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Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Christian has Two Natures!

A Christian has Two Natures!


One of the greatest Christians who ever lived, wrote these words:  “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  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 what I do is not the good I want to do: no the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing…. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law:  but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner because of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  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.”  (Romans 7:14b-19, 21-25) 


Have you guessed who wrote these words?  It was Paul –Saint Paul - one of the most dedicated Christian missionaries in history!  Paul sounds pretty messed up, doesn’t he?  In his inner being he delights in God’s laws; but in his body – something there inside of him keeps wanting to sin!  Wanting to sin and waging war against the part of him that wants to obey God!  Two natures inside Paul, each pulling him in opposite directions?  He’s got a problem, doesn’t he? 


But guess what?  We have that problem too!  The Bible tells us that we humans are all born with a nature that will sin.  (Romans 3:23, 5:12-14)  And Scripture tells us that we gain a new nature (in addition to the old one) when we believe in Jesus as Lord.  (John 3:6,7: 2 Peter 1:4)  So all Christians have the same problem that Paul was fussing about!  Where two natures are in the same place but each pulling in opposite directions, there will be war.  In Galatians 5:17-18 Paul writes: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”  Talk about a split personality!


Some folks have believed that a true Christian will not sin anymore.  But Scripture denies that over and over.  1 John 1:8 declares: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  If we are honest with ourselves we know that we sin.  And all we have to do is look around us to see that our fellow Christians sin too!  So many of us backslide!  It can be very discouraging!


Then other Christians seem to think that if they keep enough rules that they will avoid sinning.  But even if we were able to obey every rule and look perfect on the outside, our lusts and desires will not follow along perfectly.  Scripture tells us that the only way we Christians with our two natures can win this battle is to walk in the Spirit – in other words we must allow the Spirit to lead us.  


Galatians 5:16 says:  “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature….”   And Romans 8:13b says: “…if you are led by the Spirit you will put to death the sins of the sinful nature,…”  Some of the acts of the sinful nature (body)  are sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, etc. (Gal.4:19)  And the acts (fruit) of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Gal.4:22-23)


In those last verses we are told to “put to death the urges of our sinful nature.”  Scripture teaches that the old sin nature is not destroyed while we are still alive here on earth.  (But in heaven we will finally be free of it and we will no longer sin!)  Scripture says:  “Likewise reckon yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:11)  It is difficult to feed both natures at the same time.  So we are to give our energies (feed) to our new nature in the Spirit and neglect or starve out the sin nature.   


You may be asking, ‘How do you “recon yourself dead” when your ego is put down by insults or slights and you want to strike back?  And how do you “play dead” to wanting something that isn’t yours or desiring something that you know is wrong?


 Our baptism symbolizes or means a real death which we undergo in following Christ..  Going under the water depicts our becoming dead to sin and coming up out of the water represents our new birth to righteousness.  We will need to say “no” to sin.  Draw a line in the sand. Decide that there are places we will never go, things we will never touch and emotions we will never play with.  Of course the Spirit will help us in this battle. 


David loved God with all his heart and Scripture says that he was deeply beloved of God.  But David fell into some very nasty sins when he was the king of Israel.  (of course all sins are nasty)  We can read this story in 2 Samuel 11. King David already had many wives and concubines but one night while he was out on the palace roof top sipping his wine and taking in the view he happened to see a naked young woman on a nearby rooftop taking a bath.  The woman’s name was Bathsheba and she was gorgeous to look at.  David thought Bathsheba looked sexy so he ordered her over to the palace and had sex with her even though he knew that she was the wife of one of the leaders in his army.  And David’s army (and Bathsheba’s husband) were away fighting when David committed adultery with Bathsheba.    


 When Bathsheba became pregnant with David’s baby, David tried to fix things so they would look proper and right.  Since Bathsheba’s husband had been away fighting when she had become pregnant, everyone would know that he could not be the father of the baby.  David was nervous so he ordered one of his army generals to put Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband up in front of the fighting men where most of the hand to hand combat would take place and where he most likely would be killed.  And then David ordered the army to pull back and not protect Uriah right when the enemies moved in for the kill.. When Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband died in battle, David moved in quickly and took Bathsheba to be his wife (one of his many wives!)  He figured that he had covered his tracks and he could continue going about his business as usual!  He deserved to have beautiful women surrounding him and as the king he needed to keep up appearances!


But not so fast!  David could fool other people but he couldn’t fool God.  God sent a prophet named Nathan to David to confront him of his sins – the sins of greed and murder and adultery.  And with tears and fasting David admitted his sins and begged God to forgive and pleaded with God not to take the Holy Spirit away from him.  God forgave David of his sins but the prophet told David that there would be consequences to his sin. Because of his sins the baby that would be born to him and Bathsheba would die shortly after birth and his family would have problems in the future. 


In this Bible story, David’s sin did not cause him to lose his salvation, or his standing as a child of God.  David was sorry for sinning and God forgave him.  Salvation is a free gift without works (Ephesians 2:8, 9) But David’s sins affected his relationship with God.  And there were consequences here on earth for his sins. When we follow our sinful nature our sins will have consequences and can keep us from the joy and victory that are ours in Christ. But salvation is ours because of Christ’s sacrifice.


Just like David, we are in a spiritual war when it comes to the way we live our lives and walk our Christian walk.  Even though we love God, our sin nature can get us into big trouble.  We must be ever watchful and walk by faith and not by sight.  Pray and read the Bible.  Make no provision for the sinful nature.  We are soldiers in a battle, but the fight will not be long!    















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