After becoming a Christian, Paul discovered the truth that mankind has a SINFUL NATURE, which he called the law of sin (see Romans 7:18- 8:2). The characteristics of the kingdom of the world include: lovers of ourselves and of money but not of good, pride, boastful, abusive, disobedience, rebellion, permissiveness, ungratefulness, immorality, unforgiveness, slander, lack of self-control, cruelty, treachery, rashness, conceit, anger, jealousy, and lovers of pleasure rather than God (see 2 Timothy 3:2-4). This is not to say that all of these qualities are a part of every human being all the time. Some of these will only be displayed in our personalities under certain circumstances, while others are determined by the society in which we are raised and what is considered acceptable by its standards.
These natural tendencies that make up the sinful nature we are born with cause us to emphasize personality, natural abilities, appearance, family heritage, nationality, intelligence, wealth, worldly position and authority. It is our sinful nature that promotes self-reliance, self-confidence, self-expression, self-exaltation, self-glorification and self-satisfaction rather than our complete dependence on God, which is what Jesus lived and taught. Paul knew that in his sinful nature he was a wretched man, but because he had accepted Jesus as his Savior, he was no longer condemned but had been set free. He declared, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:24-8:2).
Understanding our sinful nature is critical to understanding the prophetic Scriptures about the last days and how Satan is attacking Christians. Our old sinful nature is too easily carried over into the Kingdom of God. Although we are new creatures in Christ, this law of our sinful nature remains with us. We do not lose it! Through our own personal experiences, all of us can identify with Paul’s realization.
Understanding the Elements of Our Sinful Nature
There are three main elements that make up our self-serving sinful nature that are especially subject to Satan’s temptations. John lists them: “Do not love the world [society] or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16, RSV).
It was these three elements that Satan used to deceive Eve and then Adam. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh] and pleasing to the eye [lust of the eyes], and also desirable for gaining wisdom [pride of life], she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6). God had told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of this particular tree or they would die. After they disobeyed, “the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent [Satan] deceived me, and I ate’” (Genesis 3:13).
As you explore the Bible and examine the reasons why men of God like Samson, Saul, David, Solomon and others fell into sin, you will discover that they fell in one or more of these three areas: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It was with these same three self-serving attractions that Satan tried to trap and deceive Jesus (see Luke 4:1-12). If you examine why spiritual leaders and laypeople are falling into sin today, the basic cause is still these same three elements that John warns us about.
It is critical to keep these three in mind when we examine how Satan is carrying out his spiritual warfare in these last days, especially against America. We learn from prophetic Scriptures that Satan will attempt to destroy every spiritual influence in our nation, to keep Christians from fulfilling our end-times mission to be salt and light.
There is a part of our natural makeup that is attracted by what is sinful. Satan is fully aware of the nature that man is born with, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Notice how often these three are at the core of entertainment and advertising as we go about our lives.
As I now write about the Kingdom of God, note what a vast contrast it is to the kingdom of the world. When we are born again by the Spirit, we are redeemed from the kingdom of the world and become members of the Kingdom of God. We are a new spiritual creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation the old has gone (being a member of the kingdom of the world), the new has come (being a member of the Kingdom of God)!” (II Corinthians 5:17). We have entered into a kingdom with completely different characteristics, principles, and standards from those that make up the kingdom of the world. Most of the New Testament is written to help us learn how to thrive in this new Kingdom. The Scriptures are like a road map to guide us, and the Holy Spirit lives in us to transform our old nature into God’s new nature. This change is an ongoing process that will continue for the rest of our lives. As we grow in the Lord, there will always be areas where we are not as spiritually mature as we could be.
It is a glorious adventure to serve the Lord. I was raised in a strong Christian family as the youngest of 13 children. At age nine I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. I had a close walk with the Lord during most of my teens, but fell away from my strong commitment in my twenties. When we were nearly 30, my wife and I recommitted our lives to serve the Lord.
The Apostle Paul stated, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). As a new member of the Kingdom of God we are a temple of the Holy Spirit. We are not our own anymore; we were bought at a price by Christ’s blood. This world is no longer our primary home. This doesn’t mean that we should not work, play and raise our families in this world, but as Jesus said, “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19).
Jesus gave us the ruling characteristics of His Kingdom and then demonstrated how they are to be carried out by those who belong to Him. These are found in the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7). It is the one place that gives us an overview of the characteristics of this heavenly Kingdom. It was also in this sermon that Jesus said we are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
WATCH FOR MY NEXT BLOG “The Two Spiritual Kingdoms (Part 3)” on April 26th, 2010.Tags: abusive, anger, boastful, Christians, condemned, dependence on God, disobedience, free, Holy Spirit, immorality, jealousy, Kingdom of God, kingdom of the world, law of sin, light of the world, lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, no condemnation, pride, pride of life, prophetic Scriptures, rebellion, salt and light, salt of the earth, self-exaltation, self-glorification, Sermon on the Mount, sinful nature, slander, spiritual influence