Character vs Nature
                                                 
   Roy G. Cole
                                                      
02/18/03
Romans 5
1   Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2   By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3   And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4   And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5   And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6   For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
James 1
1   James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
2   My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3   Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4   But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
2 Peter 1
1   Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
2   Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3   According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4   Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5   And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6   And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7   And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8   For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9   But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

    
Character-the complex mental and ethical traits making and often individualizing a person or a
group.  The way a person carries himself or herself.
Nature- The basic essence or constitution of a person or thing.
Character is whom you present yourself as; nature is who you truly are.  God’s intent is that our
Nature and character will be one.  Is God Holy because of His character or His nature?  God is
Holy by nature, and His character is one with His nature.  God is not divided Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:).
   
John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:2  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto  thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,  Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus concerning the kingdom of God, Jesus did not impugn his character.  Jesus could have told Nicodemus it isn’t  a character problem, it is a nature problem.  Jesus told Nicodemus you must be born again..  Jesus did not tell him “change your ways.”  Jesus said that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
     So many believers are involved in the fruitless effort of trying to build character in themselves
and others.  What believers should be learning is how to yield to the Spirit of God so that Christ
can be formed in us.  This action, according to the scripture, is an operation of the Spirit, however, it has been transformed into an exercise of the flesh.  Paul stated this to the church of Galatia,
Galatians 3:3 “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”  They decided they needed to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses to complete their salvation.  This is an affront to Jesus Christ.  What does the scripture say?
Galatians 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”  When you attempt add to the work Christ  accomplished on the cross--you declare the work of Christ on the cross was insufficient for your salvation.  Some will assert, “I have to develop my character after salvation.  Isn’t this what Romans 5, James 1, and 2 Peter 1 teaches us?”  No, that is not what those scripture teach.  Romans 5, is speaking on being justified by faith.  James 1 is teaching on the trying of our faith.  2 Peter 1 is teaching us about being partakers of the divine nature.  The Spirit of God transforms us: as Christ is formed in us.
These scriptures teach us how God will create godly character in us.  Remember what John the Baptist said,
John 3: 30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  When you received Christ Jesus
the Lord you surrendered your rights to be autonomous. 
1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.  It’s not about YOU!!!.  It is about Jesus:  walking in the Spirit; being led by the Spirit.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.   Someone will say, “Aha, I got you.  Paul said in Philippians 2:12 “ Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  You will say, “You see, I have to work out my own salvation.”  Did you read the next verse:13   “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  It is God who is at work in you. This goes with the previous verses(Philippians 2:1-11).  This passage is about having in you the same mind that was also in Christ Jesus: 5  “ Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6   Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:7   But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8   And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  The work out your salvation in this passage, is about you surrendering your will to the will of God, just as Christ did.  God did tell us of our character in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”  Isaiah stated it even more clearly, Isaiah 64:6  “ But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses
     are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  What does that say about our good character?  Some still trusting in the flesh will say, “God knows my heart.”  God addresses that through Jeremiah:  Jeremiah 17:9  “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  So how can you build character through the flesh?  You can, but it does not profit you in the sight of God.  Christ must be formed in you through the incorruptible seed.  You must be filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God must lead you.  You must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  Paul said, “2 Timothy 3:12   Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  Do you want to build your character?  Live godly in Christ Jesus. Not only will character be built in you, you will receive one of the earthly promises—persecution.  It is the fellowship of the Spirit and the fellowship of the suffering of Christ that builds godly character in us.  It is not about us, and our character;  it is about Christ in us—the hope of glory.Galatians 5:16   This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.17   For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.18   But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.19   Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20   Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21   Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.22   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23   Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.24   And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.25   If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.