8 Feb 2009

Do Believers Have Two Natures?

Submitted by theshovel
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As a young Bible College student, I firmly held to the teaching that claimed believers possessed two natures (i.e., the old nature and the new nature). It made a lot of sense to me regarding my own experiences, for I was "on fire for Christ" one day and yet "worldly" the next. We often quoted from Romans 7, the premier Biblical passage seeming to support the viewpoint. Being an eager-beaver Bible-scholar wannabe, I began to develop an easy-find system using small hand-written sketches. For the Romans 7 passage, I drew a little stick man picture of two boxers duking it out. I had assumed I would find numerous other fitting passages for my handy little illustration, but I only added it one more place in Galatians. Alas, the "Minker Illustrated Biblical Organizational System" fizzled out before it got off the ground. :)

Somewhere along the way, the diagram of those two boxing men in the margin of my Bible began mocking me. For my own personal defeats only underscored the inevitability of the lopsided battle I had engaged in. A more suitable illustration might have shown one guy stomping the other. Despite my attempts to feed and nurture my new nature, there was no victory described in that passage. My own failure to gain the upper hand forced me to see what had been clearly written:

I don't understand what I am doing. For I don't do what I want to do, but instead do what I hate. (Romans 7:15 ISV)

I discovered absolutely no suggestion that feeding my new nature could somehow change this defeat into victory. What it really told me was that the battle as viewed according to appearances is bogus. I came to recognize that Paul had not recorded the process by which I was to overcome sin in my life, but that he had described how reality broke through in the midst of the mind of insanity that has been stimulated by law.

However, in the midst of the bogus struggle, the life of God in the inner man shows himself for who he is. It is here where I have looked, only to see who I am no longer. It is a shocking revelation, for it took everything I had assumed about myself and revealed it to not be me. I live where I am, for I live in Christ.

Spoonful: 

Comments

There is just so much pain living in this world. When all your so called Christian friends are constantly reminding you of your sinful nature. i feel so alone.

theshovel's picture

Yes, it is a heavy weight to live under. Perhaps you will be the one to break free of that burden and shed some light in the midst of that darkness. For I can guarantee you that despite any claims to the contrary, those who remind you of something that has been done away in Christ are struggling right along with you. Please feel free to contact me if you have something you'd like to ask. :)

Jim

this is soooo awesome!  :) it testifies of and to the new life that is with god hidden in christ jesus … the new creation … a miraculous creation of god that is not proven, justified nor validated by appearances in the temporal. we are so much more than we realize most of the time.
theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: Feb-08-09 at 5:38pm by Joanne A.
Dear Jim,
PTL and blessings! It is always a joy to see your name in the new emails' box, and this writing was no exception.
For some reason, it reminded me of something Watchman Nee wrote about Gal. 5:17 - once again, we have the flesh and the Spirit "battling each other." No, and so would like to include his thoughts, which struck me as "hitting the nail on the head."

Watchman Nee's comments on Gal. 5:17. "The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for they are contrary the one to the other (in opposition to one another) that you may not do the things that you would (may NOT do the things that you please)."
Watchmen Nee notes: "Consider carefully what this says. 'The flesh' in us is NOT opposed to us BUT to the Holy Spirit of God. It is the Spirit, NOT we, who meets and deals with its promptings. And with what result? 'That you may not do the things you would.'
I think we have often failed to grasp the import of that last clause. What would we do 'naturally'? We would disregard the divine will and move off on some course of our own.
Amen! It is the SPIRIT that meets and deals with the flesh in us (NOT we ourselves) so that we shall NOT do what would naturally do."

Surely makes sense to me, just as your comments do. A blessing to read words of life, and not of death (sorry, but too many who write, are writing words of death).
Thank you always!!!


Posted: Feb-09-09 at 11:16am by Tim P

Hi Jim.
I feel like I am still failing to get something that seems obvious to others here. Are you saying that there are not two natures, but only one, our new nature? So, who were you fighting against?

I'm sorry, but I don't see the connection between the Rom. 7:15 verse and what you wrote right before.

Sigh! These things seem so doggone hard to understand and I just feel like saying, "Whatever!"

Tim


Posted: Feb-10-09 at 9:11am by richard

Jim,
What are you saying? That no matter how bad 'it' is we are not involved?
We are not responsible for this carcass that signs our checks? Not responsible for the pain we cause? because somewhere in our 'faith' we 'know' we are Christ?
Funny we're near Valentines Day and this is very much like the heresy of Valentinus. Eat, drink and be merry because REALLY we're Christians.
I'm sure I've misunderstood so please forgive me and explain to my thick head.

Thanks,
Richard

* ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ * ~:~ *

Hello, my friend, Richard :)

I understand the questions you pose, for they are the same kind of questions I come up with when I try to understand the new life according to human reasoning. After all, do you think what I've written makes sense to my own intellectual attempts to grasp its meaning?

There is a difference between what I'm saying and what you're inferring, for I have said nothing that even comes close to what you're suggesting. I mean, do you actually hear me saying any of those things ... or is it merely that it seems logical to assume that I would go there?

