#050 The Two Natures

One of the great keys to understanding both yourself & others, as well as key parts of the New Testament, is an understanding of the doctrine of The Two Natures.  Today we will take up a study on that very subject. Right-Click Here To Download

SHOW NOTES

The Two Natures

1. The Natural Man

The term “the natural man” is introduced in I Cor. 2:14, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. This verse shows us that the natural man is an unsaved man.  He does not receive the things of the Spirit of God and they are foolishness to him. This is man in his natural condition.  By nature, man is a sinner.  His ways are contrary to God.  He is lost and has a sin nature.  He inherited this sin nature from his earthly father, who inherited it from his earthly father and so on back to Adam.  (See Rom. 5:12) Because of this, by nature, man is spiritually dead and not a child of God.  Ephesians 2:1-3  And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: {2} Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: {3} Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.This spiritually dead nature is attracted to the dead and sinful pleasures of the world, the flesh and the devil, and it is repulsed by the spiritual things of God. All lost people have only a sinful nature.

2. The Spiritual Man

After speaking about “the natural man” in I Cor. 2:14, I Cor. 2:15 contrasts this natural man with “he that is spiritual”.  When an individual is born again he receives a spiritual nature.  With this nature, the child of God does receive the things of the Spirit of God and gains an appetite for spiritual things. Upon being saved he becomes a partaker of this “divine nature”. II Peter 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. According to Eph. 2:1 this nature is alive.  Note it again, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins”. Note also Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. When he is saved, the Christian has passed from death unto life (John 5:24) and this is reflected in his new nature.

The new nature desires spiritual things.

  • It is led by the Spirit of God.  Romans 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
  • It yearns for God.  Romans 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
  • It feeds on the Bible.  I Peter 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
  • It loves other Christians.  I John 3:14  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

The new nature also desires preaching, it desires to go to church, it desires to serve God, and it is grieved by sin.  It is the opposite of the nature of the unsaved man.  The new nature is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”(Col. 1:27) Now let’s consider…

3. The Two Natures of the Believer

The good news for the Christian is that when he gets saved, the Christian gets the new nature that we just examined. The bad news is that he does not lose the old nature that he already had. Thus, the Christian has two natures  Two distinct personalities working in one individual.  Every Christian is a bona fide schizophrenic!

Roses are red, 

Violets are blue.

I’m schizophrenic,

And so am I…

He has the old nature and the new nature; and that poses some issues that need to be understood and properly dealt with. Anyone that says that a Christian’s old nature has been eradicated upon salvation is only expounding on wishful thinking; or confusing our position in Christ, or our future state, with our present condition.  Ultimately the old nature will be eradicated in the Christian, but not before we leave this life.  Until then, that old nature stays with us and must be battled. If the old nature has already been eradicated in the Christian, why would Paul bother to give his many instructions telling the saints to “put off the old man” (Col. 3:9), and “depart from iniquity (II Tim. 2:19), and “walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8).  If we as Christians had lost our old nature, we would not have the capacity to commit sin and we would only do that which was right – without the need to be charged to do so.  Those that teach that upon salvation the old nature is eradicated are spiritually blinded or willfully ignorant.  This will be seen even more clearly as we consider the next aspect of our study, which is…

4. The Conflict

Every Christian knows that he fights an internal battle between doing right and doing wrong.  Any Christian who denies this is either lying or delusional. The Christian’s classic struggle between his old nature and his new nature is illustrated for us in Romans chapter 7 in the life of Paul.  Here Paul laments that he is failing to do the things he wants to do that are right; and instead he finds himself engaging in those sinful practices that he abhors and that are against what he himself  preaches to others.

Romans 7:14-24  

{14} For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. {15} For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. {16} If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. {17} Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. {18} For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: (there’s the old nature) for to will is present with me; (there’s the new nature) but how to perform that which is good I find not. {19} For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. {20} Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. {21} I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. {22} For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: {23} But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. {24} O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

The two natures are in opposition to each other.  This is further seen in Romans 8:5-8:

{5} For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.{6} For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. {7} Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.{8} So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Galatians 5:17 further elaborates on these opposing forces within the Christian, saying “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” After that Gal. 5:19-23 lay out the works of the flesh against the fruit of the Spirit.  These are the things in the conflicted Christian that may battle each other. {19} Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,{20} Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, {21} Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 

I’ve been saved for 31 years and I know as a saved individual that my own flesh has sometimes battled with some of the things directly on that list, as well as others that are comprehended with the words “and such like…” I have been a Pastor for over 23 years and dealing with Christians regularly I know that they sometimes battle with things directly on that list, as well as others comprehended with the words “and such like…” Now v. 22: {22} But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, {23} Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Every child of God will notice, even when he is saved, he will do battle trying to eliminate some of the works of the flesh from his life, and he will struggle to see the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit. This is a normal Christian experience. A key thing that accompanies this struggle is the fact that when the Christian fails in these regards, it bothers him.  Remember Rom. 7:24?  Paul, after identifying the battle between his two natures lamented with the exclamation, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”In Galatians 5:17 Paul uses a separate designation for each of the two natures, calling one, “the flesh” and the other, “the Spirit”.

