The Bible often refers to a Christian as having two natures, sometimes described as the old man and the new man, in the old man we still have the capacity to sin, in the new man the Holy Spirit empowers us to do what is right and pleasing to God.
Paul talks about this in Romans 7:
7:21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Being a horticulturist I often look for inspiration in nature to help me understand these things.
It made me think of a fruit tree. Most cultivated fruit trees are actually one variety grafted onto a type of wild cultivar rootstock. The rootstock gives the tree vigour and helps it grow but would never produce the kind of juicy succulent fruits that are good to eat. The grafted cultivated variety is the top part that provides the tasty fruits. If you’re not careful however the rootstock will produce unwanted shoots which if left unchecked will start to dominate the top grafted section and eventually outcompete it and suffocate it.
This for me is a perfect picture of what happens when we give in to sin.
These unwanted shoots of the rootstock block out the light that the cultivated top part needs to survive and thrive.
In the same way when we walk in the darkness of our sinful nature we block out the light of the Holy Spirit.
What’s the answer? As soon the gardener sees these unwanted shoots appearing from the rootstock he snips them off and doesn’t allow them to grow and suffocate the top cultivated part.
In the same way we should be quick to confess our sins and not give any room for the flesh/sin nature to grow or dominate.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Over time these shoots become less and less of a problem if you keep on top of them. In the same way as we resist the devil and do not give into temptation we grow stronger and sin will have less of an impact on our lives.
Ultimately as born again believers the only power the devil has over us is what we allow him when we give into our sinful desires.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
See also Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5 & 8
Even when we inevitably sin we are not condemned because of his amazing grace.
Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
All we have to do is remain connected to him the life giving vine.
John 15:5-6 NIV “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
I suppose the most well known portion of Scripture which speaks about this idea of two trees & two natures is at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis. There we find the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil & the Tree of life.
When Adam & Eve ate of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil sin came and they died spiritually. From that time until Christ came sin was the dominant force.
The rest of the Bible tells the story of God’s plan of redemption culminating in the death & resurrection of our dear Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ.
When we put our faith in Him and confess our sin we die to sin and we once again have access to the Tree of life, we are born again and have a new nature, once again we are able to enter into God’s presence. We have the life of God living in us by His Holy Spirit.
See Romans5:12-21(Death in Adam, Life in Christ)
May the Lord help us all to walk in the Spirit, to say no to all ungodliness. May He help us to bear much fruit for Him.
Thank You Lord that You raised us from death to life. You are the vine, help us to abide in You.