Ralph Harris calls it the monster within. Paul calls it the flesh. Some people call it the sin nature.
I was once dead, to life. Separated from God by sin. NOT an individual act but a condition of BEING, separate. The nature of sin is separation, which is death. The nature of death is also separation. Death occurs when the spirit separates from the body. That is physical death. Death also occurred when man, in Adam, separated from God, the life source. It was spiritual death.
I did not have a part with God. God is the light. I was darkness, disconnected from the life source, the light. I was a lamp without the fire. In the darkness, I could but grope around like a blind man. I had no idea which way to go or, what a good life even looked like. In the darkness I always sought to take care of myself, to protect and avoid harm. My focus was to get the things that I thought I needed to make life better for me. This is a natural reaction to darkness because there is fear in darkness.
When Jesus came, John says of Him, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”(John 1:4) From Adam, all men were born separated from God, without the life of God within them, essentially born blind. Jesus was born, not from the seed of His supposed father, Joseph, but was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Therefore He had what Adam had lost for us all, the life of God within Him.
While in this condition of death or separation we all have developed certain habits and ways of doing things. We have learned to respond to the circumstances of life the best way we could. In living life this way we have formed patterns. These patterns are the acts of the flesh. Before Christ, we had no other way.
As Christians we tend to think of only the negative acts of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things..(Gal 5:19-21)
However, there are “positive” acts of the flesh as well. The entire letter to the Galatians was to remind the believers of Galatia that they could not achieve righteousness by keeping the law. Good deeds or acts of the flesh cannot produce the fruit of the spirit. To attempt to live your life by keeping the law is just another product of the flesh, for it is out of our own efforts.
It is frustrating to live this way because when we try to keep the law, “Sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires,” Paul says. (Rom 7:8) The law was given to show us that we needed another way. Because of sin living in the flesh (patterns we have developed over time), it is impossible for us to keep the law, or do anything that is pleasing to God. As soon as we make the attempt sin rises up in us. Any attempt to obey the law is an operation based in the flesh, which can only produce a work of sin.
Jesus claims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Have you ever noticed how many times Paul uses the phrase, “In Christ?” This is because you will never please God in any other way. He has completely taken the burden off of you and me and placed it on Christ, who is more than capable.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. (Rom 6:5-7)
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6: 8-11)
Before Jesus was incarnated into humanity all of the human race was in Adam, inheriting the separation and darkness caused by his sin. When Jesus became a man he forever joined humanity and God in one body.
In him we live and move and have our being..(Acts 17:28)
We have now been moved from one existence to another. We have been removed from Adam and placed in Christ. We are removed from darkness and placed into the light; the light of Christ. Not only that but everything Christ is and, did, and is doing is attributed to us. We share in His life. There is nothing left to achieve or do. Notice that “in Christ” everything is already done. We have been reconciled, made righteous, reconnected, made holy. We must begin to renew our minds to these biblical facts, in Christ.
Our problem with sin is in the fact that we have not come to truly believe that we have been delivered from sin in Christ. It is not something we have to accomplish. It has been accomplished for us. We need to learn to rest in the fact that God has placed us in Christ.
I believe sin can be overcome in this life. We are not bound to a life of sin until we die. We don’t have to wait until we die to live a life free from sin. We are free from sin now, in Christ. However, we will only experience this life through faith. In other words, once you begin to believe these things you will live your life accordingly.
I am not saying that we won’t ever blow it, or that we will never commit another sin. However, we don’t have to have such a struggle with sin because we have been set free. When we finally believe what the scriptures say about us as believers we will finally experience the freedom from sin and the seemingly unbreakable habits that seem to plague us. This is what Jesus died to give to all of us – anyone who will believe.