Where is the sinful nature and what is the soul/heart?

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Readers Question / Comment - Where is the sinful nature and what is the soul/heart?

I'm not sure if this site answers personal questions. You do have a question and answer section on the site but I didn't see a question about where our sinful nature is? I was wondering if I could get an answer on where our sinful nature is. Is it in our bodies or is it in our souls? I know as Believers we have a New Nature through Christ. But I know that my Old Nature is still present. And I know that my New Nature came from the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit is sanctifying me. He's perfecting my soul and making me like Christ. But if there is still a sinful nature in my soul. What happens to it when I die? Does Jesus remove it when I get to heaven?
Or if it is in my body then I guess it stays in the ground with my body? But our sinful nature seems like it stems in our hearts, in our souls.

Thank You,

JPN Reply:

Hi Zach,

that is an interesting and slightly tricky question! The Bible doesn't specifically try to pinpoint where exactly the sinful nature is although it is certainly linked to 'the body'. It also links freedom from the sinful nature to being free from this body. Probably the best place to look at is Paul's description of his own battle with the fallen fleshly nature:

Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

Flesh here speaks of our sinful nature but it is still tied up with being in this fallen body.

Romans 7:22-24 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, (23) but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

Here is how I think of it... For a believer there is the human spirit indwelt by the Holy Spirit. On the opposite side is the sinful nature (often called 'the flesh') - they are at war against one another (Gal 5:27) In the middle lies the human soul. This is normally defined as the mind, will and emotions. I don't see the human soul as directly sinful in itself but is definitely influenced by both flesh and spirit - it all depends on what is influencing it. It expresses the one who is in charge. The flesh is part of this fallen body. I can't say exactly where cos the Bible doesn't. But flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God and freedom from this nature ultimately occurs when we are free from this 'body of death' - And the salvation that Jesus purchased for us obviously, and importantly, includes that very thing. We will have a body like unto His resurrection body! (Phil 3:21)

The best book that I have read on this is one called 'If I perish I perish'. It is, strangely enough, from the book of Esther in the Bible. You probably wouldn't know it but this is the best book in the Bible to illustrate the ongoing battle between flesh and spirit and its influence on the soul of man.

I have attached this as a pdf. Well worth reading (or better still buying!)

In terms of the Q&A on my site, the closest question to this will be to do with whether there is two natures in the believer. It goes into it a bit. Maybe too much. Depends on what interests you!


Hope this helps,

Readers Reply:

Hi Iain,

Thank you so much for your answer! That Question and Answer you mentioned about the two natures is exactly where I thought of the question I asked. I thought the whole conversation was interesting. And the only reason I asked if our sinful nature is in our soul is because throughout the Word the condition of our heart is mentioned a lot. Of how wicked and sinful it is. So I feel like that's where it all starts from. It's coming from our sinful heart. And from my understanding our soul is where our emotions and desires come from kind of like our heart. So I always thought of our heart and mind as parts of our soul.

I know as Believers we have a new heart and a new spirit. But I don't think it's a completely perfect heart yet. When we became God's Children in Christ, God's Spirit has planted Faith in our hearts and He produces new desires in our hearts that cause the fruit of the Spirit to come out. And that's a pretty big transformation in its self. So it's definitely a new heart from what it was. But I don't think it's perfect and that's where sanctification comes in through God's Word and the Holy Spirit.
I don't think our bodies in themselves are sinful but they are affected by sin in that they are dying. But I think the sinful desires are coming from something much deeper. I think they may be coming from the sin that's still in our hearts within our souls.

Let me know what you think. And if there's any scripture that could help me have a better understanding of the war within ourselves as Believers.
And thank you for the link to the book you recommended. I'll definitely check it out. I'm always open to learn more about God's Word and Truth. And always eager to talk it over with fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Thank You,
JPN Reply:

Hi Zach,

thanks for the reply and your thoughts on the matter which were good to read. You are right that quite often 'heart' and 'soul' speak of the same thing. But it can be tricky because the words soul and heart don't always mean the same thing in every passage and there are some passages which imply they are different (Deut 26:16, Matt 22:37).

While the promise of the new covenant includes that of a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek 36:26) and we know that we will get a new body, the Bible doesn't ever speak of us getting a new soul. That is one pointer to the soul NOT being sinful in and of itself (else it would have to be new) but something that can be influenced (when we think of it as our will and desires) by either the old sinful nature or the new nature. In fact, when speaking of the soul and salvation, the Bible presents it in the present tense as an ongoing action signifying what I have said above. ie:

1 Peter 1:8-9 whom having not seen [1] you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (9) receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.

So when someone is born again they receive a new spirit... there is an ongoing salvation of their soul (as this new nature is expressed through their life) and they will get a new body at Jesus' return.

Concerning the body, I don't look at my physical body and think 'oh you sinful thing!' I realise the issue goes right inside me to my inner old nature. All I was saying in my email is that the Bible still links our struggle with the sinful nature with being in this body. Where, I cannot tell you. Be nice if it was just a small organ and you could have an operation to remove it! : ) But when we are free from this body (which is still of the first creation) we will be free from the sinful nature. Put it this way, if a believer died tonight, their soul and spirit goes to be with the Lord in Heaven. And they will no longer be troubled by the wrong thoughts, temptations and impulses of the fleshly nature.

In terms of info on that ongoing struggle between flesh and spirit, read that pdf I sent! : )
It is exactly on this very thing.

All the best,

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