Plattsmouth Bible Church

Sin and the Believer


“harmartia”                    “phusis”                        “sarx”

sin                                nature                           flesh – meat


The NLT is, obviously, a translation based on the Living Bible paraphrase – author Kenneth Taylor’s understanding of God’s Word. In many instances, it reflects the words in Greek and Hebrew very well. But, in the case of “sarx,” the NLT injects Kenneth Taylor’s understanding of sin and the believer, translating it “sinful nature.”

The NIV is a translation from the Greek and Hebrew. But its translation principles are considered “thought for thought,” and not “word for word.” This makes the NIV a very readable translation, but, as with the NLT, when translating the Greek word “sarx,” the pre-conceived understanding of the translators was included as “sinful nature.” God gave mankind His message word for word, which then leads to thought for thought. Word for word gives us the best idea of what God is saying.

In this study, use other translations than the NLT and NIV (I recommend any of the following – Holman Christian Standard, New American Standard, English Standard, New King James, King James).

OBSERVE – what do these verses SAY?

If the word “flesh” appears, it is the Greek “sarx.” If using NLT or NIV, and “sinful nature” appears, it is still the Greek “sarx,” and NOT “harmatia phusis,” except as noted.

Acts 13:38,39                                  Colossians 1:27

Romans 6                                        Romans 8:5-11

Romans 8:12-17                               Ephesians 2:3,4 (prior to salvation, yes, sinful nature

2 Corinthians 5:17                            1 Peter 1:15                              

Galatians 2:20                                  1 John 2:1,2

Galatians 5:1               

Hebrews 4:14-16 – compare to John 17:20-23


JESUS CHRIST on earth, filled with the Spirit, lived the life of the Father

YOU/ME on earth, filled w/Spirit, live the life of Jesus who lives the Father’s life

In other words, God in His fullness inhabits/indwells us and lives His sin-free life UNLESS we do what?

Is it “Giving in to the sinful nature?” OR is it, “Allowing sin to control us and our flesh?”

What about Romans 7:15ff? Paul directly tells his readers the seat of openness to sin in his life, v. 18. And in v. 24, he cries out for deliverance from WHAT? This could be semantics, but this passage demonstrates the sheer importance of a proper translation of “sarx.” The Greek does not have the words “harmartia” or “phusis” in Romans 7 – so sinful nature is a mistranslation of “sarx,” flesh or meat. That mistranslation can and does lead to misunderstanding of where and what sin is and the power it wields over believers.


What about 1 John 1:5-10? This understanding of sin and the flesh is NOT a claim of sinlessness. ONLY Jesus is sinless. And He is the one who can and will and does live a sinless life in His people.


What difference does it make?

Are you a “sinner who sometimes acts like a saint?” OR are you a “saint who occasionally sins?”

Did Jesus do the complete job of cleansing us from sin?

IF there is something INSIDE of believers that causes sin, didn’t Jesus fail?

If there IS something inside causing us to sin, is God lying in verses above?

Jesus, living the Father’s life through the indwelling Spirit, will never sin – He never did, He never will. Our call is to deny ourselves, die to ourselves, and follow Him. We are called to submit ourselves to Him fully.

This affects our view of our creation – in God’s image (Genesis 1). We were created to look like God. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can now live the life He lived, as He lives in us, and look like God – by HIS power, not ours.

This affects our view of the resurrection – raised to life, Christ living His life in me, once dead, but now alive (not carrying death around, too).

This affects our view of the abundant life (John 10:10) – life EXACTLY like the life of Jesus (Romans 6 – especially v. 11).

This affects our view of the Church – the Bride of Christ – Ephesians 5, Jesus is making her holy and blameless, without spot or wrinkle. Why? Because the Bride of Jesus Christ MUST match Him – must be like HIM!

A proper understanding of sin and the believer is vital to a proper understanding of our new life in Christ NOW and our eternal life with Him FOREVER.