Christian Duality: Our two natures
For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies...
Almost every religion, culture and philosophy acknowledges that there exists a duality of nature in man. Where they differ is what this duality represents. Is it the wholeness of man, or the brokenness? Does it promote balance, or chaos?
Christianity defines those opposing natures as that which trusts God on the one side, and that which trusts elsewhere on the other.
The Fall in a nut shell
The Bible tells that shortly after creation, the first man and woman were forbidden but one thing by God, don't eat from this tree. The couple, tempted to question God's command, disobey. Their sin dramatically alters mankind, tainting their connection with God.
A key theme presented early in the bible is man's divided nature.
From a position of intimate unity, scripture portrays man's descent into disharmony with his creator and the perpetual results of that fall.
And it all began with a choice.
...in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die...Gen 2:17
Like a child coming to realise that trust and obedience of parents is a choice, not a compulsion, so Adam & Eve came to realise the same of God. Choice was always there. To believe God, or not. To trust God's words as truth, or not. To elevate God's will as supreme, or something else.
And so, in a singular instance of decision, the bible presents our earliest parents choosing something else. And the concussions of that single choice have reverberated through every human life since.
Comparing Adam and Eve to culpable erring children can be misleading.
Adam & Eve were not simple children. They had the full capacity of adult reasoning and an uniquely intimate connection with God. The analogy rather serves to emphasise the child-like foolishness of trusting our wisdom over God's.
The premise is, of course, that to not believe God at his word is to accept delusion.
Not unlike the child mesmerised by captivating flames, who refuses to believe the parents fire warning and gets burnt.
So too, failure to take hold of what God says is to embrace harm.
And, the bible says ever since Adam, man has suffered the same failure.
Somewhat ironically, it takes truth to create a lie. Just as it takes a commandment to create a sin. As the apostle Paul wrote, 'For I would not have known it was wrong to covet unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." (Rom 7:9; Jn 15:22)
But does that mean God creates lies & makes people sin? No.
It is illogical for God to will to create that which is in opposition to his will. In creating beings with free-will, the potential for evil came into existence. Not because it was created, but because God has a will. An analogy might be a parent and child. The parent has a will for the child, the child chooses to ignore the will of the parent. We would agree that the child has been naughty. Did the parent create their naughtiness?
Adam & Eve believed in God, they just failed to believe God.
Because they allowed the seed of a lie to germinate in their hearts.
A lie remains inert until given the warmth of a man's attentions. Once given, it sprouts, blooms and fruits; dispersing its seed to the soil of other hearts also.
The fruit that it bares? Spiritual Death.
Fallen from alignment with God's truth, oriented now to believing lies, mankind was trapped... but there was hope.
Orientation is not a choice
Whether personal tastes, personality traits or sexual preference, we hear much today regarding orientation. Many believe we are who we are largely as the result of influences outside our control.
The bible also speaks of this. We are oriented, it says, to trusting our carnal (fallen) nature as being a reliable guide.
This orientation, however, is not the result or dictate of Gods will, but rather our earliest ancestors choice to ignore that will.
God made me this way...
This may shock some, but God didn't create you. You were procreated by your parents. As such, you have a heritage influenced as much by fallen ancestry as by divine blueprint.
Amazingly, it would seem God created a realm in which we have the power to contravene his will; though not without consequence. A place in which our input can work in accord with his to good, or against it to evil. However, creations design means that the consequences of such evil will play out.
See also: Christian Synergy
Interestingly, though the bible confirms we are without choice in regards our inclination to trust lies, it does not excuse us when we do so. Rather it calls us to acknowledge the weakness, and overcome it through consciously (by choice) putting our trust in Gods word.
Orientation, then, does not determine right and wrong, it just determines natural preference.
And if natural preference cannot be trusted to guide us, we need to look outside ourselves for verification.
© 2013 Richard Parr