Dr. Jim McGowan
Soteriology – The Doctrine of Salvation, 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
November 6, 2016
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for Your blessed grace that you bestow upon us every moment of our lives and thank You Father so much for Sugar Land Bible Church; thank You for this Sunday School class that You’re using vitally, Father God, not just here in our local community but also through our web services, Father, all over the world. So we want to acknowledge this morning those that are here present with us physically and also those who will be tuning in and listening to use, Father, that You might receive all the honor and the glory. And we just give You that praise now, In Jesus name, Amen.
I would like to welcome you hear this morning and remind you that we do have people who are tuning in and if you are one of those individuals that misses a class for whatever reason I just remind you that all of our Sunday School classes and all of our sermons are archived on our web site and I would encourage you to take advantage of that ministry if you need to do so. Everyone should have a handout, if you don’t have one raise your hand and I’m sure one of the gentlemen in the back will help you with that.
This morning what I’d like to do is continue in the vein of soteriology and what I’m wanting to do is basically bring some consistency with what Pastor Andy is teaching on this topic and maybe come from a slightly different angle to give you some more proof, more information that you can use in your own life, and then also as you share Christ with others. So that’s kind of our goal this morning.
This is part of a longer series that I’ve done previously here at the church and we’re just going to touch on some of the highlights this morning. This is the outline we’ll be using so we’re going to talk first of all about our spiritual anatomy. And when you think about anatomy, if you took science classes and had an anatomy class, what was that? What does that refer to? What it was we took the human body, we broke it down into all of its parts so you learned how many bones there were in the body; you learned about the vessels and the corpuscles, all those different aspects that make up the human person, physically speaking.
I’m here to tell you this morning we have a spiritual anatomy also and it’s important for us to understand what the key parts of that spiritual anatomy are, and that’s what we’ll be discussing this morning. We’re going to do a little bit of a review; not too much, on part A there, “In Adam” versus “in Christ” and we can’t spend a lot of time there but as I’ve mentioned previously there are two messages that I’ve done on the issue of identification in Christ and I would refer you to those two messages where we go into quite a bit more depth on that particular topic. But we’re going to continue down through the outline here. What we’re going to spend most of our time on today is section B where we’re going to talk about the old man, the sin nature versus the new man and the new nature. And I’m hoping that I’ll bring some insight perhaps to you that you haven’t thought about before; that’s the desire anyway. And then we’ll talk a little bit about the continuity of person and what that is and then we’ll finish up.
So “In Adam” vs. “In Christ,” let’s look at the passage here. This is kind of going to be our springboard passage, or one of them anyway. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep.  For since by a man” Adam “came death, by a man” Christ” also came the resurrection of the dead.” And notice verse 22 here, it’s very important, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
So let’s talk about what it means to be “in Adam.” The first thing we need to understand is that when we’re talking about being “in Adam” we’re referring to unbelievers and we’ll explain a little bit more about that here in just a moment. But look what we have here: all human beings, every one of us, when we were unbelievers or if we are unbelievers we’re conceived and born “in Adam.” That is to say that we are positionally “in Adam” and we’re identified with Him so that all unbelievers have Adam as their spiritual head. Now sometimes you’ll hear this referred to as Adam being the federal head and I prefer the term seminal head, based upon a couple of passages, if you want to write them down, Romans 5:12 and also Hebrews 7:9-10. [Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—” Hebrews 7:9-10, “And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes,  for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.”]
Again, I go into more detail in the previous messages and I would refer you back to those. So notice what we say here, that this is a fixed position for each unbeliever. It’s a fixed position; all those “in Adam” share His spiritual history and the consequences of that history are identified with Him. I’m using some terminology here, I’m making an assumption that you understand what we mean when we talk about being identified and what we mean by spiritual history.
