The concept of a continuing sinful nature in Christ existed long before the advent of The New International Version (NIV).
However, the NIV has significantly contributed to this misled concept.
In the NIV 1984, flesh (from the Greek sarx: flesh/body/meat/human nature or being) was translated as sinful nature twenty times (all NIV 1984 sinful nature verses are below).
The first reason is that translators were no longer certain of 18 of 20 of these translated words, so they opted to back off to the more generic flesh word. The second reason is the translators’ mistaken belief that Paul taught a continuing sinful nature in Christ in Romans 7. He certainly did not [see additional posts]. The remaining two Romans 7 verses that still are translated sinful nature could just as easily also refer to the the flesh or body:
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:18 (NIV 2011)
“Thanks be to God, Who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:25 (NIV 2011)
Here’s the ultimate problem with believing in a continuing sinful nature in Christ: in the following four verses, the sinful nature is described as being crucified (dead), circumcised (removed) and in the past tense:
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified [past tense and dead] the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24 (NIV 2011) [This verse should have retained the translated sinful nature, for passions and desires are associated specifically with it.]
“In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off [paste tense; what is circumcised/removed is never again part of the body] when you were circumcised by Christ,” Colossians 2:11 (NIV 2011)
“For when we were [past tense] in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.” Romans 7:5 (NIV 2011) [This is another case where sinful nature should have been retained, since the verse is obviously referring to a nature and not the body. If it were the body, we would still be in it, however the verse notes that we were in the flesh.]
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:9 (NIV 2011)
These four verses are a filter by which to examine the remaining sixteen.
The domain (pool) of twenty sinful nature verses contains four explicit verses that declare the sinful nature dead and in the past. Recognize that the total domain of verses must reconcile together – they cannot contradict each other. That is, the sinful nature cannot be both dead and in the past while simultaneously remaining alive and current. The scripture must be logically consistent or it is not Holy Scripture.
Of course, Scripture is logically consistent and holy. And, the mechanism of the death of the sinful nature is within Christ Himself:
“(6) For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— (7) because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” Romans 6:6-7 (NIV 2011)
When He died on that cross, He took our old selves with Him. The old sinful Adamic nature that we had, died in the old person in Christ. His death was our guarantee of the new persons we are with our new natures and spirits.
“Whereby are given to us exceedingly great and precious promises: that by these you might be sharers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
Background information: the twenty original sinful nature references in the 1984 NIV [and a KJV]:
Rom 7:5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. [For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were aroused by the law, worked in our members to bring forth fruit to death.]
Rom 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. [For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) no good thing dwells: for I desire to do what is right, but I cannot carry it out.]
Rom 7:25 Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. [I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.]
Rom 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, [For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did. He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, and condemned sin in the flesh:]
Rom 8:4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. [That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk after the Spirit, not the flesh.]
Rom 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. [For those who live by the flesh focus on it, but those who live by the Spirit focus on the things of the Spirit.]
Rom 8:8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. [So then, they who are in the flesh cannot please God.]
Rom 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. [But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.]
Rom 8:12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. [Therefore, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live after it.]
Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, [For if you live after the flesh, you shall die, but if you through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.]
Rom 13:14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. [But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its desires.]
Gal 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. [For, brothers, you have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty for an opportunity to the flesh, but by love serve one another.]
Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. [This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the desire of the flesh.]
Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. [For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. These are contrary to each other, so that you cannot do the things that you want to do.]
Gal 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; [Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,]
Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. [And they who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its affections and desires.]
Gal 6:8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. [For he who sows to his flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.]
Eph 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. [Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the desires of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.]
Col 2:11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, [In Whom you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:]
Col 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, [And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses;]