Wow, I’ve been reading a lot this week in preparation for the Wednesday evening Bible study, on Christ giving us a NEW NATURE. Let’s discuss the concept of NATURE, which is defined as, the essential character of something, inborn character, or disposition.
OK, what is the difference between these two statements:
- Living in order to become a certain kind of person
- Living in light of the fact that you already ARE a certain kind of person
It is the difference between position and practice. Which of these two are FIXED (Position), and which is a work in PROGRESS (Practice)? So, when it comes to our nature… our new nature in Christ and POSITION before God are fixed. We are also a work in progress (because we must renew our minds and be transformed into the image of Christ), which covers our PRACTICE (sanctification).
Consider this: PIGS enjoy filth because it is their nature. FISH swim because it is their nature. TWO NATURE believers say Christians sin because it is our nature to sin.
- When UNBELIEVERS sin, it is because it is in their nature to sin (They don’t have the nature of Christ, so how can we expect them to behave like Christ?).
- When BELIEVERS sin, it is NOT because they are bound by their sinful nature, they are rather living according to the PATTERNS of their old nature.
For those saved at an early age, and those patterns had not yet developed, how does one account for lust or anger issues that one did not have prior to salvation (at let’s say age 8)? A friend in my Sunday School class had a good response, “Have you ever seen an 8-year-old have a temper tantrum? Or be fascinated by seeing picture of naked women?” Perhaps these patterns (or vestiges or leftovers from the old sin nature) had not yet turned into behaviors, but were still there even if they were not fully awakened (as we would recognize in adulthood).
Biblical Support, Please:
Consider this: When a person comes to faith in Christ there is an immediate change; they have died to the old nature (Romans 6:1-11) and have become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old person no longer exists (Galatians 2:20)… God does NOT give an ADDITIONAL nature, but gives a NEW nature.
Our OLD position is one being separated from God (which was all of us through Adam, so we are all born with a sin nature, separated from God). When Christ saves a person…
- He does not intend to join his Spirit to an old sin nature.
- He does not intend to birth a set of spiritual Siamese Twins, half a child of Satan (through Adam) and half a child of God (through Christ).
It appears that we CANNOT be IN Adam and IN Christ at the same time. Do I sense a little push-back yet?
WHY does any of this matter? Practicality. If Christians think they are still IN Adam, they will LIVE, SPEAK, and THINK from the position of the old nature. Believers will do all they can to conquer their sinfulness and make excuses for why they fail.
HOWEVER, the Bible does NOT teach us to DEAL with our sin nature. WHY? Because Christ has already dealt with our sin nature at our salvation.
Have you noticed that we are never commanded to crucify the old person? WHY? Because it has ALREADY happened. The old man was crucified with Christ on the cross (Galatians 2:20). So, if we are saved, the old nature is ALREADY gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
BUT, the Bible does command us to 1) renew our mind and 2) stop living according to the flesh, those old patterns of behavior and thought (Romans 12:2, 7:18, Galatians 5:16-26). Christians must see themselves as God sees them.
I will continue this article in a separate post, but know that Charles Stanley and John MacArthur hold to this view, hardly theological lightweights. I have been for a long time a Two Natures guy (think, Survival Kit for New Christians, 1979), so this new understanding or interpretation has just come to me recently.
Knowledge is a life-long pursuit and I love to wrestle with concepts and with Scripture, but this doctrine is what I call a NON-essential. People can take this or leave this; it is not a grounds for heresy! It very well may be a matter of semantics (Check out Got Questions on the topic).
One last thought here, even though I am saved, possessing a new nature, I always have the potential to commit ANY sin (even murder, adultery, or theft). It would be heresy to claim that we can realize perfection in this life, because there was only ONE sinless God-Man. When I DO sin, I can legitimately say, “That is not who I am.”