19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Can man change his nature?
Many use the new year to try and create a new person. People do recognize the poor qualities in their life, so there is a constant effort to renew, change, to get rid of past failures. The problem is this sinful nature is embedded in us all at birth because of orginal sin from Adam and Eve. It is called the works of the flesh. These are built-in desires and emotions that peruse self-worship, desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. These cannot be removed or covered up. You might be able to overcome their effects in your life by a focused daily routine, but they are still there, and in times of pressure, they will return with force. You do not have to teach a baby to be self-absorbed. You never have to teach a young child to say “no.” These fleshly desires are deeply embedded in all of us.
What is needed is a new nature. The need is for something more powerful than our worldly nature to come and live inside us to battle against this nature and give us hope and peace. When we give God our life, He plants into our heart, His Divine Fruit of the Spirit. This power is greater than our sinful nature and is at work, freeing us from the power of sin. The more we seek God, read His word, worship, and pray, the more powerful this fruit expands in our spirit and nature. We will not be perfect when this happens but are progressively changed to become more like Jesus.
What if I still battle some sins?
One of the most significant words in this passage about living the worldly nature is found in verse 21. Paul writes, “those who practice such things will not inherit eternal life (KJV).” The NIV says “who live like this“, and the NLT says “anyone living that sort of life.” I like the word practice. When you receive Christ, and He begins a new work in you, you may slip up and fall back into one of your past sins. This is not practicing that nature. It is a mistake. The Christian will feel conviction and repent as the Holy Spirit helps him battle this old pattern. He is not practicing the sin, but instead fighting with human nature. Grace in sanctification is a ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. We will not be free from this battle until we are transformed at death or the resurrection.