Summary: We have two natures and they are diametrically opposed. The sinful nature verses the spiritual nature. Each nature desires what is contrary to the other. All Christians have this internal conflict. But living by the Spirit brings victory.
It can be a shocking discovery. It takes place in the slums of our big cities. It takes place in upscale suburban subdivisions. And it is taking place right now inside of your mouth. Maybe you have seen the mouthwash commercials that show the inside of a mouth magnified by one thousand times.
There is a war going on inside of you right now. There are germs inside of you working to harm you. But there are also antibodies working to protect your teeth and gums from their destructive properties.
You probably can’t read this now. You may just want to run to the nearest bathroom cabinet and grab the Listerine and start gargling. But don’t leave yet because I want to bring up something even worse going on inside you. There is an internal civil war and no mouthwash is going to help this. A spiritual battle wages within you.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
We hate to admit it but in our pulpits, our choir lofts, our Sunday school classes and all throughout our churches we have a bunch of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hydes. We have two natures and they are diametrically opposed. The sinful nature verses the spiritual nature. Each nature desires what is contrary to the other.
All Christians have this internal conflict. Those who do not know Christ do not have this internal conflict. They have only one nature. This is the sinful nature. The problem for them is that you cannot reform or discipline the sinful nature to meet God’s standards. The lost stand condemned before God.
When we come to Christ, place our faith in Jesus then the Spirit of Christ, The Holy Spirit in our heart. We are regenerated. From that point on we have a Spiritual nature. God has forgiven your sins, past, present and future, but the sinful nature still remains with us.
You have no doubt seen lot of cartoons that show the cartoon character with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder. That concept is mythical, but it does underscore the reality that there are two natures, one nature is the Spiritual nature and is about the things of God and the other is the sinful nature and is about the things against God.
All Christians have this internal battle. Who is winning, the sinful nature or the spiritual nature? When we see a life which manifests selfish ambition, pride, jealousy then it is the sinful nature prevailing.
When we see a life characterized by peace, joy and love then we know the spiritual nature is prevailing. Paul talks of his struggle in Romans 7:17-18 “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. But her in Galations he tells Galatians to live by the Spirit. And you will not satisfy the sinful nature”
One day we won’t have this sin struggle. When a Christian dies and goes to be with the Lord or when Jesus returns and the believer receives his glorified body we will have no sinful nature. But until then we must be constantly reminded to live the Spirit led life.
It’s our only way to be effective as a Christian. Our prayer life, Bible study and witnessing can be powerful if we do what the Scripture commands here, live be the Spirit.
There are two alternative extremes we must avoid, that of licentious living a sinful lifestyle and the other is legalism, living an empty rulebook Christianity. But living by the Spirit puts us in a whole different dimension, the spiritual dimension.
The problem is the sinful nature.
The sinful nature stays with you even after you are a new creation in Christ. You could join the most secluded fortified monastery and your sinful nature will be right there with you. You can’t get away from your sinful nature. It accompanies you to church, prayer meetings and spiritual retreats.