Humans are both spiritually and physically composed. Without the spirit, the physical body is lifeless. To physically survive, the spirit injects life into the physical body. While designed to complement each other, the two appear as opposed to each other, yet the spirit ought to be in control.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 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”(Galatians 5:16-17 NIV).
The Spirit implied by Paul is different from the spirit that directs wickedness in humanity. The spirit, other than God’s Spirit, is not intrinsic, as not Godly designed. It was adopted out of ignorance. The physical body, on its own, is zombielike, unable to do anything, except being controlled by ignorance.
The Bible personifies the Holy Spirit as God, while also personifying the evil spirit as Satan, or the devil. The physical body is a vessel through which either of the two personalities can exist in a person. The sinful nature, is the evil spirit, occupying the body, in the absence of the Holy Spirit.
The term “sinful nature” refers to the captured physical person. The conflict between God’s Spirit and the sinful nature is, unnecessarily, caused by ignorance. The identity of humanity is spiritual, which gets manipulated by Satan, when the individual attempts to handle painful experiences in life.
The physical body was designed to serve the spiritual person, instead of the other way round. Insanity prevails, when the spiritual person serves the physical body. The cravings of the physical nature are described as, obviously being:
“Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionalism and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like”(Galatians 5:19-21 NIV).
These evil practices are characteristic of evil nature, as controlled by Satan. Some conducts may appear as animalistic. But, all of them portray the manifestations of satanic behavior. Like anything based on confusion, such behaviors cannot be harmonic or logical, in consideration of normalcy.
What appears as unacceptable with animals, was, actually, purposefully designed that way. For instance, humans dislike hyenas. But nothing is wrong with hyenas’ carnivorous behavior, according to what God pronounced as very good.
Jackals and hyenas appear as behaving unacceptably, due to misinformation. Their existence fulfils a special purpose, without which, the ecosystem is unbalanced. However, when behaving like animals, humans are abnormal. The sinful nature in humans, portrays some degree of insanity.
The behavior of jackals, hyenas and snakes does not portray sinfulness. Whatever their behavior, whether likable to humans, or not, those animals are normal, as long as displaying their natural behavioral patterns. Sinfulness is only applicable to humans, when behaving like animals.
On one of the previous instalments we analogously used the positive and negative electric cords. To generate electricity, the two electric cords are dichotomous. Nevertheless, the dichotomous flows are symbiotic, in producing electricity.
Those two electric flows are safe, as long as not in contact with each other. Such contacts, designating error, can cause fatality. Similarly, there is no problem with ignorance, just as there cannot be problems with knowledge. Problems lie in failure to separate between ignorance and knowledge.
God’s laws are immutable. It is the violation of God’s laws that is sinful. Such violations can be disastrous, causing death, immediately, just like when carelessness handling those electric flows. Touching a hot stove, or jumping from a high tower can be dangerous, as representing the violation of God’s laws.
The consequences of other violations are long term. I suppose it is only by God’s grace that some violations do not cause immediate harm. This gives room for repentance, to those concerned. All creation is harmonic and complementary, except the sinful humanity. As stated earlier, humans were not created to behave like animals.
The apparently normal humans dislike discord, regardless of whether they would be believers or not. While committing evils against their fellow humans, they dislike other humans to commit evils against them. When analyzing evils, in Galatians 5:19-21, nothing is natural in committing those conducts.
Humans, can reactively commit evils, habitually, or out of ignorance. In short, there is no application of reasoning in committing such sins. The devil would be involved, portrayed in deranged reasoning, other than the proper mind, functioning to solve all problems affecting humanity.
While it may be easy to handle physical problems, it is not always easy to handle mental problems. What makes it near impossible to handle mental problems is the aspect of unwillingness to learn, by those concerned. This is why salvation is associated with humility.
“Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up”(James 4:10 NIV). This is in agreement with what Jesus also insinuated; “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 5:3 NIV). Learning about Godly things does not need college education.
By observation, one notices that those, having taken theological studies are more stupefied than those without theological education. This is strange, but manifestly true. Those holding seminary, or college degrees in theology, are the most difficult, when approached with God’s knowledge, instead of the other way round.
There is a comical anecdote, concerning the blind man, healed at the pool of Siloam. (John 9:6-38). This requires some film production, creating comical episodes, using such passages of Scripture. But, of significance is what Jesus later said to the Pharisees, after conversing with the blind man:
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains”(John 9:39-41 NIV).
