Error of my Ways

“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:14-15)

High atop of the mountain where the colder wind blows laid a rattlesnake shivering so hard that its rattles were sounding in the breeze. The rattler was cold and wished it was down in the valley where the warmer air rested beneath the spring sun. A mountain goat came near but stopped when hearing the rattles of the snake and cautiously began to move around the snake at a safe distance. The rattlesnake called out to the goat saying please help me. The goat stopped and pondered the danger and then responded to the snake’s request. “What is it you want of me?” said the goat. “Please” said the snake, “I am cold and fear I shall freeze before I can reach down to the valley. Please if you will allow me to ride upon your back to the valley where I can find warmth.” The goat quickly refused saying that he feared that the snake would bite and he would die. The rattlesnake replied that if the goat carried him to the valley he would not bite and allow the goat to move along freely. The goat thought for a few moments and then slowly walked over to the rattlesnake and let him slither up upon his back. Together they went down the mountain to the valley the snake buried in the hair of the goat. When they reached the valley in the warmth of the sun the rattlesnake slithered off the goat and then bit him. The goat fell and twisted in the throes of death. With the last muster of energy the goat asked the rattlesnake why he had bit him after him doing such a favor? The rattlesnake said, “I don’t know. It’s just my nature.”

I myself have never met a rattlesnake that did not try to bite me. It is what they do. It is their nature. I find myself many times doing that which I know is wrong and unpleasing to the Lord. I so many times say to myself, “Myself, why did you do that?” I have never been good. I gave my parents fits in my youngest years and didn’t get much better in my teenage years. I was never one to be trusted, I was never one who wouldn’t pick a fight if I thought I could win easy, and I was never one to help the helpless. I was naturally bad and through my life I had to be taught to be good. My father wore me out in the woodshed, my mother wore me out in public places, and the US Army let me out early, as they thought I would never be of any value. Why? I never wanted to be bad, but I was bad.

Once I was married I started to settle down thinking I should be a good example for my children. I conducted myself somewhat honorably but my children didn’t take to the example. They weren’t naturally good children they had to be taught to be good. I remember thinking who taught them to be bad that I should have to spend so much time teaching them to be good? The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Solomon was wise, as he knew that we are all born bad, we are all in rebellion against the authority of our Creator, and we all need to be taught to be good. We are bad just like the rattlesnake because it is our nature. Charles Spurgeon said, “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.”

As far as I know from reading the Bible Adam and Eve had only one rule they had to follow. “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) Yet they could not resist the temptation to be an equal with God the Creator. Can a worm be as a man and can man be as God? I think not and from that day forward we have a nature that has a natural inclination to sin, to disobey God’s Word. Adam and Eve chose to do their own will and contaminated the human race. We have the same choice to do our own will or the will of God. I naturally choose to do my own thing.

We are living two lives simultaneously, a life formed from the dust of the earth, which is destined to die, and a life formed from the Spirit of God, which will live till the judgment. “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) We all too often spend too much attention to the dyeing flesh making provision in a passing world for our flesh die. A poor investment in the measure of eternity. Our lives are governed by the desires of the flesh. We see the world that we live in and forsake the world we are soon to enter into. If we do not train ourselves to live in spiritual harmony with God our Creator, then we will face an eternity of the fire of HIs judgment for our sinful nature. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

The sinful nature that I have is no better or worse than the sinful nature that you have. The sinful nature is universal to all of humanity. There is only one man who walked the earth that did not have a sinful nature and He was the God man Jesus Christ. For the rest of man we have all gone astray. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:6) There are those who claim this is not true. They claim that they never sin, they never do wrong, and they will go to that mystic happy place after life in this world. I say compared to who, your neighbor or to the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. With that answer they are living a life of deception. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

If we live in our worldly state with our hearts set on the things of this world, then we are in hostility towards God. God created a very good world for man to live in but the things of this world have distracted man’s spiritual desire to know his creator. Man has a natural desire to worship, man worships power and prestige, man worships wealth and possession, the list of man’s gods is as endless as the temptations Satan places before him. The mind of man is governed by the desires of the flesh, is hostile towards God, and is ignorant of His truth. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-8)

The flesh is beyond repair and is destined to die. When that happens the spirit of man separates and its destination is bound for judgment. Because of the sin nature Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) At judgment all will be found guilty of their rebellion against the Word of God. The flesh was formed by God and was dead until He breathed His Spirit of life into it. The flesh will die in this world and return to the dust so it is the spirit that we must pay attention to. The spirit can have a rebirth and be seen perfect, as it was in the beginning, through the eyes of God because of the righteousness that Jesus will give to the faithful. We must forsake the broken sinful nature of the flesh and be reborn of the spirit through the Spirit of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) Those born of Adam inherit a sin nature but those born of the Spirit of Christ will inherit a new nature. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Many become discouraged because they wonder why the Christian life is not an easy life. Why they are still plagued with the desires of the flesh? They have experienced a spiritual rebirth but still have the sin nature of the flesh. Paul advises this, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) The Christian is not to live by the desires of the flesh but to be led by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As the Christian draws closer to God in his daily walk God will draw closer to him. As the Christian grows in their spiritual faith they will have the power to overcome the sin nature and live a life set on pleasing their Lord. “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9) It is a struggle and will remain a struggle as long as we are in this body of sinful desires. The struggle is worth the outcome, the struggle is necessary for growth in spiritual maturity, and the struggle will strengthen us for our perseverance.

In the measure of eternity that day of deliverance will come in a wisp of time. That day when we are free of our sin nature. That day when we are free of this sinful world that we live in. That day when we find ourselves in a righteous environment free from the curse of this world. That day when we will be in the perfect image of the God that created us once again. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick, First Baptist Church of Durant, April 5, 2017

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