Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV), Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
I remember when I first became a Christian. It was at a summer camp when I was a teenager. My parents noticed a huge difference in my talk, my behavior, and in the way I treated my younger sister and brother. I noticed it too to be honest. I was a different person. That passage made sense to me. I knew from my own experience that it was true.
Or so I thought.
Being completely honest, several weeks the old nature made a comeback. I thought it was gone for good, but it seemed that in reality it had just gone on vacation and came back to settle in. Sometimes I feel like the old nature is like a tenant that knows it has been turned out, but shamelessly squats in my soul, refusing to accept the inevitability of its eviction. It has been a back and forth battle ever since.
Paul seems to have had this experience too.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 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. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 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 (Romans 7:21-25, NIV).
What I have been learning, is that what Paul was getting at in 1 Corinthians was not that my old nature was gone, but that with being united to Christ meant I was now something different. The Spirit of Jesus joined Himself to my soul, and that has made me something irrevocably new. I would never be the same. What I love began to change, what I found beautiful began to change, and that began a chain reaction that would ripple through the rest of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
What I have been learning, is that the battle between who I was and who I am is not a sign that something has gone awry, but that the Spirit is deepening its work in me. It is not the fight against sin that is the problem, it is when there is no fight that there is a problem.
The reality is that sin is so much a part of our makeup, that it will take a new resurrected body to eradicate it fully. Saving grace does not eliminate that in us right away. It forgives us for it. It terminally wounds it. It begins a process that reveals it, that shows its evil, that turns our hearts against it and gives us a longing and a desire for love and holiness that strengthens us to join with Jesus in working against it.
Don’t listen to the old you. That is not who you are any more. That guy or gal is upset because he or she knows its death is coming. Jesus made sure of that.