I say to live your life as one who has been raised from the dead to new life, not as one who is trying to figure out how to not live as one who is still dead.

Jim :)


Posted: Feb-10-09 at 10:12am by dignz

"Paul had not recorded the process by which I was to overcome sin in my life, but that he had described how reality broke through in the midst of the mind of insanity that has been stimulated by law.

"However, in the midst of the bogus struggle, the life of God in the inner man shows himself for who he is. It is here where I have looked, only to see who I am no longer. It is a shocking revelation, for it took everything I had assumed about myself and revealed it to not be me. I live where I am, for I live in Christ."

i especially LOVED the above part in blue! :)


Posted: Feb-10-09 at 2:07pm by Darlene

You have no idea how much this helps! I've been thinking of myself as a failure and it may be tough getting out of this mindset. I'm crying because this fits me so well. Thank God and thank you so much!! Darlene


Posted: Feb-11-09 at 10:09pm by Tony Huong

Dear Jim,
Thanks for the sharing.I am absolutely convinced we Christians(Christ's ones) only have the new nature or new man.The old nature or old man was dead (Romans 6:6..etc).Non-christians would only have the old nature.In Rom 7 Paul was relating to his failure at the time when he was trying to overcome sin by self effort.His real spiritual condition was found in Rom 6 & 7.The 2 natures teaching was a real deservice to the Body of Christ.


Posted: Feb-14-09 at 7:56am by theshovel

Hello Tim,

Yes, I am saying that we are not two natures. Even the way in which we use the concept of "nature" is built upon a fleshly understanding where we describe ourselves according to something apart from ourselves. I mean, when we describe ourselves as having a new nature or an old nature, why do we often speak as if we mean something other than who we are? Isn't this more like that fleshly concept of a person with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, each vying for control of the neutral being who is being torn one way or the other?

You ask who I was fighting against. Who do I usually fight against when I argue with myself? Me. Just because I've grown up believing something like that angel/devil scenario doesn't mean I have to answer according to that bogus concept. I have been freed from that prison. I was struggling with sin itself, stimulated by the law in my body ... that which I miraculously came to recognize as NOT me. In seeing what I have, I don't have to hold to the world's empty concepts so that I need to explain it as one of my two "natures".

You say you do not get the connection between Romans 7:15 and what I wrote, and I think that is simply because you are still trying to force the traditional old and new nature battle to Paul's description. Paul came to realize that he did not do the good he recognized in the law, which is that which we wanted to do. Instead, he did that which he hated. It was in doing the thing he did not want to do that he realized he was agreeing that the Law was good. It was his utter inability to do what he really wanted to do, that which was in accord with the goodness of God himself that he recognized that it was no longer he who was doing it.

The more I attempted to do the good I wanted to do I discovered that I was only getting my butt kicked to the ground. No where in the passage does it suggest that I "feed" my new nature in order to overcome my old nature. Instead, there is the guarantee that I will continue to get my butt kicked as long as I proceed with my attempts. Do you want to get stuck in the place where you continue to not do what you really want to do, but instead to do what you hate? It is only the logic of the natural mind that suggests we must transfer our attention over to that new part of ourselves so that we can make it stronger and defeat the old part. Oh yes, we have learned how to "Christianize" the process so that it seems as if we are actually giving God the glory for the increase of Christ and the decrease of self, but in this, we have only learned to apply the fleshly struggle. It is the same game with different words. It is bogus.

I don't mean to sound as if I don't care about your struggle with this confusion, but I am glad it is bringing you to the point of throwing your hands up. Confusion often precedes insight. Don't let the world tell you how to view yourself. Let its concept of a devil on one side and an angel on the other fall away. You are not who you think you are. You are not some conglomerate of old and new. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature! And so you are. :)

Jim

Paul was not describing his then present condition of being under the Law but like he says in the first few verses, we died to the law (the husband) to marry Christ (the new husband). The first husband was good and perfect and demanded perfect obedience of me, which was impossible for me (my flesh). The new husband is not only good and perfect, he does everything (his righteousness) for me rather than requiring good of me, which would have been impossible and still is. Remember, we are never told in Scripture to “overcome” sin,as if it were possible. As Watchman points out it is the Lord Spirit indwelling us Who fights and overcomes sin in us. We can only “rest”, that is by faith believing that I have died to sin’s power and that Christ’s victory on the cross is my victory.I can have no other victory and so Paul answers his own question; through Christ.We do have 2 natures but we are separated from the old nature’s power (circumcision)and are to live by faith in the new nature surrendered to Him.To attempt to overcome sin by self effort (even by the new nature’s self effort) is to enter Galatians 3 legalism which always ends in spiritual despair.To be saved we “rested” in His death for our sins and now having eternal life we continue to “rest” in His FINISHED work on the cross for our sanctification ICor.30. As we keep our focus on the Ascended Christ at the right hand of the Father He is faithful to transform and renew us as we live by faith not self-effort.

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