Are people born with a sinful nature?

Published 9:17 am Friday, December 28, 2018

Many religious individuals turn to Ephesians 2:3 as a proof text that babies are born with a “sinful nature” that results in that baby being under the wrath of God. How dangerous it is to claim that God who created all beings and gave them their nature is now angry with them because of that same nature. This is an absurd accusation. God’s anger is riled when men pervert the nature that God gave them.
The word “nature” in Ephesians 2:3, has nothing at all to do with a man’s birth; rather the word refers to the “character” of men before they became Christians. In Ephesians Paul is speaking of their former conversation that is their former manner of living. Paul uses similar language in Romans 6:11. When one dies to sin the character they had developed throughout life is put away as the new Christian chooses to serve and follow God.
We should understand that the word nature can be used in two distinct senses. First, it can refer to what man is due to his birth; second, it can refer to voluntary actions, those things we do by choice and apart from birth. There is no doubt that Paul was using the term in the latter sense. These had become children of wrath because of the actions they had taken in their adult lives.
Paul was not referring to the birth of man in the context of the scripture; he was concerned with the conduct of his fellow man that were living in sinful states prior to their conversion to Christianity. They were walking in sin according to the course of this world. In fact, in verse three, he calls attention to their former fellowship with other sinners in fulfilling the “lusts of the flesh” and “the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” And then, summing up the wickedness, the guilt, and the deserved punishment of their former life, he says “and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
To teach from this text that babies are born with a sinful nature and that they come into this world under the awful wrath of God because of that nature is a perverted doctrine! Do we really believe that God is really ready to let loose the terrors of his anger and the consuming fires of his wrath upon innocent little babies for the nature with which they are born? I pray that any teaching such a perverted doctrine would go again to the Word of God and rightly divide that word to the saving of all souls and not the damning of innocent children. Such an abominable, God-dishonoring doctrine, may God forgive us!
Consider that man can have three distinct “Natures.”
First, man can be physically born as such has occurred throughout history. Second, man can develop the nature of sin as described in Romans 3:3, where Paul states the men fall short of the glory of God. Then there is being born again according to the plan of salvation found within the scriptures. This was the message of Christ to Nicodemus in John 3. This involves our hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), Believing that Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 16:16), Repenting of sins (Acts 2:38), Confessing Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. 10:32), and being buried in baptism putting on Christ (Gal. 3:27).
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton. He can be contacted at 737-2287 or by email at:

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