The Struggle of Two Natures

I do not know of any Christian that does not struggle between “Two Natures” that some call good or evil. We do not understand why we do what we do. We tend to do what we should not do even when we want to do good.

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Romans 7:14

I do not know of any Christian that does not struggle between “Two Natures” that some call good or evil. We do not understand why we do what we do. We tend to do what we should not do even when we want to do good.

Man between an angel and devil

It is like the picture above which some of us have seen when we were a child on cartoons. I have seen it on Sponge Bob Square Pants as well as on the TV show “The Simpsons.” Do you ever wonder why even as a child that this struggle still carries on into adulthood. Why is it that we do not heed the warning signs? It could be that we just do not believe it is true, and need to experience it to learn the truth about it. It is like diving in to fast to eat your soup. Did you know that there is a proper etiquette to eating your bowl of soup? First of all, I do not see everyone diving into it because it may be too hot and you can burn yourself. This is why we use the spoon and scoop the edge of the bowl away from us when extracting soup towards our mouth to eat. This is so we do not splatter hot soup on us. The bible is our moral compass and if you find yourself struggling on what to do, you are not alone. Every good Christian struggles with their nature or behavior to do good or evil. The apostle Paul dealt with this subject of two natures in writing to the Roman Christians.

For that which I do I understand not; for what I would, that do I Not; but what I hate, that do I.

Romans 7:15

“I do what I hate to do,” said the apostle Paul and if he had issues with it there is no doubt that everyone has issues with not doing the right thing. So what was it that Paul found out about dealing with this issue? Paul found that there is a law present that if he did good, evil is present with him [see Romans 7:21]. In fact, he describes several laws. We have laws in place in countries in order to live a peaceful life with all mankind. For the most part civil law is supposed to be good in that it regulates concerns in private relations between members of a community. It is the principal of equality within communities. The apostle Paul who was a Roman citizen by birth received certain consideration when thrown in jail. The apostle Paul addressed six laws. The law of Moses which condemns, the law as a principle within society, the law of faith, which excludes self-righteousness, the law of the mind that tries to do good but can not do it, the law of sin within humanity, the law of the Spirit that has the power to deliver the believer from sin.

The result the apostle Paul found is in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” I hear many Christian quote up to the part in Christ Jesus, but leave off the not walking after the flesh, but after the Spirit. What Paul is saying here is that our walk in our behavior and action must match that of Christ Jesus. The end result is walking in the Spirit which means we surrender our self to Jesus who is our priesthood and our redemption. Jesus fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law and He is the one who sends us the Holy Spirit. Paul mentions the “Spirit” sixteen times in Romans chapter 8 and therefore we should take note that this is a most pivotal conclusion to the problem of the struggle between two natures. It is the Spirit that gives us life. Listen to what Jesus said in John 6:63.

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

John 6:63

We must remember that the law is spiritual, as Paul exclaimed in chapter seven of Romans, but “I am carnal, sold under sin” [see Romans 7:14]. Our checks and balances come from the word of God and through the Holy Spirit that points to Christ. When we struggle with our old nature, we take it to Jesus and ask him to intervene and allow His Spirit to take control of our mind and actions. We ask through prayer that we put to death any feelings of hatred, getting even, anger, or anything that does not project the image of Christ. Some may have to struggle in letting it go. Remember the flesh will not profit. There are those who have gotten even, and later found that it did not bring them a lasting peace. Peace only comes through the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Reprove yourself and flee from doing evil. Remember that the Apostle Paul said to “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good,’ [see Romans 12:21].

Let us pray and ask God to help us to overcome evil by doing good. Let us walk in the Spirit of Christ knowing it is ” the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that hath made me free from the law of sin and death,” [Romans 8:2]. We must get under control our emotions and our mind by giving it to Jesus at the cross where our victory is. Sing along and ask god to renew a right spirit within you. Released in 1984 by Keith Green.

Rest in the Lord

How can we rest in the Lord and not become anxious over Covid-19, or what we have witness within our own communities?

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any way to do evil.

