Ephesians 2:1-3(NKJV) 1And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Today is a bit of a departure from what we have been studying the rest of this week. As I was ministering in our church on Sunday morning, a thought came forth that I believe was very important. It was not really part of the message, but I wanted to share it with you today. That thought is simply this. You are a believer by nature.
When we look at the beginning of Romans chapter 4 we read that Abraham has found something. I have defined that “something” as the ability to believe God beyond experience. However, we must understand that what Abraham found we, as born again believers, have by nature. According to Romans 4, Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. We are the righteousness of God by nature because we are in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21.)
In today’s scripture there are some significant statements made. Paul tells us that at one time we were dead in sin. He uses a term that is very important if we are going to understand what Christianity really is. He says we were “by nature children of wrath.” He also says that we walked according to the prince of the power of the air. That is the devil. We were by nature children of the devil. What does this mean?
Before a person is saved, he is subject to the affects of the fall of Adam. In Genesis 2 God told Adam that he would die if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the Hebrew, it comes out this way. If you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “in dying you shall surely die.” The implication is that Adam’s death would be two-fold. He would eventually die physically. In Genesis that did not happen until he was over nine hundred years old. However, there was another kind of death that occurred instantly. The instant death was the death of his spirit.
When we use the term “spiritual death” or “die spiritually”, we are not talking about ceasing to exist. Spiritual death is the opposite of spiritual life. In John 17 Jesus defined life as knowing the Father. To be alive spiritually is to be joined to God and his life. That is the condition man was designed to live in. To be dead spiritually is to have that connection to God severed and a new connection made. This new connection is with “prince of the power of the air.”
Death is the nature of the devil. All that is evil flows from his nature. Sickness is his nature. Sin is his nature. Fear is his nature. The list could go on and on. Before salvation, we were by nature children of wrath. This simply means that the things that came naturally to us were dead things. They were evil things. We had to learn to control those dead, evil things through society, education and culture. However, they were still there. That is the condition of man after the fall.
If death is the nature of the devil, then it follows that life must be the nature of God. Goodness is God’s nature. Health is God’s nature. Holiness is God’s nature. Faith is God’s nature. What is salvation? What is the new birth? It is not a change of religion or philosophy. It is nothing less than a change of nature. We were by nature children of wrath. After we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we become, by nature, children of God.
What does it mean to be something “by nature?” We could go into some deep, profound definition, but I think there is an easier way to understand this idea. What we are by nature is what comes naturally to us. A lion is a predator by nature. He does not learn to be a predator. He does not have to go to school or reprogram his instincts to hunt and kill. He just has to be a lion. That is all he has to do. He is by nature a predator.
Although it is not politically correct to say this, man without Christ is by nature a sinner. Man has learned to control it and some men have that nature buried deeper than others do, but it is there. We need only look at the Nazis holocaust, the Armenian genocide of the early 1900’s, the atrocities in Kosovo, Iraq, Iran or Sudan to know this is true. Once a person allows free reign to his inner nature, evil will be the result. He can control it by all the things I have mentioned or he can control it by religion, but control it he must.
The New Birth in Christ does not seek to control this fallen nature. It simply replaces it. We were by nature children of wrath. Once we are born again, that nature is changed. The spiritual connection with wrath, the devil, is broken. The original connection that God created in Adam is restored. We are born again with a new nature. We are by nature children of God.
This is the spiritual reality. It is not something that happens gradually. According to Romans 12 we must renew our minds in order for this inward change to affect our outward life, but the change of nature happens the moment we receive Jesus as Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:17(NKJV) 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
How does all this relate to Romans chapter 4 and the faith we need to possess the promises of God? Most of us are trying to believe. We know we should believe. If we are born again, there is a part of us that does believe, but it is hard to get that part to the surface so we can receive the answers to the prayers we pray. Abraham was an exceptional man who responded to God despite being “by nature a child of wrath.” (This is so because Jesus had not yet come and died for sin.) You are by nature a child of God.
What comes naturally to you is faith. That is part of God’s nature. It is natural for you to believe the promises. Your “born again” spirit responds to the promises of God the way they are described in 2 Corinthians 1:20. When your spirit hears or reads one of God’s promises the automatic response is, “Yes, Amen, I believe that!” Your mind may say, “Wait a minute. How do I know that this will happen?” Your spirit does not. Your spirit believes it by nature.
What am I trying to say? Do not allow the devil to tell you that you cannot have faith. Faith is part of your nature if you are born again. Faith is natural to you. Unbelief seems natural because you were trained to walk in unbelief, but it is not longer natural to you. Faith flows from your connection to God in the spirit. You just need to learn to rest in that truth.
I have had many challenges in my walk with God. Often I have wanted to worry. My mind has tried to convince me that the promises of God would not come to pass in my life. However, I have learned to look past the clamoring voices to another place. That place is my spirit. When I find that place, that still small voice at the center of my being, I know that God will always keep his word. I am by nature a believer. I used to be a doubter by nature, but no longer. It is my natural condition to believe God and his Word. If you are a Christian, it is your natural condition as well. You just have to accept the truth.