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Scripture Reading: Romans 7:21-8:4

The Indwelling of Sin



1.  The notion that sin dwells in the Christian is finding its way into the thinking of some Christians as they struggle against (succumb to) sin.

2.  Doctrine of Indwelling Sin: "sin that remains in them (believers, the saved, jrp) after conversion". It speaks to "the presence and power of sin that remains in the life of a believer" (John Owen and the Problem of Indwelling Sin, Will Timmins, M.A.,

3.  Be clear: The false doctrines of original sin and total hereditary depravity produce this additional error of the indwelling of sin in the Christian (preached by Calvinists like John Owen[1], Charles Spurgeon[2]).

4.  This is the "sin nature"[3] error of Calvinism.



  A.  Calvinism: By Birth as a Human Being.

    1.  Fall of humanity: Original Sin[4] (Augustine, 354-430): Hereditary stain of sin upon all of humanity due to Adam's sin.

    2.  Total Hereditary Depravity:[5] Nature completely corrupted by sin (John Calvin, 1509-1564).

  B.  The Bible: Sin Entered and Remains in the World through Choice.

    1.  We are sinners by (human) choice, not by (human) nature, Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6.

      a.  LOM: Obey, blessing; Disobey, curse, Deut. 11:26-28.

      b.  Sin and its punishment is individual, Ezek. 18:4, 20.

    2.  How sin gets into your heart:

      a.  Temptation, choice and practice, Jas. 1:13-16 (Rom. 5:12).

      b.  The choice of sin causes death, Rom. 5:12-13; 7:6-12.

      c.  Children of wrath due to choosing sin, Eph. 2:1-3.



  A.  It Rationalizes the Presence of Sin in our Lives (nature not choice).

  B.  It Helps Numb the Conscience toward Sin, 1 Tim. 1:18-19.

  C.  By Implication, it Blames God for Temptation and Sin, Jas. 1:13.

  D.  It Deceives Christians to Believe the Power of Sin is Greater than the Power of God. cf. 1 Jno. 4:4 It discourages the faithful!

      -By convincing Christians that sin still rules over them. When Christian yields to temptation and sins, he thinks, "see, sin is stronger". No, it is that you (we) yield to sin's temptation! cf. Prov. 24:10



  A.  The Struggle is Real, not because Our Nature is Corrupt, but because Christians Continue to be Tempted to Sin (and yield to temptations).

      -(Temptation...Enticement...Choose to resist or yield)

      1.  Jesus suffered, being tempted, Lk. 22:18; Heb. 2:18. (You won't??)

      2.  Christians suffer, being tempted, 1 Cor. 10:12-13; 1 Jno. 2:15-16; Jas. 1:14. cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-13 (fiery trial to endure...rejoice)

      3.  We are in a battle against evil, Eph. 6:11-13. Tempted to give up.

  B.  Sin is Not Greater than Grace, but, We Must Choose Grace, Tit. 2:11-12. God's grace does not remove the reality of sin/temptation.

      -Rom. 7:13-25: The Sinner Cannot Save Himself from Sin!  

       -(Man under law under sin - No escape, only death! Rom. 6:23; 19-20)

    1.  The rule of sin in the sinner: "The law of sin which is in my members", Rom. 7:21-23, 5. This is the lost sinner, not the Christian.

      a.  The work of sinful passions bears deadly fruit (sin), Gal. 5:19-21.

      b.  Sin dwells in (dominates) the lost person, Rom. 7:17-18, 20.

      c.  This person is carnal, wretched and dead, Rom. 7:14, 24.

      -Rom. 8:1-4: The Sinner is Saved by Faith in Christ!

       -(The only answer to sin's power is Christ - faith in Him.)

    2.  The rule of righteousness in the Christian: "The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus", 8:2.

      a.  No condemnation in Christ, 8:1.

      b.  Grace reigns through righteousness, Rom. 5:21.

      c.  Righteousness is obtained "by faith", Rom. 1:17; 4:5.

      d.  Faith obeys Jesus (not the flesh), Rom. 6:1-2. The Christian has been set free from sin, Rom. 6:17-18. (Jno. 8:36)

    3.  Sin does not dwell in the Christian. This does not mean we cannot sin; it means sin does not rule over us, 1 Jno. 1:8-9; 2:1.

  C.  How Do We Prevail in Our Ongoing Struggle Against Sin? (Rely on Christ, not ourselves -- Faith)

    1.  Do not be deceived about sin, Jas. 1:16

    2.  Clean up your conduct, Jas. 4:8.

    3.  Purify your heart, Jas. 4:8.

      a.  Indwelling sin error implies this cannot be done.

      b.  Guard your conscience by rejecting sin.

    4.  Be strong in the Lord's power, Eph. 6:10.

    5.  Be sober and watchful, 1 Pet. 5:8.

    6.  Exercise self-control, 1 Cor. 9:24-27.

    7.  Pray and obey without getting distracted, Phil. 4:6-9.



1.  Put another way, we are talking about the Christian's ability to be holy. If sin is so powerful that it still controls your nature, then you cannot "be holy as God is holy", 1 Pet. 1:14-16. Wrong!

2.  Be an obedient child of God, submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee from you, Jas. 4:7.



[1] John Owen (Puritan): "Based on Romans 7:21, 'I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me', Owen's work shows that sin is a powerful inward law or principle lodged in the heart whose whole nature is enmity against God. This powerful river, flowing from the Fall, can only be brought under control by regenerating grace. However, sin's enmity remains in believers after conversion, and the long war against it is one in which all Christians must engage." (Synopsis of "Indwelling Sin in Believers", John Owen)


[2] Charles Spurgeon (Baptist): "It is a doctrine, as I believe, taught us in Holy Writ, that when a man is saved by divine grace, he is not wholly cleansed from the corruption of his heart. When we believe in Jesus Christ all our sins are pardoned; yet the power of sin, albeit that it is weakened and kept under by the dominion of the new-born nature which God doth infuse into our souls, doth not cease, but still tarrieth in us, and will do so to our dying day.' (


[3] Sin nature: "So, although we often blame Adam, the life we have was in Adam when he sinned, and the sin nature we received was because we were in Adam when he sinned. We share in the blame and the sin as well as the punishment."  (Bodie Hodge, The Fall of Satan, p. 56-57)


[4] Original Sin:  "Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.

From the earliest times the latter sense of the word was more common, as may be seen by St. Augustine's statement: "the deliberate sin of the first man is the cause of original sin" (De nupt. et concup., II, xxvi, 43)." (The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Original Sin", 

[5] Total Hereditary Depravity: "They (Adam and Eve, JRP) being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions." (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter VI)





By: Joe R. Price

Posted: August 18, 2015