Summary: Christ has redeemed us, but we must crucify our old nature.
WE MUST CRUCIFY OUR OLD NATURE
When God draws us to himself, He enables us to respond to His call by repenting and making Him Lord. If we repent, something awesome happens! We become born again. John 3:5-6
To be born again is to receive a new nature, a new mind, and the Holy Spirit. But what happens to our old nature when we receive this new nature? Unfortunately, the old nature is still with us. This is the struggle Christians face until this earthly corrupted nature dies and we are clothed with our heavenly bodies free from corruption. The apostle Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:2 (NIV) 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.
Why would we still groan if we have a new nature? We groan because the old nature still has sinful desires that pull at us and tempt us to do evil. Paul calls this struggle a conflict that is within us. Galatians 5:17 (NIV) 17 For 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. Peter calls this struggle a war as our sinful desires pull at us to disobey God. 1 Peter 2:11-12 (NIV) 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
What, then, is our responsibility to the old nature? 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 (NIV) 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
In our new nature we are to be denying the old wants, desires, and plans. We must remember that our old ways are corrupt, selfish, and for our own gratification. We are to put the old nature to death in order that the life of Jesus is evident in our lives. Many have heard the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” This phrase is exactly the mindset believers need as they seek to obey God. If Jesus was living His life through me what would He do? How would He respond to the situations that arise in my life? The exciting truth about these questions is that, as Christians, they become a reality in our lives. Jesus’ nature and character begin to be displayed through us. Christ’s character pouring out of our lives is the evidence that we are born again. When we begin to speak and act like Jesus, then we can be confident that Christ is in us!
God’s will for our lives is that we are "conformed to the likeness of his Son”. Romans 8:29 (NIV) In order for this to happen, we must do our part. Look at what Jesus said in, Luke 9:23-24 (NIV) 23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. We must deny our wants and desires and make God’s wants and desires our priorities. We must take up our cross daily as we seek to crucify our old nature. We must lose our life’s ambitions, goals, and dreams to follow Christ and be able to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
If you were to die today, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?
When Jesus spoke about heaven, he called it a Kingdom. In a Kingdom, there is only one ruler and He is Jesus our Lord. We must submit our lives to King Jesus to enter into His Kingdom. This is repentance: when we no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life for us. We live to please him. We understand that he created us to love him and others.
What is the process for crucifying our old nature? How do we go about it? Where do we start?
In preparing the way for Christ, John taught the people, Luke 3:7-9 (NIV) 7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."