“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit (that is, practice) sin; for his seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).
It is the grace of God working in the soul that makes the believer delight in holiness, in righteousness, in obedience to the will of God, for real joy is found in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. I remember a man who lived a life of gross sin.
After his conversion, one of his old friends said to him, “Bill, I pity youa man that has been such a high-flier as you. And now you have settled down; you go to church, or stay at home and read the Bible and pray; you never have good times any more.”
“But, Bob,” said the man, “you dont understand. I get drunk every time I want to. I go to the theater every time I want to. I go to the dance when I want to. I play cards and gamble whenever I want to.”
“I say, Bill,” said his friend, “I didnt understand it that way. I thought you had to give up these things to be a Christian.”
“No, Bob,” said Bill, “the Lord took the want to out when He saved my soul, and he made me a new creature in Christ Jesus.”
When we are born of God we receive a new life and that life has its own new nature, a nature that hates sin and impurity and delights in holiness and goodness.
While walking through the forest one day, a man found a young eagle who had fallen out of his nest. He took it home and put it in his barnyard where it soon learned to eat and behave like the chickens. One day a naturalist passed by the farm and asked why it was that the king of all birds should be confined to live in the barnyard with the chickens. The farmer replied that since he had given it chicken feed and trained it to be a chicken, it had never learned to fly. Since it now behaved as the chickens, it was no longer an eagle.
“Still it has the heart of an eagle,” replied the naturalist, “and can surely be taught to fly.” He lifted the eagle toward the sky and said, “You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth your wings and fly.”
The eagle, however, was confused. He did not know who he was, and seeing the chickens eating their food, he jumped down to be with them again.
The naturalist took the bird to the roof of the house and urged him again, saying, “You are an eagle. Stretch forth your wings and fly.”
But the eagle was afraid of his unknown self and world and jumped down once more for the chicken food. Finally the naturalist took the eagle out of the barnyard to a high mountain. There he held the king of the birds high above him and encouraged him again, saying, “You are an eagle. You belong to the sky. Stretch forth your wings and fly.”
The eagle looked around, back towards the barnyard and up to the sky. Then the naturalist lifted him straight towards the sun and it happened that the eagle began to tremble. Slowly he stretched his wings, and with a triumphant cry, soared away into the heavens.
It may be that the eagle still remembers the chickens with nostalgia. It may even be that he occasionally revisits the barnyard. But as far as anyone knows, he has never returned to lead the life of a chicken.
An American Indian tells about a brave who found an eagles egg and put it into the nest of a prairie chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the changeling eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what the prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled. And he flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, thats how prairie chickens were supposed to fly.
Years passed. And the changeling eagle grew very old. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.
“What a beautiful bird!” said the changeling eagle to his neighbor. “What is it?”
“Thats an eaglethe chief of the birds,” the neighbor clucked. “But dont give it a second thought. You could never be like him.”
So the changeling eagle never gave it another thought. And it died thinking it was a prairie chicken.