It all began for you as a believer when you trusted Christ and He entered the door of your heart. At that moment, Jesus took up residence in the home of your soul. He enjoys being with you in every room of your soul except one. He will never spend time with you in the basement.
If the electricity goes out and someone in the family needs to go into their dark basement to find some candles, how many children do you know who would volunteer to go downstairs alone? And yet incredibly, God’s children often voluntarily venture “downstairs” all alone to enter a dark room in their soul. The Bible calls this dark area our “sinful nature.”
The Apostle Paul wrote these words about the basement of his soul: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” (Romans 7:18) There is not an ounce of goodness in the basement of your soul.
Your sinful nature is separate and distinct from your heart and your mind. Your heart and mind only become filled with junk from your sinful nature when you bring it upstairs with you from the basement. The heart can remain pure by meditating upon things that are excellent and noble and good. (Philippians 4:8) Your free will is always choosing whether to remain upstairs with Jesus, or to head downstairs to the basement.
The most miserable people in life tend to be Christians who are spending regular periods of time in the basement. They are living in willful sin as they make deliberate decisions everyday that go against God’s Word, the Holy Spirit’s leading, and their conscience. There is no joy in their soul because a Christian will never be at peace when he is living in sin. The Lord is not pleased. The Holy Spirit is grieved. (Ephesians 4:30) The believer is dealing with guilt and shame. Everyone in the “house" is bothered by the sinful decisions of the believer's free will. The home of the Christian's heart becomes filled with tension and unrest.
In many ways, it is much easier for unbelievers to spend lots of time in the basement. They don’t have the Creator of the Universe living in their heart waiting for them to get back upstairs. Unbelievers often don’t experience much conflict between their choices and the way they want to be living. There is also no conflict between their sinful nature and the Holy Spirit because they do not have the Holy Spirit living inside of them.
That is not the case for the believer. Our situation is much more conflicted because our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19) St. Paul describes the conflict this way:
"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (Galatians 5:16-18)
Talk about a daily battle! The Holy Spirit is leading us to go God's way with our thoughts and behavior, while the desires of the basement are tempting us to come down there instead. Here is some of the "business" that gets conducted in the basement:
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21)
In other words, those who choose to live constantly in the basement are not born again believers. They will not go to heaven unless they repent and turn to Christ in faith.
Here is what a Christian gets to enjoy in all the rooms upstairs:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25)
In other words, the Holy Spirit will keep producing His fruit within us as we continue saying "no" to sin. He will never produce His fruit in us while we are in the basement. We are to keep in step with the Spirit as we live for Christ moment by moment.
Whatever pressure we feel to go down to the basement will only increase if we give into the temptation to sin. Basement dwelling is always addictive! Whether it is anger, worry, gossip, sexual lust, jealousy, substance abuse, grudges, or whatever, the basement is no place for a Christian to be hanging out.
The effective approach for the life of a Jesus follower is pretty straight forward. Stay upstairs. Enjoy Jesus every hour of every day. Resist the urge to sneak downstairs. Remember, you have been there and done that. Why waste another moment of your life gratifying the desires of your sinful nature? You’ve been in that dark place before. It won’t be any better this time, and it could become much worse.
Be encouraged believer. You are forgiven of your sins through faith in Christ and His blood which was shed for your "basement behavior." (1 John 1:7) You are a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) You are free to stay upstairs with Jesus! (Romans 6:18,22)
The following words may reflect the longings of your heart and may help give you a fresh start:
“Lord Jesus…..deliver me from myself. I become my own worst enemy. It is not someone else’s fault. The problem lies within me Lord. The problem lies in the basement of my soul. The problem lies with my willful choices to go down there even though I know it is against your will. Forgive me Lord for my trips to the basement where I have sinned against You. Help me Jesus. I want to stay right here sitting next to You in close fellowship all the time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”