Psalms 37:7-8

How can we rest in the Lord and not become anxious over Covid-19, or what we have witness within our own communities? I often wonder myself at the injustices that are taking place every day. Last year we have seen an increase of violence in cities across America and it was anything but beautiful. Maybe we should revisit the song America The Beautiful. We need God to shed his grace upon us all in America.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

There are so many voices that want to be heard that sincere compassion left the office and violence moved in. Anger rises because of unfair practices, criticism, or being threatened. When we begin to not respect other peoples feelings or possessions then we are losing the cohesiveness of humanity. Society needs to work towards the wellbeing of all its members and promote opportunity for everyone and not just a few. That is what doing good is all about. That is what brotherhood means.  It means helping one another. We need God’s grace every day to make it when we are hit with financial issues, health issues, and grieving the loss of someone, or even a pet. We need to remember that there is a higher power we can rely on that has overcome the world. God is for us and not against us.

Can we be a person after God’s own heart like David? In Psalms 37 David is telling us not to “FRET,” or become angry, but to trust in the Lord and do good. David surely has seen violence during his time, and he was hiding and talking to God about it. I am sure David became angry at what was happening around him and against him. He may have even been confused as to why circumstances were against him. Yet, we know that God had a purpose in what was happening, and God did help David through his circumstances. We will get through our circumstances as well if we remember that we are not alone. The Lord told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7 not to look at others stature because as man they have the habit of looking at the outward appearance instead of looking at what is in the heart. God sees the heart of man. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart.

Our heart must be pure when we ask for what we need. We do not ask to get something so that we can be better than someone else. We ask with a sincere heart like David who prayed and had a conversation with God. Even the apostle Paul said “be ye angry and sin not” [see Ephesians 4:6]. Paul said, “let not the sun go down upon your anger.” In other words, before the sun goes down our anger is to cease. David is warning us that doing evil is not the way to get even, for the Lord sees the heart of man. We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ on that day, and we do not want to become a stumbling block to anyone. [see Romans 14:10-12] It is better to cool our anger by talking to God about it and or confess it to someone who will pray with you to be healed of the anger. Let us continue to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him every day. Thank God for His marvelous grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled

Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace
Freely bestowed on all who believe
You who are longing to see His face
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Hymnal written by Julia Johnston in 1911

Live Peaceably with all Men

Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:17-18

Is it possible to live peaceably with all men? The answer is yes, but it takes effort on everyone involved to keep that peace. An agreement must be made. During the 60’s the peace symbol was displayed against the war in Vietnam. It is still used today to speak against violence. For a Christian, honesty and integrity go hand in hand because of the light of Jesus shining in their hearts. The apostle Paul learned from the Gospel of Jesus the true meaning of love and living in peace with all men. He wrote about it in the book of Romans. As Christians we may forget that we were called out of darkness and brought into His marvelous light [see 1 Peter 2:9]. It is by faith that Christians walk in the Spirit of Christ and not in the flesh. When Christians walk in the Spirit there will be no jealousy, strife, envy, or hatred, for these things are dead, for they were a part of the old nature of man. We pray for these things to die in our being so that the Spirit of Christ may rule instead.

To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:6

For a Christian, the desire is to live a life in peace, and not be waging war, or have hatred against another human being. In a Christian’s life the old nature is put to death to continue living in the new life of Jesus. Paul states to “mortify the deeds of the body,” [see Romans 8:13]. The Greek word mortify means to put to death. Any negative action that is contrary to love, joy, and peace must be put to death, for the new nature that is born through the Spirit of Christ to move in a believer’s life. The believer’s mind should be on spiritual things and not on strife, jealousy, and vengeance. In fact, if we read pass Romans chapter 12:18 to verse 19, it states that” vengeance is the Lord’s.” We put to death the things of the flesh by taking up the Cross of Christ, which is the power of God.

It is through the Spirit that we are victorious and nothing that we have done within our-self. We put on the Lord Jesus Christ because victory is at the cross where all sins are forgiven, and bondage broken because of the sacrifice of Christ to bring deliverance of the old nature of man. We do not overcome evil by doing evil [such as to get even], but we overcome evil by doing good [see Romans 12:21]. We go back to the place of presenting our body to the Lord, for this is sanctification, to know the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and to be obedient in allowing His will to reveal the truth of who we are in Christ. We yield our life to God for the working of Christ’s character to come forth in love and peace. This is surrendering to God and repenting in order that we might live the life of peace.

