Searching the Scriptures
“Search the Scriptures…They are they which testify of me.” John 5:39
Author: Bob Moses
Interpreting the Scriptures
The Two Natures of Man
Much of the material for the subject of this “Study” is taken from the writings of Clarence Larkin from his book “Rightly Dividing The Word” date unknown; publisher: Erwin W. Moyer Company, Printers, Philadelphia 32, Pa.
It is noteworthy that the Scriptures teach us of the Two Natures or Dual Nature of man. Particularly so, upon the newly converted. A new Christian rejoices upon his confession and realization of the New Birth. However, as the glow recedes he often finds himself suddenly awakening to the fact that his old fleshly inclinations are not dead and he is led to believe that he was never converted in the first place and becomes disheartened and discouraged.
When Nicodemus came at night to visit Jesus, Nicodemus said unto Him, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered, and said unto him, Verily, verily, (a truth, a truth), I say unto thee; Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him; How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee; Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”. John 3: 2—6. Here we see the two lines of heredity. The Flesh line and the Spiritual line. The Scriptures speak of the first as the “Natural Man” and the second as the “Spiritual Man”.
Paul teaches us in Eph: 4; 18, that of the “Natural Man” his understanding is darkened. That he cannot receive (perceive) the things of the Spirit of God, for they only can be spiritually discerned. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians, 2:14. That he is at enmity with God. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be. So, then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom. 8: 7—8. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”. Jeremiah 17: 9. Jesus says in private to his disciples; “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man”. Mark, 7: 21—23. That he is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. Eph. 2:1. That there is no good thing in him. Rom. 7:18. That as the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the white man his pale color, neither can the Leopard his spots, nor the Zebra his stripes. Therefore the “Natural Man” without supernatural help, cannot change his character.
Observe closely God does not say of the “Natural Man”, that he is not refined, cultured, sweet-tempered, generous, charitable, honest, truthful, or religious; but that none are “Righteous”. “All have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God.” Rom. 3:23.
In the above we discussed the “Natural Man” let us now look upon the “Spiritual Man”. While the “Natural Man” has a human parentage, the “Spiritual Man” has a divine parentage. All life must come from a pre-existing life. Man cannot wave a wand and grow crops, he must plant a seed. Animal life comes from other animal life. There is no such thing as spontaneous generation of life, except of God himself. No life can come without some form of parentage. There must be a father and a mother; this is what pro-creation is all about. In the Spiritual world our life comes from “the beginning”. This is what Jeremiah conveys to us in Chapter 1 verse 5: “Before I (God) formed thee in the womb, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee.” This hints toward some form of Spiritual life before our earthly existence. It is quite obvious that before we came in human form with a human mother and father in the flesh we must have existed in the Spiritual realm. Particularly if God tells us that before He formed us in the womb (human form) He knew us, and before we came forth out of the womb He sanctified us and ordained us. This should come as no surprise to any student of the Word. Did not God foretell of Moses before he was born; nor of Isaac, Samuel, David, Solomon, Daniel, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ himself, even Judas Iscariot? Did not God say to Satan in the Garden of Eden, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:15? Thus the separation began between the “Natural Man” or humanly, as opposed to the “Spiritual Man”.
So what is necessary to change the “Natural Man” into a “Spiritual Man”? A New Birth or “New Nature”. This nature is Spiritual. “That which is born of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is Spirit.” John 3:6. This new nature cannot sin. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed (life) remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is “Born of God.” 1 John 3:9. This new “Spiritual Nature” is called “Christ in You” (Col. 1:27), and imparts Eternal Life. “He that hath the Son. (Christ in you) hath Life.” 1 John 5: 11-12. This “Life” is hid with Christ in God. Therefore we cannot lose it, and “When Christ who is Our Life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in Glory.” Col. 3: 3-4. The “Fruit” of the “Spiritual Life” is; “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.” Gal. 5: 22-23. The Spiritual Man is Spiritually Enlightened. “Eye hath not see, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man (the natural man) the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us (the Spiritual Man) by His Spirit (Holy Spirit): for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:9—10.
