The topic of the nature of man is something that we have not covered in a while and yet it's a topic that I would dare say that many do not fully understand or comprehend.
One of the topics that we covered at the Council meetings had to do with the nature of man and I thought that I would speak on that particular topic today because it’s something that we have not covered in a while and yet it’s a topic that I would dare say that many do not fully understand or comprehend.
If I were to use the term”human nature” what would be your definition of human nature? If you look on the internet and begin to research it, you’ll find that there are all kinds of books, articles, periodicals out there that deal with this particular topic. Let me just quote here from Psychology Today magazine and you’ll find that human nature has been used, it’s a term that’s been used for centuries, it’s not something unique to the Church of God. But we’ve had our own unique definition of the word.
Psychology Today magazine says,” Human nature is one of those things that everybody talks about but no one can define precisely. Every time we fall in love, fight with our spouse, get upset with the influx of immigrants into our country, go to church, or in part behave as a human animal (now you notice one thing as we go through looking at this, that psychologists today look on human beings, #1 as an animal and #2, we have evolved, so they discount totally the spiritual dimension) and each with our own unique evolved nature (which they call then, human nature). So they say our human nature is an evolved nature.
Wikipedia Encyclopediahas this to say:” Human nature is a concept that there are a set of characteristics including the way we think, feeling, acting, that all normal human beings have in common. ” Now the problem is, what is a”normal” human being? It says,” The branches of science associated with the study of human nature include sociology, sociobiology, psychology, particularly evolutionary psychology and developmental psychology.” Anytime you take a college course on psychology you’re going to get into evolution, you’re going to get into Darwinism.
Encyclopedia Britannica has this to say:” Human nature is a fundamental disposition in traits of humans. Theories about the nature of mankind form a part of every culture .”
Now man’s ideas concerning human nature are based upon belief in evolution. They seldom take into account the spiritual dimension, a belief in God or the spirit world, their approach is just wholly physical. We evolve from amoeba, we came from slime, we come from scum, you know, that’s their idea. We evolved and so therefore you’ve got certain traits because of evolution. What it is in an injection of Darwinism into social sciences that try to explain man and how he operates. Most series on the nature of man say that when human beings are born, they are born evil. So you take a little baby, a day old, they look at that baby and say the nature of that baby is evil. Now others – other theories will say the nature of man is good. So if you try to say that human beings are evil, they’ll argue with you all day long – no, mankind is basically good. And then there are those who say that we are neutral.
Now which are we? Are we born evil, good or neutral? Well we’re going to take a look at that. What has been the Church’s understanding of human nature? Over the years, over the decades, the Church has taught from this topic.
Now let’s start off by looking at the fact that the phrase”human nature” is not found in the Bible, you won’t find that expression in the Bible. However an evil nature is mentioned in the Bible and that evil nature, the Bible says, is enmity against God . Now the Church has explained that when you are converted, you and I all, when we’re converted, called by God or baptized, that God gives us His spirit and through that spirit we receive the divine nature of God. And so there are various natures if you want to call them that, or various approaches that the Bible does talk about.
Mr. Armstrong in his writings when he was alive, consistently used the term”human nature” to define the carnal mind set of human beings. Notice from the book he wrote, Human Nature, Did God Create It? – he had this to say: “ It (talking about the initial attitude of Adam) does not reflect a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, as human nature is described in Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version× , nor a carnal mind that is at enmity or hostility against God, which is not subject to the law of God and neither indeed can be. ” So he said when you look at Adam, Adam is not described that way.
Now what some people may define as human nature includes the basic nature of man from a psychological point of view, meaning for example, the desire for food when you’re hungry, building response for self- preservation, sexual drives, all of these are true but when Mr. Armstrong defined human nature, that’s not what he looked at.
So the Church has had its own definition of human nature over the years. He says,”There may have been the physical and mental nature of self-preservation, such things with Adam when he and Eve were created, but not the evil nature of self-centeredness.” Man was not created with that type of nature. He did not use the psychological nature of the human flesh and call it human nature at that time. He went on to explain in the booklet that something happened to the minds of Adam and Eve and when that happened, both of them took on an attitude of rebellion against God and we will take a look at that today.
