Back to the Goodnews
The Heavenly Man
By David A. DePra
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (I Cor. 15:46-50)
Jesus Christ not only came from above, but He lived as a man from out of the heavenlies, that is to say, by faith from out of His Father -- for all things. Once we are born from above and Christ dwells in us, God wants to deliver us from living from out of this earthly nature and realm, into a life that is likewise lived from out of Christ. It is not a higher calling. It is actually the only calling there is -- and the only place walking with Jesus Christ will bring us.
One of the greatest needs in the church is to know the difference between the earthly -- including the earthly nature in ourselves -- and the spiritual or heavenly nature in Jesus Christ. Many problems are the result of mistaking an earthly, religious nature for that which is of Christ.
In order to get a handle on this Truth we must go back to the beginning and grasp God's original purpose and intention in creating Adam.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen. 2:7)
God’s original design was that God’s Spirit in union with man’s human spirit would govern his soul and body life. God would have dominion over the Adam race, and in turn, this would make it possible for the Adam race to have dominion over all else that was earthly – under God, to God’s glory and will. But when Adam sinned, he lost his spiritual union with God. Things got turned upside down in Adam’s own nature. Now, void of the life of God, man’s soul and body life governed him. There was nothing to restrain. Indeed, the Adam race became governed by the entire earthly realm – which was now the kingdom and ground of Satan.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Gen. 3:17-19)
Note: The, “ground,” i.e., the EARTHLY REALM is under a curse. It cannot produce life. But Adam – at least what was left of him after the sin – is now an earthly creature. He is severed from God. The Adam race is an earthly race, severed from God, living in an earthly realm, governed by Satan.
This means that man’s life, consciousness, functionality, perception, reactions, indeed, his entire person, is both earthly and governed by the earthly. We don’t have to make it that way. It is the way it is. And when we are born into this world it is all that we know or can know. Indeed, because it is all we know we will, unless God opens our eyes, think that it is normal.
This is part of the meaning embedding in God’s judgment upon Adam: ‘You return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” While the ultimate application is when our physical body dies, the moment Adam sinned and died spiritually, he returned to the dust; to the earthly. It was then his entire realm for life.
The earthly is under a curse. God is not going to fix it or work His purpose in it. Rather, He wants to create new creations in Christ Jesus – our lives are to be out from Christ by faith.
Not only was Adam cast out of the garden – which was the abode of spiritual life in God – but he was cast forth into the earthly. He had become earthly – returned, if you will, to the dust of the ground, and was now limited to living in an earthly realm. Worse, this earthly realm was the realm of Satan. God had said to Satan, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” (Gen. 3:14) Here God is judging Satan and limiting his realm to that of the earthly – using the same metaphor of the DUST. Adam was to return to the dust of the ground and Satan was to be limited to the dust of the ground as his domain.
Can we see that the earthly realm into which all of us are born is a realm of judgment, under a curse, and one that is governed by Satan? Can we see that the solution is never to fix the earthly, but to be born from above and live from out of Christ from the heavenlies? When we are born from above, we receive Christ within, and He is the restoration of what Adam lost, and more. Christ comes to dwell within a creature that is otherwise earthly – governed by that nature, at enmity against God. Thus, we have the conflict between flesh and spirit. But He is our victory.
The Natural Man
We are all born of the Adam race. This means that we are born spiritually dead and one-hundred percent earthly. We continue to have a physical body, and a soul. We have a dead spirit. We did not choose this condition. We are born from out of a race that is defined by it.
This world is filled with members of the Adam race. The earthly nature of one person may express itself differently than the earthly nature of another – influenced by upbringing, family, environment, culture, religion, personality, and our own choices – but in the end, “that which is born of flesh IS flesh.” There is nice flesh and there is disagreeable flesh, but it is still flesh – and can produce only that which flesh produces. Left to ourselves, there is no escape. Indeed, there will not be any awareness that anything is wrong.
What is wrong with the human race? The answer is not found is what we DO. It is found in what we are – or perhaps better stated – the answer if found in what we are NOT. Human beings are not united with God in spirit, and thus, are spiritually dead. That is what is wrong. All the bad works go back to that one fact: Spiritual death. No life in God. No knowledge of God. And the solution to death is never religion. The solution is life – life given freely by the grace of God.
We see a picture of what is wrong with the Adam race immediately following the sin in the first Adam. But first, let’s back up a step. Look at Adam BEFORE his sin – how does the Bible describe Adam and Eve as God originally created them, and intended them to be? It says, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Gen. 2:26) Get that – this is the Adam race before the sin, as God intended, rightly related to God, and spiritually alive. They were NAKED and NOT ashamed.
