“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (NIV, Psalms 51:5)
“Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. (Amplified, Psalms 51:5)
Sin has a grip on us from the very beginning. We are born into this world as sinners. There is no getting around that. Anyone who tries to deny that has never been around a newborn baby.
Babies are completely dependent on someone else for their health, sustenance, and welfare, but at the same time, they are also completely selfish. When they are hungry they demand to be fed and they don’t care how inconvenient or costly it might be to anyone else. When they need a diaper change, they proclaim it and demand attention. They are only concerned with their own needs, wants, and desires.
This attitude changes as they grow older. As babies are trained, they begin to understand that they must overrule their own wants and desires for the good of someone else. Over time they progressively overcome the hold that selfishness has on their life and eventually, if they live long enough and wish to, they can become quite unselfish. This is a gradual process and all of us experience it to some degree or another, but it is never fully completed while we are in this life. As long as we are alive, we will have to struggle against that selfish, sinful nature.
The issue which must be resolved is not whether we were born that way, but what we do about it. Everyone has to confront this. It cannot be avoided, although people everywhere try and then make excuses to justify their behavior. “I was born that way.” “There is a gene which predisposes me to act in this way.” “The Devil made me do it.” I have heard these (and many more) with respect to alcoholism, homosexuality, and mental disorders, among others, but life is not fatalistic. Instead, we are supposed to exercise control over the way we think and to change the way we think when confronted with the truth. The simple truth is, however, that giving in to our “true nature” or “preconditions” is a sin in itself and is completely and totally repugnant and abhorrent to God. It is not the sin nature which is the culprit here so much as it is our stubborn, willful refusal to confess it as such and abandon it forever. We just do not want to.
God is fair. “…God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons.” (Amplified, Acts 10:34) I will go even further. God does not show any partiality toward sin. Any sin is enough to keep us out of His presence, any sin at all and He does not care about the situation or circumstances which caused us to sin. It does not matter to God at all that we were born sinners. He expects and demands that we overcome our sin and become like He is, holy and righteous. “But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all (emphasis added) your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (Amplified Bible, 1 Peter 1:15, 16, Lev. 11:44)
We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who lived in a state of holiness without sin, without ever allowing sin to rule him in any area of his life. This seems impossible to us, but the Bible clearly explains it this way and then directly orders us to strive toward that goal ourselves. We do not have the option of living sinfully, we are told to change. The problem is that, unlike Jesus who sought to be submitted to God in everything, there are many, many areas of our lives which we don’t want to let go of. We want to maintain control. We want to be our own masters. We want everyone else to satisfy our needs. We want, we want, we want…!!! We continue on like newborn babies, always screaming and crying because our needs and desires aren’t met and we never get beyond that nor reach the fullness and potential of the destiny that God wishes to give us.
Unlike babies, however (who don’t know any better), we are fully and consciously aware that we are sinners and knowingly choose to act that way. A baby acts instinctively whenever it is hungry or needs a diaper changed. We are deliberate in our demands. “I know what I want and I want it now! Right now and I don’t care who has to suffer or be inconvenienced for it!! Just give it to me!!!” We scream when our “needs” aren’t met. We kick when we don’t get what we want. We stir up a fuss and ruckus in order to satisfy our selfish desire, but we do it out of a self-conscious and deliberate awareness that we are wrong and that God has declared our heart attitude and, therefore our actions, sinful.
What is the answer to this problem? 1 Corinthians 10:13 explains it quite well. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)
There are at least four things here to touch on.
1. You are not unique. Your situation is nothing that someone else has not already experienced. Quit preening. Quit belly aching.
2. Satan has nothing new. He has already exhausted his bag of tricks. Once you’ve seen it, you will recognize it when it hits you later. Furthermore, you will know what to do when you do see it again.
3. There is a way out of any temptation, but you must be willing to take it. If you are not willing, you will never escape its clutches and bonds.
4. If you are willing and truly want to overcome temptation, God is there to help you. He is faithful to keep His end of the deal, but you have to hold up your end. There is no other way.