That evil in them, he commented, came from Satan, not from God, did not come from God or originate with God. They were not created with this evil nature and I think we can prove that from the bible and from scripture. Though human, Adam and Eve did not have human nature as the Church has used that phrase, in fact, God, if you’ll remember in verse 31 of Genesis 1 , in describing the creation which included man, said it was very good. God made man, made Adam and Eve and He referred to them as being very good. He did not comment, everything I made is perfect except man, he’s evil – He didn’t say that.
It’s important to understand that while Adam and Eve initially did not have the wrong nature; neither did they have God’s nature. How do we know that? Because they had not partaken of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life symbolizes the receiving of God’s holy spirit, it is the spirit of God that imparts the divine nature of God to a human being and without the spirit of God, they did not have the divine nature. So they were created actually, neutral, but Adam and Eve have a step on us. They were like babies that were created, but they were given a mind and a vocabulary. God talked to Adam, He talked to Eve, He reasoned with them. Adam named the animals, so he was created with the ability to speak and with a vocabulary, he didn’t have to learn a language. Who was he going to learn a language from? We have children; they learn language from us and from others but that wasn’t true of Adam.
Lucifer and all of the angels were created with a nature that was absent of the negative aspect likewise, they were not created with a negative approach. At the same time they were like humans, they were not created with a divine nature of God either, they were created perfect, the bible says, meaning that they hadn’t sinned, hadn’t gone off, but they were not created evil, they were not created with the divine nature.
Both angels and human beings have something that animals don’t and that’s free moral agency. We have free moral agency, we can choose – right, wrong – choose which way you want to go and so you find that mankind as a whole has chosen to go the wrong way. I’ve quoted these but let’s go back to Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version× and let’s notice what Jeremiah wrote here:
Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version× – The heart is deceitful above all things …so our very nature is deceitful… and desperately wicked; who can know it?
We’re desperately wicked – you’ll notice the margin says”incurably sick” so we have a nature that is sick and it is deceitful. Why does the bible say the heart is deceitful above all things? When did that happen, how did that occur? Then in Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version× , we read that:
Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version× - The carnal mind …the word carnal there just simply means fleshly mind, the human mind that we have… is enmity against God …that means hostility… it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be .
So the human mind is not subject to the law of God. Did God create Adam and Eve with a mind that was enmity against Him? Because it says here, it is not subject to the law of God. What is sin? I John 3:4 John 3:4Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
American King James Version× - Sin is the transgression of the law. So did God create Adam and Eve with the nature that was rebellious, sinful? No He did not.
So what we find here, these two scriptures, there are a lot more that we could quote, describe the proclivity of a human being to sin, to be deceitful, incurably wicked, hostile, enmity against God. So the closest term that we’d have in the bible, what a lot of people describe as human nature and the way Mr. Armstrong described it, is a carnal mind. As Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version× says, the carnal…or the fleshly…mind of man is enmity against God.
So for discussion purposes today I’m going to be talking about human nature, but I’m also going to be talking about carnal human nature as opposed to just the way a baby is when it’s first created. Now human beings, as we know, respond generally in a wrong way, a sinful way, deceptive way and we as a Church, and the Church has traditionally taught and consistently taught that man was not created with an evil human nature, but a human nature capable of good and evil. It’s capable of doing good; it’s capable of doing evil.
Sin can and does come from our human nature even without Satan’s influence. Even without Satan being around, man can still sin and does sin. It’s also true that man, when you look at that, extrapolate that principle into the future, the question always comes up; will humans sin in the millennium? Well sure they will, they’ll make mistakes, they’ll sin, they’ll do things that are wrong. Humans will still react selfishly, but Satan will not be around to exacerbate it, to stir it up, to add to it, to multiply it. We think the same principle will apply in the Great White Throne Judgment.