What does that mean? Ignore the physical and get to the real meaning. Clearly, since this is before Adam’s sin, God had CREATED Adam to be naked. Can we see that? Adam did not suddenly become naked once he sinned – he was naked both BEFORE and AFTER he sinned. The sin did not change the fact that God had created Adam to be naked.
What is the meaning of this nakedness? It shows that Adam had NOTHING in himself upon which to call for life. He was naked of all assets; of all life; of all Truth. But the fact that he was not ashamed shows that Adam was completed by God and fully dependent upon God for all. The condition of being, “naked and not ashamed,” pictures the result of spiritual union with God through Christ. We have nothing in ourselves, but because by faith we find all in Him, we are not ashamed. This was God’s original intention and design for man.
So Adam was naked before the sin and naked after the sin. That did not change. But what did change? Well, before the sin Adam was naked and unashamed. After the sin, Adam was still naked but now – ashamed. Why did this change? Because before the sin Adam was one with God – and alive -- but after the sin he was without God – spiritually dead. The result was FEAR. Adam was terrified and tormented. He tried to fix himself. He tried to cover up his true condition through his own efforts – fig leaves. The Adam race has been trying to do that same ever since. We try to fix what ails us, usually through religion. It won’t help us. We must die and be raised a new creation.
What is wrong with the Adam race? We are born dead spiritually without any life in God. This results in us – unconsciously – being motivated by fear. We are trying to do for ourselves without God. Self-protection and self-centeredness find their cause here at the root. When we are without God we try to make do from what is found in natural man – which is just another way of saying that we walk in the flesh or according to the flesh.
Now, none of us are responsible for being born into this mess. We did not choose that – we got born into it. And until God brings light we are going to follow right along obeying the flesh and doing what members of the Adam race are destined to do – whether it look evil or good – it is still of the earthly or flesh. But once we see the Truth of Jesus Christ we are then held responsible by God -- not for doing something about our fallen nature – but held responsible by God for coming to the Cross and losing our old earthly life to Christ. Then we can be born from above. And as we continue, the old nature will decrease as to impact, and the life of Christ in us will increase.
Christ In Us
If we are not born from above, it does not matter how well-mannered we are, or how religious we might be – that which is born of the flesh IS flesh. Indeed, Paul said that unless Christ is in us, we are reprobate. There is simply nothing there for God to work with. We usually don’t believe that. But it is the Truth.
But when we are saved, we are joined to the Lord and become one Spirit with Him. (I Cor. 6:17) Our dead human spirit is then alive by virtue of resurrection union with Christ. This is how Christ dwells in us – we are one with Him in Spirit. This spiritual union is the new creation in Christ Jesus; the new man in Christ.
Now, note something vital to see: When we are joined to the Lord and become one Spirit with Him, this does not eradicate the earthly nature. No, in fact, we might say that the earthly nature initially remains unchanged. Sure. When we receive the gift of Christ God bypasses our earthly nature and unites us with His Son in Spirit. Thank God he does.
But once we realize this fact, we also see what the Bible means when it talks about the separation of soul and Spirit. When we are joined to the Lord there is birthed a new creation in Christ Jesus. But this new creation exists in each one of us concurrently as does our old Adam nature exists. There is the new man and there is the old man. And they are at odds with one another – by nature they are at odds.
If we could draw an imaginary circle around our union with Christ, then all that is within that circle would be eternal, of Christ, and of resurrection life. But all that remains outside of that circle would be of our old nature. You will note that if I am not born from above, I have only the old nature – there is no division between soul and spirit. No. It is the presence of Jesus Christ within me by His Spirit that creates this division – He has come in and a division has taken place. He is the Treasure – and our spirit is united with Him within that circle. We are the earthen vessel. The two are utterly distinct as to nature.
Now, every part of our earthly nature – that which remains outside of our union with Christ; outside of that imaginary circle – every part of that earthly nature will initially continue to be in bondage to this earthly realm. Even after we are saved, we will tend to live according to what is happening in the earthly realm that is around us. To a greater or lesser degree, we will be controlled by circumstances. Have you ever noticed how automatic it is for your environment, and what is happening therein, to get inside of you, and control you emotionally and temperamentally? Sure. This gets back to the fact that the Adam nature has returned to the dust or earthly. Without Christ we are controlled inside by what is happening on the outside. And even after we are saved this will continue until God begins to set us free through the work of the Cross.
We are controlled in our Adam nature by not only circumstances, but by our very own soul and body life. We view all things through SELF. We value things based on how they impact us – positively or negatively. We are controlled by how we feel, but how we fear, and by gain or loss. All of this is what makes a member of the Adam race tick – there is no knowledge of God, or life of Christ within. We are earthly creatures living in and controlled by the earthly realm.
