The Myth Of The Two-Natured Christian
A few years ago, I took a class of people through Romans chapters 6 through 8. Chapter 6 alone had made such an impact on my own thinking, I was busting at the seams, so to speak, to teach it.
Of course, in order to understand Romans 6, you must, by necessity, at the very least, start in the latter portion of Romans 5. Why? Because it is there that the Apostle Paul makes this wonderful statement:
“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:20,21
In chapter 5 he deals with the first Adam, original sin, and continues his thoughts of abounding grace in chapter 6, beginning at verse 1.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? – Romans 6:1,2
I really, really don’t like chapter headings. It confuses people, and worse yet, tends to make people forget that this is a continuous letter, and not a series of ‘chapters’. But that’s another post.
Well the sessions went well for awhile. Over a period of months, we made our way, slowly forward, and with much discussion. It was early on in our studies that ‘it’ began to pop up in the Q & A segments of the classes. Very early. Questions about the ‘old man’, the ‘new man’ and the believer. As time went on, the questions got more interesting, and the long-held individual theologies of the class began to rear it’s flawed head. By the time we reached Romans 7, you would have thought I was a heretical teacher (please, no comment).
We actually ended up losing a deacon, and consequently, his family, from the fellowship. It was too much for them to bear, the line had been drawn. Either I admit ‘the old man’ is not dead, and ‘he’ is responsible for their sins, or they are gone. So be it. And so it was. If I had to do it over again, I’d probably do it the same way, only with a few more gray hairs of course.
You would think the concept of an ‘old man’ and new man’ existing side by side within the believer would have died out long ago, particularly if one has a firm understanding of regeneration, but alas, it remains. I see it way too often.
Robert Morey, in his book “Studies In The Atonement”, has written an interesting series of questions for those who insist on holding on to this schizoid theological faux-pas. Let me know what you think. Personally, I love it. Morey’s questions show the absurdity and contradictive nature of..well…being multi-natured.
“It is a shame that the myth of the two-natures in the Christian still persists unto this day. To speak of “old man” vs. new man” or “Adam vs. Christ” or “nature vs. grace” as existing in Christians at the same time is not only contradictory of Christian experience and psychology but also unbiblical.
In John 3:6, he that is born of the Spirit becomes spiritual. It does not say that he becomes a half-spirit and half-flesh creature. I Cor. 2:14, 15 speaks of the whole Christian as being spiritual. II Cor. 5:17 states: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
It is obvious that the whole person is a new creation. It does not say that he received a new nature but that he became a new creature. Regeneration constitutes us a spiritual people and not as spiritual split-personalities.
The two-natured theory is hopelessly confusing when certain questions are pressed upon it.
a. The old nature is said to be completely evil. It will never change and will be destroyed at death. The old nature is called “the old man” or “the Adamic nature.” It is further qualified as being the “ego” or “self.” The old man or nature is “in” me. When I sin, it can be said that “my old nature” or “old man” did it. The “old nature” never repents and never seeks forgiveness.
b. The “new man” or nature is completely good. It never sins. It is created perfect. It always does God’s will. The “new nature” is “Christ in me.” He is the man.
Q1. Isn’t it true that the two-nature theory actually puts forth three individual forces in the Christian?
There is 1) the old man; 2) the new man; 3) and there is the believer himself which possesses these two natures.
The believer is said to be sovereign over his two natures. Both natures are like caged animals with the believer having the freedom and ability to let the old man or the new man out.
If the Christian chooses to sin, he lets the old man out of his cage. The old man does evil because it is his nature. But when the Christian wants to do good, he lets the new man out of his cage. He can only do good by nature.
Q2. Is forgiveness of sins ever received?
The old man does the sinning. But he is incorrigibly evil and never confesses sin or seeks forgiveness. he will never receive forgiveness for he will be destroyed.
The new man never sins so he never seeks, asks for, or receives forgiveness. He is perfect and thus can never sin.
Who then is forgiven?
Q3. Is salvation ever accomplished?
The old man will never be saved while the new man doesn’t need saving. Who then shall be saved?
Q4. Who will go to heaven?
The old man will not go to heaven. And if, indeed, the old man is you, or your ego or self-life as some have stated, then you do not go to heaven.
The new man goes to heaven. But the new man is not I but “Christ who liveth in me.” Therefore, Christ goes to heaven but not me! I get destroyed along with the old man who is the real me.
Q5. Who is responsible for sin?
The new man is perfect so he never sins. And neither am I responsible for sin for I do not do the sinning, but the old man does it. Who then is responsible for sin?”
Bottom line folks, the two-nature theory is a complete absurdity. It is a man-made attempt at denying responsibility for sins. When you, the Christian, sins, it is because you, as a Christian, have chosen to do so! The tyranny of sin has been broken if you are truly regenerated by the Holy Spirit. It is not your master anymore. You have allowed exactly what God has commanded through the Apostle Paul not to do:
Rom 6:10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
Rom 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
Rom 6:13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
Rom 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Rom 6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Rom 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (ESV) [emphasis mine, ed.]