So man’s nature is human, it’s carnal, it’s fleshly, was not created evil to begin with, it’s acceptable to the influences of Satan the devil and his nature and it becomes subject to evil in general very early on. So let’s take a look at this and see what the bible has to say. Did Jesus Christ have human nature while He was on the earth as a human being? He was God in the flesh; did Christ have human nature while in the flesh? To answer that question, let me ask you a question and you answer it. Did Christ have a carnal mind which was enmity against God and not subject to the law of God? And the answer is no that was not His nature. Christ was totally subject to His Father, totally obedient to God’s law and commandments. Therefore Christ did not have what we would call carnal human nature, though He was composed of human flesh, He possessed the nature of God from birth.
Jesus Christ had the very nature of God; He was God in the flesh from a little baby. He had the spirit without measure and so He did not react in a natural carnal way that most humans do, but He reacted according to the Holy Spirit and the divine nature of God. You might remember over here in I Peter 2:23 , talking about Christ, it says:
I Peter 2:23 – When He was reviled, He did not revile in return, when He suffered He did not threaten, but He committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.
It was not in His pattern, in His way of reacting or responding to do it in a sinful way, to do it in a vindictive way, to do it to get back at people in any situation. It is true that Christ was tempted as we are as human beings but He never once succumbed to the temptation. Notice verse 22 here, talking about Christ:
V. 22 –” Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth .”
So He did not commit sin, He was not a deceitful individual. I John 3:4-5 John 3:4-5 4 Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
American King James Version× basically say the same thing, let’s notice:
I John 3:4-5 John 3:4-5 4 Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
American King James Version× – Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness . Or as the KJV says, sin is the transgression of the law . And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. In Christ there is no sin . Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
American King James Version× tells us:
Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
American King James Version× – For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin .
He was tempted, temptations came along but He never gave into those temptations. Carnal human nature, guess what, will give into temptations. Carnal human nature will succumb to temptations to sin but Christ had God’s divine nature dwelling within Him and He did not.
Now some people will quote Matthew 19, let’s go over there, Matthew 19:16 Matthew 19:16And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
American King James Version× and try to say that this scripture proves that Christ had carnal human nature. Notice:
Matthew 19:16-17 Matthew 19:16-17 16 And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.
American King James Version× – Behold, one came to him and said,”Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So he called Him”good teacher.” So He said to Him,”Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments .” Keep the commandments.
Now, did Christ say that He was evil? Was Christ evil or good? How would you answer that question? Well obviously He was good. Christ was not saying that He was not good, nor what He saying that He was not God. He was God in the flesh – remember Matthew 1:23 Matthew 1:23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
American King James Version×where Christ is called Immanuel? What does Immanuel mean?”God with us.” Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, so He was God with them. In fact, what He was doing was helping the young rich ruler to realize that if he came to Him to ask a question of Christ, he should understand that the answer was really coming from God. Because the young rich man said,”Good Master” or Good Teacher. Christ said nobody’s good but God. Therefore, He didn’t say”I’m not good” therefore He’s saying”I’m God” and if you’re going to come to Me and ask, then you better do what I say. Guess what? You and I are confronted with that same thing every day, are we not? Here’s the Word of God – God speaks to us and He says, this is what I want you to do. Do we then respond that it is from God? That was what He was, in essence, telling the young rich man.
To paraphrase what Christ was saying here, He said, Why are you calling Me good unless you are conceding that I am God?
Notice what Gill’s Expository – commentary on the entire bible says,” This is said not to deny that He was good or as being angry with him for calling Him so, but in order to leave this young man to a true knowledge of Him and His goodness and even of His proper deity that he would realize who he was talking to.”
So how and when is carnal human nature acquired? When do we get it? Are you vaccinated for it? I mean when does it come along, how do you pick it up? If we accept the term”carnal human nature” to mean the proclivity of a human being to sin, which includes self-deception, having that type of a heart as well as enmity against God, how is all of that acquired? Where does it come from?