Let me give you some other designations given for the two natures (either in the Scriptures, or based upon them).  You will notice, even by their designation, that they are contrary to each other.

The Lost Man (Old Nature) The Saved Man (New Nature)

The flesh – Gal. 5:17 The Spirit – Gal. 5:17

Adam – I Cor. 15:22 Christ – I Cor. 15:22

Natural man – I Cor. 2:14 Spiritual man – I Cor. 2:15

Old man – Eph. 4:22; New man – Eph. 4:24

        Col. 3:9               Col. 3:10

Old nature, or New nature, or

Sin nature – Eph. 2:3 Divine nature – II Pet. 1:4

There are some interesting illustrations of the two natures in some contrasting Old Testament pairs.  The first being: A.) Cain & Abel – The pertinent instruction regarding this OT pair in this light actually comes from the NT.  I John 3:11-12  For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. {12} Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Cain’s works were wicked and thus Cain pictures the old nature.  Abel’s works were righteous and Abel pictures the new nature.  And being contrary the one to the other, (as per Gal. 5:17), these don’t get along so well.  In fact Cain slays Abel, even as your old man tries to supplant your new man, locking him in mortal combat to see who gets to run your life. Watch this develop further in another OT pair.B.) Isaac & Ishmael – Again we will find instruction in the NT that will enlighten us regarding these matters.  Galatians 4:22-24  For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. {23} But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. {24} Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. The term “after the flesh” (applied here to Ishmael) shows up 5 times in Romans chapter 8, describing a Christian who is allowing his old nature to rule him. The term applied here to Isaac is “by promise”.  This is a picture of the Christian.  Galatians 4:28  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. Furthermore, the next verse modifies the reference to Isaac & the Christian referring to them as being “born after the Spirit”, and provides more insight regarding the battle between the flesh and the Spirit.  Galatians 4:29  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Within you, your own flesh persecutes your new man giving him a hard time for trying to do right!

What’s a Christian to do about this?

Galatians 4:30  Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. Or as Paul said in his next epistle,  Ephesians 4:22-24  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; {23} And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; {24} And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. A little more about this in a moment; but first, one more OT illustration of the two natures.  This is another pair, but this time not a human pair.  This is an illustration of the two natures shown by two birds.  They are…

C.) Noah’s Raven & Dove  – Now before I give you the type, let me say that when you find typology in the Bible, if you examine every detail, the type often, if not always, breaks down.  For example, Joseph is a type of Christ in many particulars.  But as with any human type of Christ, the type breaks down when we consider that they were sinners and Jesus Christ was sinless.  This does not invalidate the type, it simply reminds us that it was indeed a type and not the actual thing. So while we may be hard-pressed to apply every last detail of Noah’s raven and dove to the believer’s two natures, there is nonetheless a type that jumps out at the Bible student as he looks at Genesis 8:6-9{6} And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: {7} And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. The raven pictures the flesh, man’s sinful nature.  As soon as it got the opportunity to leave the ark (which itself is a type of Christ), it left – and never came back.  That is what your flesh would like to do.  Flee from the Lord and flee to the world. Notice in v. 7 the raven went “to and fro”.  This is the way the devil goes.  (See Job 1:7 & 2:2.)  The old nature follows the devil.

Now, let’s look at Gen. 8:8{8} Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; {9} But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. From the NT we all know that the dove pictures the Holy Spirit (see Matt. 3:16, etc.).  Likewise, here, the dove pictures the Spirit against which the flesh lusts, that is, the Christian’s new nature. And you’ll notice the dove leaves the ark, but finds no rest in the world, even as the Christian who walks in the Spirit.  Finding no rest in the world, the dove returns to her rest in the ark.  Even as the Psalmist said in Psalms 116:7  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. Do you remember in John chapter 6, v. 66 a bunch of people quit following Jesus, and then Jesus turned to the 12 apostles and said, “Will ye also go away?” And do you remember Peter’s response?  “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” You know what he’s saying?  There’s nothing for us out in the world.  We’ve found the pearl of great price.  We’ll stay in the ark!  Amen!!!

