The Bible talks about our “sinful nature,” “the flesh,” and “carnal man” all of which refer to an attribute found in all humans: a propensity to sin. So the question is: Is this propensity to sin in our DNA? The answer is yes, sin nature is hardwired in us and in our DNA. We are not forced to sin, but we have the tendency to sin. This is not a God given tendency, but rather a result of Adam eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden some 6000 years ago.
Let’s start with some basic logic: consider a baby duck, a duckling. It knows how to break out of the egg, how to walk on two legs, how to swim, how to eat by itself, and how to peep, all immediately after hatching. These are what are referred to as instincts; they are hardwired into the duckling through DNA and are not acquired through learning. We know this because all ducklings have these instincts no matter if hatched by the hen or hatched in an incubator. Later in life the duckling will learn where to find water, where he is safe, and where the best feeding spots are. So, the mature duck has some behavior that is hardwired and some that is learned.
The hardwired memory in the brain is passed on from generation to generation through DNA; the learned memory is not. We do not know which sequences of the DNA store these instincts since our understanding of DNA is still very limited. However, if you take a duck egg shortly after it is laid and crack it open, look at it and know that something in it contains the instructions to generate duck instincts. Logically, it has to be the DNA code which contains all the information to build a duck and prepare him for survival. Without these instincts being transfered throught the DNA from generation to generation, the duckling would not even hatch.
So how about humans? Human infants also have hardwired instincts such as desire to suckle, the tendency to put everything in their mouths, communication through crying, etc. Later, these infants learn the danger of falling, what pleases others, tasty foods, language, and many other things. So, like the duckling, the human infant is born with some hardwired memory and then later supplements this hardwired memory with learned memory. The hardwired memory, or instincts, of humans includes the sin nature. This sin nature is apparent in all children and especially evident when they start to talk.
After God finished the creation, He proclaimed that the entire creation was “very good,” and this included man’s hardwired memory, or basic human instincts. Then came the serpent who injected something (the first GMO – genetically modified organism) into man using the forbidden fruit; this fruit changed man’s DNA, man now had the “sinful nature;” he was “carnal” and driven by his “flesh.” We know that it happened quickly because Adam and Eve, immediately after committing the original sin, hid from God; they were afraid of Him and ashamed of their nakedness (Genesis 3: 9-11). This fear and shame could not have been learned in that no events occurred that would have caused them to “learn” to fear God or be ashamed.
Our hardwired, instinctive sin nature is part of our DNA and we have to deal with it. Paul struggled with his sin nature and expressed his frustrations in the book of Romans:
Romans 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Romans 7:20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Romans 7:21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. (ESV)
Once the sin nature is understood, it becomes evident why it is so important for parents to teach their children right from wrong. It is the “learned” portion of the brain that can combat the hardwired sin nature.
However, the only permanent solution for dealing with the sin nature is to get rid of it; and, we have the hope that someday, soon, our sin nature will be removed; and, it will; the trumpets will blow, the dead in Christ will meet us in the air and we will be changed: our sin nature will be gone; we will get our good, pure, original DNA and we will be free. We will be redeemed.