What's Wrong With Our Human Nature?

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What's Wrong With Our Human Nature?

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Our weakness combined with the devil's influence has led the whole world into sin (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×
). Paul explains that "the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel" (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Paul reminds Christ's faithful disciples that "you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others" (Ephesians 2:2-3 Ephesians 2:2-3 [2] Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
American King James Version×
).

Because of Satan's deceptions and the sinful tendencies of human nature, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×
). We must understand, however, that the devil cannot force us to sin. He simply influences us through our fleshly weaknesses. But several major areas of our fleshly nature are easily manipulated by Satan.

First, our selfish, fleshly desires often get us into trouble: "Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 [19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, [20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

Paul graphically describes the effect fleshly desires have on human behavior. "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another . . .

"Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.

"They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:24-32 Romans 1:24-32 [24] Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [26] For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Second, our natural deviousness, including self- deception, is a major weakness of the fleshly mind. "The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings" (Jeremiah 17:9-10 Jeremiah 17:9-10 [9] The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? [10] I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

We naturally look for ways to justify our lusts, our sinful desires, and the behavior that arises from them. We deceive ourselves into believing that, since our desires are natural, they are not so bad after all. But God's Word reminds us that "there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
American King James Version×
; Proverbs 16:25 Proverbs 16:25There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
American King James Version×
). Death is the end result of living that wrong way (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
).

Third, we have a natural tendency to resent having our fleshly desires limited by rules, even God's rules. Paul explains: "For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God's law, for it is unable to do so. Those whose lives are in [that is, dominated by] the flesh are unable to please God" (Romans 8:5-8 Romans 8:5-8 [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
American King James Version×
, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

These and other fleshly weaknesses are what we call human nature. Satan takes advantage of our weak and greedy nature by persuading us to rely even more on our emotions, needs and wants than we normally would. But we play our part. Without the positive influence of God's Spirit, we are simply not inclined to live according to God's instructions.

Therefore, Paul warns: "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:13-14 Romans 8:13-14 [13] For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. [14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×
).