External living vs internal living – this does not mean we should not see external evidence, however our focus needs to be on what is happening inwardly! That’s when what surfaces outwardly is so precious…because it is authentic!
When Adam & Eve fell what happened? Their nature became sinful, which is passed to all of us. Now we are bent toward sin.
What does nature mean? Ladies, you clean the house and go out for the day, leaving hubby at home for the entire day. What does it look like when you return…sink full of dishes, clothes thrown on chairs…you get the point. Men if you want something from the store and run into mall to pick it up, what happens? Straight there and straight back = In and out! What happens if you take your wife along with you? You get the point! In both cases it’s nature! Nature is who we are and impacts what we do.
Due to our fallen nature we have the desire to sin and then we develop patterns for it and are trapped! God gave us His standards, but we by nature break them.
Then we enter into a relationship with Christ by grace through faith. We are “born-again” and have a new nature. Yet, we still possess the fallen nature and many times we try to live close to God on our own power – the flesh.
Galatians 3:1–5 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
We think our problem is sin, but it is not…our problem is “nature!” We try to live in the flesh, thinking, “If I could just stop this one sin then I would be a really strong believer and God could use me!” Nonsense! The minute we have victory over one sin, our old nature has millions more to pick from.
God does not want you living a moment, God wants you to live a life! Our whole being, how we think, what we desire and what has our heart. Salvation does not just change our eternal destination; it changes us!
Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
We have a new nature, i.e. new abilities and desires, but no set pattern. The Spirit has placed in our heart the understanding and desire to obey God, but the flesh and it’s patterns remain. Paul shares our dilemma.
Romans 7:15–25 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Paul sees clearly that in his flesh he is doomed, he will never have the power to overcome sin. His only hope is in Christ! With our mind we must recognize what God has done and then through faith live in that reality.
Romans 6:20–22 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.
It is potentially there, but you must allow the Spirit to manifest it. The key is learning to live in the power of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
“Walking” is a pattern of life. When we allow the Holy Spirit to set the patterns in our life we will begin manifesting the character of Jesus Christ. This is what the fruit of the Spirit is!
Galatians 5:22–23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Notice – the law cannot over power this fruit. As our character is molded to be like Christ, the new nature is in control and the flesh has no foothold. If you are thinking like Christ you will behave like Him, which makes you very available for use!
Next we will look at what it takes to see the fruit produced and then we will look at the fruit in detail.
Just for meditation – Two questions. 1. When you experience failure, do you sense the frustration that Paul shares from Romans 7? If not, why? If so, what do you do about it? 2. Have you identified the most common sinful patterns in your life? If you have, bring them before the Lord constantly in prayer, seeking His power to break them. If you have not, perhaps it would be a good idea to identify them so you can understand the battles ahead.