Study 3 THE TWO-FOLD NATURE OF EVERY BELIEVER
Things Hard to be Understood
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Romans 7: 15-25)
In our last study we saw the importance of being able to distinguish between our standing and our state, but now we shall emphasise the importance of recognising the two-fold nature of the believer. Many Christians become discouraged because they do not understand this doctrine. Every Christian experiences the truth and the reality of the dual nature within, but not every Christian understands the doctrine or the explanation of the experience. The subject may be stated as follows:-
- 1. Every believer has one nature only, the nature inherited from Adam. The Bible describes the unregenerate man as “The man without the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14) – man as he is by nature and apart from Christ.
- 2. When an unbeliever believes and is born again, he receives a completely new nature. He received his old nature by his natural birth and through his union with Adam, but by his second birth he receives a new nature through his union with the last Adam (2 Corinthians 5:17). Thus, he has two natures within – the old and the new.
- 3. When we are born again we receive the new nature, but we do not lose the old nature. It is important to note this. While we are in the body we shall never lose the old Adamic nature; there will always be two natures within us – the old and the new.
- 4.These two natures within every believer are the exact opposite of each other. One is wholly bad and the other is wholly good.
1. THE OLD NATURE
Every child born by human generation has the old nature, which in the New Testament is sometimes called the “old self”; it is also described as “the sinful nature” – look up Romans 6:6; 7:18; 8:8; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9.
- 1. The old nature is Adam’s nature. God created Adam with a sinless nature. Then sin entered, and Adam fell and became spiritually dead and in bondage to Satan. The result? – look up Romans 5:12.
- 2. The old nature, therefore, is an inherited nature. We receive our nature from our parents, who received theirs from their parents …so there is our family tree! Not one of us should be proud of our ancestry – compare John 3:6 with Psalm 51:5(a).
- 3. The old nature is a fallen nature. God says this – look up Genesis 1:26-27; 2:16-17; 3:12-24, and compare Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10,23.
- 4. The old nature is wholly corrupt and evil. Look up Genesis 6:5, 11-12, and compare Isaiah 1:5-6 with Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23. See how the “old self” is described in Ephesians 4:22.
- 5. The old nature is weak and frail. It is marked by infirmity, sorrow, weakness, sickness and death – look up Job 10:20; 14:1-2; Psalm 90:9-10; Isaiah 40:6-8.
- 6. The old nature is unchangeable. We can do nothing to improve or change it; it can be educated or dressed up, but it is still evil and corrupt – look up Job 14:4, and compare Jeremiah 13:23.
- 7. The old nature is condemned by God. God has pronounced the death sentence against our inherited evil nature – Romans 8:3.
2. THE NEW NATURE
The moment we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we are born again and we receive a new nature. What is this nature like?
- 1. The new nature is an entirely new nature. It is not the old nature improved or patched up – look up 2 Corinthians 5:17.
- 2. The new nature is the divine nature. It is the very nature of God Himself – look up and compare John 1:12-13 (notice the last three words) with 2 Peter 1:3-4. This new nature within is the very life of the risen Lord who is upon the throne of God, and this life is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.
- 3. The new nature is a spiritual nature. Compare John 3:6 with 1 Corinthians 15:45-50.
- 4. The new nature is absolutely holy. This must be so if it is the divine nature.
- 5. The new nature cannot sin. What does 1 John 5:18 mean? It means: first, that one who is born again does not habitually sin; it also means that that which is born of God cannot sin – compare 1 John 3:9. Why do Christians sin, then? Because of the old nature!
3. THE CO-EXISTENCE OF THE OLD AND THE NEW NATURES
- 1. Both natures co-exist in every believer. Within every Christian is “the old man” and “the new man”. The Bible does not teach, nor is it possible for anyone to experience, the eradication of the old nature. The old Adamic nature will be in us until the Lord comes and bestows upon us a body corresponding to our new nature (Philippians 3:20-21).
- 2. Both natures are in constant opposition. Compare Romans 7:19-24 with Galatians 5:17.
- 3. Both natures produce an entirely different kind of fruit. Look up Galatians 5:19-22, and notice “the acts of the sinful nature” (verse 19), and “the fruit of the Spirit” (verse 22).
- 4. Both natures must be differently treated. Here is the way of victory over the old nature!:-
- 1. The old nature must be starved; the new nature must be fed. Look up Romans 13:14. Read an evil book and you feed the old nature; read God’s Word and you feed the new nature.
- 2. The old nature must be “put off”; the new nature must be “put on”. Look up and compare Ephesians 4:22-24 – “put off” (verse 22), “put on” (verse 24); Colossians 3:8-10 – “put off” (verse 8), and “put on” (verse 10).
- 3. The old nature must be counted as dead; the new nature as alive. Look up Romans 6:11, and compare Galatians 2:20. When Jesus died, in the purpose and estimate of God He put to death our old nature. Is our old nature, then, actually dead? No – but we are to reckon it so and treat “the old man” as dead and buried! In Romans 7:24-25 the writer cries out in despair, “Who will rescue me?” and he answers his own question, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Now look up and dwell deeply upon Romans 8:12-13.