Where was the Pharisaic problem ensconced? Apparently, their problem was the assumption of being knowledgeable. Possibly, they were comparing themselves with those having never been in their synagogues. God’s knowledge is for the humble. Not those putting themselves in positions of superiority.
What is axiomatic is that there is neither problems in knowledge nor problems in ignorance. Problem exists, only when mixing the two. Or, in assuming to know, yet without certainty. This was perfectly summarized in the book of Revelations:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot not cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”(Revelation 3:16-17 NIV).
God is not bothered by ignorance, just as knowledge, on its own, is not problematic. Except where the knowledgeable ones fail to take responsibility. Yet God can also be exasperated, where the ignorant pretend to know what is unknown.
The origin of humanity is God. Anything unrelated to God’s image is a misnomer, as violating Godly principles. The captured humanity are used by a wicked spirit, whose agenda is confusion, rather than order. This is represented in Paul’s description of sinful nature.
The idea of Godly principle is not, necessarily, impossible to access. The hindrance is manifested in those who killed Jesus, instead of taking advantage of His availability. However, there is no reason to find fault in ignorance. One is safe, as long as aware of being ignorant.
The problem manifests, when assuming to know, yet being ignorant. Christianity has adopted many theories, where different denominational positions get adopted. This is why the conundrum of Christianity continues, appearing as far from being resolved.
The real challenge, causing Christianity to be a mockery is assumption of knowledge where ignorance prevails. The opposing opinions by the respective Christian groupings, is a manifestation of assuming to know where ignorance exists. Having taken their respective viewpoints, most Christians cannot be willing to change from their considered dogmatic positions.
Self-concern is a manifestation of self-centeredness, rather than the portrayal of altruism. When applying altruism, it is impossible for Christians to be divided. The idea of Christianity is advancing what is workable to fellow humans, regardless of their status and background.
The sinful nature, seeks to gratify self, rather than gratifying other people’s successes, for instance. In other words, the sinful nature is premised on pride, more than any other condition. The sinful nature does not like to entertain anything different from the egocentric viewpoint.
In diagnosing problems of humanity one finds divisional cultural identities. An uncivilized nation could be unable to adopt acceptable comportments from others. The idea of sovereignty is unnecessarily taken beyond relevance. Without applying the principle of humility, the advantage of sovereignty remains a pipedream.
Sovereignty should allow workable ideas and rejection of unworkable ideas, based on Christ’s teachings. The most important thing is the ability to evaluate data, in terms of what is workable. The principle is achieved by treating other people as important, being willing to learn something from them.
The sin of humanity was dealt with at the cross. That sin is not associated with the physical body. But it is problematic when allowed to control individuals concerned. Life is enjoyable, when allowing God’s Spirit to be in control:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).
Ordinary people suffer from endemic diseases such as Ulcers, High Blood Pressure, and many others. However, it is impossible to get affected by those diseases, as long as bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is also important to notice that the fruit is singular, but comprising those nine components.
It is impossible to carry one component, when deficient of others. For instance, it is impossible for one without self-control to claim having the Spirit, when assuming to carry the other eight components. The physical body is susceptible to illness, due to the poisonous works of the sinful nature.
Physical humans cannot avoid the effects of sinful nature. Yet they are protected when allowing God’s Spirit to dominate. This is what Jesus implied by surrendering everything to follow Him. However, the opposition to applying Godly principles is too overwhelming to ordinary humans.
Just by examining how Jesus was treated, one sees how daunting it can be to remain committed to Jesus, in this world. Adopting the idea of being the son of the living God can be daunting. The four gospel books provide experiences and teachings of Jesus.
But there is just one Scripture, offering what is enigmatic to humans, yet providing the truth about salvation. It provides an understanding that is not applicable to ordinary people, except those willing to surrender everything, to follow Christ.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”(Matthew 16:13-20 NIV).
The key is in appreciating being the son of the living God. The behavior of such people is obviously different from other humans. Such people are not of this world, and are, indeed superior to those of this world. They carry the responsibility of being the light.
Those people are alien to those of this world. Only the fruit of the Holy Spirit enables them to overcome temptations, even when maliciously provoked. God’s children are different, yet being there to make a difference, in this world of sin.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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