Description: Further discussions on the problem of the dual nature
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
We Have Two Personalities
by Ernest O’Neill
We’ve been taking some rather large steps in our discussion of the meaning of life during these past weeks. I
really do feel for those of you who have been following the conversation during the months, because I realize
that we have taken some massive steps in philosophical and theological thinking. I understand that much of it
is new to you and much of it is kind of bewildering, and I do hope that you don’t think that I have gone a
little crazy on you all of a sudden.
I haven’t, but it is necessary, at times, when we’re discussing such a complex question as the meaning of
life, to take large steps and make large leaps. I really do hope that they haven’t been too large in their
logical outcome or implications. I do ask you to stick with me as well as you can, because I will keep going
back on the subject and, by all means, do write to me if you wish to the address that I give at the end of the
program, because I do want to explain what I mean clearly, so that you have the best possible chance of
getting meaning into your own life and beginning to get some satisfaction out of your life.
You know that we’ve been discussing the central problem of human nature: that of our dual nature. It is the
battle between good and evil that goes on inside us. We have discovered that we have not only a good nature,
that seems to want to be kind and happy, but we also have a bad nature, an evil nature, that often seems to
want to be unhappy and even to destroy itself and certainly to destroy other people.
We’ve discussed at some length where those two natures came from and how both of them are actually as old as
the race itself. The good nature is the one that has been given us by the Person who made us: the Creator of
the world. You may remember that we have talked at some length why we believe there is a Creator of this
world. He gave us a nature that was made to trust Him and to depend on Him. That’s what He wanted us to do. He
wanted us to be His friends and He wanted us to think of Him as our dear Father. He wanted us to come to this
earth and to do the job that He had made us to do.
If you’re a violinist, then you play the violin. If you’re a pianist, then you play the piano. If you’re an
accountant, then you count money. If you’re a director, you direct businesses. He wanted us to do the job He
had given us to do in order to bring His world into complete order under His will. In the process of that, He
assured us that we would make sure we had all the money and shelter and clothing that we needed in this life,
and that we would get great satisfaction from doing what He made us to do.
As a result, we would have a great sense of our own identity and who we were and of our own self-worth and
value. Now, we determined not to do that. We decided we would live without Him. We would live independent of
Him, or at least our forefathers did, centuries ago. So, they developed at the beginning of the human race
another kind of nature that was made to live as if there was no God, to live as if we only had ourselves to
look after and only had ourselves to look after ourselves.
So, that nature began to develop all the neuroses that such a situation would almost impose upon us. We looked
around and saw all the billions of people in the world who were all trying to get the food, clothing and
shelter that they needed, who were all trying to get the sense of self-worth that they needed, who were all
trying to get the happiness that they needed. The only way that we could ensure that we would get it, despite
our attempts to get it for ourselves, was to develop all kinds of competitiveness, all kinds of anger,
jealousy and envy and pride, all kinds of ways of wanting our own way, of insisting on our own rights, of
beating the other guy down so that we could stay on top.
We developed a nature that is like that, a nature that is self-assertive and self-defensive, that is
destructive of other people. Unfortunately, that nature has become as real, indeed more real for many of us,
than our good nature. The problem with it is that it is as old as the race itself. Now, what we have been
saying is that the Creator foresaw all that.
I hope you don’t have problems with that when you consider that the Cray computers or IBM computers are able
to foresee how much oil we will need in the twenty-first century. They are able to foresee al the contingent
decisions a certain person will make given a certain situation and certain environmental background and a
certain heredity. So, if computers can do that you know that the infinite mind of the Creator of the universe
can certainly do it and that’s what He did. He foresaw the kind of person you would become by your contingent
decisions. He knew that you would be hopelessly overwhelmed by that evil nature — that you wouldn’t be able
to do anything about it.
So, what He did, and I know this is a tricky thing and a hard thing for you to believe, what He did was He
remade you. He remade you before He’d actually made you the first time. Don’t get confused about that. You
know that it’s possible for a man like Einstein to conceive of all the possibilities of the Theory of
Relativity simply in his own head. Many of Einstein’s discoveries and proofs have only been proved out in
astronomical experiments years after he formed the theory.
So, even a bright human mind is able to conceive of all kinds of possibilities just in the mind itself. That’s
what the Creator did. Except that He was also able to remake you, even before He had made you the first time.
He was able, in other words, to conceive you, conceive of making you, conceive of what would be the problem in
your life, and actually remake you before He made you the first time.
So, in fact, there are two natures available to you. There is the old, selfish nature that you so often
experience and there is this good nature that is made fit to depend on God and not on the world. There is the
possibility that you can receive that nature into your own life today. That’s the only possibility. You’ll
never beat that old nature on your own, however many sensitivity groups you go to, however many books on
controlling your temperament you go to, however much self-discipline and cold showers you use, you will never
You know that, those of you who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, who are alcoholics, or those of you who are
even addicted to bad temper or to envy or jealousy or pride, you know that you’ve tried to control it and you
can’t. The Maker knew that. He actually destroyed that old nature of yours. Now He destroyed it in His Son. He
had to put it into another human being and that’s why His Son came to earth. He put it in His Son and
destroyed it there.
Now, if you say, “Oh, how can that affect me today, what happened twenty centuries ago?” Well, because there’s
no such thing as time, really. Time is just an invention, an accommodation that the Creator has made for you
and me to be able to live in a time-space world. But, in timeless eternity, there is no time. So, He was able
to put you into His Son Jesus and destroy that old nature in Him. When Jesus actually cried out, “My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, He was crying it out, because He felt the wrath of His Father burning out
your selfish nature in Him. Now, that’s why He died.
That nature has been destroyed. You may say, “Well, why is this old nature still alive in me?” That’s because
God allowed the ghost of it to continue in you today, so that you would have a real choice to make in this
life. You would see one way to live dependent on the world of men and of things, and circumstances for all
your security and your significance and happiness and all the consequences that that evil nature would produce
or, on the other hand, you would see the possibility of depending on God and trusting in Him and the kind of
nature that would produce. You could see that in Jesus, His Son.
So, God wanted you to have a real choice. Now, you can choose today. It is open to you. You can actually
choose. The selfish nature that you have shadows and symptoms of in your present life has already been
destroyed. It no longer exists. The Creator has actually destroyed it in cosmic eternity. But the new nature
that he has given you when He raised His Son from the dead, that nature is available to you.
If you say to me, “How do you receive it?” By believing. That’s it. Simply by believing. You believe that God
has done what He said He has done. There is a verse in the New Testament that might help you to grasp that.
It’s in Romans 6 and verse 6 and it goes, “Our old self was crucified with Christ.” That’s it.
All you have to do is believe that…believe that… and then begin to listen to His Spirit that He will put
within you who will tell you what to say to your wife at the crucial moment, what to say to your colleagues at
the crucial moment. That Spirit, if you obey it, will enable you to live in the new nature every day of your
life. That can begin today. Let’s talk a little more about it tomorrow.