John MacArthur's
One Nature Position

3) John MacArthur's
Understanding of Sin's Relationship to the Body


"The body in Paul's terminology is the vehicle by which sin manifests itself in the believer. The body is the unredeemed portion of believers, and it is here that Satan tempts believers to sin" (Freedom From Sin, p. 36).

"Before a person is saved, sin reigns not only in his body but also in his soul. Redemption renews the soul but not the body. Therefore, sin can attempt to rule only the body and not the soul...the believer's physical (i.e., mortal) body is where Satan attempts to form a beachhead for sin...Sin is still a part of the believer's flesh, but when the believer dies, he will receive a new resurrected, glorified body and will be eternally separated from the presence of sin" (Freedom From Sin, p. 56). "As long as we remain encased in flesh, there will be a lifetime of constant struggle" (Freedom From Sin, p. 59).

"After salvation the part of man where sin lies no longer resides in his inmost self...sin finds its residual dwelling in his flesh, in his humanness" (Tape GC 45-52, Romans 7).

"After salvation, sin, like a deposed and exiled ruler, no longer reigns in a person's life, but it manages to survive. It no longer resides in the innermost self but finds its residual dwelling in his flesh, in the unredeemed humanness that remains until a believer meets the Lord at the Rapture or at death" (Romans 1-8, pp. 386-387).

"You not only have a new nature, but you also have an old body. You have a new inside and an old outside...The new nature that is in me has been purified, but the body that it lives in is a mess. When I go to heaven I don't get a new inside, I get a new outside. If I could just remove my good inside from this bad outside, I could really live" (Your Completeness in Christ, pp. 96-97). (Question: Is this kind of dualism really supported by the Scriptures? It almost sounds like the Greek/Gnostic view that the soul is good but the body is evil. Also, can we really blame the body for our sin? Technically speaking, our bodily members do not sin, they merely obey orders! When you lie, don't blame your tongue and don't blame your body. Sin must have a source, but it's not the physical body. Actually MacArthur does not really blame the physical body, because as we shall see later, he will explain to us that the body is more than just the physical body).

"Although believers are new creatures on the inside (2 Cor. 5:7), the new creatures live in old bodies" (Colossians and Philemon, p. 137).

"Paul is always careful to identify sin with the outer, corrupted body, not with the new, inner nature. A believer's flesh is not redeemed when he trusts in Christ. If that were so, all Christians would immediately become perfect when they are saved. The sinful vestige of unredeemed humanness will not fall away until the Christian goes to be with the Lord" (Romans 1-8, p. 418).

"The Christian's spirit, his inner self, has been completely and forever cleansed of sin. It is for this reason that, at death, he is prepared to enter God's presence in perfect holiness and purity. Because his spiritual rebirth has already occurred, his flesh, with its remaining sin, is left behind" (Romans 1-8, p. 382).

"After salvation, sin no longer resides in man's innermost self, which is recreated to be like Christ. Yet it finds its residual dwelling in our flesh" (Freedom From Sin, p. 161).

"We are, in short, new creations—holy and redeemed but wrapped in grave clothes of unredeemed flesh. We are like Lazarus..." (Faith Works, p. 117).

"(Sin) is still present in the flesh, the body, the unredeemed humanness that includes the whole human person's thinking and behavior" (EPHESIANS, p. 179).

"The part of his present being in which sin still dwells is his flesh, his old humanness, which has not yet been completely transformed" (Romans 1-8, p. 387

Commenting on Romans 7:23a: "The channels through which this sin principle is expressed are the 'members,' the parts of the body that are subject to our unredeemed humanness. This law isn't in Paul's inner man; it's in his outer man" (Freedom From Sin, p. 172).

"When you die and leave this body no change needs to be made for you to enter into eternal glory. All you not the addition of something but the subtraction of it" (Tape GC 45-53, Side 1). "Sin is in our humanness (MacArthur's term for the flesh, the body, the members, our unredeemed mortality)...that's why when you die you go immediately to heaven because you've already been fit for heaven. All you got to do is get rid of the flesh" (Tape GC 45-52, Side 2). These quotes again reflect MacArthur's concept that the believer is a new man in an old body, and when the old body is taken away, then the believer has no more problem with sin.

"Our souls have been redeemed but our bodies have not yet fully reached a state of glory" (Faith Works, p. 103).

"On that great day [the redemption of the body] our flesh will be redeemed and we will no longer be temptable. We will have a new outer man acting in holiness that is a perfect match with the inner man who already loves holiness" (Colossians and Philemon, p. 145).

