The Battle: Sin Nature vs. Spiritual Nature

November 27, 2012 — 5 Comments


[This post is part of a series covering eight little known theological truths about the Christian’s body]

Knowing where the battle truly lies makes all the difference. In the last post we discovered that the Christian battle is not new soul vs. old body, but new nature vs. old nature.

In this post we will look at how that understanding shapes our approach to killing lust in our hearts. Colossians 3:1-17 is possibly the best summary of the battle. I highly encourage you to read it sometime this week through this new lens of sin nature vs. Spiritual nature.

Understanding the battle this way shows you that it is a holistic inner conflict where your body and soul together are torn between submitting to your old sin nature or your new Spiritual nature.

Your sin nature has been dethroned. But it is very manipulative and can often convince you to still obey it.

Here is how Colossians 3:1-17 breaks down the battle:

Seek the things that are above

Growing up in church I heard this phrase far more than I can count. But what does it mean? What are the things that are above? How do we seek them and set our minds on them?

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that the rest of the passage, if not the rest of the book, is answering those exact questions.

See, by telling the Colossians what to put off and what to put on we get a picture of what the heavenly community above is already like. We also get a picture of what the community on the new earth will be like.

By setting our minds on the hope of this future community built around the glory of God, the killing of sin and growing in love comes naturally. That is, it becomes easier to submit our body and soul to the Spirit.

Put off the old nature

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry… anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another…” (Col 3:5-9a).

The heavenly community above does not have any of these things. Your sin nature has contaminated both your body and soul with these things and you must fight to kill them. This fight is not against one part of you. Rather, you must use your heart, soul, mind, and body in submission to the Spirit to remove the stain of your sin nature on every fabric of your being.

Put on the new nature

“Put on then… compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and… forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…”

“And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:12-17).

These are the things that are above, a heavenly community filled with love for God and people. Seek to do and be these things not just with your soul but with your whole being. Seek to use your body, heart, and mind for the love of God and his children.

Notice too that Paul mentions thankfulness three times. When you have your mind set on things above, all complaints dissipate in the hope. When you remember what you deserve and what you are instead promised, thankfulness ought to be the color of everything you do and think.

On the new earth we will only have our new nature, in our newly resurrected bodies. We will live in cities, towns, and countrysides in deeply knit communities of love. We will know and be known by our Great God. Paul’s thinking in light of this is why not start living that way now? Why not work to put to death our old sinful nature now? Why not live resurrected lives now? We have the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. What could possibly stop us?

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  • Alex Tarango

    Great Post, very insightful.

  • Justin

    Hey Peter. Thanks for your post. I have a battle that I’ve been dealing with since the age of 12 (I’m now 41), when my stepsister tried to have sex with me, and I couldn’t get a erection. Since then I have had this obsession and battle with the addiction to masturbation and pornography. I’m married now for almost 10 years and my sex life currently is poor to say the least. I know the word of God says that we sin when we are led by our own desire to sin. My question is this; “If this is a desire in me, how do I change this evil desire for masturbation and pornography and bring it in line with how God meant my sexual drive and desire to be?”

    • I feel your agony. I’ve been there too. Be encouraged. God has promised to complete the work he began in your heart (Phil. 2:6). It seems like he is slow in doing this, but for him a thousand years is as a day. Change is a slow and gradual process where the most important thing is clinging to your relationship with Him throughout the whole process.

      I am planning a series on self-control that will hopefully address your question more in depth. For now, take a look at the following posts and just do whatever it takes to stir your heart’s affections for him and your wife.

      God bless, you’re in my prayers.