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Foundational Truths #2

Natural Man vs. The New Creation

by David A. DePra


Someone who is, “in Christ” – or in whom Christ dwells – is a Christian.  That person is born from above.  They are saved.  But none of us start out that way.  We are not born into this world as a new creation in Christ.  Rather, we are born, “in Adam.”


Herein we see TWO creations.  There is the old man in Adam, or the old creation, and there is the new man in Christ, or the new creation.  We are all born into this world IN ADAM.  But we can be born again – born from above – in Christ.


So what constitutes the difference?  Christ in us.  One who is born from above is joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him.  (I Cor. 6:17)   It is vital to see that one born from above is NOT made one, “soul, or natural man,” with Christ.  No.  The one who is born from above is made one SPIRIT with Christ.  Thus, the old nature does remain – even though we are joined to Christ in spirit.  But a person who is merely, “in Adam,” is not joined to Christ in spirit.  They have a dead spirit, and their natural man and natural body.


The Old Nature


Each person that is born as a member of the Adam race – and we all ARE born as a member of the Adam race – is what the Bible calls, “the natural man.”  The Greek actually reads, “the soul (psyche) man.”  This, “natural man,” is what we are BY NATURE.  It is comprised of the natural mind, the will, the emotions, and what we might call our human spirit or psychic attributes.  That is what we ARE as born IN ADAM. 


But in addition, there are attributes we lack.  For example, we have NO knowledge of God.  We have NO life – our human spirit is dead through corruption.  In short, there isn’t a trace of the Living God that is contained within the makeup of those born in Adam.  This fact means that everything that humanity in Adam is actually contrary to God.  We are all captive to the realm of darkness, governed by the enemy.  This has penetrated into the very core of what a human being IS.


Now, there is nothing we can do about any of this – for, “that which is born of the flesh IS flesh.”  (John 3:6)  We cannot fix our condition through good works, education, or any sort of training.  Neither can any of those things CONTROL our fallen nature – they can simply alter the outward manifestation of it.  In Adam, flesh is all we can ever be – even if it is “religious flesh.”  In short, no one can change the kind of creature they are by birth.


Of course, we are here talking about the SIN NATURE.  It is also called, “the body of sin,” or, “the body of death,” or, “the old man.”  Not only is it impossible for humanity to fix this, or eradicate it, but it is likewise impossible to control it.  One way or another, natural man is governed by the sin nature.  Even if a person seems to be religious, that religiosity is nevertheless governed by the sin nature, for again, “that which is born of the flesh IS flesh.”


The nature of humanity is not only void of God, but it is fully compatible with Satan..  When Adam sinned, he forfeited his union with God and came under the government of Satan and the realm of darkness.  Because Adam was given dominion over all that was earthly, he gave that dominion over the earthly to Satan – which included the earth itself, but also the earthly realm.  That earthly realm included the earthly components of humanity.  So, humanity is not only captive to the sin nature, but captive to the spirit of the enemy that governs it.


What ought to be clear is that there is NO solution for humanity except a NEW birth as a brand NEW creature.  Indeed, we must be given – solely by grace – a NEW life; a different kind of life than the life that is possible in Adam.


The New Creation


God has not only given us a new life, but He has given us a Person Who IS that life, Jesus Christ.  The union in spirit between Jesus Christ and a human being is, “the new creation IN Christ Jesus.”  This is the, “new man.”   In Christ, human beings are made NEW creations.


Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away (passed over); behold, all things are become new.   And all things [are] of (out from) God.  (II Cor. 5:17-18)


As mentioned, all of us are dead in Adam as our starting point in this age.  But when God draws a person to Christ, and that person puts their faith in Christ, surrendering themselves to Him, they are, “joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him.”  (I Cor. 6:17)  This is salvation.  We are saved because we are joined to LIFE HIMSELF.


You will note that God does not eradicate or purge out of existence the old nature.  No, rather, the old nature is “passed over,” which is what the Greek says – as far as incorporation into the new creation -- and despite the continuing presence of the old nature, the believer is joined to the Lord IN SPIRIT.


Another way to say this is that instead of subtracting the old nature, Jesus Christ is added into the believer through resurrection union.  That is a bit mechanical, and could be misunderstood, but we do need to understand that believers continue to carry both the old and new natures.  There are some teachings around today that say that our old life is, “exchanged,” for the new life.  That is error.  It is another way of saying that the old life is completely eliminated in favor of the new.  Indeed, the presence of Christ within will expose that old life.  Do Christians sin?  The Biblical teaching on this is clear:  If you are born from above, in this age you will carry two natures – that are contrary to one another.


Salvation and Eternal Life


Once we see that the believer is joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him we can easily see how a person is saved:  They are saved because they are joined to the One who IS life.  Paul says, “Christ, our life.”  (Col. 3:4)  Jesus said, “I AM…the life.”  (John 14:6)  Obviously, if we are made one in spirit with Life Himself then we are going to be alive with HIS LIFE – alive in HIM.


What this means is that God does not give us a THING called, “Salvation.”  No.  God gives us Christ Himself, and the moment we are joined to Him in spirit HE is our salvation.  It also means that salvation is not merely a legal classification.  It is not a ticket to heaven.  No.  Salvation is Christ.


So, what we see is that a person who is otherwise spiritually dead is joined to the Lord Jesus Christ and made alive IN HIM.  From that point, Christ is our life – and in Him is all that God has for humanity.


What we also see is the clear separation between the old creation IN US, and the new creation in Christ.  The old creation is not transformed into the new creation in this age.  No.  The believer carries BOTH natures.  We carry the Adam nature.  But we are united with Christ in spirit.  One is of natural birth.  The other is of spiritual birth.  The one is of this world.  The other is of God in Christ.  The Christian life is a matter of denying the old life and abiding in Christ by faith – for He is our life.


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