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The Makeup of Our Nature title with a seagull in the picture.

One night,when I entered my house and turned on the light, I saw a roach run swiftly away to hide from me. This got me to thinking about the nature of creatures and animals and our nature. When I walk in the woods, the rabbits, deer, and other animals run from me. They have never seen me before to know whether or not I will harm them. Why do they run?

The reason they run is that the Creator built this into their nature. After the flood, God told Noah and his sons: “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea” (Genesis 9:2).

Throughout all the earth every living thing that moves has natural and innate instincts that determine how it acts.

ABILITY TO CHANGE

Even though all moving forms of life have the nature God gave them, this does not mean that they cannot alter to some extent and within certain limits, the use of their natural instincts. Their nature is built into their DNA. These instinctive traits can be modified or redirected to some extent through training and breeding.

James wrote, “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind” (James 3:7). People can tame these living forms of life so that they will not fear people, even though God put the fear of people in them.

HUMAN NATURE

Besides programming our physical nature, God has also programmed our moral and spiritual nature. Because of this, we have a sense of right and wrong. Unless we pervert our nature, we can instinctively realize and judge what is morally and spiritually correct. God has put this in our genes.

Jesus stated, “If any man is willing to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself” (John 7:17).

Paul wrote, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (Romans 2:14, 15).

We have a built-in, moral conscientiousness because God has made this a part of our nature. This includes our conscience which can morally judge us as to whether or not we are living up to what we believe is right. It judges according to what we think is right or wrong but not necessarily by what is true according to God's principles (Acts 23:1; 26:9).

CONTRARY TO OUR NATURE

Whales in the oceanBecause God has given us the ability to choose, we can misuse our natural instincts. Paul wrote that the Gentiles, who knew better (Romans 1:32) with an innate ability to realize what is the right and wrong (Romans 2:14, 15) had gone contrary to this knowledge. In doing this, they had misused and gratified their good passions outside God's parameters. Their moral consciousness became deadened because they sought to enjoy their bodily functions contrary to their natural usage.

“For this reason God also gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Romans 1:26, 27).

There are many sexual practices which are contrary to God's intended use of sex and a perversion of our sexuality. Like living creatures and animals, whose behavior can be directed away from their natural instincts, we also can satisfy our sexual and other passions contrary to their natural usage.

If we pervert the good desires God gave us, we can develop an animal-like nature that will enslave us to misuse our God-given passions. Peter wrote that such people were “like natural brute beasts,” who had corrupted their nature (2 Peter 2:12). People can become such deviates that they desensitize their natural instincts and sear their consciences as “with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2).

FUNCTIONING BEST

All that God created can function best within their limited environment. Water is the best habitat for fish. The sky is normally the best way for most birds to travel. Outside their natural environment they may have difficulty functioning, or may be unable to function.

This principle applies to us as well, not only to what we do physically, but also to what we should do morally and spiritually. God has designed our nature so that we function best and life is most enjoyable when we respect certain physical, moral, and spiritual limitations (2 Peter 2:19).

“He who would love life / And see good days, / Let him refrain his tongue from evil / … and do good; / Let him seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:10, 11).

“Good understanding gains favor, but the way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

WHY UNHAPPINESS?

If we have been made so that we will find happiness, if we restrict ourselves to correctly use the nature God gave us, why do we have sorrows that seem to devastate us and make us unhappy? We must realize that these come partly because our natural, earthly habitation has been cursed (Genesis 3:17‚ÄČ–19). We have pain, suffering, unhappiness, and other problems as the result of other sources, but not because of the proper use of our nature. They come from troubles the world gives us (John 16:33), violation of our nature (Romans 1:27), actions of other people (2 Timothy 3:12), God's discipline (Hebrews 12:6), and Satan (Revelation 2:10). In spite of these sources, we are happiest and function best when we live in harmony with the nature God gave us. It serves us best even when the storms of this life are at their worst.

CONCLUSION

The principles Jesus taught will help us physically, morally, and spiritually to get the most out of life. Jesus said, “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). His teaching can guide us to live the way God designed us to live so that we will receive the greatest benefit and pleasure from our God-given nature. When we live this way, we will function at our best as does a fish in water and a bird in the air.

God, who gave us our nature, has revealed through Jesus the way to use our nature so that it will give us the greatest satisfaction and enjoyment that life can provide.

Picture credits:
Title background: © DmitryP. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© Archman. Image from BigStockPhoto.com