Now that we have looked at the two Adams and their influence on mankind, we can begin to understand the two natures in the child of God. A good place to begin to develop our understanding of the sin nature is Genesis. The temptation which seduced Adam and Eve to sin, and their behavior after the fall, reflect the sin nature which is now common to all men. Although manifested behavior varies widely, all mankind has the same sin nature with identical characteristics.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
One of the lies was, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The irony of this false promise was they already knew good; therefore, a knowledge of evil would be the only thing “gained.” The Devil promised them that which he knew could not happen, “Be as gods” because he himself had tried and failed.4 The original temptation was to exalt self above God: self-assertion, self-exaltation, self-glorification, simply stated, self-worship. Hence, we learn the first and most basic aspect of the sin nature, self-worship. One only has to watch a newborn infant to see every person is born selfish, self-concerned, self-centered, and self-absorbed. Some may be very capable at covering their selfishness, and even at convincing others of how selfless they are, but no cover can change that which is ours by nature. You can put any label you want on a jar of pickles, but inside are still pickles. You can do that which you want on the outside, yet inside remains the sin nature which is selfish.
Genesis 3:6 and 7:
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Verse 6 shows they allowed their senses to rule over the Word of God. They lost the spirit, and their behavior immediately changed. Before the fall, chapter 2 verse 25 tells us they were both naked and were not ashamed. After the fall, the knowledge of being naked was not new, but their attitude towards their nakedness was. They changed from being unashamed to ashamed with a desire to clothe themselves. Their efforts to cover themselves were futile. Later, recorded in verse 21, God had to clothe them. Shame and man’s useless attempts to cover himself are also incorporated into this sin nature.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Before the fall they had no fear and no reason to hide from God. Now with sin they endeavored to hide themselves from God because of fear. This, too, is common to all mankind by nature.
Genesis 3:11 and 12:
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
Adam shifted the blame for his sin onto the woman and God. This behavior is not removed from mankind. How natural it is for man to blame others for his own sin; and how common it is to blame God for our wrongdoings!
The true ugliness of this sin nature was quickly manifested in Adam’s first child, Cain. Cain was not created in the image of God. He was born after his father’s kind, with the sin nature. Read Genesis 4 and see how he evidenced this sin nature: pride, envy, jealousy, bitterness, and intense hatred which resulted in murder. He murdered his brother Abel. Afterwards, when confronted by God, he was disrespectful and indignant toward God. He was more self-concerned about his future than he was sorrowful that his brother was dead by his own hands. Some think Cain was an exception to the rest of mankind. The history of the human race does not support this thought, nor does God’s Word. Remember what we read in Romans?
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
An open sepulcher stinks because of the dead, decaying body within. Mankind’s throat, that which comes out of his mouth, stinks because that which is within is dead and rotten. “Their feet are swift to shed blood.” How many millions of people have been murdered since Cain first murdered Abel? The sin nature seen in Cain is not the exception; it is typical. Some people just do not understand why so much evil is in the world. People are often shaken by the evil they see. But when we understand the sin nature, we are no longer shocked by the evil manifested in the world. Evil is that which comes naturally to man. What is shocking is that man has not completely destroyed himself. Only by God’s loving grace, mercy, and goodness has mankind been able to continue.
There are many places in God’s Word where we can see the two natures contrasted with one another. We will now review some of those places.
The Flesh & The Spirit
In John 3, Jesus Christ told Nicodemus the need to be born again.5 He explained in John 3:6:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
All flesh comes from Adam and has the sin nature. That which is born of the Spirit, referring to God, has the divine nature which is spirit. Flesh and spirit are two distinctly different realities with different origins, natures, and characteristics. Flesh is flesh, spirit is spirit, and they do not overlap. In fact, they are contrary to each other.
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
The word “quickeneth” means “gives life.” The spirit gives life. The flesh profiteth nothing. What a stark reality which the carnal man refutes, even hates, because man revels in his own doings, his own ideas, his own works. Yet, God says the flesh profiteth nothing. Man, with all of his intellectual abilities, academic acclaims, and all the ways in which he has developed himself physically, still has not changed the truth: THE FLESH PROFITETH NOTHING.
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.
One night I listened to part of an interview given by a wealthy, successful man of the world. He boasted of the two hundred million dollars he gave away last year, and of all his great accomplishments and dreams. He was convinced that he was doing many good things to better the world in which he lived. He has already designated that after his death all his accumulated wealth be given to charities which will carry on with his current good works. Yet, in this interview he plainly stated he did not believe in God and would rather go to hell than heaven. His logic was that heaven would be perfect, so hell would be a better place for him because he could help to improve it. Talk about the epitome of man’s ego: wanting to go to hell so he could better it! God’s Word says, “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” Do you know what no good thing means? No good thing! I pray this man does not realize his wish.
