Special quiz. I’m going to show you a photo of an animal. You get 1 point if you can tell me what kind of animal it is, 2 points if you can tell me what breed of animal it is and 3 points if you can tell me the scientific name of the animal.
Scientific name: Canis Rubus Psychosis (Ruby the mad dog)
Story about Ruby.
Ruby likes to go for walks only she doesn’t go for walks, she goes for sniffs. That’s what she likes to do. She sniffs everything. Run and sniff, run and sniff…Why does Ruby run and sniff?
a. Because she wants to dislocate my shoulder by suddenly pulling hard on the leash
b. Because she’s actually looking for buried treasure
c. Because she’s completely psychotic
d. Because that’s just her nature as a beagle
I want you to watch a video of Ruby eating. She’s a really fast eater. She likes to eat fast. Why does Ruby like to eat so fast?
a. Because we hadn’t fed her for 40 days and she was really hungry
b. Because the people from Guinness were there and she was going for a world record
c. Because she’s completely psychotic
d. Because that’s just her nature as a beagle
One day Pierre came to visit my home. He was sitting comfortably on the sofa with a drink. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind if I let Ruby in. He said that would be fine. I asked him if he was sure. He said ‘sure I’m sure, why not?’ I told him to get ready. He wondered why he needed to get ready. He soon found out why. Ruby came running in and was running around the room like a typhoon, literally bouncing off the walls, bouncing off the sofa and bouncing off Pierre. Pierre then understandably asked ‘What’s wrong with your dog?’ Why did Ruby run around the house like a typhoon?
a. She wanted to destroy the house
b. She wanted to destroy Pierre
c. She’s completely psychotic
d. That’s just her nature as a beagle
Animals have a nature that doesn’t change. We can train animals (Ruby is not trained!) but however much we train them, we can’t change their nature. That’s why pets can sometimes suddenly attack their owners. (I’ve been bitten by Ruby.) Ruby is basically a wolf in disguise. That’s her nature and it won’t change.
We as people have natures, too. And, like animals, we can train our nature but we can’t change our nature – not on our own. One of your parents’ jobs is to train you – to train you how to sit up straight at the table, cloth yourselves, speak kindly, and work hard. You can think of your parents as loving trainers (and of yourselves as brute beasts perhaps). Your parents can help to train you but they can’t change your nature. That’s God’s job.
Your mum and dad can’t change your nature. You can’t change your nature. But God can change your nature. That’s what He does. The Bible tells us that we all have a sinful nature. We’re naturally sinful. We don’t have to train ourselves to be sinful. It just happens naturally. We are naturally selfish. We naturally tell lies when we’re in trouble. We naturally blame others when things go wrong. We naturally get angry and want to karate chop people sometimes. We naturally want what other people have – and even want to take what doesn’t belong to us if we think it looks pretty good or better than what we’ve got.
So God gave us Jesus, not just to show us the right way and what right nature looks like, but to actually give us a new nature.
God said, “I will take out their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26) わたあなたがたの肉から、石の心を除いて、肉の心を与える。(エゼキエル書36:26) and “I will write my laws on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33) すなわちわたしは、わたしの律法を彼らのうちに置き、その心にしるす。(エレミヤ書31:33)
This happens when we believe in Jesus, receive His Spirit in our hearts and choose to follow him.
We’re going to look more at how we do this a little later.
For now, let’s pray and give thanks that God can change our nature and make us more like God when we invite Him into our hearts.
Mini-sermon #1 Killing the Old Nature
In the kids’ message we were looking at human nature. Until it’s changed by God, human nature is innately sinful.
Those who are born again in Christ are whole new creations. The Bible says “the old has gone, the new has come” 2 Corinthians 5:17. 古いものは過ぎ去った、見よ、すべてが新しくなったのである。 コリントの信徒への手紙二5:17 Note,
It doesn’t say the old will go and the new will come.
It doesn’t say the old is going and the new is coming.
It doesn’t say the old is pretty much gone and the new has pretty much come.
It’s absolute: the old has gone, the new has come. That’s who we now are in Christ: new creations with a new nature. [in Christ we are now new creations with a new nature.]
If that’s true though, why do we still struggle sometimes with our old nature? Paul wrote about his struggles with the old nature in such vivid and painful terms that many theologians can’t believe he’s talking about his new life in Christ and conclude he must be talking about his old life before coming to Christ. At any rate, we know that even Paul had his temptations and afflictions.
Though we are new creations in Christ, the devil is still at work, his primary functions are to deceive, to kill, to steal and to destroy. He’s not one to open a door to. And while we are in this body, we still have our weaknesses. Furthermore, if Satan can’t get to us then he will do whatever it takes to get to our children.
