Being Human

Sometimes we are confronted with our humanity as Christians. At these times our moral standards begin to struggle against the holy standards of God. We feel totally unworthy and we say to ourselves there’s no point going on, Christianity is too hard. We give up and stop pursuing God, deeming ourselves incapable of attaining or maintaining his standard.

Some of us struggle with recurrent moral challenges and at some point decide we can’t make it. Our inability to attain the absolute standards of an absolute God by our absolute efforts discourages us. We try, but we fail. We try, we flail… like a man on a free fall losing altitude, flapping his hands like the wings of a bird. Paul wrote about this experience in  Romans 7:14-16. (He wrote emblematically. It wasn’t about him personally): “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.” Those who assume moral invincibility are often the worse for it. When the artificial barriers fall they struggle. And that is understandable. Paul had warned, “Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall” “You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else.” 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 MSG. It is our sense of invincibility and moral superiority that makes us condemnatory towards others. And it’s hypocrisy.

If you’re perplexed as to why you do what you do despite a desire to please God, it has to do with the fallen nature of man. It dates back to the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden. He’s your primogenitor.  Sin nature is genetically passed on. The critical catastrophe in the Eden Crisis is the altered psychology of mankind. Mankind became psychologically damaged.

As a Christian, there are two natures struggling inside you: two psyches dueling it out. It’s sort of like a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on. Humans have the capacity to accommodate two opposing psyches. The first is the generationally transferred psyche from the 1st Adam. It’s the sin nature. Romans 8:9 says, you have a sinful nature. Everyone is born with this nature. It’s just that discipline and moral instruction temper the tendencies.

The second psyche comes from the Last Adam, Jesus the Christ. It’s a product of spiritual genetics – new creation realities. One psyche wants to please God. The other loves to sin. It’s actually in a permanent state of rebellion. “The mind of the flesh with its carnal thoughts is hostile to God for it does not submit itself to God’s Law.” Romans 8:7. You can’t get rid of the inherited nature from the first Adam. But you can suppress, subdue, dominate and discipline it.

The psyche prone to sin is technically referred to as “the flesh”. Because it’s carnal, it seeks carnal knowledge. The other psyche is controlled by the Spirit of God. It makes you want to please God. To re-programme the psychological state of a Christian to fit his new creation realities, Paul says to “renew” the mind. It simply means overwriting the code being generated by your old nature. And it’s going to take a life time. The old nature is prolific. Think of how many sinful ideas come into your mind every day, or the devices of the heart of man. You key in new code by constantly reading the Bible. It’s information substitution. Read and study the Bible always.

We act according to the dominant code. The mind is a computational device. It controls our actions, programmes us. If the code of the old nature is dominant in you, you’ll continue to act crazy even though you’re born again. Our fallen nature has a mind set. The new man recreated in Christ Jesus has a mindset. It is these two mindsets that are at war in us. Call it code war. It’s actually a cold war. Think of US vs. USSR in those days.

Now, what the Ten Commandments ended up doing was bringing into very sharp focus the challenges of our carnal nature. Sin, a rather dull but very powerful force took advantage of the clarity of the Ten Commandments to get ignited. You know how once you enact a law forbidding something, everyone then wants to try it? It’s like that law ignites rebellion. That’s what sin did. The moment the Ten Commandments was enacted, sin converted it into a means of temptation. To quote Paul (Romans 7:8-12 MSG) – “The law code (Ten Commandments) started out as an excellent piece of work, sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it. The law code (Ten Commandments), instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code (Ten Commandments), sin looked pretty dull and lifeless. Once sin got its hands on the law code (Ten Commandments) and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. But the law code (Ten Commandments ) itself is God’s good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.”

Our knowledge of the moral code was exploited by Sin to make itself exciting is what Paul is saying. It’s why stolen melon and other forbidden fruits taste sweeter. It’s because we know we should not steal. “By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own. Romans 7:17-20 MSG: “If the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realise that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it. I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.” Does this feel familiar?

The question then arises, Who can help us? We are at our wits end after all! What’s the solution? The truth is that the problem has been solved. We’re just not accessing the solution. Paul says, Jesus Christ already acted “to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” “God sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.” Romans 8:3 NLT.

The key Paul says is to yield to the control of the Spirit of God. To simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us. To focus less on self and more on God. It’s a question of what dominates us, what dominant thought. Romans 8:5: “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” Romans 8:9: “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)”

In other words, live the reality of your salvation. Think like a new creation, recreated in Christ Jesus. It’s all in your mind!

© Leke Alder |