Tag Archives: sinful nature

CIVIL WAR

CIVIL WAR

As it is, it is no longer I myself but it is sin living in me. 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.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:17-20.

Spoken like a true Hebrew!

Every year, during Elul, the last month of the Hebrew calendar, prior to the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah) which preceded the most holy day of the year, (Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement), a trumpet was blown daily as a reminder to every Jew to prepare for Yom Kippur. This was the day when God judged and forgave all sin for another year.

Preparation consisted of three things, teshuvah, tephillah and tsidaqah – repentance, prayer and works of righteousness. However, repentance was not about turning away from sin but returning to the person God created them to be. Prayer was not about petitioning God but about turning towards Him and learning to think like He thinks. Works of righteousness were not about doing things for less fortunate people even though they were undeserving, but about being merciful and generous to others because God had shown mercy to them.

Paul recognised that sin was an invader, illegally occupying the person God had created him to be. This was not as God intended. He had been taken over from conception by a squatter who had no right to be there but whom he had no power to evict. He differentiated between his true self and the sin that ruled his life. He was not making excuses for his behaviour or trying to evade responsibility for his choices, but rather recognising that God was not responsible for what he was because sin was not in His blueprint for man.

God is good (functional) and everything He made, including man, was good (functional), working together in perfect harmony with God’s nature and with one another. The entire universe was created to be a unit. It would remain that way as long as human beings, who were to rule the earth, chose to live in harmony with God’s will.

When man rejected God’s way and set up his own rules, he and the whole universe became dysfunctional. He has repudiated God’s right to tell him how to live by giving his allegiance to a usurper, and paid the price God had warned him about – death. He was still man, made in God’s image with the potential to be one with God, but now his bent was towards rebellion. There was a foreigner in charge and he was obligated to obey Satan because he, man, had relinquished control.

Paul recognised that his sinful nature was dysfunctional, incapable of obeying God and doing the right thing. There was civil war in his inner being. He longed to be obedient to his Creator, but he had no power to change his nature which was under the influence of the enemy and driven by enmity towards God.

He was trapped in this inward conflict with no hope of ever getting out of it by his own efforts. The problem was that, legally, he in the dock, judged guilty, living in shame and fear and awaiting sentence on the Day of Judgment. By his own sinful life, he proved that he was in cahoots with the usurper and rightfully declared guilty.

What a terrible plight he was in. He knew he was condemned yet, at the same time, he yearned to be free to worship God and follow His ways. He was inside his prison cell peering wistfully through the bars at the beautiful world outside, with no way to get out and enjoy the freedom that should have been his.

What was he to do? He needed someone to step in and rescue him.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Dead And Stinking!

DEAD AND STINKING!

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit which is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were all by nature objects of wrath (Eph. 2: 1-3).

Have you ever smelt the stench of rotting flesh? It is not pleasant, to say the least. If dead flesh smells bad, what do you suppose a dead spirit smells like to the Father? From God’s point of view, we were dead in our sinful nature and lifestyle – dead to Him because our sin created a chasm between Him and us and left us lifeless and alone.

What a gloomy picture of the people in the world who have nothing to do with God and are therefore nothing more than empty shells with no real life in them! Paul vividly describes all of us in our state of alienation from God – selfish, ungodly, and living only to gratify every craving and desire with no thought for the way our lives and behaviour affect others.

The world of entertainment and what it dishes up, including the filth that Hollywood spews out and everything that flows from the mass media – scandal, violence, illicit sex, crime and every form of unsavoury behaviour – is the diet we feed on, and then we wonder why the world is so bad. Sin is like a snowball. The more sin we feed on, the more sine we practice.

Paul makes not excuse for anyone. Whoever we are, if we are not in “Christ”, we are all in the same boat. It’s just the degree that varies. Even the most respectable of people are separated from by God by their sin.

Unfortunately for us, unlike the belief system of some religions, God does not weigh our sin and our good deeds in the balance. We were infected with a sin nature from our conception, which we inherited from Adam and which makes us dead to God before we took our first breath. No one has to teach a child to sin. It is as spontaneous as breathing. Even if we teach him to live a moral and upright life, the nature within him pulls him towards sin. No one can see the sins of the spirit – greed, selfishness, lust, jealousy, resentment, bitterness – and the list goes on, but they are there in all of us.

Paul calls us all “objects of wrath”. How can we be under the wrath of God? How fair is that when we were born in sin? Unfortunately, we had no choice in the matter because we are all descendants of Adam. As the representative man, he chose to defy God’s instruction and brought condemnation on the whole human race. But not only that. Every time we do what is natural to us, we confirm our own status under God’s wrath. God must punish sin because it is a violation of His holiness.

But, because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages, He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2: 4-7).

Out it comes in a rush! It’s almost as though Paul enjoyed painting as gloomy a picture as He could about our sinful state so that he could pour out in lavish language, the magnitude of what God has done for us in His Son. How sad that many so-called preachers of the gospel miss it altogether. They present Jesus as the cure for all ills. They preach a message and issue an invitation that makes it sound as though we do God a favour by “accepting Jesus as our personal Saviour”.

God was not obliged to do anything for us. His wrath falls on us because we are responsible for everything we have said and done.  We can blame whoever we like but, in the end, whatever we do and however we live is our choice. We decide how we will respond to whatever life dishes up for us.

God stepped in with a masterful plan to rescue us from our plight, and it had nothing to do with us. In fact, He didn’t even do it because He felt sorry for us. He did it to put His glory on display. It was His opportunity to reveal His true nature to the devil and his minions who are at war with God. He sent His own Son as a substitute for man, to take the rap for what we have done in rebellion against Him so that we can go free. No more debt. No more guilt. No more barrier between Him and us.

He made it possible for us to have life, to forgive our sin, change our hearts and embrace us a His beloved sons and daughters. Who in their right mind would not respond in love to someone who did that for us?

It’s all about Him from beginning to end. God does not beg us to accept His offer. He graciously extends it to us, but the response is ours. We can come home to Him and live under His authority and in His family, or we can remain in our dead and stinking state. He will not choose for us.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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