Romans 3:9-18 (ICB)
"So are we Jews better than others? No! We have already said that Jews and non Jews are the same, they are all guilty of sin. As the scriptures say: There is no one without sin. None! There is no one who understands. There is no one who looks to God for help. All have turned away together, everyone has become evil. None of them does anything good. Their throats are like open graves. They use their tongues for telling lies. Their words are like snakes poison. Their mouths are full of cursing and hate. They are always ready to kill people. Everywhere they go they cause ruin and misery. They don't know how to live in peace. They have no fear or respect for God."
How's THAT for a start? Things have gotten real serious, real fast in this blog! The apostle Paul is giving us a brief, but bleak, description of the sinful nature of fallen man left to himself. This isn't even mixed with anything demonic, we haven't even begun to add in "the devil in the details." This list from Romans, inspired by the Holy Spirit, isn't even that comprehensive either! What about lust, greed, selfishness, hate, bitterness UN-forgiveness, anger, strife, rebellion as well? Before we paint a completely horrible picture of mankind, we need to make sure that we balance some of this stuff out with intrinsic goodness, kindness, love, mercy and heroism on behalf of others; quite the mixed bag we all are. What we see in this contradiction of terms, is a glimpse into the conflicted heart of mankind, minus God. The "flesh" nature of man is a big problem, even without any added help from the evil one.
Our madcap world right now is staggering like a drunk in the street at 3am, because of the natural fallen people in positions of authority who are trying to run things without God in the mix. They are saying one thing and doing another, not telling the truth, looking out mostly for themselves and are corrupt in their dealings. We have an inherent divine instinct for good in our new transformed hearts if we have the Spirit of God within us. Now if we are yielded to His influence to resist the evil pull on us to respond in kind when we are wronged, we can then impact our personal world to start the ball rolling, by going against our human nature and initiating a movement of unique counter cultural ripples in the form of mercy, love, forgiveness, kindness and justice.
Although we are in this world up to our eyeballs, we are NOT of this world. Therefore, we are obligated to engage with these corrupt societies without compromising our heavenly values. At the same time, we must act against our own lower human nature as well as resisting the push of human appointed leaders who insist that we get back in line. We who are given to God the Father have to keep our thumb on the pulse of this life, and our eyes on heaven above as we aspire to please Him in the balance between the two worlds. Humans after all, were and still are created in the image of our God (Genesis 1:27), therefore, we HAVE all that we need to resist our natural tendencies and opt for a life that looks different on the outside, sure, but on the inside matches up with our Father, supernaturally.
Galations 5:16-18 (NIV)
"So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."
We know, we know...these are the basics. But in all honesty, do we all have the basics down and implemented every second of every day? That's a firm NO. The time to ride the line between a lifestyle of spirit led decision making and doing things because we've always done them is coming rapidly to an end. Continuing to do so makes a mockery of our relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Look, we aren't merely speaking about the ethereal and conceptual stuff of life; we are speaking about the things we do, we say and we think EVERY DAY. For far too long we have made ourselves feel better by excusing a behavior pattern that places systems (government, financial, medical, educational, work force etc) front and center. We've made decisions based upon our familial obligations, our shaky finances, our living situations, and anything else that we subject ourselves to. We then tack God's name to the back of our decisions and when things go great we thank Him and when they are not so great we allow ourselves to feel let down by Him. All the while, God is calling to our hearts from within, knowing that one day soon, we will step into that unusual place and find a life without striving, grinding, chasing, groping, wishing, begging; a life where Philippians 4:19 is the STANDARD and not the miracle, because the miraculous (through the blood of Jesus) IS our standard.
Romans 8:5-8 (NLT)
"Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will. That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God."
At this point, there may be one or two examples that we spoke of in the previous paragraph that has stolen our thoughts, (like a commercial airliner landing in our backyard) as we attempt to finish this blog. If this is the case then please allow us to help get things back on track, those things that we refer to above (and we can all relate to) pull us in different directions based upon our obligations, needs, emergencies, emotions, and especially by demonic distractions. What we do and how we respond in a matter of seconds most times, will determine the outcome. By no means are we saying that real life obligations (such as family or work etc) are agents of our sinful nature; however, they do have the potential to become agents of distraction, diversion, or broken focus. Let's all smile now and forgive as we go!
Going against our own human nature is not something that comes easily to us. There are many electric currents in our cerebral cortex that remind us of how, under the natural laws, we are meant to live. But even greater than this, we have the mind of Christ at our choosing. Recognizing our lower human nature BEFORE it gets the best of us and involved in the situation at hand, is the first step in the right direction. Then, deferring to our Spirit within a nano second and choosing to do as it guides us will lend to the momentum that we need to get us on the best path. Finally, if we resist the temptations that will take us back to our natural default, we will reset our minds even while we move forward as we go about our day; endeavoring to continue our walk in the spirit (Galatians 5:16-18 see above).
It may seem (especially after reading Romans 3, at the beginning) that we humans have a Mount Everest level uphill climb ahead of us. If so, we all need to get a Sherpa! We'll wait a moment for the laughter to subside. All jokes aside, we are so thankful especially for the writings of Paul, informing us how complete we are in Christ, lacking nothing and being full of the God head. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we ARE able to successfully go against our human nature and begin (if we haven't already) to live a life of power, authority, love and a greater understanding; not becoming a victim of our original nature, but instead allowing our spirit to rise up within us in confidence and assurance of who we TRULY are.