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The Believer's Two Natures

Before one is born again they have only one nature, referred to as the old nature and it is also called the flesh, the outward man, or the old man. The new nature one receives when they are born again is called the Spirit, the inward/inner man, or the new man. When one accepts Christ as their Savior they receive a new nature but the old nature is still there. Hence, the conflict in a Christian is between the old nature and the new nature. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:17 that the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh and these are contrary to one another.

The Natural Man:
There are three things that are true of the natural man, the man without God. The unsaved person might be gifted, cultured, generous and religious. He may pay his debts, be truthful, industrious, but

  • he can not obey God, Romans 8:7,
  • he can not please God, Hebrews 11:6,
  • nor can he understand God, 1 Corinthians 2:14.
  • We might find it hard to believe that people we know that lead a good moral life and reject Christ can't please God. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6.

Let's look at the creation, the fall and the nature of the natural man, the old man.

  • We see that God made man in His own image, Genesis 1:26-27.
  • God commanded man not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 2:16-17.
  • In violation of God's command Adam ate of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 3:12-13.
  • Then we see God's punishment for man's sin, the ground was cursed, Genesis 3:17, it will bring forth thorns and thistles, Genesis 3:18.
  • Next, man was put out of the Garden of Eden so he could not eat of the tree of life and live forever in his sinful state, Genesis 3:22-24.
  • So by one man, Adam, sin entered the world and death by sin. Death then passed upon all men for all have sinned, Romans 5:12.
  • The natural man is frail and infirm. Job tells us that man is born of woman and is of a few days and full of trouble, Job 14:1.
  • Isaiah tells us that all flesh is as grass and withereth away, Isaiah 40:6-8.
  • Mark tells us that from within, out of the heart of man proceeds evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness, Mark 7:21-22.
  • Mark continues to tell us that all these evil things come from within and defile the man, Mark 7:23.
  • Jeremiah tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, Jeremiah 17:9.

The natural man is referred to as the flesh, so what about the flesh?

  • The flesh cannot please God, Hebrews 11:6; Romans 8:8.
  • John tells us that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that born of the Spirit is spirit, John 3:6.
  • There is no good thing in the flesh, Romans 7:18.
  • The flesh profits nothing, John 6:63.
  • We should note that religion has to do with the flesh while true Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The natural man is also referred to as the Old Man, so what about the Old Man?
The apostle Paul said that our old man is crucified with Jesus so that the body of sin might be destroyed so that we should not serve sin, Romans 6:6. The Old Man is corrupt, Ephesians 4:22.

The natural man is also called the outward man and also referred to as the heart.

  • We see the outward man and see that he is dying day by day and will eventually perish, 2 Corinthians 4:16.
  • The heart is deceitful above all things and is wicked, Jeremiah 17:9.
  • From out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies etc., Matthew 15:19.

From the above we can see that the natural man without God is in a sad state. Solomon tells us in the book of Ecclesiastes that all of life is vanity, worthless, without God. We have seen that the natural man is a sinful man and the wages of sin is death, speaking of the second death, Romans 6:23. Therefore, this old nature leads us to an eternal separation from God in a lake of fire, which is the second death, Revelation 21:8.

The New Man:

So what about the new man? When one believes on Christ and is saved they receive a new man. The believer still has his old nature which is unchanged and unchangeable and now he has a new man. Regeneration is a creation, not a transformation, it is the bringing in of a new thing, not a change of the old. The new man is after God and created in righteousness and true holiness, Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 4:24.

  • The new man is called Spirit in contrast with and in opposition to the flesh, the old natural man.
  • This new Spirit is divine in origin and is called a divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4.
  • This new man, new nature, the spirit is perfect and unable to commit sin, 1 John 3:9.
  • This new man cannot sin because he is born of God, 1 John 5:18; 1 John 1:10, 3:9. The believer now has two nature, one of the flesh inherited from Adam that is sinful and one nature that was born from God which cannot sin. This is the reason for the conflict of the two natures. The old nature of the flesh wants to sin and the new nature from God can not sin.
  • If we don't receive this new man, by being born again, we cannot enter the kingdom of God, John 3:3.
  • Before being saved we bear the image of Adam, Genesis 5:3, but when we are born again it is after the image of God, Colossians 3:10.
  • The new man is created in righteousness and holiness, Ephesians 4:24.
  • The new man is perfect and is called a divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4.

The New Man Cannot sin, So can a Christian sin? Yes! Because we still have the old sinful nature in addition to the new nature that cannot sin.

