As we approach New Year’s Day, it is traditional to make resolutions about how we would like to change our bodies, habits and other behaviors. Rarely do they work. Establishing a new behavior typically takes about sixty days of reinforcement. This is the minimum time it takes to re-wire our neurons in the brain.
I am in no way discouraging attempts of self-improvement in this life. It can be done. My discussion over the next few blog entries will not be about improvements in this life. Rather it will be about how we will be changed when we leave this life. As we imagine the version of ourselves that will be discovered when we die, it may inspire you to get a head start and to begin changes while still here.
The first change to ponder is the end of our sinful nature. Getting rid of this flaw is a primary reason why we need to physically die, since sinful nature is a part of our flesh.
Think about what sinful nature does. One thing is the drive to self-satisfaction that leads us to cross the line of God’s Law. Whether an endorphin lift caused by sex, risk taking (like gambling), drugs, or other things; this drive feels good and gives a temporary boost in energy or relaxation, it also distorts the God-given purpose for sex, creates bad stewardship decisions, takes advantage of others and pushes God to the side. Pleasure is not automatically sinful. In fact, I expect Heaven and the New Earth to be filled with pleasure. The change will be the ability to find pleasure in good and godly things. Our current bodies are wired more for the former than the later.
A new body, at first just a Heavenly body and then a resurrected Earthly body, will operate differently. I’m sure it will have even a greater capacity for pleasure, but it will not struggle with impulse control or selfish gratification. Rather, love will likely be the driver of pleasure.
Lack of impulse control is also a big problem with our words. Anger is ignited and, for many, goes directly to harsh words and sometimes quickly to violent actions. Heaven will be different. First, there won’t be things to trip anger, but even if there would, a body that is peaceful, happy and controlled will be without harsh words. How great will relationships be without the products of sinful nature.
Another thing that I believe is created by sinful nature is a need to compete with others. It may serve a survival purpose in this world, but it leads to unnecessary damaged relationships and self-loathing. What would it feel like to be truly and completely happy for others? Our best efforts at this are at least tainted with jealousy.
A body created by a genome tainted with the corruptions of sinful nature also has a hard time maintaining joy. Quickly our biology slides back to the feelings and weaknesses of boredom: lack of energy, focus and the like. Some don’t care to even consider Heaven because their minimal knowledge of it makes it sound boring. They are bored in a worship service, because they don’t understand what they are doing. The thought of anything that is “eternal” evokes the thought of eternal boredom. Ironically, the cause of boredom will not be a part of Heaven or the New Earth. Existence will be engaging and without the swings we experience here.
No doubt there are many other affects of sinful nature that will not be a part of our eternity. We don’t recognize them now, so it is hard to imagine what our new lives will be like. It is fun to try, however.
Some changes are modestly achievable now. Why not just wait? Living in ways that are contrary to sinful nature are pleasing to God and good discipleship in many ways. They may even give some pleasure now, if not insight into how things will be.