What is our spiritual history that we received from Adam? Well, we received first of all a position; when we were born we were born “in Adam” positionally, number 1. Secondly, we also received Adam’s nature or the sin nature. And then finally the third thing that we received as part of our spiritual history with Adam, our identification with Him, is what we would call the Adam practice which is the result of our position, the result of our nature of sin and that is what? That’s acts of sin, deeds of sin, if you will. All right. So that’s briefly what we mean by spiritual history.
So every unbeliever is operating “in Adam”. Right? And it’s a fixed position. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, let’s look at the last part of the verse here. [1 Corinthians 15:20-22, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”] We just read this, we said that “in Adam all die,” but notice what happens once we are believers, once we become believers it says, “in Christ all will be made alive.” Do you see the contrast in this verse? I hope you do, there’s a very, very important contrast here.
So church age believers, what does it mean here? What are we talking about being “in Christ”? All of those who were conceived and born “in Adam,” that’s everybody, right? Everybody was born and conceived “in Adam”; once having believed the gospel of salvation they are then placed into Christ. So from that point forward they are “in Christ” and this is all done by God, according to 1 Corinthians 1:30. All those “in Christ” share His spiritual history and the consequences of that history, and are identified with Him. So what do we mean by that? What is our spiritual history? Well, the Bible tells us that when Christ died on the cross that I died with Him, that when He rose from the dead I rose with Him, that we now have a new position of life. We’re no longer associated with Adam, we have a new nature of righteousness; when Christ ascended and was seated at the right hand of the Father the Bible says that we too were ascended and seated with Him in the heavenly places. And we also have a new walk of fruitfulness because we are now “in Christ.” That’s what we mean when we’re referring to the basic aspects of our historical relationship with Christ.
We said that this was all by God’s doing, 1 Corinthians 1:30 says “But by His doing,” meaning the Father, “you” or we” are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” So that brings us to this chart. I’m going to be utilizing this graphic, now obviously no graphic is going to be fully sufficient as we try to explain spiritual things with earthly mentality, but I think this does a fairly decent job of helping us understand what it means to be “in Christ” or “in Adam.” So if you look at the left hand side of that chart you’ll see that we have “In Adam” at the top, and who is the person or what does it mean to be “in Adam.” You’ll see the larger oval there refers to the old man, and when we’re talking about being “in Adam” we’re saying the old man with all of who you were as an unbeliever; it’s all of who you were, that’s the “old man.” Notice that there’s a distinction here between the old man and the sin nature. I’m going to get quite in depth on that here in just a minute but a lot of people are not aware of the fact that there’s actually a distinction and that affects how they live out their Christian life.
So all of who we are “in Adam” is the old man and that old man “in Adam” possesses a sin nature. If we come over to the right side of the chart we see “in Christ” and we have a similar depiction here, the larger oval is showing the new man who is “in Christ” and that is all of who you are right now, which began when? The very moment you believed. All of who you are, and as a part of that you received a new nature. Now you’ll notice that there’s another little circle down there and I’m not going to talk about that just yet but I promise you we will get to that so hang in there and stay with me.
All right, so now what I want to do is I want to spend some time talking about the distinctions and differences, if you will, between the old man and the sin nature and the new man and the new nature. So let’s talk about that for a minute. Here’s our diagram again. I would venture to say that if we were to sit down and just have a casual conversation and we were just to bring up this issue of the old man and the sin nature we would find very quickly that there’s some misunderstanding on this topic. And that’s the whole reason why we’re here this morning, to try to bring some clarity to that.
I’m going to give you a few key points here, let me say this right away, I’m going to be giving you a lot of information this morning and depending on how our time goes I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish but if not I may have to skip some slides; but if I do let me encourage you strongly to make sure you go back and you read the material because I think it will really help you. But in any case, let’s see what we can do. Hopefully we’ll get through this.
