This is Mister Bear. Mister Bear is a good kitty, but he can be a pest, and he's a very headstrong regarding all those things about which kitties are typically headstrong. You know what I mean: lying on the keyboard when you are trying to type, sitting on your lap when you're trying to read a book or crochet a mitten, the mandatory galloping up and down the hall at three in the morning. Kitty stuff.
There is, however, another drive Mister Bear has that I've not seen in other kitties. Mister Bear is convinced that he must drink my, or my wife's water!
Now, as good parents to our kitty, please know that we spared no expense in purchasing him his very own water dish and matching food dish. It is a beautiful ceramic dish, with an adorable illustration of a kitty face in the bottom that Mister Bear can look at as he laps up his daily dose of freshly drawn water. But this is not sufficient. No. He sees my water glass, or my wife's water glass, and he believes he must get his face into that glass. It is a compulsion, like fire in his bones. He is obsessed with the water glass that is not his! I don't feel compelled to drink out of his bowl, so he should be able to leave my water glass alone. But he cannot help himself, nor can he take his eyes off of the glass. He will plot and scheme, trying repeatedly to find new routes to sneak to the blessed chalice in hopes of collecting a few drinks of the forbidden liquid before we scold him, or swat his hiney.
Sin is like that for us. It is a compulsion. We gravitate toward it like iron filings to a magnet.
I've never been a fan of the NIV's translation of sarx as "sinful nature." I get it. I understand why they translated it that way, but I don't care for it because first of all, that's not what sarx means (it means "flesh"), and secondly, I don't accept the premise that human men and women are naturally sinful. Indeed, though I can already hear many of you howling at such a statement, I would argue that sin is something very unnatural for men and women. That's why, when we engage in it, it is so terribly damaging to us. Are we not correct in saying that sin is actually deadly for human beings? It's deadly to the sinner, and devastating to those sinned against. Sin harms everything it touches precisely because it is unnatural. A sin-infected environment or object is not as it is supposed to be. Male and female, we were created in the image of God, and God is not naturally sinful. We were created in God's image, and created to walk in the garden with God in complete purity. That's our true nature! We long for the garden. We long for unobscured fellowship with our creator.
Since the events of Genesis 3, we have been very susceptible to lies of the evil one, lies that convince us we are something other than what we are, lies that convince us sin actually is natural to us, that it is fulfilling, wondrous, liberating, and good. God, on the other hand is presented as an oppressive curmudgeon for telling us to give a wide berth to temptations to sin. The reality is, God instructs us to avoid sin with the same love, care and compassion we have when we instruct our daughters not to play with their Barbie dolls in the middle of the street. We are taught to stay away from sin, because that stuff is deadly to us, and harmful to those around us.
When you face a strong temptation to sin, and it looks enticing, beautiful, lovely ... rub your eyes and look again. The great deceiver has put nice wrapping paper and a bow on a package of poison with a skull and crossbones interior. Remind yourself, "By engaging this, I'm damaging my body and soul, because I was not designed for this. What this temptation offers is unnatural and harmful."