That’s why temptation is all around us. That’s why evil is constantly at our heels. Satan doesn’t sleep. Temptation doesn’t lessen the closer we get to God. If anything, it gets worse. Evil doesn’t stay away because we choose God. If anything, the attacks are greater. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray daily, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” Matthew 6:13. わたしたちを試みに会わせないで、悪しき者からお救いください。マタイによる福音書6:13
I want to remind you that the battle we fight against our old nature is not a battle of flesh and blood. It’s not primarily a physical battle. It is a spiritual battle so we need to fight with spiritual weapons:
* We have prayer: “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray…the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” James 5:13a,16 あなたがたの中に、苦しんでいる者があるか。その人は、祈るがよい。義人の祈は、大いに力があり、効果のあるものである。 ヤコブの手紙5:13,16
* We have Biblical wisdom: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away.” Matthew 5:29 もしあなたの右の目が罪を犯させるなら、それを抜き出して捨てなさい。マタイによる福音書5:29 Don’t entertain sin. Don’t watch it from a safe distance. Don’t dabble in it in moderation. Don’t just wish it wasn’t there. Whatever (or whoever) is causing you to sin, remove it (or them) from your life.
* We have divine promises: “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.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 あなたがたの会った試錬で、世の常でないものはない。神は真実である。あなたがたを耐えられないような試錬に会わせることはないばかりか、試錬と同時に、それに耐えられるように、のがれる道も備えて下さるのである。コリントの信徒への手紙一10:13 Hold on to these promises. There’s always a way out of temptation. Use it.
* We have voice: “The grace of God …teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions.” Titus 2:11/12 神の恵みが、不信心とこの世の情欲とを捨てて、、、と教えている。テトスへの手紙2:11,12 Take this literally. There is power in the spoken word. Don’t just think it. Speak it. Whether you’re on your own, or in a group, speak your conviction.
* We have each other: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other.” James 5:16 互に罪を告白し合い、また、いやされるようにお互のために祈りなさい。ヤコブの手紙5:16 We need to have one another’s back. If you don’t have an accountability partner, get one.
* We have divine presence: I’m going to come back to this one a little later.
Don’t be soft with temptation. With matters like this we’re encouraged to be aggressive.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5 だから、地上の肢体、すなわち、不品行、汚れ、情欲、悪欲、また・欲を殺してしまいなさい。・欲は偶像礼拝にほかならない。 コロサイの信徒への手紙3:5
This teaching is consistent throughout the Bible. Jesus said whoever wanted to follow Him would have to die to themselves daily, “take up their cross” and walk in His ways. Be reminded that the Christian living is a supernatural phenomena. Don’t try to live it naturally. We are to use spiritual weapons. We are to keep in step with the Spirit. We are to constantly be filled – to keep on being filled – with the Spirit of God.
That is how we stand up to temptation and resist the devil. That is how we honour God with our lives.
Mini-sermon #2 Living the New Nature
We’ve been talking about our new nature in Christ. To understand our new nature, we need to look to Jesus. We need to look to God.
We can identify three primary or core qualities of God’s nature, as revealed to us through the Word and through Jesus. And these three core qualities need to be our three core qualities.
1. Holiness. When God appeared to Moses, Isaiah and the apostle John, holiness was the essence of God’s revealed being and presence. And the extraordinary thing is that we are called to the same holiness. In both the Old and New Testaments we are commanded to be holy as God Himself is holy. Holiness – separateness from the world, purity and divine purpose – are now the essence of our nature.
1. Mercy. When God gave a formal declaration of His nature to Moses in Exodus He declared Himself merciful before all else. As with God, so mercy must now be one of the defining characteristics of who we are.
1. Love. This couldn’t be stated any more simply or clearly. John writes that “God is love” 1 John 4:8. 神は愛である。ヨハネの手紙一4:8 That’s who He is. Love is the principal and first fruit of the Spirit of God. It is to be ours, too.
So we, in our new nature, are to be before all else, holy, merciful and loving. These three qualities must now be at the forefront of every decision we make, every conversation we hold, and every thought we entertain.
But there’s more to this. This goes deeper. To see our true new nature, we have to look at Jesus and His true nature. Philippians 2:6,7:
[Jesus], being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
At his birth, Jesus took on a second nature. His first nature was that of God and while He lay aside the glory and privileges of that nature, He never ceased being God in nature. His second nature, though, was that of a servant, a human. So Jesus was truly God and truly human.
This means that God has truly come down to us. We don’t need to look any more or anywhere else for God. We find Him in Jesus.
But there’s still more. We’re taught that, “through these [promises] you may be partakers of the divine nature”. 2 Peter 1:4 それは、あなたがたが、その約束のゆえに、神の性質にあずかる者となるためである。 ペトロの手紙二1:4
It’s not just that Jesus has taken on our nature to identify with us and to be our sin-substitute (very important!), but that we also touch divinity by being in Christ. We participate in the divine nature. We have divine presence within us.
This is mindblowing and it both calls us and leads us into the holiness, mercy and love of God, and away from anything that is worldly. This is our new nature. We first enter this new nature by belief in Christ, demonstrated through baptism, and we sustain this new nature by living a life of faith in Christ, demonstrated through communion, and with an ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit.
I don’t think the wonder of this great truth is something that can be taught so much as it is received. So let’s finish by meditating on this truth, and in prayer.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3,4
いのちと信心とにかかわるすべてのことは、主イエスの神聖な力によって、わたしたちに与えられている。それは、ご自身の栄光と徳とによって、わたしたちを召されたかたを知る知識によるのである。 また、それらのものによって、尊く、大いなる約束が、わたしたちに与えられている。それは、あなたがたが、世にある欲のために滅びることを免れ、神の性質にあずかる者となるためである。 ペトロの手紙二1:3,4