For a born again believer, it is important to realize that despite the fact of the presence of Jesus Christ within us that our earthly nature is not automatically going to stop working the way an earthly nature works. Some of us, not realizing this, have thought that the reactions and workings of the flesh was evidence that they could not be born again. No. Your new birth is rooted in Christ – inside of that circle. Your earthly nature might seem to have a mind of it’s own. But it will never be of the heavenlies. It is going to give you a great deal of difficulty.
What complicates this matter is the fact that the earthly nature is the ground and base of operation of Satan. It is his access point. Thus, there must be an answer to this problem. The answer is the Cross. Through time and experience in the Christian life, God will bring us to where we must pick up our personal Cross and follow Jesus. If we do, there will come, in an experiential way, the death of Jesus upon that old earthly nature. The result will be a greater release of the life of Christ in and through us.
If we want to overcome the sins that belong to the earthly life or nature, we have to relinquish the earthly life in which those sins are rooted. We have to LOSE that life to Christ. Trying to overcome sin but not relinquish that life in which the sins are rooted is futile. We might manage to change some habits, but in the end, the flesh will come out along another line.
There are many Christian people who want to overcome various sins, addictions, and problems in their lives. They are seeking God’s help. But they make the mistake of thinking that the help God offers is found in psychology, self-help, or in some twelve-step program. But you don’t need to be born again to try those things if all you want is to solve a problem that will make you feel better. God’s solution for these problems in our life is never to provide a gimmick or bandage for the problem in our life. God’s solution is that we lose the LIFE ITSELF in which these problems find their root. Lose your self life at the Cross. Tell God to do whatever it takes to set you free and bring you into the fullness of Christ. Then death will come to the problem because death has come to the life in which it is rooted. And new life will emerge in Christ – resurrection life that has conquered all death.
Much difficulty in Christian lives is because we continue to try to fix up the old earthly life. We try to make our earthly nature behave in accordance with the Bible. Of course, most of us don’t realize the futility of this, or the error in it. We are ignorant; deceived by Satan. But unwittingly we are repeating the error of Adam after his sin. We are naked and we are ashamed. Yet instead of coming to Jesus Christ, we try to cover our condition and fix it with fig leaves. Usually, those fig leaves are some form of religion that promotes self-righteousness.
This is why God must allow us to fail – we won’t learn any other way. God must allow us to continue to try to use fig leaves to fix what ails us. He must allow us to try to find in ourselves – in our earthly nature outside of that circle – the solution to spiritual death. He will let us use laws, rules, religion, self-help, and a thousand other fig leaves. But it is all so that when we are done and defeated we will see that the Truth was there all along – our faith must be solely in Jesus Christ – solely in the Christ who dwells in us, and IS our life, and IS our victory.
There are a number of ways to describe HOW to lose your life in order to find true life in Christ. One way is to say to God, “Lord, do whatever it takes, no matter the cost, to bring me to the end of my self-life, and into the fullness of Christ.” If I ask God to do this, and mean it, it is quite a surrender. It really IS a losing of my life, even though there might be much to be worked out. Another way of describing what it means to lose your life is to LEAVE YOURSELF ALONE. What do I mean by that? Well, I mean you have to come to the place where you are absolutely convinced that, no, there is NOTHING you can do about yourself, but also to where your realize that it is the SIN of unbelief to continue trying. And thus, by faith – not through duty or religious principle, but by faith – you give yourself unconditionally into the hands of God. In short, you leave yourself alone because you know there is nothing you can do about yourself, and you see that Jesus Christ has already done all that there is to do. It is now up to God to do whatever it takes to work this out.
So there are TWO realms, indeed , TWO natures, in each one of us. There is our union with Christ – the new creation in Jesus Christ – and there is all that remains outside of that. But we will never become governed by Christ through human effort to fight and defeat the old. No. Rather, we have to realize that the victory over the old is already won by Christ. Thus, we are to keep our faith solely in Christ and leave ourselves alone.
This is actually a very simple Truth. All victory is already finished in Christ. Thus, He is our power. Thus, rather than constantly try to win what is already won, we need to keep our faith in the One in whom there is all victory. In other words, our victory must come from out of Christ – by faith. We leave ourselves alone in the hands of God. This is not neglect. It is faith in His finished work.
The Last Adam
The Bible calls Jesus Christ, “The Last Adam.” There is great significance in that name. First, it points to the fact that Jesus, while remaining God’s Son, nevertheless carried our human nature. Note that He did not partake of the SIN nature. No, Jesus Christ took upon Himself the human nature as it was before Adam had sinned, and maintained that sinlessness throughout his human life.
But the term, “The Last Adam,” also refers to the fact that Jesus was the FINAL one as far as the Adam race was concerned. Gathered up in Jesus was all that God ever intended for the Adam race to be. But having fulfilled the will of God regarding the Adam race, Jesus brought the Adam race to an END on the Cross.