Most men are convinced they can do good things with their flesh. Man revels and glories in himself. To hear the talk — “I created this, and I created that; I can do this, and I can do that,” — one would think that God’s Word is not true. The reality of life is that man is not able to determine successfully what he will do from one day to the next.6
Remember Jesus Christ said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.”7 If he who was perfect could not do anything on his own, what man could be so foolish as to think that he could do something considered to be a good thing on his own? Man can discipline himself, be very religious, hard-working, sincere, emotional, educated, persistent, etc., etc., etc. However, he still cannot cause good to come out of the flesh. The only good to be found is in the spirit.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
You cannot please God in the flesh. They that worship God must worship Him “in spirit and in truth,”8 not in the flesh. In the flesh dwelleth no good thing; therefore, the flesh profiteth nothing and cannot please God.
The Carnal Mind Versus The Spiritual Mind
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
In the context of Romans 8, the word “flesh” and the word “spirit” are used figuratively9 where “flesh” stands for the totality of the old nature, and “spirit” the totality of the new nature.
The “law of the spirit of life” is talking about the law of the new nature and all that goes with it. The “law of sin and death” is the law of the sin nature, or the old nature. “Sin and death” could be translated “death-dealing sin.” The law of the spirit of life, the new nature, has made us free from the law of death-dealing sin, the old nature.
For what the law [the law God gave to Moses] could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh [the old nature], God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
The Mosaic Law could not rectify sin nature which was inherent in the blood. So God sent Jesus Christ, who had flesh and blood like all other men, but whose blood came from the seed God created in Mary, not from Adam. Through his perfect obedience and accomplished work, God was able to make available the new nature and spiritually put to death the old.
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Believers have the choice to walk by the flesh, the old nature, or by the spirit, the new nature.
For they that are after the flesh [old nature] do mind [think about] the things of the flesh [old nature]; but they that are after the Spirit [new nature] the things of the Spirit [new nature]. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind [thoughts] is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The carnal mind is a mind thinking according to the old nature. The carnal mind is death and enmity against God. To be spiritually minded, after the new nature, is life and peace, or a peaceful life. So if you do not have a peaceful life, guess what!
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Again we see that it is impossible to please God with the flesh, the old man.
The Natural Man & The Spiritual Man
I Corinthians 2:14:
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.
The word “natural” is the Greek word psuchikos, meaning soul. Soul man is the man of the flesh only, without spirit. He does not receive the things of the spirit of God. You can tell the soul man about holy spirit, manifestations of the spirit, or any other spiritual matters. He may very well laugh at you, or at least sneer in his mind, because to him they are foolishness.
Not long ago I was teaching in a French-speaking country. I do not speak French; therefore, I had a translator. Each person received his own portable receiver with a headset. In order to understand what I was teaching, those who did not understand English had to have the receiver. Without it they could not hear the translation. To hear me speak in English would have been foolishness to them. In like manner, to those of the flesh not having the spirit, the things of God are foolishness. They simply do not have the receiver which is the gift of holy spirit. On the other hand, those who are born again do have the spirit and can understand the things of God.
I Corinthians 2:12:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
The Old Man & The New Man
These terms are used only in referring to believers. Once we are born from above, we receive the new nature which is called the new man. In addition we still have the old nature which is called the old man. For those who have not been born again the “old” and “new” terms are not relevant. That which they have is simply called the natural man, or flesh.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The created part of man is spirit. The new man is the holy spirit God created within when we were born again. Colossians also talks of the old and new man.
Colossians 3:9 and 10:
…that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
This is a very graphic description of the heart we received via Adam and the old nature. The following tells us about the heart that we received via Christ and the new nature.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
The heart of the new nature is a Christ-like heart which knows God as a tender, loving Father.
The Works of The Flesh & The Fruit of The Spirit
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Wow! That is some contrast. When we walk by the old nature, we manifest the works of the flesh. When we walk by the new nature, we manifest the fruit of the spirit. Which do you want to manifest in your life?
The flesh profiteth nothing (John 6:63), in it dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:18), and it cannot please God (Romans 8:8). It is actually at enmity with God (Romans 8:7). This flesh or sin nature is evil and cannot be changed. Yet, so many Christians spend their lives endeavoring to change the unchangeable, to discipline the unruly, and to reform that which will always be unreformable. So evil is this nature that the only way for God to deal with it was to have it put to death when Christ died.
The divine nature gives us eternal life (John 6:63). In this nature dwelleth THE good thing, Christ (Romans 8:10). And it makes us God’s sons, placing us into a tender, loving relationship of “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). The new nature, ours for eternity, is so good it need not be changed. This new nature gives us the ability to do the greater works that Jesus Christ spoke about in John 14:12, and the good works mentioned in Ephesians 2:10.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater worksthan these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
We began this chapter by looking at Adam’s behavioral change after the fall, to see the pattern of the sin nature common to all man. In like manner we could study Jesus Christ, the last Adam, to see the behavior of one who walked by spirit.
Rather than being tricked into self-worship, our lord always worshipped God. No selfishness was to be found in him at all. He lived a totally selfless life. Jesus Christ stood in the presence of God without sin, shame, or condemnation. He always did the will of the Father, and maintained the loving relationship of a son with his Father. He did not hide from God, rather he was ever in His presence, always doing His will. Adam shifted the blame. Jesus Christ was blameless and took upon himself the sins of the whole world. A complete study of the life of our lord would reveal to us how we can walk as Christians with the new nature. A comprehensive study of the Church Epistles will also show us the completeness that is ours with this new nature.