Two Warring Natures
Take a good look in the “mirror”—the mirror of God’s Word. What you will see is that there is now the new you and the old you. The old you may seem more real than the new you, but don’t fall for its disguise. You are no longer who you once knew yourself to be—you have two warring natures! You are a new creation. However, your true self—your real life—is a mystery “hidden with Christ.” It can only be revealed as you walk with Him in trusting obedience into the new life He has planned for you. Get used to not being in charge!
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Romans 7:22-23 ESV
Bouncing Back and Forth
There will be times when you know that you have a good heart and can rejoice in it. You are a new creation! At other times you will search in vain for a single redeeming thing about yourself and not be able to find it. You are totally corrupted by self will and selfishness. What’s going on? Martin Luther called this puzzling phenomenon being “simul justus et peccator,” being simultaneously sinful, yet justified. No wonder our head is spinning—there is a war going on inside us!
When you asked Jesus into your life to be your Savior, our Father did many things for you which may have escaped your notice at the time. These were going on behind the scenes while the revelation of Jesus, the forgiveness of your sins and the incoming hope of heaven were taking center stage. Don’t feel like you were inattentive: We only know what Father was up to due to the Bible’s explanations.(See What Just Happened to Me?)
Before conversion you and your sinful fallen nature were seamlessly joined together. Not only did your sins still cling to you, there was no escaping the inevitable centering of your life upon yourself. When you repented and turned from sin and self to Jesus, God not only forgave you your sins, He separated you from them, giving you a whole new status as a highly favored child in Christ. This is called justification. Then by revealing Jesus to you through faith and the new birth, God separated you from your old life which was centered on yourself and has given you a new life centered on Christ with a new heart and a new nature. This is called being a New Creation.
These transformations are so radical that the language of the New Testament makes it seem that everything old has passed away to such a degree that the new creation you will never again 1) sin, 2) be centered on self, 3) give way to the fallen nature, or 4) be overtaken by the “old man.” That’s not the way it goes! God has not eliminated these former nemeses, but He has given us whole new possibilities of overcoming them. Let’s take them one at a time.
Thanks to the Blood of Jesus God has separated us from our sins to such a degree that He always sees that we are not our sins, even at those times when (God forbid) we may be deeply sinful in thought, word or deed. This doesn’t mean that He doesn’t see the sin, but that He sees it the way we see dirt on our bodies. We may be covered in mud and muck, but that’s still not who we are! Before conversion we and “the dirt” of sin were one and the same. Now, because the Blood of atonement covers us, God is able to always look past the filth of sin to see us as He has always intended for us to be. One day—in heaven—we will fully be the person God has His eyes on now!
2) Centered on Self
This is a direct outcome of Adam’s sin: we are born spiritually dead, completely disconnected from our God, and, therefore, no longer able to carry His image within our hearts. We are “image bearers” bereft of an Image to bear--and we don't even know it! Into this vacuum enters the sin nature, but notice what it is feeding upon. Without the Image of God to provide the only correct center for our lives, we have been thrown down into centering our lives upon ourselves. We have no other option than to put self, or family, or the enemy (in one form or another) upon the “throne” of our hearts. Thankfully, now that Jesus has been revealed to us, we can choose daily to center our lives upon Him and live by keeping our “eyes” on Him: We are Image bearers once again!
3) The Sin Nature
We inherited the sinful nature from Adam. Often referred to as “the flesh” or the “carnal nature”, it is the nature of the enemy within us. As such there is nothing good about it; nothing that can possibly be redeemed. Constantly at war with the new nature, it can only be “put to death” by dying to self and living for Christ. Like the enemy’s own self-focused rebellion, it feeds on self-will and self-love. Thanks to our separation from God, the sinful nature was able to attack, subvert and eventually overthrow the created goodness of childhood which the Holy Spirit shepherds.
That sense of innocence lost, the deep commitment to self-preservation, the inescapable self-centering, the inability to live with joyful, yet pure abandonment—all these are signs in every adult of what got lost along the way. Recovering the grace of childhood with the wisdom of faith is one of our assignments, now that we have been made new.
4) The Old Man
This phrase indicates something akin to but distinctly different from the fallen nature, like “kissing cousins” in the same family line. The old man, or “old self” is used to describe the person we were when the sin nature had us centered on self and we were at one with our sins. That old you or former version of you no longer exists! You now know who Jesus is! That is the essence of the new you. But you can slip back into the old ways of looking at things whenever you get your eyes off Jesus. That former version of our self developed its own unique mindset and world view, patterns of reaction and ways of living, all of which were “contaminated” by a perspective that lacked the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul came to the conclusion that he didn’t consider anything of his former self of any value compared to knowing Jesus. Now that conversion has opened our eyes, the old man is only a shadow of his former self. No matter how effective the sin nature may be at putting that straw man back in charge, that game is forever spoiled because we now know that Jesus, not self, is the true Master of our universe.
The new creation you lives by placing its entire trust in Jesus. We literally fight the good fight of faith in order to keep yielding ourselves to the leadership of our new-found Lord and Master. This is the tug of war over who is going to rule from “the center” of our life—Jesus or self? That battle can only be won by getting our eyes back on Jesus! When we yield to Christ, the fallen nature is crucified (by us) and the old man is laid back into the shadows. This only happens whenever we trust Jesus with everything going on in our lives and become willing to follow each step He shows us. In this way we walk in the Spirit and we “grow up” into Christ. May you learn the way of walking closely with Him!
Next Double to See
Two Passionate Purposes The unbelieving world, plagued with emptiness, loneliness and boredom, ever seeks distraction through selfish pursuit of pleasure or ambition. What a difference a wholesome sense of real purpose brings into any life! Suddenly, one has reasons to live for, a passion to live by, and a destined purpose worthy of great and noble sacrifices. As believers in Jesus we have not one, but two magnificent purposes. Learn how to strap them on, my friend, and you need never be empty, bored, or lonely ever again.
Old Nature Scriptures
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:5-6 NKJV
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. Romans 8:6-7
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:14-24 ESV
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24 NKJV
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. Colossians 3:9-10 NKJV
New Nature Scriptures
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 ESV
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Galatians 6:15 ESV
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27 ESV
Scriptures and Foot Notes
 See the Scripture section for more of this insightful passage about the ongoing conflict between our two warring natures: For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 ESV
 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1 NKJV
 The Rabbis also taught that there are two warring natures: the “yetzer ha-ra” and the “yetzer ha-tov”, the evil inclination and the good inclination, respectively. Infants begin life with the good nature in ascendance, but the evil nature always shows up and inevitably gains ground, sometimes the whole playground. Although their elaborations of this idea are convoluted and, I think, misguided, their essential observation realistically describes what happens to us all.
 Jesus used an “object lesson” in the form of a young child to demonstrate this point: Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-3 NKJV
 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 ESV
 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8 ESV
 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV; Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:22 NKJV
 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. Ephesians 4:15 ESV