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The Two Natures
Every believer is a person with two distinct natures, which are diametrically opposed to one another and constantly at war with one another, the flesh and the spirit.
That man who is born again is two men in one. Inside him, in his soul the company of two armies are at war. There is within him a man of sin, the flesh, and a holy man of righteousness, the spirit, Adam and Christ. And these two men are at war with one another. They never agree. And there is no possibility of a truce between them.
Paul speaks of these two natures as “I,” the new man, and “sin,” the old man, “another law in my members,” sin, and “the law of my mind,” righteousness. In Galatians 5:17 he calls these two natures “the flesh” and “the spirit.” In both places he is telling us that every converted man is a new man in Christ Jesus, but that the old man of nature remains with him. All that I am by nature is the old man, Adam. All that I am by grace is the new man, Christ. John describes these two natures as “the children of God” who “cannot sin” and “the children of the devil” who cannot do righteousness (1 John 3:6-10).
The Old Man
Every child of God in this world is still a child of Adam. When we talk about “the flesh,” we are not talking about these physical bodies, or even those things that are necessary for physical life and happiness. We are talking about the old Adamic nature that is in all men. By birth, we have this evil nature of sin. And the new birth does not destroy the old nature, eradicate the old nature, or improve the old nature. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” It is always flesh, and nothing else but flesh.
I do not say that sin lurks in the flesh, but rather that sin is the flesh. I do not say that the flesh is prone to sin, but rather that the flesh is sin. Some foolishly imagine that the flesh gradually becomes spirit, but it never shall. The flesh is not to be cured, but crucified. It is not to be sanctified, but slain.
The New Man
But, thank God, there is another nature in every believer. In regeneration, God does not repair the old man and dress him up. He creates a new man within us. He has implanted within us the incorruptible seed of the Word of God which lives and abides forever making us “partakers of the divine nature” and “new creatures” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 3:1-10).
That which is within us, which is born of God, is the very nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4).
That “new man created in righteousness and true holiness,” that holy nature created in us, cannot sin, because it is born of God. It has no tendency toward sin, no appetite for sin, or taint of sin. It is holy. All its appetites are heavenly. All its thoughts are holy. All its desires are toward Christ. That new nature, the new man, created in us and the old nature, the old man, are diametrically opposed to one another.