The selfish and sinful desires in our human nature (which is also called the flesh) are the sin that we have. It is only when we knowingly agree with these sinful desires and do them that they become sin that we do. So to have sin is not the same as to do sin.
These selfish and sinful desires never need to become more than a temptation. (Galatians 5:24.) But then we should “always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:10, CEB); this means that we do not let these selfish and sinful desires live and rule in our bodies. Jesus Christ was the first one to put these sinful desires to death, that’s why it’s called “Jesus’ death” or the “death of Christ”. This is not the same as His death on Calvary. Jesus had the same human nature as us human beings and never once gave in to the selfish and sinful desires living in it. The human nature that He had is exactly the same as the human nature that we have. (Hebrews 2:10-18, GNB.)
Travelling through a minefield
Having a sinful human nature can be like traveling through a minefield, full of landmines. These landmines are the selfish and sinful desires that draw and tempt us, even when we know very well that they will “blow up” on us. These desires include jealousy, getting angry, adultery, hate, wanting to become great in this world, being discontent etc. We know the danger of these things. Before Jesus came to the earth, the “minefield” was dark, there was no path through it yet, and people had to get through it without help, unable to avoid coming in all these kinds of sin.
But then Jesus came with the exact same human nature that we have and from the beginning of His life until He died on Calvary, He did not sin one single time. (Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 10:19-20.) In other words, when He found the selfish and sinful desires in His human nature, He didn’t let them live. He brought them all into death – “Jesus’ death”.
In this way He made a path through the “minefield”. When He had finished, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, who was with Him when He went through this “minefield”, to now show us the way. The Holy Spirit goes with us through the “minefield” of our sinful human nature, showing us how to stay on the narrow way. And we have God’s Word to shine light on the path we have to walk. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105.
Follow Jesus on the way He made
We have the same human nature as Jesus, that field full of landmines, those selfish and sinful desires. That is the sin that we have in our bodies, because we are human. (1 John 1:8, ICB.) But just because we have sin in our human nature, that doesn’t mean that we have to do sin. No, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we follow Him who went before us, our Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20) on the way He made, putting everything that we find there to death, Jesus’ death, as soon as we find it. That “landmine” of “wanting to be someone great in this world” doesn’t have to blow up. That lust to impurity doesn’t have to blow up. When we find those landmines, we immediately disable them, in the power of the Holy Spirit who has done it before and will do it again.
How do we do that? First, we judge it: “This is sin; this is jealousy (or whatever it may be), and this is evil and wrong, and will only hurt me if I touch it.” Then we hate it: “God, help me to see this as evil as it really is, help me to see and understand the danger if I would let this live, and to hate it with all my heart and to love righteousness and to love You more than my sinful lusts and desires.” Then we put it to death: “God, give me all the strength and power that I need to say no to this, to overcome the thoughts and the desires, and instead to do Your will.”
The result of clearing the minefield
Then we stop the sinful desires before they become sin, before they have time to bring death and destruction. (James 1:14-15 -CEV.) It is much better to stop thoughts of bitterness or hate the first time we see them, when they are still just small seeds of discontent, instead of letting them grow and become strong and big problems. A life without sin cannot be compared to a life where you are a slave of your sinful desires.
And what do we find then, when we carry “Jesus’ death in our bodies”, when we put sin to death? Then we find that life is peaceful and full of rest. “Those who love Your law have great peace.” Psalm 119:165 (MEV). All unrest comes from sin that has not been put to death. “Why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn't it because you are full of selfish desires that fight to control your body?” James 4:1 -(CEV). When those selfish desires are put to death, so they don’t tempt me anymore, then I have rest and peace. The minefield is “cleared,” and instead of fighting and arguing and wanting more and more earthly goods, our natures can begin to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22.) This is the new creation that God can then work in our lives. (Galatians 6:15.) Then we are truly free.