Whatever you do in this life is because of inclinations. An inclination is “a disposition or bent, especially of the mind or will; a liking or preference.”* It is something for which all of us struggle. We want to do this thing but instead we do this other thing. In other words, we don’t do what we want to do but do those things that we don’t want to do! Paul says this so clearly in Romans 7 because as great as an apostle that he was, he, too, struggled.
Now we will do whatever we are inclined to do. If we choose to do this or we choose to do that then it is because we were inclined to choose what we are doing. This is not by necessity a bad thing, but it is a thing which causes us to struggle because sometimes we know that we are doing the wrong thing or the sinful thing, but we still do it without regard to consequences–whether they are good or bad consequences. It is our natural bent to choose to do what we do.
There are those that believe that because we get to choose that we are free from any outside source or force. It is our choice as to whether or not we do whatever is inside of us and we are not biased by anything else. However, the reality is that the Bible teaches us that we are naturally inclined toward sin. Whatever we do it’s because we are inclined to do that thing. Our choices are not without bias. It is something that is innate because we are all with sin. Prior to salvation in Jesus Christ we have no problem with sin because it is something that comes naturally to us; it is innate. The Bible also describes us as being “slaves to sin” prior to salvation in Jesus Christ. This means that our inclination is going to be to do whatever we do because of the master whom we serve, namely sin.
Herein lies the problem with our inclination: once we come to salvation in Jesus Christ we still struggle because now we have a conflict between our sinful nature and our new nature in Jesus Christ. Our bent is still toward sin but now we also have a new bent toward Jesus Christ. However, whatever is going to bring us pleasure at a given moment is to what we will be inclined. In other words, that which brings us pleasure will be the choice that we choose to exercise because we do not want to be in pain nor do we want to do that which will cause us not to feel the pleasure.
So we still struggle with the sin that so easily ensnares us. It is common among all Christians even though the world expects for us to be completely perfect. As the old bumpersticker says, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven!” As cliche as that may be, it is absolutely true. We will always have struggles between the flesh and the spirit. Again, Paul the apostle understood this. We will always struggle with our inclinations for pleasure over pain. We will always do that which is easier than that which is difficult. And what is so difficult? To crucify the flesh in order to live by the Spirit. That’s what’s so difficult for us to do. When Jesus said that we are supposed to take up our cross daily none of us want the pain of that. No one wants to have to work hard in this life. No one wants to fight the temptation but to give into it because it is the easiest road that we can take, that is, to just give into the inclination of the flesh. He was telling us that this battle between the flesh and the spirit is a constant battle and we need to stand firm in Him to win this battle. After all, He did win the battle: even though being tempted as we are He was and is without sin!
What do we do then? How shall we then live? We need to understand that through Jesus Christ we do have forgiveness of sin–all sin! We need to live our lives not beating ourselves up over our sin, but certainly confessing our sin and having a change of mind about our sin; this is called repentance. We need to then grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and see that we truly can do all things through Him because He strengthens us. We need to take up our cross daily and crucify the desires of the flesh and live according to the Spirit of God. Is it difficult? Absolutely! This is why we see so many fall away from the faith because they stop fighting the temptations and just give into them. Will it forever be this hard? No, not forever. When we finally finish our race here then we will be completely free when we see Jesus Christ face to face. My only prayer is that He will say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”
So we have inclination to do that which is easiest, that which brings us pleasure over pain. What will you do today? Will you give into the flesh or will fight the good fight and live by the Spirit? My prayer for you and for myself is that we will keep the fight going and that we will stand firm in Jesus Christ who strengthens us.
* DICTIONARY.COM UNABRIDGED BASED ON THE RANDOM HOUSE UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY, © RANDOM HOUSE, INC. 2019