“…I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both…” Dr. Henry Jekyll
Most people don’t realize that I have a twin. And much like those beloved villains written into all good soap operas, my twin is pure evil. Over the years my vile nemesis has committed a multitude of sins, all while wearing my face. She has said horrible things about my friends and family. She spews words dripping with poison into others’ ears. In her rages she has screamed vicious things into the faces of my precious children, wounding their tender spirits. She has engaged in activities too shameful to mention, and worse, liked them.
Oh, how I loathe this twin of mine! She is arrogant, manipulative, vain and vindictive. She is bent on the destruction of my relationships and my reputation. What am I to do? Even if I could capture this offensive creature and peel off her mask like a Scooby-Doo bad guy, I know that the face underneath would be mine. Not just look like me, mind you, but actually be mine.
Stories of the duality of man’s nature, good versus evil, have captivated us for centuries simply because on some visceral level we can all relate. The monster resides within each of us and, if allowed to flourish, can become the dominant force.
Before Christ was given center stage of my life, I was barely aware of my twin’s existence. Like Dr. Jekyll drinking his potion and unleashing Mr. Hyde, I was suddenly aware of the duality of my nature once I drank the ‘potion’ of salvation. There was the old me, almost like a separate entity wearing my face and trying to exert her control as if it were her right.
As a Christ follower, how can I justify the continued activities of this inner fiend? Simply put, I cannot. Scripture tells me that I am to reckon the old man dead, to be crucified with Christ, and that evil no longer has dominion over me. In other words, my personal Ms. Hyde can only work her foul deeds if I am allowing her to thrive inside of me.
Dr. Jekyll’s fatal mistake was his attempt to separate the two conflicting natures and allow both to exist unhindered by the other. This is impossible and, as children of the Most High, we must recognize it as the deception it is. We cannot live a righteous life while secretly feeding our pet monsters. We are to reckon the old man (sin nature) dead. Period.
Does this mean we will be perfect? Of course not! Indeed, the striving for perfection is its own species of monstrosity that devours its host. (Yes, my perfectionist friends, I am talking to you here!) What it means is that we are not to feed the inner beast. We are to starve it into dormancy and neglect it until its power over us is no more.
Is this just a lot of philosophic nonsense? I think not. I think it is all too easy for us to turn a blind spiritual eye while we sneak down to our inner basements and stroke our pets. After all, what is a little vanity, pride, gluttony or selfishness? At least I’m not as bad as that other guy, right? Beware, my friends. Do you really think that the bitter, the hateful, the abusive, the addicted ever intend to become that way? No! It is that hideous sin nature left unchecked, becoming like the Blob, oozing from any available opening and spilling over all who are unfortunate enough to be in the way. What a wretched people we are!
As long as we reside on this particular fallen stage, my friends, our dual nature will remain a part of our personal cast of characters. However, it is our choice how large a part each side will play. We must hide God’s ‘script’ in our hearts and place Jesus in the starring role, relegating our baser side to the smallest of parts. You know, the character who is killed off and never heard from again. She may still be present in the wings, but her purpose in your life story is finished. Amen?
May the Holy Spirit make us painfully aware of our own Hydes. May we render them weak and anemic through neglect and malnourishment. May we live true to Christ’s character and no other. And may we strive to hear at our finale, not the applause of men, but the voice of our Father saying, “Well done.”
*First published for BACH Co-op, March 2011. Revised and updated July 2013.