  • He that is born of God cannot sin, 1 John 3:9 5:18.
  • If we say we haven't sinned we make God a liar, 1 John 1:10.
  • God knew the old man would lead us to sin and John tells us that if any of us commit a sin then we have an advocate with the father who is Jesus Christ and He is the propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:1-2.
  • This new man within us is called a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15.
  • This new creation is also called the “inward man” and it is the inward man that cannot sin, Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16.
  • If we could not sin John would not have told us what to do if we do sin, 1 John 1:9.

Some teach that the old nature can be done away with and we can live free from sin. This is a false teaching.

  • The Bible says that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth isn't in us, 1 John 1:8.
  • If we could live sin free then John would not have told us what to do when we do sin, 1 John 1:9
  • The Bible also says that if we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar and His Word isn't in us, 1 John 1:10.
  • The “Word” is Jesus Christ, John 1:1-14, and if we don't have the Word we are still dead in our sin, Colossians 1:27.
  • When Christ returns in the air we will receive a new body that is sin free, Philippians 3:21.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 tells us that this new body is not only sin free but incorruptible.
  • Paul asked the Galatians, “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”, Galatians 3:3.
  • Like the old nature this new nature cannot be changed, John 3:6.
  • This new man is divine in origin and is perfect, 1 John 3:9; 5:18.
  • This new man is a gift of God and God promised that he would never take away His gifts, Romans 11:29.
  • Even if one commit's a sin this new nature cannot be taken away because God has provided for the possibility of sin, 1 John 1:9; 2:1.

For Christians, who have these two natures, there is a great conflict, Galatians 5:17. The conflict comes because of the natural man, the old sinful nature that is in us. The old nature and the new nature reside side by side in our personality. So which one of these natures has rule over our lives? The flesh desires dominance in our life but so does the Spirit. The conflict is in our minds and our freewill decides which one will rule.

  • Paul gave us an example of this conflict in his own life Romans 7.
  • Paul describes the conflict of the two natures in Romans 7:14-16. All Christians have the same conflict that Paul describes.
  • Paul wanted to do right but did not. He said it was no more him that did it but sin that dwelt in him, Romans 7:17.
  • Paul had the desire to walk in the new man but because of the old man, he couldn't work out that which was good, Romans 7:18.
  • Paul acknowledges that the good he wants to do he doesn't do. But the evil he would not do is what he does, Romans 7:19.
  • Paul identifies with the new nature but he understands the effects of the old nature. The sin nature is the cause of sin in our lives, Romans 7:20.
  • Paul says when he does good he finds that evil is present with him. This evil is present because of the old nature, the nature of sin, Romans 7:21.
  • Paul delights in the law of God that is after the inward man, Romans 7:22.
  • But Paul sees another law, one that wars against his mind and brings him into captivity to the law of sin, Romans 7:23.
  • Paul then asked, Who shall deliver him from the body of this death?, Romans 7:24.

If believers fail to understand the two natures, they will live a life of defeat as they try to change the old nature into the new. Remember we previously learned that we could not change the old man nor the new man.

  • When the old man arises we can remember that it is the sin nature and we can reckon it dead and follow the new nature which is from God, Romans 7:25.
  • When we allow the new nature to rule in our lives the old nature has no effect. But to win the conflict and be victorious we must reckon the old nature dead and the new alive, Romans 6:5-9.
  • We are to reckon the old nature as dead and the new nature as spiritually alive and therefore control our minds, Romans 6:10-11.
  • We need to let the new man reign in our lives, let him control our minds, and not allow the old nature back on the throne of our mind, Romans 6:12-14
  • Paul says, I live, meaning the new nature, his old nature he considered as having died. That which is alive is Christ and we need to keep this new man on the throne of our minds by putting on the mind of Christ, Galatians 2:20.
  • We can eliminate the old man by putting on the new man. If we keep our mind filled with the Lord Jesus Christ then the new man is ruling our lives and Christ reigns, Romans 13-14.
  • Paul tells us to walk in the Spirit, which is the new man and we won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh, the old man. If we are walking in the Spirit we are being controlled by the Holy Spirit and He will not lead us into sin, Galatians 5:16.
  • We don't want to try to change the old man, who is unchangeable, but we want to seek those things which are above and thus the influences of the old man will have little or no effect on us, Colossians 3:1-2.
  • Our former life in the old man, the old nature, is dead and our lives hid with Christ in God, Colossians 3:3.
  • Don't try to change the old man, put off the old man and put on the new man and allow the new man to reign in your life, Ephesians 4:22-24.

Please note that if we do not experience this conflict in our lives we are not saved. It would mean we only have the old man and there is nothing there to conflict with it. If one recognizes this conflict only occasionally it may mean that the old nature is reigning in their life. When the new nature asserts itself, the old nature is sure to war against it. This conflict within us is a sure sign of salvation.



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