Have we realized that? Jesus Christ – the perfection of God’s though for the Adam race – offered Himself to bear the sin of the Adam race. The entire Adam race was gathered up into Christ. Jesus not only bore our sin, but He bore US. And Jesus died as our collective substitute.
Now note: This isn’t merely Jesus dying FOR sin. It is Jesus dying AS sin – AS the collective Adam. God had told Adam that if he sinned that he would die. Adam did sin and he did die. But God wanted to redeem Adam. Thus, Jesus offered Himself and bore the entirety of the Adam race on the Cross and completely satisfied the justice of God.
What was the result? Was Adam then fixed up, forgiven, and set free from the wrath of God for sin? Not at all. Adam was not fixed up. In Christ ALL the Adam race DIED. What was raised was not a repaired or forgiven old creation. What was raised was a new creation in Christ Jesus.
On the Cross, Jesus Christ ENDED Adam as a race; as a kind of humanity. He ended the Adam race when Adam died in Him. What emerged through His resurrection was a NEW race; a new kind of humanity. This is why it is called a new creation in Christ Jesus. The old is passed. And all things have become new and are now OUT FROM GOD.
Now this provides us with further affirmation that all that is of the earthly man in Adam is under the work of the Cross – all that is outside of our resurrection union with Christ is exactly what Jesus bore on the Cross. It is exactly what must come under the personal Cross for this reality to be worked out. In short, Jesus did die for us as our substitute. But it is because He did die for us that it is said that we DIE IN HIM – and this will wet us free from the earthly.
If you have ever become frustrated or in despair because you cannot seem to make your flesh behave the answer is likely right here: You are not called to make your flesh behave. You are called to carry your Cross so that the flesh might be broken as to power. You are called to put your faith in Christ and leave yourself alone.
As we have seen, the ground of the enemy is the earthly life and nature. Jesus brought that down to death on the Cross. Thus, as we carry our cross, that earthly nature comes under His death and the ground of the enemy in us is eliminated. In short, we need not fight Satan. We resist Him by putting ourselves under the vehicle of His defeat – the Cross. We lose our lives – our earthly lives which is his base of power – and find true life in Christ.
But there is the other side of things. To the degree that we live for ourselves; for this life; to satisfy the earthly – I’m not talking about sin – I’m talking about SELF – to the degree that we live from out of ourselves, we are operating on the ground of the enemy. Self-righteousness is the ground of the enemy. Working for God for my own interests is the ground of the enemy. Few of us know the distinction. We are deceived.
Again -- seek to save your self life and you are saving the life in which all sin finds it's power. You are seeking to save the very ground in human beings where Satan has access. Thus, overcoming is impossible unless we begin with losing our life unconditionally to Jesus Christ. We do this by telling God to do whatever it takes to bring to pass these realities.
Many Christian people continue to err on this point. We keep trying to work on the earthly nature. For example, many continue to think that God wants to, “make us look like Jesus.” This is not the Truth – especially when you realize that people are unwittingly talking about their earthly nature. Without realizing what they are saying, they think God wants to make their earthly nature – emotions, temperament, conduct, attitude – look like Jesus.
Nope. God does not want to make us – to make our earthly nature LOOK like Jesus. Rather, He wants to bring our earthly nature under the Cross so that the life of Jesus might be made manifest through us. There is a huge difference. If we are under the work of the Cross we will come to be governed by life and Truth of Christ. This will govern our earthly nature. But it won’t be the earthly nature looking like Jesus. It will be the earthly nature governed by Jesus. The original design will be restored: Jesus Christ in union with our human spirit governing our body and soul. The spiritual will be governing that which is earthly.
The Forming of Christ Within
All of this would remain theory and doctrine except Christ actually dwells in us. It is Christ that contributes all of the life and Truth of the new creation. It is Christ who creates a separation of soul and Spirit in us. Indeed, it is only as we begin to see Him and He is formed in us, that any of these things can come into our experience.
Paul speaks of God revealing Christ IN HIM. He says that he travailed until Christ be FORMED in believers. This is what God is doing: He is forming Christ in us; bringing us into a inward realization of His Son. When that is happening, then we are able to discern between what is of God, and what is of the earthly. We can, as God gives grace, begin living from the heavenly realm in Christ by faith, instead of living in and out of our earthly nature.
Thus, you can try to practice all of the principles and religion in the world, in order to fix up the earthly. But there is no solution except death. The Cross is the end of the earthly Adam race. It leads to a resurrection of the new creature in Christ – wherein Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God is making a new man; a new race. It consists of all who are IN HIS SON.
Deliverance from out of the earthly, both in fact and in practice, is only possible through the life and knowledge of Jesus Christ. The answer is therefore not a HOW TO. It is not by following rules or principles. The answer is LIFE -- in Him. You cannot solve the death that belongs to the old creation through any other means than through resurrection unto a new creation in Christ.
Back to the Goodnews