This is the Spirit of adoption whereby we can come to God through prayer because we have been grafted into the vine. That vine is Jesus. Our focus is on Jesus and doing good works.

These things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Titus 3:8

Paul tells us in Titus 3:8 that if we believe in God, we are to maintain good works, for it is profitable unto men. We should be mindful of our everyday actions as to not allow another person to stumble. Many times, we do not fully know or understand those who live around us. We are so consumed on our own needs that we forget those around us. This happens a lot in families. Sometimes mom and dad work so hard to keep the family going that it becomes overwhelming and children may be neglected. Take time to have a break and refocus. Think it through and ask God to help you through whatever you are struggling with. Talk to those in the family to solicit help. The stress is less when we refocus our everyday actions to perform a good deed. It brings a smile upon someone’s face. It also allows a moment of happiness when we have satisfied a basic human need. Take time to refocus and help someone out today and let the peace of God rule your heart.  Ask for forgiveness of the person you have upset or injured.  Ask in prayer for God’s spirit to intervene upon the situation to bring peace to all involved.  These are simple steps to take to grow daily in His love and learn to live in peace with all men.

Let us do Good unto all Men

As we have, therefore, opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

Do you have opportunity to help someone? How do you define what it means to do good unto all men? I remember reading a book about a writer who started a blog before Christmas about her neighbor who was stealing her newspaper. Someone mentioned doing random acts of kindness towards the neighbor who was obstinate, discourteous, and gruff. The writer started doing just that and shared the results on the blog. What happened was that the writer learned to break through the barrier of the neighbor and found out the neighbor was mistreated by a co-worker who used him to get a promotion at work. This is known as being devious and it does not help with building relationships where there should be trust and integrity. People react negatively towards others because they have been mistreated.

Today the world is facing the virus Covid-19, and this virus has brought on a strain that everyone must face. How to cope with social distancing, general cleaning habits, and adjusting to a new work environment has been frustrating. What about those who are shut-in due to a physical disability, or the elderly who needs meals delivered to survive. What about the grieving individuals who lost someone to Covid-19? Some of us have the means to help others get through the struggle of everyday living. Some of us are learning to help each other to cope with the changes that Covid-19 has brought to humankind.

The Apostle Paul does not exclude anyone from doing good to others. In fact, this is known to many as the Golden Rule. Do you know what the Golden Rule is?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Matthew 7:12

The Apostle Paul goes on to state, “especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Why did Paul make this statement? Let us remember that Paul is addressing the church at Galatia regarding purity of conduct to that of their confession of faith in Christ. No one should be neglected in the household of faith. If there is a need for food, clothing, and or transportation to any place, that need should be fulfilled through the loving care of those who are of the faith in Christ. Some are gifted in this area, while others need help in doing good towards others. No one should be exempt from doing good. Even children can learn to do good by doing chores around the house, or helping by giving a neighbor baked goods, and or doing small chores for a neighbor like pulling weeds in the yard.

As we begin the Holiday season, doing good seems to be more on the forefront, but this should be done all through the year and not just during the Holiday season. Covid-19 brings about a new challenge during the Holiday. How can we do good with social distancing? Here is a list of some ways to reconnect.

  • Call them on the Phone and share about your struggles
  • Connect digitally such as Facebook messenger
  • Join a virtual party for a music show or movie
  • Attend a virtual tour such as a museum or the local zoo
  • Reconnect within your own household by bringing out the board games and puzzles. Teach the kids how to cook or involve them in some new crafts.
  • Neighborhood hangout block party drive through such as Christmas lights, or bake goods swap

Think of opportunities in how you can connect with those you care about including your neighbor. Random acts of kindness can go a long way to bringing a smile on someone face. What was it the Apostle Peter said about Jesus? How God anointed Jesus who went about doing good [see Acts 10:38]. Jesus was the example of doing good, by providing for the needs of the people he encountered. We can even pray for each other during this time of uncertainty. Let us think about the Apostle Paul’s words of advice this week before Thanksgiving. I pray that your heart will be full of joy this Holiday season despite the current situation we are all in. Let us help each other with words of encouragement.

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:17