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May 4 – Sinners and sin

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 

Scripture reading: John 15:1-11

The question is sometimes asked, “Are we sinners because we sin?” or “Do we sin because we are sinners?” The answer to those questions reveals our concept of original sin and our concept of our sinful nature.

It is because of our sinful nature that we commit sins. For instance, we might look at someone who sins in an obvious way, perhaps they are guilty of stealing, and we say, “They stole merchandise, so they are sinners.” But the Biblical view has the opposite progression. God looks at us and sees that since we are sinful from the moment of conception (Psalms 51:5), we commit sins. It is because we are sinners that we are prone to swear, steal, cheat and commit adultery, along with all the other transgressions of God’s law.

In the analogy of John Donne, our sinful nature is like the trunk of a tree. Just as branches grow from the trunk of a tree, so we sin because sin inevitably grows out of our sinful nature. Consequently, our guilt includes not only the many sins we commit – and the sins of omission – but our sinful nature also declares us guilty from the moment of conception.

Yet, as we confess both our sins and our sinful nature, there is comfort through saving faith in Christ. Although our guilt is great, God’s grace is greater! He has grafted His people into the Tree of Life, and by saving faith, we who abide in Christ produce spiritual fruit (v. 5), for His glory and our good!

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God for the atoning work of Christ which cleanses both our sinful nature and our sins. And pray that by abiding in Him we will produce much fruit for His glory! 

Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.


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