We see from this description of the “Spiritual Man” that he is not an evolution or development of the “Natural Man,” but a “New Creature” or “New Creation.” 2 Cor. 5:17. Thus the Spiritual Man is a “New Creation.” And entirely different from the Natural man, and opposed to him in character, temperament and disposition. So far all is clear, but here we are brought face to face with the paradox, that while there are Two Separate Men spoken of in the Scriptures, the “Natural Man” and the “Spiritual Man,” these two men make up in the Believer but one Personality, known as: The Regenerated Man.
When the “New Man” is born in the heart of the Believer the “Old Man” does not die. He is still there and very much alive. There are now two natures, diametrically opposed, fighting for the possession of the same body, like two tenants fighting for the possession of the same dwelling house. Paul advises us of this phenomenon in Galatians 5: 16—26: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, wrath, factions, sedition, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and the like; of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
This also explains the “Spiritual Warfare” so vividly portrayed by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 7: 14—25 “For we know that the law is Spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin (our Adamic nature). For that which I do I understand not; for what I would do, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then, I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So, then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin.”
It is not until we have been “Born Again” that we awake to a knowledge of the depravity of our heart and discover tendencies that we never knew we possessed, and realize the power of sin over us. It is this awakening that startles and dumbfounds us, and makes us doubt our conversion and salvation.
So, how do we fight this warfare between the two natures? Rest assured God provides us the answer. First we must “starve” the flesh. Paul states in Rom. 13: 14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” If we do not provide “provisions” for the flesh it will eventually starve. But make no mistake, that while it may be weakened, the Old Man is not dead. Secondly; we must “feed” the New Man. 1: Pet.2:2 “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that ye may grow by it.” What does this mean? This means that the “babe” must be taught, and led. He must seek to satisfy his thirst for the word of God, The Holy Bible. “Study to show thyself approved” 2nd Tim. 2:15. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2nd Tim. 3:16. The best human literature ever written will not feed and nourish the new nature of the Child of God. We must remember that the Old Man is not dead and if we begin to feed him again he will revive quickly and recover his strength and cause us trouble. This accounts for how some Christians who have lived consecrated spiritual lives suddenly fall, having yielded to some former habit of their old nature. Does this mean that they have lost their salvation? No, God forbid. Once we are “saved” we shall always be saved, remember our lesson on “Standing and State”. We reflected how once God seals us in his hand, no man can pluck us out. But the one who makes the mistake did not fall from Grace, they merely stubbed their toe, and made an error. Would you kick your child out of the house for breaking a rule? No, you would lovingly rebuke him and instruct him not to make the same mistake in the future. The same with God, he will not cast you out, he will simply remind you of your proper place and your standing, even though your state varied. If we “walk in the Spirit” Gal. 5:16, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. It is fully acknowledged that this is much easier said than done. Our mission is not to score the point but to “run the race”. “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Heb. 12:1.
The Scriptures mention three ways in which the Believer can overcome the “flesh”:
1st by Amputation. “If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off.” Matt. 18:8-9. Not literally, but if thy hand causes thee to steal; Stop, as if you had no hands to clutch the item of your affection. If thy foot causeth thee to go to the haunts of sin; Stop as if you were footless. If thine eye offend thee, causeth thee to look upon a woman, or money, or the trinkets of this world, automobiles, bikes, boats, jewelry, etc., it were better if you were suddenly to lose the power of sight.
2nd by Mortification. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness,” etc. Col. 3:5-10, Rom. 8:13. To mortify is to cause some part of a living body to die. There are some things we cannot amputate, some are more internal than external. These are those that are not by our own effort, but by letting God “work in us”. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. That ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world. Holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.” Phil. 2: 12—16
Lastly, by Limitation. “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” Heb. 12:1. There is a difference between “weights” and “sins”. All “weights” are not “sins” but all “sins” are “weights”. It is not a sin to be devoted to your business, nor to neglect other important duties, but these things are “weights” and prevent the proper cultivation of the Spiritual life and should be somewhat limited to an acceptable degree, for our Spiritual welfare. On the other hand every “sin” is a “weight” for it loads us down and interferes with our running the Christian race.
May God bless this “Study” to the edification of the Saints and to the saving knowledge of spreading the Gospel through Evangelism.