Over the past few weeks, God has been teaching me many exciting things (exciting to me anyway). One of those things is about my sin nature.
Galatians 5:17 says "the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please" -- my sin nature is against the Spirit that indwells me and it's against God. I knew that.
The old sin nature can only sin and do evil or produce human good. The new nature, conversely, cannot sin (I Jn 3:9). I knew that, too. Here's what I learned, or maybe "saw" in a way I'd not seen it before: Before I was saved I lived only in my sin nature. I had no choice. It controlled my soul. It controlled the thoughts in my soul. I was a slave to it, and didn't even know it. One of the reasons for that is because the sin nature doesn't just sin. It also, as I said, produces human good, which can seem -- and feel -- very good and very right.
When I got saved, God gave me a new nature which cannot sin, and pronounced the old nature dead, crucified with Christ. It had lost its power at that point not because it was "dead" in the sense that it has become inert and inoperative (it hasn't) but because from the point of salvation on, I can choose against it. No longer does it have automatic control.
Now, as I live my Christian life, I choose on a moment by moment basis which nature I live in: the new one, which cannot sin, which loves God and His word, or the old one, which can sin and which hates God. Like all believers, I am a spiritual schizophrenic, at any given moment operating from one of my two completely opposite natures. All it takes is rebound (confession of sin) to get back in the new nature and under the control of the Spirit. All it takes is a thought to get back under the control of the sin nature. And that sin nature is trying its hardest to regain that control. Constantly.
And this is another thing I "saw": my sin nature, the thing that is part of my flesh and that I will have with me until the day that I die, HATES God. It hates the Spirit. It doesn't want to have anything to do with truth, except as it can distort it and use it to its (the sin nature's) benefit. It is just as bad as any demon.
I used to think that some of the negative thoughts I am plagued with (more on that another time) came from demons. But I know that as a believer indwelt by the the Father, Son and Spirit, it is not possible for demons to indwell or possess me. My friends and I have discussed whether they can read our minds, though. How else can they know exactly the thoughts that are needed to disrupt whatever it is we're doing/thinking for the Lord? I'm sure they can read our faces and expressions, and guess our thoughts from that, since they have vast experience dealing with humans. But read our minds? And actually place thoughts into them?
With this new revelation regarding the wickedness of my sin nature, I realized they don't need to read my thoughts -- or place thoughts in my head -- to get to me. They have an inside ally. My sin nature knows exactly what I'm thinking and it is the source of most if not all of the negative, accusing/condemning thoughts that plague me. It has its own agenda -- approbation lust, power lust, selfishness, etc -- and it does not want to do things God's way. Recognize/admit that there is no good thing in the flesh? That we can do nothing of ourselves and God is the one who does everything? That HE has begun a good work in me and HE will perfect it?
This is absolutely anathema to the wicked nature that dwells in me. The last thing in the world it wants to acknowledge is that there is no good in it. (Unless it can get into a competition with someone else for "least good," and thereby manage to exalt itself in a bizarre distortion of what it sees as "humility".)
How is this helpful? The more I know about it and how it works, the better I can fight it. Now when the negative self talk comes, I realize quicker that it's from my sin nature, and can deflect it, refute it, refuse to let it control my soul. Accusation and condemnation are from the devil and His system of thinking, which my sin nature loves. But there is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Ro 8:1)