The nature of man, the nature of God
There’s a story about a holy man in India who was meditating and praying near a river when he noticed that the river was beginning to rise as a result of some heavy rains.
As he looked at the rising water, he noticed a scorpion trying to scamper up the bank to escape this rising water, but it was caught in the roots of a tree at the water’s edge.
The holy man went down and tried to free the scorpion, but when he reached out his hand, the scorpion stung him. He tried again and again, and each time the scorpion stung him.
A passerby noticed what was happening and said to the holy man, “Why are you doing that? Don’t you know that it’s a scorpion’s nature to sting, and he can’t change his nature?”
The holy man replied, “But it’s my nature to save, and I can’t change my nature either.”
In this story we see two very different kinds of nature. We see our own nature to sting God with our sin, but we also see God’s nature to save us from our sin.
Every Sunday morning we confess that it’s our nature to be sinful and unclean. We confess that it’s our nature to sin against God in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we haven’t done. It’s also our nature to not love God with our whole heart and to not love our neighbors as ourselves. Finally, we confess that we deserve God’s present and eternal punishment, because this is our nature.
But we don’t just talk about our own sinful nature on Sunday morning. We also talk about God’s nature. We talk about God’s nature to be merciful to us, and that mercy led Him to give up His own Son for us and for His Son’s sake to forgive us of all our sins. It’s not only God’s nature to forgive us for Jesus’ sake, but it’s also God’s nature that those who believe in Jesus Christ now have the power to become the children of God, and God then bestows on them the Holy Spirit.
Finally, it’s God’s nature to renew us and lead us through the work of the Holy Spirit so that we now delight in God’s will and walk in His ways to the glory of His holy name.
That’s the new nature when we come to faith in Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. We still have this nature to sting God with our sin, but we also have this nature to serve God and one another through this faith in Jesus Christ. We have this added nature given to us because it’s God’s nature to save.