We sin because we have a sin nature. Sin courses through our veins. It’s in our DNA. It infects every part of our being. If we come across a red box that says “Don’t Touch” we want to rip the freakin’ box open. If we were to take a hundred of the most moral people on the planet and send them off to repopulate Mars, if we checked on their progress in a hundred years, do you know what we’d find? Earth II. War. Stealing. Infidelity. Hatred. Haves and have not.
You can be sure that your sin nature is running on all cylinders when you become overrun with a devilish behavior that you cannot control. Which is why to overcome it, you must yoke yourself to Jesus, and learn how to abide in him. Your addiction is a spiritual sickness before it is anything else, and you must learn to nurture and nourish your spirit first.
But you are more than a spirit. And sometimes you need more than a spiritual remedy. What if you sin not only because you’re wicked, but also because you’re lazy? What if you sin not just because you lack faith, but because you also lack resistance? You’ve never once said no to a cupcake or yes to a pushup. What if you sin because Mom and Dad were seriously messed up, and all that dysfunction was passed on to you?
Paul blessed his Thessalonian readers with this benediction: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). As a human, you are a spirit, that lives in a body, which contains a soul (mind, will and emotions – referred to frequently in Scripture as the heart.) For you to have peace, from the God of peace, then Jesus must cleanse you through and though. Each part of you must learn discipline.
I know pastors whose spirits are in fine order, but they’re 300 pounds, and are a walking heart-attack. They’ve neglected their bodies, and they’re on the fast-track to eternity. On the other hand, I see people all the time at the health club whose bodies belong on a GQ cover-shoot. They have incredible discipline over their bodies. But they can never stay in a relationship, or can’t hold a job, or they have a personality of a warthog. “I pick things up, I put them down.”
The problem is I not only have a sin nature that requires repair, but I also have an untrained nature. Sin is to be repented of, but also unlearned.
This is the part of the Christian faith that I think a lot of Christians get wrong. We assume that the simple act of becoming a Christian and attending to my Christian duties is sufficient to heal our wounds. But if a grumbler accepts Christ, they’ll still find the weather too hot or too cold the next morning. If I don’t know how to properly discipline my children, my little monsters will still vandalize the pews and terrorize worshippers while I run down for the altar call.
What Jesus wants to do – through my Bible reading, prayer and fellowship – is take me on a journey where every part of me can be trained. This journey will be painful at times, and require real effort on my part, even as Jesus helps me through his Spirit and his people. Let’s not waste another line of words. Let’s dive in.