Well there are several scriptures that deal with this, let’s go back to the book of Genesis – Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version× and let’s start out answering this question by answering the question: Did Adam and Eve have this proclivity from the moment of their creation? Did they have the inclination or the proclivity to be rebellious against God from the moment that they were created? When God created Adam and Eve:
Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version× – Then God said,”Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness .”
Man was made after the similitude of God and after the image of God, after His likeness. Now two weeks ago I spoke on this topic- what does it mean to have the image of God – I covered that.
V. 31 – God saw everything He had made and indeed, it was very good . So God created Adam and Eve, they were part of that creation and God said it was very good.
Genesis 2:16 Genesis 2:16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat:
American King James Version× – The Lord God commanded the man, saying,”Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.”
So they could have eaten of the tree of life, and could have been given the holy spirit, but they did not eat of that tree.
V. 19 – Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name .
V. 20 – So Adam gave names to all the cattle, to the birds of the air, to every beast of the field, but for Adam was not found a helper compatible to him .
So we see that Adam at this point was obedient, he talked with God, freely shared with Him, cooperated with God, he named the animals and you’ll notice here very carefully, there’s absolutely nothing in the account of this pre-temptation incident that indicates that Adam had the presence of evil or hostility or rebellious attitude or nature. He didn’t say,”Well you name the animals Yourself, I don’t have time to fool with You.” That wasn’t his attitude. No, God said; let’s name the animals – OK! There goes a fly, so he called it a fly! Whatever he named everything, that was their name.
V. 25 - God created Eve for the man and we read here: They were both naked, the man and his wife and they were not ashamed.
So we find they’re naked, there’s no shame – why should they be ashamed? They were the only two around. Genesis 3:2-3 Genesis 3:2-3 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.
American King James Version× – Snake comes along, serpent, dragon and he said:
Genesis 3:1 Genesis 3:1Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
American King James Version× –” Has God said you should not eat of every tree?” And the woman defends God! The woman said to the serpent,” We can eat of the fruit of the tree of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said you shall not eat of it nor touch it, lest you die.” Then what did Satan say?” You shall not surely die.”
Notice – for the first time an alternate opinion is given. Up until this time the only thing they’ve heard is God, what God said and they followed it. Now another being comes along and he says, hey, He’s not telling you the truth, let me give you the real dope here. So it’s clear that God created Adam and Eve with the potential, the nature essential for experiencing life with God, he was not hostile to Him or sinful. He did not create them with a deceptive heart to begin with, enmity against God or that proclivity. Adam and Eve we find to begin with, were very trusting, they were innocent, obedient, until they had an encounter with Satan, and that changed the whole dynamic.
The tree of life initially was fully available to them but after they sinned they were cut off from the tree of life, they were driven out of the Garden. Cherub was put at the entrance of the Garden, flaming sword to keep them or anybody else from coming back in. In other words, they did not have carnal human nature when God created them. So when did they acquire that carnal human nature? Notice verse 6:
Genesis 3:6 Genesis 3:6And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.
American King James Version× – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of the fruit and ate and she also gave to her husband with her and he ate.
Eve chose to listen to Satan persuasive talk, after hearing his argument, she chose to believe him instead of doing what God said. God said”don’t do it,” Satan said”do it,” and she followed Satan. Remember I Timothy 2:14 ? It says:
I Timothy 2:14 – Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, fell into the transgression.
So Satan came along with his smooth talk, deceived the woman. Now Adam wasn’t deceived, now the question is, why did he go along with his wife? We’ll have to ask him that later on! Why didn’t he tell Eve,”What!? What did you just do? Stop it, throw it down, stomp on it, let’s get a club and beat this snake to death – why are you listening to this serpent?” He didn’t do that – he fell right in line with his wife.
Genesis 3:7 Genesis 3:7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
American King James Version×– The eyes of them both were opened and they knew that they were naked . Now their nakedness became shame, but why were they worried about being naked now? And they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings . Then they hide from God, God comes walking through the garden and they hide from God now, they don’t want to have anything to do with Him.
