WHY Christians Live with a Dual Nature?
God, I did it again – I was pushover and let others walk all over me. Why do I have to be so weak? What am I afraid of? Change me! I don’t want to do this anymore! It hurts me and others so why do I still struggle with this? Why, why, why?
Have you ever felt like this? Wondering why you continue to struggle with a certain part of you particularly when it hurts you and others? These unwanted aspects of us are of our flesh nature (our self-will in rebellion to God’s will). When we are born into this world we are spiritually dead because of sin that separates us from God. When God breathes eternal life into us, a new spirit is born in us. With a new heart, not a changed one, the flesh and spirit co-exist.
In previous posts, Where to Focus – A Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Why Do Christians Seem Two-faced?, I’ve written about the spirit and flesh dynamic. I promised to talk about why we still battle the flesh, when we’ve been given a new spirit. So why does our old nature remain with a wicked heart? Why couldn’t all traces of our old life be gone forever now? Though the source of our old life is dead in Christ its lingering stench remains in our life, why? Galatians 5:24, Romans 7:15-20
There are several reasons. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul was pleading for his weakness to be removed, but God let it remain so that he would learn God’s grace is sufficient. That is one of many reasons. Here are a few more I’ve been thinking about:
Reason 1: God is Glorified
It is God’s purposeful design to have His Spirit in our fallen bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7 Living with this duality, God shows His power and mercy in the expression of the fruit of the spirit through our lives. God is to be glorified, not us. Aware of our fallen state, when we experience the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, it is truly a glorious thing. It is clearly not of us and to sense the power of God working in us is an amazing gift and testimony to others. Hence, God receives praise and honor for what He as done.
Reason 2: Magnitude of God’s Love
Despite our frame, God’s love is boundless to the extent of making us His children. Romans 5:8 The carnal mind can’t comprehend the things of God. We can only know God if we are born of the spirit. Our flesh remains once we have the spirit of truth so we can clearly see what we were in the flesh. Without the spirit of truth we are blinded to our own depravity. But when we see in the light our wretchedness, His love becomes overwhelming. He loved us so much that He wanted us to be a part of His family so we could spend eternity with Him. He loved us despite how we acted, thought, and rebelled. If we were only spirit we couldn’t understand the magnitude of His love that loves us despite who we were.
In addition, in plainly seeing our wretchedness, we learn His love isn’t based on our actions. His love is unconditional because that is who He is. This lesson is critical to learn in order to have an intimate relationship with Him. Otherwise we think His love is based on the extent of our goodness. With our flesh lingering which deserves no love, His love astounds us. We have never experience unconditional love like we do with Him.
Reason 3: Dependency on God
Without God we can do nothing, but with Him we are complete and perfect. John 15:5 As we live with the two lives in contradiction, we realize how much our flesh is helpless, destructive, and full of death. We start to see the lies we lived by and the death they brought to us and others. Our emptiness and lack becomes undeniable. Along with this new perspective of our old life, we begin to learn about the new life we have in Him; its purity, love, completeness, holiness, peace and joy. The contrast in our lives fills us with gratitude and praise for the tremendous gift He has given us. We begin to comprehend the extent of Christ’s sacrifice, its power and love to give undeserving broken souls beautiful new lives so they no longer have to live in the misery of the old.
Reason 4: Submission to His Lordship
We learn first hand anything that comes from our will leads to death, therefore with each new awareness of the depravity of our flesh we freely submit to His Lordship. With eyes wide open to the contrast of the flesh verses the spirit, each one of us experiences that His ways are better. Learning these truths in the presence of our fallen flesh moves us to choose to yield to His Lordship. God wants us to submit freely, not forced, because that is what true love does. The contrast draws us closer to God; loving Him more for all that He has done and given us. We have to understand the truth of who we are or aren’t and who He is so without reserve we will surrender to Him in love.
There is nothing good about the flesh, but it lingers to teach us many important lessons.
Bit of encouragement
Sometimes we succumb to the rule of our old nature because of spiritual immaturity. We don’t recognize the flesh for what it is, or we are taken off guard and a flesh mindset sets in and takes over. The good news is one we are covered in Christ’s righteousness every moment of every day and two God always provides a way out – prayer. He has given all we need to overcome the flesh – a new spirit, His Word, prayer, and His power. We need to nourish the new spirit, abide in His Word, learn to recognize the flesh, and use the power of prayer given to us in the moment the flesh starts to take over.
When the flesh starts to dominate, we can call upon God and He is faithful to deliver us from ourselves. Sometimes in these moments we might not feel like praying, because the flesh is in rebellion to it, but do it anyway. Prayer is very powerful because through prayer we shift to trusting in His power instead of our own. If we try to overcome our weakness by ourselves we’ll fight a losing battle. God always provides a way out of our temptations. We won’t find the strength in us, but we will in Him, every time.