Saturday, December 3, 2011

the believer's two natures -- part 2

The Word for today:
1 Corinthians 8, 9

mark this:  1 Corinthians 2:14
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 

and this:  John 3:3
I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

and this:  2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  

Yesterday, we read the bad news--all about the old nature, which every person is born with.  It wasn't pretty.

But today we'll be reading good news--all about the new nature, which every believer is re-born with.


While unbelievers are born once, believers are born twice.  Jesus told Nicodemus--a moral, religious man-- that "unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

The believer, while still having the unchanged and unchangeable old nature, has received a new nature:
a new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  (Ephesians 4:24)

This rebirth is a brand-new creation, not just a washed and polished version of the old:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan – this rebirth comes from God.
(John 1:12-13/NLT)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The new man is inseverably linked with Christ:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  (Colossians 3:3-4)

For to me, to live is Christ.   (Philippians 1:21)

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.  (2 Peter 1:4)

And this is the record: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  (1 John 5:11-12)

But the new, divine nature, which is Christ's own, coexists with the old nature:
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. (Romans 7:18a)

It is not a peaceful co-existence:
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.  (Romans 7:18b, 21)

Between the two natures there is conflict.  It is painful even to read the battle between the two "I's"--the old Saul of Tarsus and the new Paul--in Romans 7:14-25.  This experience discourages and perplexes new believers, who are so dismayed to find the old nature--with its old habits and desires--reasserting itself, that they may begin to doubt their acceptance with God.

The presence of the old nature, however, is not an excuse for "living down" to it.  We are taught that the old self is dead--"crucified with Christ" and we are called upon to make sure it stays that way!

The power that enables us to mortify ("make dead") our old nature is that of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every believer:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17)

By the Spirit put to death your sinful actions.  (Romans 8:13/GNT)

So instead of resisting the misdeeds of the old nature by force of will, or by good resolutions, turn the conflict over to the indwelling Spirit of God, just as Paul did somewhere between Romans 7 and Romans 8:
Romans 7 is a record of the conflict of the regenerate man with his old self, and is, therefore, intensely personal.  "I would,"  "I do not,"  "I would not,"  "I do," is the sad confession of defeat which finds an echo in so many Christian hearts.  In the eighth chapter the conflict still goes on, but how blessedly impersonal!  There is no agony, for Paul is out of it; the conflict is now between "flesh"--Saul of Tarsus--and the Holy Spirit.  Paul is at peace and victorious.                        
--from "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth," by C. I. Scofield, 1896

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