V. 22 – The Lord God said,”Behold, a man has become like one of Us …notice, something happened to them, he has now become like us… to know good and evil .” They had now experienced rebellion and disobedience and so now they could know good and evil.” And now, lest he put out his hand and take also the tree of life and eat and live forever, God sent him out of the Garden of Eden .”
So something changed in Adam and Eve after this encounter with Satan – they chose to disobey God for different reasons. Eve was deceived, Adam was not but the common factor is that they both made a choice to disobey God – and then their eyes were opened - after they disobeyed. When they had this encounter with Satan the devil, they could see a different point of view. Having chosen to disobey God, they crossed a line in their minds.
Now do we not have today, in any area you want to look at, in government, religion, politics, you name it – various points of view that people have? Thousands of different religions, all kinds of political ideologies, different viewpoints. Well this is what Satan the devil has done, he has convinced man that his viewpoint, his- Satan’s viewpoint – is correct and that everybody can decide for himself right from wrong.
So having an alternate way put before them, they had free moral agency, just like Lucifer did and they rejected God’s instructions and chose to follow the devil and they decided for themselves what was acceptable, what was appropriate, what was good and they acquired a different perspective that was similar to Satan’s perspective. So therefore their perspective came as a result of two dynamics: One is knowing that there is an alternative to obeying God and they chose the alternative.
Brethren, there is always an alternative to obeying God. Again, the bible tells us how to obey God, what to do. People can do anything they want to but if you’re going to obey God, God says, choose life. He doesn’t say choose anything you want to, He tells us the way to life, eternal life, He says choose life.
The second dynamic was that of listening and being deceived by Satan’s arguments . To see his point of view and to agree with it. Now one of the things that we need to realize, that it is very easy for people to be deceived and misled IF they listen to Satan the devil. If you listen to his arguments, he will deceive you; he’ll mislead you so we don’t want to do that. Again, Eve was deceived, Adam was not but the nature of both was changed, same thing happened to both of them. So how did Adam and Eve acquire carnal human nature? Well they each disobeyed God for different reasons but the common denominator is they chose to follow the serpent instead of God. They exercised their freedom of choice but they chose the wrong way. Once they chose they crossed the line in their mind and they went after Satan the devil.
Now we must realize also that Lucifer was the first to sin in the universe, but what if Lucifer, or Satan the devil here, had not appeared on the scene? What if he had not appeared? Could they have sinned? Well my personal thinking is yes, they could have. But if they had taken of the tree of life, had decided to go God’s way, then God could work with them just like He works with us, to repent and to go forward. You’ve got to realize that before Lucifer first sinned, there was no one around to deceive him, have you ever stopped to think about that? There was no one whispering in his ear saying, God is wrong, don’t listen to Him, you’re being mistreated, there’s a better way, competition is better than cooperation, you need to just go and do what you want to do. His change in nature, talking about Lucifer, resulted in knowing and submitting to his own thinking, and at some point, choosing to depart from God’s way of life. And so he did that. There came a day when Lucifer and then the other angels, 1/3 of the angels that rebelled against God, came up with a different way, a different philosophy, different thinking, different approach than God had and they chose that as the best way.
So the question then comes up, how do all human beings since Adam and Eve acquire carnal human nature? Where do you get it? Where do I get it? Well since Adam and Eve sinned, mankind has been cut off from the tree of life, that’s one of the problems. Man was driven out of the Garden of Eden, cut off from the tree of life and man from that time to this has set under the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As such, he has perpetuated his work; Satan has, of deceiving mankind, promoting sin in all humans since Adam and Eve. Now how do we know that? Well let’s look at some of the scriptures that the bible has, let’s look at some of the scriptures that the bible has, let’s go back to Genesis 3:22 Genesis 3:22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
American King James Version× , read that to you earlier.
Genesis 3:22 Genesis 3:22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
American King James Version× – God said,”Now lest man put forth his hand and take also the tree of life and eat and live forever,” therefore God drove him out of the Garden of Eden .
