“5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Ro 8:5-9 NAS)
The above Bible passages portray our innate human desire to satisfy ourselves as the real opponent of right behaviour. The Apostle Paul refers to this tendency as if it is a real, living opponent separate from (but inside) himself. He depicts self-centred human thinking as an enemy of God. The Apostle James pictures human cravings in the form of a seducer or seductress, drawing the individual away from God and ultimately to a hopeless death. Presenting something abstract as a person is called personification. The Bible often portrays sin in this manner. In Romans 6, the Apostle Paul personifies sin as a king, and slave master and an employer: Verse 12:
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions”
as if sin is a king who wants obedience.
“you were once slaves of sin”
as if sin is a slave master.
“you have been set free from sin”
as if being rescued from a slave master.
“the wages of sin is death”
as if sin is an employer paying wages.
In Ephesians, Paul uses personification in writing about trespasses and sins:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carr ying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Who or what is this “prince of the power of the air”?
Is it a supernatural fallen angel, who controls unseen spirits? No. The context shows it is
“the course of this world,”
that is, the spirit or attitude of mind of the age that is at work in those who disregard God.
The disobedience is further defined as coming from
“the desires of our body and mind.”
Today, we recognize the kind of power Paul is talking about as the cultural influences of our age. These powerful influences we too readily follow when we don’t know any other way. In this passage, Paul dramatically personifies this cultural influence as a great prince who has power over humankind. The Apostle John uses a different word when referring to the human tendency to sin: the devil. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
“the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1Jo 3:8 NAS)
Right from the beginning, the Bible reveals that it was human desires that led to sin.
The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise. (Genesis 3:6)
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Ge 3:6 NAS)
“each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14).
This passage in 1 John also contains a powerful personal lesson. Anyone who walks in sin is spoken of as being “of the devil”:
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
He warns those who seek to follow God’s ways not to be
“like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother” (v. 12).
Literally, Cain was a son of Adam and Eve, but in his behaviour, he was a child of his own lust — in the form of jealousy.
We, too, have a choice of being either children of God or children of our own desires, which are here personified as “the devil” or “the wicked one.”
- An openingschapter explaining why things are like they are and why we may have hope for better things
- From nothingness to a growing group of followers of Jeshua 1 Fall of man
- Creator and Blogger God 3 Lesson and solution
- First mention of a solution against death 2 Harm or no harm and naked truth
- First mention of a solution against death 3 Tempter Satan and man’s problems