I'm saved so why do I still struggle with sin?

by Pastor Rick Brentlinger
(Pace, FL, USA)

Struggle of the Two Natures in Man

Struggle of the Two Natures in Man

Why do I still struggle with impure thoughts?
Why do I want to do things I know are sinful?
Why do I struggle to do what I know is right?
Why do I still give in to temptation?

Sometimes I still live like a guy who is unsaved and that makes me sad. I want to do better but there's a battle going on inside me. Please, can you help me understand this?

You've asked some excellent questions and I'm glad I can help with Bible answers. As human beings we were created in God's triune (three part) image. God has revealed Himself in the Bible as a Trinitarian Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:9. The way that shakes out is that when God created us, He made us with three parts, a spirit, a soul and a body. These three parts are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and lots of other places in the Bible.

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and
I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body
be preserved blameless unto the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ."
- 1 Thess 5:23

1. According to this verse, what are the three parts which make up a human being? _______ _______ _______

When you trusted by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone and got saved, here's what happened.

  1. Your soul got saved, Matthew 10:28, 16:26, Hebrews 10:39, James 5:20.

  2. Your spirit got born again, John 3:5, Ephesians 2:1.

  3. Your body did not get saved or born again, Romans 7:15-19, 8:23, 2 Corinthians 5:1-4.

    “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” - John 6:63

    "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." - Galatians 5:16-17

2. Did your spirit get saved or did it get born again? ____________

3. Did your flesh get saved? Yes or No.

4. For Christians, the inner struggle we experience is our ______ fighting with the indwelling Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:17.

This struggle creates problems when we obey the flesh instead of obeying the Holy Spirit. Have you experienced this inner struggle? Yes or No.

Genesis 1:26 says that God created us in His image. That cannot mean a physical likeness because God does not have a body like humans. Jesus taught in John 4:24 that God does not have a body.

"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." - John 4:24

5. According to Jesus, does God the Father have a body or is God a Spirit? _______________

I. God created the human race in His mental likeness. That means we are not highly evolved animals but specially created human beings with intellectual capacity far superior to the animal creation. Adam and Eve are given dominion over the animal creation, Genesis 1:26, 28, over the plant creation, Genesis 2:15 and Adam uses his intellectual ability to name the animals, Genesis 2:19-20.

II. God created the human race in His moral likeness. Of all that God created, man alone is a sentient (self aware), capable of knowing and worshiping God. After the fall of Adam in Genesis 3:1-7, human beings have an innate moral awareness of good and evil, a conscience, Romans 2:15, which operates in the realm of our human spirit.

III. God created the human race in His triune likeness. That means that we have three parts: spirit, soul, body.

6. Of the three parts all humans beings have, which part does not get saved? ________

Why do I struggle with sin?

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." - Galatians 5:16-17

Those verses describe a believers battle with sin, with our unsaved flesh, with our old human nature. Because our flesh did not get saved, we still struggle with sin and lust. The flesh rebels against God while our born-again spirit loves God and wants to serve God. The conflict between our flesh and the indwelling Holy Spirit in a Christian is why we struggle with sin. That is what is described in Galatians 5:16-17 and Paul describes this struggle in much more detail in Romans 7:14-25.

7. In saved people there is a battle going on. What part of us lusts against the Spirit? _______

8. In Galatians 5:16, what must we do to get victory over our flesh? _____________

Am I righteous in Christ?

Yes, you are justified by faith but the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us when we get saved does nothing to change our flesh. Our flesh gets changed at the Rapture or the resurrection, not down here on earth.

Yet in spite of the fact that we still wrestle with the flesh, God views us as sinlessly perfect, clothed in the perfect righteousness of His Son so that it is as if we had never sinned and never would. That is our standing in Christ. Our actual state, our actual condition is that we are not perfect because we are still in the flesh.

Everyone has the old fleshly nature. We're born with it and it causes us to sin and rebel against God. Here is how God describes the heart of an unsaved person.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" - Jeremiah 17:9.

9. Based on this verse, which of the following statements is true? Circle the correct answer.

a. Our heart is basically good and pure
b. Our heart is basically wicked

Jesus told us about the human heart in Mark 7:20-23, where He listed 13 negative things about our old flesh nature.

"And he (Jesus) said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
- Mark 7:20-23

10. Did Jeremiah and Jesus have pretty much the same view about sinful human nature? Yes or No.

11. List six things from the list Jesus gave which prove our old fleshly nature is wicked, Mark 7:20-23.

__________ __________ __________

__________ __________ __________

12. What word did Jesus use to describe what comes from inside our old human fleshly nature? Mark 7:23 _______

Summary: Our spirit gets born again. Our soul gets saved. Nothing happens to our flesh until we get to heaven. For that reason, even though we are saved, for as long as we live, there is a struggle between flesh and spirit. As we learn to walk in the Spirit, Galatians 5:16, and obey God instead of always giving in to our flesh, we will have victory in our Christian life.

When we sin, we remember that ALL of our sins were paid for by Jesus and forgiven when we got saved. Jesus is our Advocate, our Lawyer and He cleanses us from sin and restores us to fellowship with God when we confess our sins.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness."
- 1 John 1:9

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"
- 1 John 2:1

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Photo - Struggle of the Two Natures in Man, by George Grey Barnard, 1863-1938. Sculpture in marble, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

This page updated 1-16-2013

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