See God cut mankind off from the tree of life, access to it. John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version× .
John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version× –” No one can come to Me …Christ said… unless the Father, who sent Me, draws him .”
So we can’t come to God, to Christ, unless the Father draws us. John 8:44 John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
American King James Version× , you might remember Christ talking to the religious leaders and Jews of His day, remember what He told them?
John 8:44 John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
American King James Version× –” You are of your father the devil and the desires of your father you want to do .
So the unconverted are of the devil and the desires, motives, direction that Satan the devil wants to go in, that’s what human beings do. Let’s go back to Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein 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:
American King James Version× – we read:
Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein 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:
American King James Version× – In which you once 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 sons of disobedience .
So Satan the devil is called the prince of the power of the air and he works in those who disobey, or are going the wrong way.
Remember I Corinthians 2:12 ? Talks about the fact that there is a spirit of this world. There is a spirit of God but there is a spirit of this world, that’s the spirit of Satan the devil that permeates this world, this society around us. So he influences mankind. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In 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× tell us:
2 Corinthians 4:3 2 Corinthians 4:3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
American King James Version× – For even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded .
So Satan the devil has blinded the minds of human beings. He’s deceived. 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× – all human beings, Satan has deceived the whole world. Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version× – all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But let’s notice one scripture in Romans 5:12 Romans 5:12Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
American King James Version×, sort of puts it all together.
Romans 5:12 Romans 5:12Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
American King James Version× – Therefore, just as through one man, sin entered into the world …so sin entered into this world through the sin of Adam and Eve… and death through sin …in other words the wages of sin is death… and thus death spread to all man …all mankind dies, why… because all sinned . That’s why.
Everyone sins. And as a result of that, mankind is doomed to death until he repents. A related question is: When do humans acquire this wrong nature? Is it present at birth? Is this wrong nature that we’re talking about here, under the influence of Satan the devil, is that acquired at birth? To answer that question I think you have to ask another question: Is a baby born with knowledge to be able to choose between right and wrong? Do babies know right and wrong when they’re born? Well let’s notice Deuteronomy 1:39 Deuteronomy 1:39Moreover your little ones, which you said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and to them will I give it, and they shall possess it.
American King James Version× . Remember the 12 spies went into the land, came back and they gave an evil report?
Deuteronomy 1:37 Deuteronomy 1:37Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, You also shall not go in thither.
American King James Version× –” The Lord was angry with me for your sakes …and God gives instructions here to
V. 39 – God says…” Moreover your little ones and your children who you say will be victims , who today …talking about their little children… today have no knowledge of good and evil .”
Little children have no knowledge of good and evil. Isaiah 7:16 Isaiah 7:16For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that you abhor shall be forsaken of both her kings.
American King James Version× – a prophecy about Christ eventually, talks about Immanuel but it says:
Isaiah 7:16 Isaiah 7:16For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that you abhor shall be forsaken of both her kings.
American King James Version× –” For before the Child shall know to refuse evil and to choose good …”
So a child is not automatically born evil or good, they have to choose.
Romans 9:11 Romans 9:11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls;)
American King James Version× , God talks here about Jacob and Esau and how the two of them were still in the womb – notice verse 11.
Romans 9:11 Romans 9:11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls;)
American King James Version× – For the children not yet being born nor having any done any good or evil, the purpose of God according to the election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls . God chose Jacob even before the two of them were born.
So you discover that children here, while they’re still in the womb, do not know good and evil. Babies are not born with evil human nature. As children’s brains develop and intellect begins to develop and their abilities they begin to make choices and they can discern between various choices and the fact that Satan the devil is out there broadcasting his spirit, broadcasting his attitude, broadcasting his mind continually to human beings. Most children are reared by parents who are cut off from God so they’re not going to receive the proper direction. They go to school, they’re influenced by the media of this world, by the society, the culture around them, the religions, all of that and so from a very early childhood they begin to absorb this wrong behavior.
