When I was a teenager, there were a few TV shows that were more than just an "occasional see." They were a "must see" – as in, when they came on, nothing (except perhaps a breakout of thermonuclear war) was going to move my firmly couch planted person anywhere until the program was over.
Some of these shows are now extinct - but one was adapted, CGI'd, and blasted onto the big screen with incredible force.
Really, I mean incredible – as in The Incredible Hulk … and I think the folks who were in previous Marvel installments just might turn green with jealousy - because this one simply rocks.
Yes, I'm no longer a teenager – and no, I cannot always superglue myself to the couch for TV programs whenever (as it turns out, I have a wife, four kids, and what some might call a "real job"). But seeing Ed Norton transform into the tortured and totally ripped destructo machine Hulk is truly entertaining and thought provoking.
Wait a sec…. Thought provoking? The Incredible Hulk?
Indeed. I'm not about to throw any plot spoilers your way – except that he turns green, dominates and destroys all manner of things – yet beyond the action/adventure, there is a real connection to a real spiritual truth.
As it also turns out, we are all very much like Bruce Banner. He is a man who is trying to come to grips and even conquer the darkest part of his nature, so much so that he is willing to go to incredible lengths to make this happen.
Sometimes when I was a teenager watching The Incredible Hulk, I secretly wished I could transform into the Green Machine and work out my anger by throwing cars and pulling out light poles. But as I've grown older, I've come to the realization that giving in and letting your anger out is probably one of the stupidest things you could do. On the big screen, this is one way to become a super hero. In real life, this is the best way to lose friends, respect, and even your future.
Which is exactly why the Bible paints a clear picture of how we should handle the evil side of our human nature in – not green but – black and white terms. See if these truths from God's word make sense to you:
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will. That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God (Romans 8: 5-14).
Did you catch the formula for defeating your sinful nature? It doesn't lie in a chemical or even will power for that matter. The solution is a Person - and that Person is the Holy Spirit. When you trusted in Jesus as your only hope of salvation, the Holy Spirit "moved in" to your soul. One of His desires is that your sinful nature be dominated and destroyed on a daily basis like the Hulk vs. the bad guys.
Think about it, you have the very power of God living inside you! So, the next time you have a strong urge to give in and let your world be transformed into an ugly mess of damage and relational melt downs, remember that you always have a choice. Focus on the Person and power of the Holy Spirit, and let Him defeat your sin nature and lead you into life and peace.
Head: Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death (Romans 8:5-6).
Heart: Feel totally empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit living inside you. It's an amazing realization that even though we have a terribly ugly side to our nature, we also have the amazing beauty of God Himself as our nature as well.
Hands: In your own words, put together an "emergency prayer" that you memorize for times when you are tempted to give in to your sin nature. Mine goes like this:
"Holy Spirit, I ask you to fill and control me right now. My desire is to please my heavenly Father, so please defeat the sin nature within me and grant me victory over this temptation. In Jesus name I pray - amen."
Lane Palmer serves as a writer for Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S) in Arvada, Colorado, a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teenagers to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information about D2S, please visit www.dare2share.org.