So one key point here is in reference to the old man, and notice we’re talking about which side of the chart? We’re talking about the left side of the chart and we’re talking about the “in Adam” person here. So the old man, according to Romans 6, Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3 is the positional person representing all who the unbeliever is in Adam; including Adam’s spiritual history. Now I’m going to repeat myself a lot today. Jim just said that? Yeah, I did, I’m going to repeat myself and I’m in good company because Paul repeated himself and so did Peter. And I’ve learned as an educator that you have to repeat things a number of times before people get it. All right. And I’m pointing three fingers at myself here, right. Okay.
So Adam’s Spiritual History included the sin nature, as depicted here in our picture. In Romans 6, chapters 6 and 7, the English words, “the Sin” in the Greek actually refer to the sin nature. And you might just want to highlight that or make a note because that will significantly help in your understanding of those chapters if you understand that it’s referring to the sin nature. All right, while the positional person of the old man in Adam possesses a sin nature, the two terms “old man” and “sin nature” are not identical or even equivalent. And I’m hoping to prove that to you today.
Before we go too much further in that one let’s talk about what a “nature” is. We throw that word “nature” around a lot. So here we are; we have two animals from the animal kingdom; one is some kind of a long-nosed baboonish looking monkey and he’s up there in the tree. And then we have this crocodile and he’s on the ground, probably close to some water. And we say here that nature is not all of what a creature is, rather it is the collection or attributes and characteristics that cause that creature to behave a certain way. And so that’s the reason why, contrary to the little cartoon in the middle, we don’t find crocodiles up in trees, and we don’t find monkeys down there living close to the water, except there is one group of monkeys in Japan (I think) that live in some kind of hot water, bathe in the hot water in the mountains but they’re bizarre so we’re not talking about them.
Generally speaking monkeys are not going to be living down in the water. Do you see what I’m saying here? Nature here is a collection or attributes and characteristics that cause the creature to behave in a certain way. And we can expect creatures to act a certain way, can’t we? Right? When was the last time you tried to go pet a lion? Why wouldn’t you just normally do that, go to Africa on a safari and walk out there and try to find a lion to go pet one of them? It’s because there’s a certain nature associated with that lion, isn’t there? Yes!
Let’s talk about another key point here as we talk about these issues. I’m trying to bring some clarification or clarity to some topical or some concepts that we often misunderstand. So we oftentimes hear this word “flesh” thrown around and I want you to notice what I have highlighted there, “When contextually appropriate,” contextually appropriate. What are the three rules of Bible interpretation? Context, context, context. Right? So we’re not saying here that every time you see the word “flesh” it means what we’re going to say here but contextually it will determine the meaning.
So when contextually appropriate the term “flesh or body” are often best understood as referring to the sin nature, notice the rest of the wording here, “as it acts through the physical human body.” Romans 6:6 is a clear example of this where the phrase “body of sin” describes our physical human bodies as the vehicles through which the sin nature expresses itself. Look at that verse, Romans 6:6 says, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him,” who? Who’s that? With Christ, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” All right, we’re going to have to bring some clarification here to that, but here’s a great quote, if you will, from William Newell and if you’re not familiar with William Newell I strongly recommend that you become familiar with him. He has an excellent, excellent three commentary on the Book of Romans, Romans verse by verse; if you just go search Romans verse by verse on the internet you’ll find a copy of that entire commentary and I would encourage you to do so.
But let’s look what he says here, he says, “That the body of sin” now referring to Romans 6:5, “That the body of sin might be annulled,” now in the translation we just read it says “done away.” The actual Greek term is katargeo and it means to “put out of business.” “…to put out of business”! The “body of sin” refers to our bodies” notice, “as yet unredeemed, and not delivered from sin’s rule;” Now Pastor Andy has this wonderful chart with the three phases of our salvation. Where would this fall? Would this fall under justification, sanctification, or Glorification? Well, it can’t be justification, and it can’t be glorification because we’re not there yet so it has to be part of that sanctification that he’s talking about here. We’ve not yet been delivered from sin’s rule; sin is still here present with us, isn’t it. If you’re not sure about that turn the television on. Right? Or listen to the debates that have been going on.