They begin to be exposed to Satan’s way of life and society and this world, their own pulls and after a while it becomes habitual, it becomes the way they think. It is not always exhibited to the same degree in every individual. Some people today are exceedingly wicked. You have somebody who goes out here and murders and butchers 20 or 30 people, cuts them up, buries them under his house, plants them in his backyard, you know, that type of thing, you wonder how can they do that?
Well let’s notice in Revelation 2:24 Revelation 2:24But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put on you none other burden.
American King James Version× , the bible shows that there are different degrees. Some people degenerate into perversion and twisted ways more deeply than others.
Revelation 2:24 Revelation 2:24But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put on you none other burden.
American King James Version× –” Now to you I say and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.”
So some people plumb the depths of Satan and his ways, others try to be good. On a continuum of 1 to 100, 0 being evil and 100 being good, there are people down here at one or two or three, I mean they’re just absolute evil, and then there are people who are trying to do good. But it’s good on a human level; it’s not the goodness of God, it’s good according to what human beings would have, according to human standards. So therefore they’re a lot better, they try to do what they consider to be right. So it shows how subtle Satan the devil is, how powerful he is. The whole world is swayed by Satan into the get way of life, the wrong way of life. After a while it becomes habitual with human beings, it becomes second nature, we do it, it becomes the way we think, the way we reason.
Do you and I still have carnal human nature after we’re baptized and converted? We still have that carnal human nature. Well let’s go over to Ephesians 2 , we were reading this earlier – we’ll pick up the story this time in verse 1.
Ephesians 2:1-3 Ephesians 2:1-3 1 And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
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× – You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked …I want you to notice that… 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 the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind and where by nature the children of wrath, just as the others .
So we find that the apostle Paul here states that baptized converted members of God’s Church, who have the holy spirit, who’ve had the death penalty removed, have been given the holy spirit or the power of God, a promise of eternal life and we have changed our way of life from the way we used to live to a completely different way of life. You look back on your pre-conversion days – are you different today? If you’re not, you’re not converted. There should have been a radical change in our lives, in our whole approach.
Now Satan the devil continues to work in the minds of the rest of this world, the sons of disobedience, as they are described here, for us, that should no longer be the case. I want you to notice the past tenses that are used in these verses –”were dead” –”once walked” –”once conducted ourselves” –”were by nature.” Now how quickly does that change in our nature take place? It doesn’t happen overnight does it? It takes a lifetime. You and I know that the change of nature doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process, it begins with God calling us to repentance and baptism, followed by growth of the holy spirit within the individual and as the mind and nature of God grows within us, the former carnal nature diminishes.
Think of it this way, that before a person is converted, carnal human nature is like a very heavy obese person sitting there on top of you. Now you’re converted and as you’re converted, this obese carnal nature begins to shrink and becomes smaller and smaller and less of it and less of it and the divine nature of God, that God is creating within us, started out here but it starts getting fatter and fatter and growing more and more. So we begin to take on more of the nature of God, the character of God and less and less of this.
Now if this begins to smother out this, we’ve got a problem. So the carnal nature should begin to diminish the former carnal human nature diminishes. It’s important for us to understand a concept here, if you get nothing else out of the sermon today, please listen to this: Salvation is not a process of the old man being perfected. Salvation is a process of a new man being created. We are to be a new creature – a new man. God places within us a new nature, a different nature, the power of His holy spirit, God gives us His very mind and outlook and approach. The old man – what does the bible say? The old man is to die, we’re to kill the old man, get rid of it and the new man, the new nature is to grow.
So after baptism, carnal human nature is still there, we have to overcome it, we have to resist it, we have to repent of it and especially when its fruits are manifested in our lives. But overcoming involves a gradual growth and ascendency of the new man. It’s like the old saying, we were weaklings on the beach and someone comes along and kicks sand in our face, and all at once we began to exercise and we become strong. Well the new man is to be strong and the old man is to become that weak man on the beach and we are to grow, we are to overcome.
