No, I don’t have a typo in the title of this post. Hang with me and it will soon make sense. Before we received God’s grace of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9), we were smarmy, twisted sinners, just like our friends. The apostle Paul wrote:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. – Ephesians 2:1–3 (emphasis added)
Nature verses Nature
I would like us to consider the phrase “by nature children of wrath” in this passage. Behind our English translation is something quite interesting. The Bible commonly uses the word “nature” to lead us to one of two conditions: humanity’s nature is sin, or humanity’s nature became sin, hence, nature verses nature. As used here by the apostle Paul, his context is humanity’s nature became sin.
Adam was created sinless, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The people that inhabit this world do not possess the nature God intended (Romans 5:12). We humans are mutants, and not in a good way; we carry some of the nature of the sinless Adam, but we are malformed by the nature of sin within us all (Romans 3:23).
Regeneration takes us back
The Gospel of Jesus is the good news that we can be reconciled back to God by regeneration (2 Corinthians 5:17), by being reborn so that our nature becomes that which God intended from the beginning. Our flesh is still under judgment. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), so death awaits each of us. But our spirit has been made alive in Jesus. We are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1). Our new birth has given us the nature that God intended from the beginning (Ephesians 4:24).
Do we still sin? Yes. Are we perfect in love, perfect in obedience, perfectly holy? No. But we are now on the path of righteousness. The renewing of our minds is transforming us (Romans 12:2). We are changing, moment by moment. God is working in us, drawing us ever closer to that which the apostle Paul prayed:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Paul can pray this because it is the will of God for you and me. That’s exciting! God’s will is for us to fulfill the “original” nature of humanity, a sinless nature created in the image of God. Humanity’s nature became sin, but in Jesus Christ we can be reborn, born into the nature God intended for us. Perfect? Not yet, but in Jesus we’re on our way!
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