Most Christians believe that they’re good with a few character flaws. If these character flaws are ever challenged or exposed, they try their best to fix them. Most often, the motivation for the fix is so one doesn’t look bad or feel bad. Consequently, old nature isn’t changed, just better camouflaged.
Everyone is born with a nature that is prone to sin … all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The thing that drives this sinful nature is our pride. Our old nature is really just an expression of our pride. Pride wants to be superior and look cool, but pride is also the mood of inferiority or failure. Ultimately, pride doesn’t like being told what to do, or told it’s wrong, but it likes to tell you that you are wrong.
Every time our pride rises up, our old nature will automatically show itself, and we will have a mood, either silently and internally with a smile, or outwardly with a change of facial expression, and quite often, conveniently ignorant that we are even having a mood. Fixing our old nature is simply just another self-tactic for reinforcing our pride and promoting one’s ability. Trying to get ourselves right by our own will power will never produce new nature … it’s just more pride.
The problem of Pride
The reason God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13) is that it gives Satan licence to dictate over your spirit (2 Timothy 2:24-26 KJV). Pride keeps you in old nature and makes you susceptible to operate under Satan’s evil works against the kingdom of God, whilst all the time you believe you are a Christian and a good person. Pride pollutes your heavenly walk and if left to run its course, will block you from heaven.
New nature is the nature of God. This nature cannot be produced by our own effort. Rather, it’s a gift from God. The modern church teaches that this gift is free, but that’s not the whole truth. Yes, it cannot be bought with money or earned with effort or good works (Ephesians 2:8,9), but there is a price that you have to pay to receive it.
The price for New nature
The price for new nature is death. The death I’m referring to in this case is … saying NO to yourself. In other words, giving up your want because you trust what God wants is the best. You can’t enter new nature without this trust.
The old nature is quite capable of improving itself and stopping itself from doing wrong. You don’t have to be Christian to achieve that. Old nature can be made to look like new nature, but, it can never become genuine new nature.
The new nature of God is implanted in someone’s spirit when they decide to follow Christ, but this doesn’t mean they are saved for heaven. Judas and King Saul both had the new nature of God but they fell to their old nature, did not repent and return to new nature, and consequently missed out on heaven. You can lose the new nature of God and be cut off the vine, but you can also be grafted back into the nature of God.
How do we make sure we run the race to the end with God’s nature?
Jesus taught that you have to die to yourself, daily. Just about every Christian I’ve counselled believes that if they address a character fault or sin, then they’ve fixed it and it shouldn’t have to be dealt with again. But, that’s just a fallacy of pride. The reality is, that your character fault will live with you forever, and Satan will be forever tempting you to fall to it. Thus, Jesus said it’s a daily battle to say No to yourself, even if the issue is the same as it was yesterday or last month.
Why must I say No to MYSELF?
The only way you can enter new nature and also return to new nature after failing, is, via the cross. The modern church teaches that once you accept Christ as your Saviour, then you are under His grace, you’re a child of God and a son of God and joint heir with Christ, so therefore you should expect His blessing and His favour. This half-truth deceives the average Christian into thinking that Christianity is a casual and comfortable walk to heaven under God’s grace. The modern church doesn’t teach death as the path to heaven, but rather, it promotes only the benefits; namely, the pursuit of happiness and contentment, attached to niceness and helping.
The cross is not the path to happy feelings. Rather, it’s a path of pain, and embarrassment, and put down for the name of Christ. It’s the path of being misjudged, of being mocked, of being hated, even by family. It’s having to wait for God’s plan instead of purporting your own. It’s the path of separating from the world even though you live in it. It’s the path of disciplining yourself to say No to yourself, and Yes to Christ. It’s the path of accepting correction, and not necessarily defending your rights.
The cross is serving God, not man, and setting your path to heaven, no matter the cost. The cross is hating your pride (Proverbs 8:13). The cross is trusting God with the unfair deal, and ironically, the peace of God only comes via this pathway of the cross.
The cross is the only way to heaven. You can’t get there by just asking Jesus into your heart. Without the cross, Jesus is just your buddy, but not your Saviour.
The cross is the action of your faith (James 2:17,18), yet, you can’t walk the pathway of the cross by yourself … it requires His faith (Galatians 2:20).
The easy path
Obviously, the false church is not going to promote this path. The easy path of happiness and fun and friends and purpose and wealth through giving, is far more favourable and enticing. The church promotes the broad way to heaven, not the narrow way. But God calls His disciples to be soldiers, not comfortable pew sitters and TV watchers. God calls His people to be separate in spirit from the world; not comfortable to mix and mingle with the world.
God calls his disciples to not expect the fair deal. God calls his disciples to object to the world’s moral decline (Proverbs 8:13), generally silently in our hearts, sometimes publicly, but always on alert, and never complacent and tolerant of sin, especially our own pride.
The reason for the problems we face is so we learn to not look to ourselves but turn to Christ and trust His plan. Problems toughen us against Satanic attack. We’re not fighting flesh and blood but demonic principalities and evil powers (Ephesians 6:12). You can’t fight Satan except through the cross. By saying NO to yourself, and instead, trusting God, you walk the path of the cross and inhibit the evil work of Satan.
The Fear of the Lord is to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13)
Who do you fear the most … God or man? God calls His people to fear Him, not man. The fear of God is the fear of missing out on heaven and ending up in hell. If you love the Lord, you must hate your pride; that’s the fear of God. Disciples must walk in the fear of upsetting God, not man; they must object to giving one’s self the right to have a mood, give up the right to expect fairness, give up the ambition of looking good in the eyes of people, and give up worldly position. This is the cross. The cross is God’s training ground for learning how to fear Him, because you have to face the fear of man. It’s a process of being born again and maturing into His faith. It can take years, but, if you don’t walk the way of the cross, you’re simply stating your lack of fear and love of God.
The primary objective of Christ should be the same for every disciple of Christ
Jesus came to earth. From the moment He arrived, He was targeted. He healed the sick and preached the gospel of good news, but, His primary objective was to die on the cross. If He hadn’t, no one would be saved. Despite all your goodness, is the cross your primary objective?
Friend of the world, enemy of God (James 4:4)
If you’re comfortable with the world, if you like the comforts of the world, the Word of God describes you as an adulterer. That is, a fake Christian who says they’re married to Christ but who is actually intercoursing with Satan.
Thy will be done, not mine
This is the prayer of Christ on the cross, this is the commitment of Jesus on earth (John 4:34), this is the Lord’s prayer, and this is the prayer of every genuine soldier of Christ.
May the Lord stir His remnant to look beyond the pain, to look beyond the moral demise of society, to say No to one’s self, and be servants to His will only.
Pastor Frederick Jamieson