The Two Natures
|All of the children of Adam are born into this world with the same sin nature.
One person's sin nature is no better or no worse than another's. We are all the same. We are all
separated from God because of the presence of sin in us. All sin natures in all men and all
women are the same: unholy and unacceptable to a Holy God, where He can have no fellowship.
The sin nature in man operates out of the flesh. Another word for flesh is "carnality." And one who lives out of his sin nature is said to be carnal.
A person's sin nature dominates him as he lives according to the dictates of his flesh. Satan, the enemy of the soul, uses sinful man's flesh and the lusts of it, to keep him deceived and therefore ignorant of God and His Word.
Most of humankind believes that the natural nature of man can be improved on. That is not the case. The natural nature of man is fallen, and it cannot be made over and made right. This is a great deception to most of the world.
Even though all people are born with the same sin nature, or the tendency to live after the flesh, there is a difference only in the actual sins themselves that people commit. Each individual's sins are unique unto themselves. In Old Testament theology, only sins committed in physical acts were regarded as sins; and indeed that was the focus of the Old Testament: the setting up of law by God to make man conscious of external sin. However, when Jesus came upon the scene He began to teach that there was more to the sin problem than just external sins committed. He began to shine light on the very depraved nature of man. The Pharisees failed to understand. Many Christians still do not understand, and that includes entire denominations and sects.
God did not have to just deal with external sin. It was necessary to deal with the sin nature itself -- the tendency to sin. Jesus, in His teaching, placed a greater identification on sin. He taught that committing sin was not just a matter of a physical action, but was a state of the heart. It is the sin nature that separates man from God, because the sin nature has to do with the heart, and in judging, God looks on the heart. So it was not enough to refrain from committing murder. One was a murderer if it was in his heart. It was not enough not to commit adultery. The tendency to adultery was in the heart. To hate was murder; to lust was adultery. This buries man in hopelessness. The sin nature is irretrievably corrupt and beyond redemption.
It is not the sin nature that Jesus came to redeem. Jesus came to put to death the sin nature. He came to do something for fallen mankind that it could not do for itself. Somehow man's very nature, which separated him from God, had to be dealt with.
When Jesus died on the Cross, He paid the penalty for each individual's sins. The actual sins, or unlawful acts that each one has committed or will ever commit. Each person, in receiving that free gift of forgiveness, has different acts for which to be forgiven. One may be guilty of lying and stealing, another of dishonoring his parents, another of murder. All of these acts are forgiven at the Cross, because Jesus Christ Himself paid the penalty for them. "The wages of sin is death." And He paid the wages for all sin for all time.
But, get this! Jesus did not die so that my sin nature and your sin nature could be forgiven and that same nature somehow restored. When Jesus bore our sins on the tree, He put to death our old sin natures. They died with Him. When we are brought to the Cross of Christ, we must die with Him. That is why repentance is so very necessary. That is why humility is so necessary. We are brought to the Cross to die. His is a substitutionary death -- yes -- and He died so that we do not have to. But we are not spared our old lives. We cannot hold onto anything. We come and we die there with Him.
That is what Paul meant when he said, "I am crucified with Christ." Not just Paul -- all of us who come to the Cross for Jesus to be our substitutionary sacrifice. We die with the sacrifice! The Old Testament sinners did not die with the sacrifice. They brought the little lamb and laid their hands on his head, and their sins passed to the little lamb, which was then slain. Then they turned and left, their sins temporarily atoned for, and as soon as they stepped out the gate it began all over again, until the next time they came with a lamb.
Not so with the Perfect Sacrifice. His Sacrifice would happen only one time, so it had to be complete, and it had to be final. Finality only occurs with death. The one who passes his sins to the Perfect Offering, not only passes a few sins, he passes his very self, his very nature, his very old life onto the Sacrifice, and dies there with Him.
You may not feel dead when you come to the Cross for Jesus' Sacrifice on yourself. You may not be aware at the time of the transaction that has taken place.
There are two aspects to the one process of the Cross and the Resurrection. The Cross kills; the Resurrection makes alive. The two go together and cannot be separated. Jesus died to take the judgment upon Himself for our sin. But He did not stop there. He was raised again to give us a new nature and a new life. That is why we are called "new creations." Our old self is not just made over, it dies, and we are raised up -- made new again. That is why Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live..." All of us can say exactly the same thing, because of the Cross and the Resurrection!
Jesus died; He arose. You and I must die with Him and arise with Him. This is not speaking of the resurrection of the body yet to come. This is speaking of the very essence of the Christian life: the born again experience. Much of the church does not understand the born again experience, but it is explained in Romans, Chapter 6.
When we are raised with Jesus, we have a new nature, and it is out of that new nature that God calls us to live. The Holy Spirit is active only in our new, resurrected nature. He is not active in our old nature, which is dead. Now, you say, but it is there. "I can and do still sin!" That is correct. When you sin, it is called walking in the flesh, or after the flesh, and you are told not to do that, but to walk after the flesh and to live unto God.
The only acts of righteousness that any man can do, and the only acts that are pleasing to God, are acts done out of the new nature, the nature the Holy Spirit is active in. Righteous acts must come from Christ. Self righteousness is a deception of Satan, and is a striving of the flesh to be good in and of itself. As Christians we are told in Scripture to walk after the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. That means that we should seek to live with Jesus as Lord, performing in and through us the works of God.
We live this way by faith. When the Pharisees asked Jesus how to do the works of God, He answered, "The work of God is to believe on him whom God has sent." By faith, we account ourselves dead with Jesus as we place all of our sins on the Cross. By faith, we are buried with him as we account our self (dominated by sin) as dead. By faith we arise with him to newness of life, in which we are to live unto God, except in the new creation led by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit leads; He does not drive. The flesh drives; the law drives through the flesh. Sin drives, and Satan drives. The Holy Spirit leads. In our new nature, we are led of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God is our lamp and our guide. We are to renew our newly created minds on Truth, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.
As we learn and grow in knowledge of the Word and in faith, we become more spiritual and less carnal. We never grow independent of God's Spirit; rather we grown more dependent as we grow in grace and truth. A mature Christian is one totally dependent upon Christ. Very few are there yet and can claim absolute maturity. In fact to claim absolute maturity is pride, proving one is not yet mature.
Do you see how foolish, in view of all this, to ask the question, "How much sin can I do and still retain my salvation?" Your salvation is not dependent on just the Cross; it has taken part in the Cross and the Resurrection. And if you are a new creation, you do not ask that foolish question. Instead you hunger for milk and then meat; your new nature seeks to grow up in the arms of the Father. If this is not the motive of your heart, you are not saved! You are deceived!
God no longer deals with a new creation in the old nature. Everything He teaches you, shows you and leads you to do is in the new creation in which He lives by His Spirit. You are His dwelling place; but He does not dwell in sin. He dwells in Holiness. So He sees the old you as dead and the new you in Christ, Who is all Righteousness. And that is where His Holy Spirit leads you as His child.
What happens when we do fall short, i.e. do something out of the old nature? By faith we know that Jesus died to pay the penalty for that wrongful act, and so we take it to the Father. We pray, confess where we fall short, and ask the Father to cleanse us and it is done. Then we ask Him to show us how to turn from the fleshly walk and to walk instead after the Spirit. No matter how far we have strayed from the path, when we are repentant, He brings us back again. Then, out of our new nature, we trust and obey.
This is Christianity. There is no other form that is true.