He goes on to say, “ …since our old man has been crucified with Christ, all the rights of sin are gone;” “all the rights of sin” we could substitute sin nature here, “are gone, and the indwelling Holy Spirit can annul ‘the body of sin’; thus delivering us from sin’s bondage….” Let me stop there for a second; what is one of the big distinctions between the unbeliever and the believer? The unbeliever is described in the Scripture as one who is under the tyranny, under the dictatorship of the sin nature. What about believers? Are we under the dictatorship and the tyranny of the sin nature? Absolutely not, we’ve been delivered from that because the body of our sins, the body of sin has been annulled.
Now with that in mind let’s read the rest of the quote here: “It is blessed to know that we do not have to crucify the old man: that was done in Christ’s federal death at the cross. Nor do we have to “annul” the “body of sin” why? Because “that is done by the blessed Spirit” how? “as we yield to Him.” So what are we saying here? Now as a believer I still have to deal with the sin nature but guess what? I can deal with him! What a glorious thing to know that I’m no longer under his tyranny; he’s not a dictator in my life, I can now choose to yield to the Holy Spirit and thus manifest the fruit of the Spirit. Right? What a great blessing that is.
All right, here’s another key point; notice this: “It is only by means of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit that the unbeliever comes to believe in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection/ And we know this from John 16, here it is. What did Jesus say was going to happen when the Holy Spirit came? When He comes what’s He going to do? He’s going to “convict the world” of “sin and righteous and judgment.” Let me ask you a question; are you praying spiritually for your lost loved ones when you’re praying? What do I mean by that? Are you praying conviction on their life? Have you ever thought about that? I pray that.
Do you realize no amount of condolence, no amount of winning the argument, laying out the reasons why you should be a believer… you can do that until you’re blue in the face and if the Holy Spirit isn’t bringing conviction in their life nothing is going to happen. Right? We do know the Word of God has to be a part of the process but who is the result up to? Is it up to you, when you share your faith are you the one that’s responsible for what happens or is God responsible? God’s responsible! Have you ever told somebody something many times and they just didn’t hear you, and then all of a sudden one day you said the very same thing you said… well, you’ve never told me that? The light bulb goes. Why is that? The Holy Spirit is the one that conveys the truth to the heart of man. So pray conviction, I guess is what we’re saying here.
Another key point, “Left to itself, the inclination of the Sin Nature” notice this, “would NEVER be to believe that Christ is the Son of God, who died, was buried, and rose again.” It wouldn’t happen. “Since the unbeliever is ruled by the Sin Nature he refuses to believe until convicted by the Holy Spirit, once accomplished, we can joyfully proclaim the following: BELIEF IN CHRIST IS THE LAST ACT ASSOCIATED WITH THE OLD MAN!” Why? Because what happens the moment you believe? Are you still “the old man?” Absolutely not! You suddenly become, instantaneously become, the new man. That’s exciting stuff. Upon believing that person who was positionally “in Adam” is taken out of being “in Adam,” never again to be “in Adam” and never again to have any association “with the positional person of the old man.” That’s interesting.
Notice what I didn’t say there; did you notice I didn’t say that you’re no longer associated with the sin nature? I said you’re no longer “associated with the positional person of the old man.” That’s interesting. All right. “Upon believing,” now what side of the chart are we talking about here? This is now the right side of the chart, the “in Christ” side. “Upon believing that person who was positionally ‘in Adam’ is now, by faith in God’s work through Christ, made to be positionally and irreversibly ‘in Christ’. The new positional person of the believer in Christ, called the New Man, is” notice, “all of who we are in Christ,” right now, the moment we trusted Him, “and that New Man possesses a New Nature –“ but notice the comment, “the New Man is more than just the New Nature.”
All right, so this brings us to our second point here, now we are going to get into the distinction of the differences between the old man and the sin nature. So the two terms, “old man” and “sin nature” are often mistakenly used as synonyms; this is likely due to incorrect and inconsistent translation when addressing three key passages that deal with the Old man, and there they are, Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9. And my bullet point here, I say, “It is crucial that we understand that each of these passages addresses WHAT IS ALREADY ETERNALLY TRUE REGARDING OUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE “OLD MAN” because of our new eternal position “in Christ”.