Notice what God says should take place and the change that should take place in a human being in our hearts, our minds. We should be progressively – the old man should progressively be dying and fading away, replaced by the divine mind, nature and heart of God. Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version× tell us:
Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version× – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind .
So there is a transformation that takes place, we are transformed. Let’s go back and read II Peter 1:4.
II Peter 1:4 – By which have been given to us exceeding great and precious promises that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature …we become partakers of the very nature of God dwelling within us… having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust .
So we escape that and we take on the divine nature and where do we get that? Well notice:
Verse 3 – As His divine power …that’s the holy spirit… has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness . So the spirit of God gives us what we need. II Peter 3:18 says:
II Peter 3:18 – Grow in grace and in knowledge…we grow in the knowledge and grace of God.
Remember in I Corinthians 3 , Paul, when he wrote to the church in Corinth in verse 1 said:
I Corinthians 3:1 – Brethren, I could not speak until you as spiritual but as unto carnal …and he said that they were so carnal – why did he say that? Well verse 3:
V. 3 – For you are still carnal. Where there is envying and strife and division among you, are you not carnal, are you not fleshly ?
Isn’t that the way the fleshly mind operates? When you behave like mere men, or literally you walk according to man, you’re living according to the systems of this world, the way of man.
That brings us to Galatians 5 and brethren; I would like for all of you this week to read Galatians 5, maybe study it. Let’s notice in Verse 16:
Galatians 5:16-18 Galatians 5:16-18 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
18 But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.
American King James Version× – I say then: Walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. So you and I have to walk or live in God’s spirit . For the flesh …see this is the fleshly carnal mind… lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh and these are contrary one to the other, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the spirit, you’re not under the law . Under the law means under the penalty of the law. What is the penalty of the law? When you break the law, it’s death. Then he goes on to say:
V. 19 – Now the words of the flesh are …
So in verses 19-21, Paul lists the common manifestations of the flesh – how the carnal mind operates without God’s spirit giving direction and control. Then in verses 22-25, we see what happens once we’re baptized. God gives us His spirit – and what does that spirit give to us? The fruit of the spirit, gives us gifts, gives us power, gives us a sound mind, imparts to us love, takes away the fear that we’ve had, gives us the strength, spiritually, that we need to overcome and to grow and to develop.
So the human nature, the carnal human nature begins to be replaced by a godly nature. So this is something that every human being is going to be given the opportunity to respond to.
So if we could summarize it, it would be something like this: What is human nature? Again, the phrase is not used in the bible; it can be confused with a nature that God created in humans at birth. You look at how the term was used historically in the Church, we can see that Mr. Herbert Armstrong consistently used it to describe the changed nature in Adam and Eve after their encounter with Satan and how they chose to agree with Satan and subsequently all of the human race have followed Satan’s lead. The human race sits under the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Jesus Christ, while on earth, in human flesh, did not have this rebellious nature. The closest term in the bible to human nature is the carnal mind, which is enmity against God, not subject to His law, this mind set is carnal, exists in all human beings today. Consequently, one could use the term”carnal human nature” to define this consistently. Upon repentance, surrendering to God, God gives us the holy spirit and we progressively overcome, replace the carnal human nature with the divine nature of God and can become this child – we grow in grace and in knowledge.
We find that God did not create man… babies are not born, Adam and Eve were not created being evil or good, but created being neutral where they could choose one way or the other. Human beings have free moral agency and thus will always be capable of choosing which way they want to go. However all human beings will eventually, in God’s plan, be offered the divine nature of God, represented by the Tree of Life. God will give every human being that opportunity.
The gift of the holy spirit provides a source of divine nature that will facilitate our resurrection into the kingdom of God, eternal life and spirit life in the kingdom that is coming. So brethren, we will find out more about the coming kingdom of God when we have the Kingdom of God seminars, coming up in a couple of weeks. So hopefully all of us will be there. But this sermon today focused on our human nature, the nature of man and when do we acquire it.