evil activities, in hurting the brother and smashing the window, would answer more to the SINS. And so I repeat, though God does most freely forgive the believer's sins, He never forgives the indwelling SIN. Condemnation is the only thing He can righteously apply to it—death is our only way out of it (See Romans 8:3). "God, sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin [i.e., a sacrifice for sin], CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH."

In the earlier chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, the apostle is occupied in showing our deliverance from SINS; but in the sixth chapter he shows how we are delivered from SIN. For example, in the last verse of the fourth chapter he speaks of Christ as having been "delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification." And the blessed consequence of His having been thus delivered is, that those who believe on Him are righteously forgiven—are "justified"—have "peace with God." But, as it has just been said, in chapter 6 he is treating of deliverance from sin, another matter entirely. "He that IS DEAD," he says, is freed [or justified] from SIN" (Ver. 7, margin.).

Now I think you will, in figure, get a glimpse of the difference between these two things by comparing the cleansing of the leper in Leviticus 14:1-7 with that of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:10-14.

In the first Scripture I ask you to notice that; the poor leper, totally unfit to do anything for his own cleansing, has simply to stand by and see all done for him. The bird "alive and clean," is dipped into the blood of the slain bird, and then let loose into the open field; that is, the poor leper beholds a "living," "clean" one going down into death for him, an "unclean" one. The bloodstained substitute then soars on high, and the lips of the priest pronounce the leper clean.

Thus hath "Christ once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). And, therefore, not a spot can be found upon, nor a charge brought against, those who believe on Him. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7); and "BY HIM all that believe are justified from all things." (Acts 13:38-39).

But, in the case of Naaman, it is not another going down into death for him; he must himself go there (looking at Jordan as a figure of death). The happy result need not occupy us now. Suffice it to say that, speaking figuratively, all that he had been as a leper was left behind in Jordan's flood.

And thus Scripture teaches, that not only did Christ go down into death for the believer, but that, like Naaman, he himself has been into death. "You are dead," or, more correctly, "You have died." (Col. 3:3).

There is, however, one great difference between our deliverance and Naaman's. He was delivered from the presence of the plague; whereas we shall never, while here below, be delivered from the actual presence of "indwelling sin."

Thus all that we are by nature, as well as all that we have done, has already been dealt with on the cross; and He who there bore our condemnation said,