“ Spiritual disciplines were never meant to fix our old nature, they are meant to grow our spiritual one.” – Robert Tanner
I want to answer a couple questions:
What happens when we use spiritual disciplines to try to fix our old nature and how do spiritual disciplines grow our new one?
First, I think we need to understand just how demanding the old nature really is. For those of you wondering “what the heck are you talking about?” The old nature is my unregenerated spirit. It is the part of me that died and was born again and it wants to live again nd control my life. It is a relentless taskmaster. For the Christian just trying to live right, the old nature says,“you better read your bible and pray every day or God will be mad at you!” At the very least, it will state to your vulnerable heart that “God doesnt bless those who don’t make time for Him, you better get up at 5 am and do it!” For the woman with anxiety, the old nature screams “what is wrong with you, quit being ridiculous, everyone is looking at you?” So she slaps a smile on her face, plays nice during the meeting but then cries all the way home in the car, feeling like a failure. This old nature is constantly ranting to you about jumping through the hoops to get approval, measuring up, looking good, and not being a failure. It uses the language of our feelings to twist our mental and emotional arms to make us perform. It will bring every thought of how you are not good enough, smart enough, or even remotely worthy enough in a mind game scheme to get more production out of you. Another thing we need to understand about this old nature is that it is selfish to the core. It wants what it wants when it wants it. It will use every manipulation tactic in the book. It will use God and people abusively for its own gain. It has no care for another unless the act of care benefits its own goals and agenda. It will sin, worship, fain humility, and act right if need be but in the end, the motive is always self-desire. Every time!
This is why using spiritual disciplines to control the old nature won’t work because that old nature can and will use anything to get its way. So what hope do we have? We have ALL the hope God could ever give us. That hope is Jesus Christ! We have got to wrap our heads around a very particular fact that if we have believed in Jesus for our salvation then that old nature has been crucified with Christ on the cross. It has been stripped of any power and it is dead. The fact that I feed it, is what keeps it alive in me. I resurrect a dead flesh-eating monster that feeds upon me and everyone that comes in contact with me everytime I reason with it, listen to it, or give it its way. The only way to overcome it is to remember what Christ has done and consider it dead!
Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Here’s the good news. No matter what your life looks like right now, how you have been behaving, or how crazy internally you may be. If you have any desire or desperate need for the light of Jesus or a cry to live God’s ways? That desire is God in you, communicating to you that you are ready to let Jesus work this thing out for you. We transform as we walk with Jesus. That is something that the old nature and its pressure to perform can’t do. It can put on costumes and parade around like its holy and righteous but it stinks like death and rotting flesh. -Tweet That!
No one likes to be around that!
Thank God for Jesus who walked the dead man’s road for me, all the way to Calvary!
So what happens when we use spiritual disciplines to try and control the old nature:
- It becomes something to master: It will work you to the bone. It pushes you to run 100 miles an hour in the rat race of 24/7 365 to become someone or something in the eyes of man.
- It is used as a measuring stick to prove how good we are: It uses any goal, accomplishment, and every marker met to prove we are measuring up and more importantly doing it better than everyone else. Its a sick game of building you up to tear you down.
- It is used to prove our maturity to others: It uses the discipline of reading the Bible, praying, serving, sitting in silence, worship, confessing sins, controlling our tongues, hospitality, humility, journaling, mentoring, Sabbath rest, and so much more to prove how mature we are. The goal is to have others look up to us. It becomes a source of pride.
- It’s used as an endgame: It becomes about getting ahead, being successful, learning the art of the hustle, and making things happen our way.
Trying to control a dead nature only gives it the attention it needs to survive, thrive and use you to do it’s bidding. Consider that thing dead and renew your thinking in Christ about what spiritual disciplines are all about. They are for the glory of God.
What’s a spiritual discipline really for:
- It is about surrender to God.
- It is about being with Jesus.
- It is about our relationship with others.
- It is about God’s Kingdom.
Spiritual disciplines are about growing the new nature of Christ in you that was deposited when you believed in Him for your salvation for God’s glory. Spiritual disciplines are about learning to trust God, walking with Jesus so that your life produces fruit, loving God and loving others, and allowing God to use your life to bring His Kingdom to this earth. You were made for such a time as this! It’s bigger than you know! Lean in by faith, His plans for you are good!
Thanks for Listening,