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(Matthew 24:37-39 ESV) As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."

Taming the Old Nature

Romans 6:6-8 (NLT)
"Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. [7] For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. [8] And since we died with Christ, we know we will also share his new life."

Evil Cat, formerly the neighborhood's feral "Topcat", has entered into a new life as Blackey, our beloved family pet (see "Saved by the Blood").  The transition was not easy at first, because it required his "neutering" by the Vet, which surgically crucified his feral nature.  After his recovery, Blackey was unaware of his "new nature" because of the years of "Topcat" status in the neighborhood.

I watched his first confrontation with the aspiring new "Topcat" who crossed into his former neighborhood territory.  As in the past, he lowered his haunches, growling eerily and stalking his new enemy.  Blood, biting and wrestling on the ground was to be the natural outcome of this vicious new dual for dominance.

But, to my surprise, after a few moments of staring at his potential mortal enemy, Blackey stood tall and relaxed and just walked away, returning to his yard as if nothing had happened.  The old power of this former "Topcat" was gone.  He just did not have it in him to fight any more.  Content, he returned to the safety of his own yard and enjoyed the peace of living among his new family of Kitty, our older and wiser "neutered" family cat, my wife, son, me and the family of Christians who worship at the Chapel on our property.  The habits of years instinctively sprung him into deadly action, but his new nature would not carry him into the bloody battle for dominance.  He is a new creature, with the "neutering" of his old combative drives.

Over time, even the neighborhood confrontations ended, except for occasional scuffles with his fellow pet, Kitty, for the dominance of a lap or a place on the bed with us at bedtime.  He is even finding out that grooming Kitty with a few licks to his older and wiser face in those hard to get places to clean can make a place for him on a spare lap or spot on the bed.

Blackey is gradually finding his place in our family of beloved pets.  The old nature is gone and the old habits they formed are gradually disappearing from his instinctive behaviors because they have "lost their power."  He is also learning to operate in the power of this "new life."  Strife, violence and dominance have been "neutered" to make a place for peace, love and finding his place in a loving family.

Like so many Christians, who have crucified the "old sinful self" with Christ, the "new life" is not automatic or without conflict with the habits of the former way of life.  The good news is that, like Blackey and so many other Christian who have struggled to grow into their new nature, Christ takes the power out of our sinning.  It drives us less and less and brings us dissatisfaction more and more. The new nature takes the fun out of sinning!  Life seems more peaceful and loving when we love each other as a family of Christians.  We even discover that serving each other in love helps us find our place among the children of God, instead of competing for it.

After much struggle, we will discover, like Blackey, it is better to stand tall and relaxed and just walk away from sin's confrontations and return to the place in our new family and "lick each other's faces" (greet and serve each other in love).

2 Cor. 13:11-14 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Rejoice. Change your ways. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.
     [12] Greet each other in Christian love (Greek: sacred kiss). [13] All the Christians here send you their greetings.
     [14] May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

by Pastor John

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