For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.
Romans 8:7 NLT
In light of the Message of the Month called The Big Why, I’ve been going through some pretty gut-wrenching levels of repentance. When the Lord exposes the depths of our depravity by revealing to us our heart’s motives and attitudes, oh, it’s painful! It’s one thing to have our deeds exposed, and it’s quite another to have the attitudes of our hearts revealed to us.
Motives and intents of the heart are hidden deep down in secret. They’re known only by God and only as He reveals them to us. Sure, God can give someone else a word of knowledge about my heart. Usually it’s to those who are watching out for our souls, but to truly know the degree of our corruption, the Spirit has to disclose it. When He digs down into the reasons why we do what we do, that’s full exposure. That takes it down to, “who I am” not just “what I’ve done.” It’s a gruesome level of humility that accepts that core diagnosis. Pride withers in the heat of that Light.
Today the Lord showed me an object lesson from a past event that revealed my deep inner heart. It was the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In April of 2002, Palestinian militants took over this Christian church in Bethlehem. I’ve been there, and one of the most precious things about it is the entrance. The header of the door is very low – everyone has to bow in order to enter. I think the reality of this visual is amazing. Every man has to bow low to enter just as our King bowed low to come as a babe in a mere stable. Now that’ll preach!
So in 2002, the church was under siege for 39 days. The actual circumstance of what transpired is debated, but regardless, pilgrims were prevented from entering and worse, militants occupied and defiled the church. They made this church nothing more than a squatter’s tent. They cooked in it and used it as a bathroom. It’s even thought that they destroyed relics and stole gold and silver. But regardless of whether the church was purposely desecrated or not, what I’m focused on is God using this event to address me.
What God revealed is that my old nature (like these militant occupiers) defiles my personal temple. My old man can do nothing but defile. And one day, I’ll give account for how I allowed the old nature to rule this temple, which is the dwelling of the Spirit of the Living God. Yes, there’s a holy war declared within me. My old nature not only defiles my temple but it has proclaimed an all-out assault on God. This is precisely why my old man must die. Even the best he can produce still results in death. The goodness and evil of the old nature is all death. Both good and bad are only two sides to the same coin—war against the Kingdom of Light for self-rule.
The potential for war is in me. If I let my old man live, he does it as an occupier—a terrorist with the goal to rule and destroy. That’s the best I will ever be in my old nature. At the peak of my goodness, there is defilement. At the depth of my evil, there is defilement. It’s an unmitigated war against God. Tickle the old nature even a little bit and it will rise up to satisfy self. Whether it’s through seduction and manipulation, or bullying and exertion, self demands to be center. And when it’s told NO, the result is cursing, hating, and revenge. The old nature is ugly!
So where’s my hope? It’s in the death of the old nature, a work that Christ Himself earned for me. It’s in putting an end to the war and living in the resurrected Life of the Son. It’s by His Life through my new creation. I’ve been made new in His holiness, His purity, and His resurrection.
Coming to my bottom through repentance of my old nature is a must. We have to come to the end of ourselves to see His fullness. He scrapes the bottom of our hearts’ motives in order to replace them with Himself. He takes us to the depths of repentance in order to show us our utter dependence on His Life. It’s wholly perfect! I know that I can’t free myself to enter into this reality, but He can. Everywhere that He proves to me that I’m not capable becomes my evidence that He is able. He is my Great I AM and the end of my personal campaign against God.
Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot.
Romans 8:6-7 AMP