All right finally, we’ll conclude by talking about…

5. The Victory

We have seen that the Christian has two natures duking it out each trying to subdue the other. I hope you have also understood by this point that the biggest problem we have is ourselves.  As the cartoon character Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”  The devil may tempt and try to influence us, but each of us has a free will and we ultimately cast the deciding vote for ourselves as to which course of behavior we follow, whether it’s the flesh or the Spirit. So having laid out the conflict, let us not despair, for there is victory if you’ll take it!  God gives us these truths in the Bible, not as stumbling blocks but that we might be aware of the pitfalls and conquer them.  “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  Rom. 8:37 Remember Paul’s lamentation in Rom. 7:24,  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Listen to his answer in Rom. 7:25,  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Upon salvation there are some things that take place spiritually that we will not fully realize until we get to heaven. For example, upon salvation, you gain eternal life, but you will not fully experience all that that entails until you get to heaven.  You can, however, begin to enjoy that eternal life and live an abundant Christian life down here on earth. (John 10:10b).  Likewise, upon salvation our old man dies and we receive a new nature.  Though the old man dies, he still hangs around to trouble us.  We have fully established this in point number 4, The Conflict.If you’re saved, you will get the full benefit of having your old man eradicated when you get to heaven.  You can, however, begin to enjoy victory over sin down here now, by reckoning your spiritual condition to be what it is:  dead to sin and alive to God. Romans 6:5-13  {5} For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: {6} Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. {7} For he that is dead is freed from sin. {8} Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: {9} Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. {10} For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. {11} Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. {12} Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. {13} Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Since our old man is dead, we should treat him as such.  That is, don’t feed him and don’t acknowledge him as being alive.  Too many times Christians live after the flesh, when the flesh is just dead weight you carry around. The Christian should, instead, live after the Spirit.  Romans 8:10-13 {10}And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. {11} But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you{12} Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. {13} For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 

Since our new nature cannot sin, we should yield to that new nature.

Galatians 5:16  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

According to Romans 8:9 if you are saved you are in the Spirit It says, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

So Gal. 5:25 is instructing you that since you are in the Spirit, being saved, go ahead and live like it! A moment ago I said that our new nature cannot sin.  I want to show you this in the Bible, and as I do, you will notice that the doctrine of the two natures clears up an oft mishandled portion of Scripture. I John 3:9  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. That’s your new nature.  It’s been born of God and it does not sin.  That’s why Paul said when he did sin after being saved, “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”  Romans 7:20  Now back in I John, John had prefaced his statement of v. 9 with these words in I John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not…  “Whosoever abideth in him…”  To abide in Him is to “walk in the Spirit… and not fulfill the lust of the flesh” as we saw in Gal. 5:16 & 25.  It is also “walking as children of light” in Eph. 5:8. When a Christian does that he abides in Christ and when we abide in Him, we cannot sin!  The trouble we have is maintaining our abiding!! In I John 3:8 the one that commits sin and is of the devil is the Christian’s old man, and in I John 3:9 the one that is born of God and doth not sin is your new man.  After these verses, John launches into the comparison between Cain & Abel that we looked at before as a type of the two natures.

Alright, so here you are, if you’re saved.  You have two natures that are diametrically opposed one to another.  How do you get victory?  Let’s make it real simple.  Perhaps it is best illustrated by this little poem:

Two forces beat within my breast,

The one is cursed, the other is blessed.

The one I love, the other I hate,

The one I feed will dominate.

Starve your sinful nature and it will weaken.  Feed and exercise your spiritual nature and it will become stronger.  Then, when it is time to do battle with temptation, your new man will be stronger than your old man and will defeat your old man. Gal. 5:17 shows this to be true.  The two natures battle with each other and which ever is stronger will prevent the other nature from doing the things it would.  If you find you are losing the battle too often, you are probably feeding the old man too much and not feeding the new man enough.  Remember, you don’t owe your old man anything!  Romans 8:12  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.What good did it ever do for you?  Romans 6:21  What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

In Conclusion…

The Christian has two natures, two personalities to deal with.  The old man is dead, and as a Christian you will ultimately be sep-arated from him, though he remains with you now.   The new man is alive and is the Christian’s true man.  This is who you are now in Christ.  You are the new man.  That’s the real you. II Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Your old man is dead (passed away); so reckon it to be so.  Paul put it this way in Galatians 5:24, And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. And then showing us both natures and how he managed in this life, though he had them, he said in Galatians 2:20, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Let me give it to you again in light of our study. Galatians 2:20, I (the old man) am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I (the new man) live; yet not I (the old man), but Christ (the new man) liveth in me: and the life which I (the new man) now live in the flesh I (the new man) live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Having two natures may be a battle – But it’s one that we can win if we’ll follow the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10).


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