"(referring to Romans 8) we wait for the transformation of our body to match the transformation of that inner part of us" (he is saying that at salvation the "inner part of us" was transformed and our body will be transformed later)

"The word 'flesh' in Rom. 6:19 parallels the phrase 'mortal body' in Rom. 6:12. They along with 'body of sin' and 'members' describe man's mortality, where sin finds its base of operation. It is not the new you--the new creation in Christ--that gives way to sin, but the sin that dwells in your flesh. The flesh is that part of man that is influenced by sin. As long as we are encased in fallen, fleshly bodies, we will struggle with sin" (Freedom From Sin, p. 83).

"What happens when a believer sins? The new nature within him is not to blame; the sin that dwells in his body is the culprit. It is the only part of the believer that is not redeemed" (Freedom From Sin, p. 39). "In its ethical and moral sense, Scripture always speaks of the flesh as the believer's unredeemed body" (Freedom From Sin, p. 112). "When he (the believer) goes against his new nature, it isn't the law that is responsible but the sin that resides in his frail human body" (Freedom From Sin, p. 160).


Dr. MacArthur teaches that "the body" where sin operates from includes more than just the physical part of man: "The law, or principle, of sin resides in our bodily 'members' (Rom. 7:23), which include the physical, emotional, intellectual, and volitional parts of man" (Freedom From Sin, p. 158). "Sin is still present in our humanness, which includes the mind, emotions, and body" (Freedom From Sin, p. 173).

Commenting on Romans 7:23 where Paul speaks of "sin which is in my members", MacArthur says that the bodily members refer to "the physical, the fleshly and it even goes beyond the physical to the emotions, the feeling, the mind, the thinking, but it's always the members, the body, the flesh--it's in our humanness" (Tape GC 45-52, Side 2). Commenting on this same verse in a different tape he says, "he (Paul) always puts sin in the members, the bodily parts is what it refers to. That does not just mean the flesh, that means the mind, the thoughts, the emotions, all that goes with our humanness" (Tape GC 45-53, Side 2). On this same tape (45-53) he says, "Your members, your humanness includes your mind and your emotion, your feeling, your body and all those things." At the IFCA National Convention MacArthur said, "By body he doesn't just mean the physical body, (he means) all of the bodily appetites that are in your mind and your emotions and your will--all unredeemed humanness in which is incarcerated the new creation."

"THE FLESH. This is not simply the human body, but includes the mind, will and emotions which are all subject to sin. It refers in general to our unredeemed humanness" [Study Bible Note under Romans 5:16].

(Note: MacArthur is not consistent here. If the believer's unredeemed humanness includes the mind and the will, then this means that the believer has an unredeemed mind and an unredeemed will along with a renewed mind and a renewed will. MacArthur insists that the "old man" is dead and gone, but who is this person who has an unrenewed mind, will and body? MacArthur thus teaches that the seat of sin is to be found in the believer's members or in the believer's unredeemed body, not in the believer's soul which has been completely transformed and renewed. His favorite term for the believer's unredeemed body is his "unredeemed humanness." And yet MacArthur is forced to admit that this body or humanness includes the mind, will, emotions and intellect, which means that it is much more than just a body. These things make up the very essence of personhood. Though I have never heard him teach this (because it runs counter to his one nature view) he is in essence saying that a believer possesses both a renewed mind and an unrenewed mind, both a renewed will and an unrenewed will, etc. Why then doesn't he just agree with us that a believer has both an old nature and a new nature and abandon his one nature position?)

(Another note: In the above quotes it is evident that MacArthur considers the body to be that part of the believer that has not been redeemed. There is a sense in which this is true. Romans 8:23 speaks of our final redemption and calls it "the redemption of the body." But there is another sense in which we must say that our bodies have already been redeemed. This is clearly seen in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 where we are told that we have been bought with a price and thus we are to glorify God in our bodies. Our bodies belong to God because he has purchased us and all that we are (including our body). My body doesn't belong to sin it belongs to God. My body is not the home of sin, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). There are many other passages that say that God has redeemed US! (Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18 etc.). These passages do not say that God has only redeemed part of us. We would agree with MacArthur, however, that there is coming a future day when the purchased possession will be gloriously and finally redeemed--see Eph. 1:14)

(Another note: At the IFCA National Convention in June of 1989 John MacArthur indicated that he did not like to use the term "nature" because it was not a Biblical term. However, he commonly and frequently uses the term "humanness" in connection with the seat and source of sin in the believer, and yet this term is certainly not found anywhere in the Bible.)

John MacArthur's One Nature Position - Index



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