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Paul J. Bucknell
Purpose: Ever wonder why Christians with their new nature still can sin? Discover how the evil one uses temptation to ensnare God's people. This is a resource for Discipleship Level 2: Reaching Beyond Mediocrity series (Can be purchased complete below.)
Let me try to explain how it works in the life of a Christian.
Each and every genuine Christian has a new heart. He has been born again, born of love. This new heart and life generate a whole new set of desires to love God and others.
The old self-seeking heart is the old nature. It no longer acts as a dictator over the Christian. The believer is free from this power. ￼It still hangs around close enough that if he wants to adopt him as his master, the flesh is willing to do so. So if a Christian is not careful and obeys the desires of the old nature, then it again takes control like the old days–but it is different.
Remember this takeover is only temporary and can be broken any time just by deciding no longer to obey the old nature. Satan, of course, strategically tries to make it so that you believe you cannot change things. That is just another of his lies.
The new nature, born from the Spirit of God, desires to do the things of God. As the desires come to a Christian's mind, he does them. As the truth of God fills the mind more and more, the actions are more and more consistent to God's plan for his life.
"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:6-8).
Our question comes about by asking, "Why is it that the Christian still sins?" Let us go on and better understand how this works.
The first thing we should establish is that the new heart from God only can produce that which is good, lovely and holy.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23).
The old heart, the flesh, by nature is unholy and self-focused. It only produces that which is unholy, unloving and self-seeking.
"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21).
They act diametrically opposed to each other. This fact will help us better deal with the flesh.
One would suppose that the Christian would be protected from sin, but he is not. The problem is not the new heart. The problem is that the evil one sneaks into the process at another point. This is the point of temptation.
Jesus, though holy, was tempted. Adam and Eve were holy, but were tempted. Likewise Satan and his minions has a special access to each ￼of our lives. Let me suggest how this happens.
The mind where our thoughts dwell is where decisions are made. These decisions are heavily influenced by our desires and matured as our thoughts combat or reenforce the desires. Generally, the thoughts would take those desires and shape into consideration as decisions are made. These decisions lead to actions.
The evil one inadvertently inserts thoughts into the believer's mind to instigate him to think wrongly of some situation or person. The evil one always tries to get us think in a way that is not pleasing to God. The evil one is a liar and his suggestions always counter God's purpose and oppose the truth. His plan is to enter into the Christian's mind and hijack his thinking with lies without the believer knowing.
Let me summarize. The Christian's new heart is holy and good. The evil one has access to our mind to influence the believer's thinking. If he can get the believer to accept the 'alternative' thought, then the evil one in a sense hijacks the believer. We will now look at how the evil one hijacks the Christian's mind and influences his decisions and ultimately his actions.
Let's first look at our thoughts. Satan cannot force us to adopt his lies. This is our choice. But if he is sneaky, and he is, he can make us think the thoughts are our own thoughts. In this way, without knowing, it we begin to think thoughts after the evil one's temptation.
Eve thought her 'friend's' thoughts were good. She adopted them as her own before making a decision. The same happens with us as believers. Our thoughts begin to follow another track of thinking, the line of reasoning suggested to us by the evil one.
The believer's thoughts so to speak are detoured onto another path. We see now a new cycle, a most wretched one, come into existence. I call this the sin cycle.
The implanted evil thoughts generate bad desires. Whether it be jealousy, lying, hatred, disappointment, anxiety, bitterness or lusts, they generate a desire to respond to the flesh. Peter says that those that one chooses to obey is his master.
"Promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved." (2 Peter 2:19).
So for this time, when we choose to make decisions in light of these wrong thoughts, you will find a new taskmaster. The result is not pleasant.
Notice how the new heart (part of the new nature enlivened by the Holy Spirit) is basically isolated from this process. Until repentance takes place, Satan will inconspicuously keep issuing forth lies and justification for such behaviors to keep the Spirit of God from bringing us back to our real life in Christ.
Remember that this 'addiction' or possession of one's heart is only because you have given your mind to think the wrong way. Repent and you will find freedom from the flesh that seems all so powerful. It is but a bluff which unfortunately keeps us persisting to follow the false thinking in our mind for even another hour. With Christ there is full forgiveness of all our sins.
Being tempted is not sin, but following the advice of the half-truths of the evil one is. One can see it in the results of how one talks, thinks or takes action (or non-action perhaps). At any time, the believer can interrupt this sin cycle as a light shines forth in a dark room.￼ We find forgiveness in Christ and joy again in the truths of God's Word which encourage us to live for Him. We will wonder how in the first place we were ever duped by the evil one.
So how do we avoid falling into temptation? We will be tempted. For now I encourage you to go to the Biblical Foundations for Freedom website where you will find many powerful truths that help a person in many situations to overcome the evil one. Or even better, join the Discipleship 2 Intermediate series, Reaching Beyond Mediocrity.
Discipleship at the 2nd level
by Paul J. Bucknell
God's Word comes alive as you learn how to use it to overcome personal struggles like anxiety, depression, pride, lust and anger. God has made you strong! Many worksheets! (300+ pages). This is the full resource with all the complete and updated pages included!
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988