“Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.”
Self-control is essential because our old nature is quick, careless, convincing, and convenient.
- The old nature is quick. It is impulsive and reactionary. It acts fast based on the strongest emotion in the moment.
- The old nature is careless. It doesn’t press pause and think. It doesn’t evaluate or seek situational-awareness. It does not care what happens; it doesn’t consider consequences. It is foolish and reckless. It doesn’t care about our welfare or success. It just wants to react.
- The old nature is convincing. It is persuasive, tempting, and seductive. When we feel the impulses of the sin nature, there is a part of us that wants to follow the impulse, even though another part of us is saying, “Stop, don’t do that!”
- The old nature is convenient. It’s the easy thing to do. It is the path of least resistance. It requires no effort, no discipline, no skill. And it’s always right there and easily available to us.
Anger is not the only mismanaged emotion that leads us astray. What the James passage is telling us is that none of the emotional impulses of the old nature will produce the righteousness of God.
How do you respond when you are caught in the grip of anxiety or fear?
How do you respond when you are directed by misguided affection?
How do you respond when directed by frustration? Indifference? Cynicism? Jealousy?
The old nature wants us to do the wrong thing, but our new nature in Christ wants us to do the right thing. It is a continuous struggle, and there are no days off. Sin is produced when we operate on the default path and are directed by the impulses of the old nature. The righteousness of God is produced when we operate on the path of wisdom and are directed by the disciplines of the new nature.
If we do not implement the spiritual discipline of putting off / putting on, then we will drift into default, fall under the influence of the quick, careless, and convincing passions of the old nature, and we will drift off-path.
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16.32)
Press pause. Think, pray, and do the work.