By Nature Children of Wrath

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A few days ago some of us were discussing Paul’s statement in Ephesians 3:3 where he says “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves, in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature the children of wrath, just as the others.” What does “by nature children of wrath” mean? Look at the verse again and notice that Paul is talking about our “conduct” and “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind.” What we do will make us children of wrath; that is children deserving the wrath of God. “By nature” does not mean that we were born that way; it means that we do those things as a matter of habit. Once people begin to fulfill the lust of the flesh it becomes a habit or “second nature” to act that way. The “pleasures of sin” capture our thoughts and sinful actions are the result. Remember Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts…These are the things which defile a man…” (Matthew 15:19, 20). Notice carefully Jesus’ use of the plural form of these defiling sins. They are habitually committed and they become our “natural” conduct.

Being a Christian is hard because it requires a change of habit. And it is hard to change a habit, even a bad one. Our old friends will “think it strange that we no longer run with them” to practice the sins of our past (1 Peter 4:4). But our goal as Christians is to develop the mind of Christ so that “by nature“ we do the will of God (Romans 12:1,2; Philippians 2:1-5). Christians develop the habit of doing good.

Alton Norman
Owingsville, KY

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