June 30

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles. Galatians 2:15

This seems a strange verse at first. Paul says that he was a Jew by nature, and not a Gentile sinner. But it is clear that we are all – both Jew and Gentile – born with the nature of sin in our lives. That is changed by the power of new birth and the gift of a new nature. What Paul is referring to here is the ‘nature’ that is cultivated through upbringing – in other words, the habits of a lifetime. Paul was brought up to know which foods were on the permitted list for Jews; it was second nature to him to refuse to eat pork. The lesson here for us is that we must turn the imparted nature of Christ into the habits of our new life. If we had the habit of always criticising people, then we must cultivate the habit of encouraging them. If we had the habit of sinking into depression every time there was some negative response to us, then we must develop the habit of praise. Christ has imparted to us a new nature, but we must turn that new nature into habits of thought and life through obedience. This is not easy, and it involves a great deal of repentance, as we realise how easily we fall back into old ways. Old habits are strong, and shape our responses, and they must not be allowed to do so, or they will rob us of a consistent testimony. Determine to be a Christian by the power of the Spirit, and make faith, praise, love and obedience the habits of your life.