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Dennis Priebe

Thoughts on Fallen Nature, Temptation, and Sin

Over the past 40 years I have received many questions on the subjects above.  I thought it might be useful to write out some of my conclusions regarding these very important issues.  I am not including inspired evidence for my conclusions, as I have done that in many previous presentations, especially my basic series, “Righteousness By Faith in the End-time.”  Also, there is no particular order of importance in these thoughts, or any attempt to categorize them by subject.  I only offer them for reflection and continued study as we move together to reflect the image of Christ more completely.

  1. We have many questions about the salvation of infants.  Very little is revealed to us in inspiration.  One thing is certain.  If any baby will be saved, it will be on the basis of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, which covers every aspect of the sin which entered the world when Adam made his fateful choice.  This covers willful sin, ignorant sin, and the results of sin.  The only aspect of these categories that require repentance, forgiveness and the new birth is willful sin.  Since a baby cannot sin willfully, and it cannot inherit guilt or condemnation, babies can be saved without being born again.  Obviously a baby will need to have its fallen nature replaced by a sinless nature.
  2. It is better to say that babies inherit tendencies to sin, rather than using the word “propensities,” since that word carries unfortunate implications of guilt or condemnation.  In the Baker letter, “propensities of sin” and “evil propensities” refer to chosen habits of sinning rather than any inherited quality.
  3. Sin can become personal guilt only after light (awareness) comes to the conscience.
  4. All chosen sin is a form of rebellion, including sins of impulse, not just preplanned sins.
  5. If sin is by nature, which means that it is constant sinning, then there can be no complete transformation or living without sinning. Desmond Ford believed in transforming power, but not complete transformation or living without sinning.
  6. If sin is by nature, then Jesus could not inherit our fallen nature, and He could not be tempted as we are, from within our own fallen natures.
  7. Sinful tendencies are an inseparable part of normal inheritance. If Jesus accepted the “law of heredity,” then He accepted sinful tendencies as part of His human nature.
  8. It is claimed that Jesus could not be tempted “in all things,” since He was not a woman, or married, or elderly. He was tempted in the primary categories relating to fallen nature, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”  These categories cover the basic issues relating to fallen nature common to all ages and sexes.
  9. Some claim correctly that Jesus was tempted far more than any human being could be tempted, which is all that is required. However, Jesus being tempted more than we could be does not negate the truth that He was also tempted in the same ways we are, since that is what inspiration tells us.
  10. The only temptations that Jesus did not experience were the temptations that come from habits of continued sinning. He was tempted to sin in the same way we are tempted to sin.
  11. For Christ, sinning was intensely distasteful to Him. Sinning can become just as distasteful to us when the Holy Spirit controls our life and we have “the mind of Christ.”
  12. Christ inherited the same “passions” as the children He blessed.
  13. Christ was not born with a developed character. He learned obedience in the same way all children learn.
  14. The new birth means that we have a fallen nature under the control of the Holy Spirit, and that we will always have strong temptations from within our fallen nature.
  15. Yielding to our fallen nature is very different than experiencing strong pulls from our fallen nature.
  16. Justification includes transformation of nature and regeneration and will lead to complete transformation (living without sinning) if allowed to complete its work.
  17. Our primary temptation is in ceasing to be Christ-centered and Holy Spirit controlled.
  18. After being born again, if we return to being self-centered, it requires repentance and forgiveness in order to retain our justified state.
  19. Our choices not to sin in both justification and sanctification are never meritorious, but are always essential in the salvation process.
  20. Sanctification is not a fruit or result of salvation. It is just as necessary to salvation as is justification.
  21. Dying to sin and holy living are a combination of our choices and the power of the Holy Spirit. This never happens by our own efforts.
  22. Some claim that 1 John 3 refers only to habitual sins that will be removed from the Christian life. The question then remains: How many non-habitual (occasional) sins are allowable while we retain a saving relationship with Christ?
  23. Sins of ignorance are not the same as sins of impulse. A sin of ignorance is when we have no idea that we are committing a specific sin; when the light has not convicted our conscience.  This is the sin that God “winks” at.  These sins are covered by the atonement, apart from repentance, which is not possible because we do not know what to repent for until the light convicts our conscience.  In the Old Testament, no sin offering could be brought for a sin of ignorance until further light made one aware of it being sin.
  24. Living without yielding to sin can never happen by any efforts or choices on our own. It is only possible when Christ is dwelling in us by the Holy Spirit.