Description: Further examples of experiences of situations of evil nature
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
The Dual Nature Personality in Us
by Ernest O’Neill
You’re going to meet your wife to buy some furniture from a store. You’re looking forward to it and thinking
of the enjoyment they’ll have in picking the right table and chairs and then having it delivered. Really, all
in all, it’s just a happy occasion that you’re looking forward to.
So, you get off work and head out towards the store, but you take a wrong turn and take a little longer to get
there than you planned. So you’re rather late and she is standing there waiting. When you arrive, she asks you
how something else went, another business transaction that you were to complete that day. You tell her part of
the transaction that really isn’t very promising, and yet it isn’t absolutely disappointing, either. But she
grasps the negative comment that you make and before you know it the conversation is already beginning to go
Then, you walk into the store. She makes a few comments about how you are going to pay for the table and the
chairs and you don’t respond as you ought to in an upbeat and encouraging way. You respond rather dryly and
flatly, thinking to yourself, “Well, if she isn’t really confident about it, why should I be?”
You come outside the store. She says to you, “Would you like to go for supper, now?” You say, “No, I don’t
care. Do you want to?” She says, “I only want a cup of coffee.” So you say, “Well, I don’t want anything,
either.” She says, “Well, let’s go home.” You say, “Yeah, let’s go home.” So that is the end of the wonderful,
little transaction that you planned that was going to be an enjoyable move forward in your domestic
Has that ever happened to you? I would imagine that the details are not precisely the ones you have
experienced, yet, something like that has happened to you at some time. You go home wondering, “Where did I go
wrong? Why did I do what I did?” Of course, there are a hundred situations where you could have taken a
different turn. There are at least a dozen different moments when you could have answered differently from the
way you did. You wonder to yourself, “Why, why did I do that?”
Of course, way at the bottom of the answer is the feeling in your own head that it’s up to her to take some of
the weight and the responsibility of things and keep things going happily and keep things going
optimistically. It can’t always depend on you. She ought to be able to lift the thing out of the doldrums at
some point. At bottom, that’s probably a lot of the trouble, isn’t it?
You see different moments when you could have done differently from what you did, but, just at that moment,
you decided, “Well, why doesn’t she do it? She may as well save this evening. Why should I always be the one
to save it?” Of course, at the very heart of that is an attitude, probably of self-pity and self-concern,
probably an attitude that is caught up with a martyr complex and a self-sacrificial preoccupation with what
you have done so often to try to preserve the happiness of your relationship.
At the bottom of all of that is the feeling that you have a right to have somebody else take the weight
instead of you. Yet, it’s so often impossible to do anything about that feeling, isn’t it? You feel, “Well, I
tried, but I didn’t try hard enough. But I tried.” Usually, later that evening, or later that week, or later
that month, whenever the cold war eases off, you eventually end up apologizing anyway and making up.
Now, why is it that you can’t do that at the time? You’re probably like the rest of us, and you answer, “I
don’t know. It just seems the ball is rolling in that direction and I don’t seem able to stop it. It seems as
if the conversation just drifts that way.” Yet, you recognize that there are certain moments when you could
have turned it differently.
Probably you would say, “Yes, there were those moments. I was, at times, conscious of them. Some of them, I
wasn’t conscious of them, but some of them I was. I just felt, “Aw, well, let’s just let it go. I just felt a
whole rising in my nature that we just follow this thing out to the logical conclusion and see what kind of a
ditch it gets us into.” You probably say that you found your personality and your nature just going that way;
so you just let it go.
Many of us find that that is the greatest problem in our lives. In situation after situation our nature, the
very inner essence of our being, seems to want to go down into destruction and into failure and into
unhappiness. Now, we would like to say, “Oh, no, no, no, I’m really a happy person. I want happiness most of
all.” Yet, you would admit that there are moments when you seem to want unhappiness.
Dostoyevsky puts it like this, “The only reason a man will act against his own best advantage is to have his
own way.” I think many of us have known that. We have seen that this is going to be to our disadvantage. We
have seen that it is going to end up in destruction and unhappiness. Yet, something in us makes us want to do
what will almost be a self-destructive thing. Now, why is that?
Well, it seems to be our very nature, doesn’t it? What we have been talking about over the past few weeks is
that most of us have discovered that underneath that nature of ours, that wants happiness and that wants to be
pleasant to our wives and our colleagues, there seems to lie another nature that wants the very opposite of
that, a nature that wants its own way, even if it ends up destroying itself.
What we have said is that that nature comes from the race itself. It’s the whole human race that has been
breeding that nature into its children and its children’s children for generations. Why it is so strong in you
is, you have inherited it from centuries of forefathers. If you ask, “Well, why is it there?” Well, it’s there
because there is something in us that wants to be the god of the whole universe and wants everyone else to bow
down to us and do what we want. There’s something in us that wants that.
There is something in us that doesn’t want to believe that there is any God but us. There’s something in the
human race that has rejected the whole idea that there is a Creator and wants to put itself in the position of
that Creator. Of course, it’s unrealistic. In fact, there is a Creator, there is a Maker who has made us, but
we have bred into ourselves, down through the centuries, the idea that we, in fact, are the god and ruler of
the world, and that we have every right to our own way, even if it seems to bring about our own destruction.
That’s why it seems so impossible to change that nature, because it is part of the human race itself.
Now, is there any way out? Well, all the psychological games we play are like trying to tame a lion with a
piece of candy. The only way is for that nature to be completely remade and recreated. And…. that is what
has happened. That is what has happened in this man Jesus. I don’t know if you know much about Him, but there
is an amazing verse in the New Testament, near the end of the Bible.
It’s in a book called Colossians and it’s in Chapter 3 and verse 3. “For you have died, and your life is hid
with Christ in God.” Now, the amazing fact is this, that you have actually died. That nature of yours that
causes you such trouble was actually destroyed in this man Christ. (He was more than a man; he was the Son of
the Maker of the world.)
That nature of yours that is so intractable and so incorrigible, and so untamable, and so untrainable, that
nature of yours was destroyed in a cosmic miracle that the Maker of the world performed long before the
creation of the world. He actually destroyed you and remade you in His Son. It is possible for you, through
believing that and through trusting His Spirit to make that real in you, it is possible for you to be freed
from that personality of yours.
Let’s talk a little more about it tomorrow.