Let’s come back to our passage, Romans 6:6, notice how it starts out here? “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him,” and I have the word “aorist” there; in the Greek the aorist tense indicates something that happened in a point in time; sometimes it’s correct to translate it as once and for all, and I would say in this instance that would be a good translation; “the old man was once and for all crucified with Christ, that the body of sin,” what did we say “the body of sin” refers to? Here it is, our physical bodies as vehicles through which sin expresses itself, that that “body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” And hallelujah for that. How is “body of sin” annulled? Well, we already mentioned that; it’s annulled as we submit and yield to the Holy Spirit so that the sin nature has no access to us. All right.
Let’s look at what a couple of theologians that are pretty well known said. This again is William Newell and he says “Our old man,” he says, “This is our old selves, as we were in and from Adam. …we must not confuse the ‘old man’ with ‘the flesh” and by that he means the “(sin nature)…. When we are told, for instance, in Colossians, that we have put off the old man, we know that we are being addressed as new creatures in Christ, and that the old man represents all we naturally were,— its desires, lusts, ambitions, hopes, judgments:” all of that” looked as a whole federally.” He says, “we used to be that” when we were in Adam; “now we have put that off.” It’s a done deal.” [William Newell, Romans Commentary, (pg. 147).
- A. Ironside wrote, “My old man is not merely my old (sin nature)….” Here are the two verses, you’ve probably seen these, maybe you’ve memorized these. What do they say: “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man….” Ephesians 4:22 says, “…that you put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.”
All right. A. C. Gaebelein has something to say about this, he says, “The old man is put off and the new man is put on. We are not told to put off the old man by all kinds of endeavors and resolutions;” Why? Because “IT IS ALREADY DONE.” The old man was put away by the cross of Christ. This is the blessed truth which delivers from doubt and bondage. And then we receive something in Christ, the new man, the new nature. [A.C. Gaebelein, The Annotated Bible, Vol. 7: Romans to Ephesians (263-264).
Now why am I emphasizing this difference between the old man and the sin nature? Because there are two camps out there which on a grammatical basis attempt to make these passages say something different than they actually say. And the question, of course is well, does it really matter. And of course my answer to that is yes, it’s significant.
So let’s talk about that; two contracting grammatical positions. The first one, and we’re talking about Ephesians 4:22-25 right now. [Ephesians 4:22-25, “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,  and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.”]
The incorrect position is that these verses present an imperative sense. What’s an imperative? It’s a command, right? A command, in other words when you read those passages you have to read them as a command, something you must do right now. Okay. So they’re saying this is a continual command for believers to follow, and that’s the way most English Bibles translate this. You probably have one in your lap there that does that. Some individuals who champion this view include, Darrell [can’t understand word], Theodore Epp, Charles Hodge, Bruce Paxton and Lehman Strauss. That’s one view.
The other view, now let me back up first, let me just add a comment here, to me, as I investigate this position the reason for me that it is a damaging position in the life of the believer is because it is a works oriented model. Okay. So in other words, they’re telling me that I’m, me, I’m commanded to do these things and I would argue, and Pastor Andy would argue also because I’ve heard him say from the pulpit that living the Christian is, frankly, impossible unless the Holy Spirit is living the life of Christ through us. Paul, at one place said that the life of Christ may be made manifest in my mortal body. I can’t do it, no matter how hard I try.
This is the dilemma that Paul ran into in Romans 7:24, he says, “O wretched man that I am!” Was his conclusion? And he finally says what,  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” What was he saying? Every time I try to do something good evil is present with me. If I try to do this this thing, if I try to live this Christian life in the power of the flesh I’m going to fail, but “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” the one who gives us the victory. Right?
So this is a works based model, in my opinion. The correct position is that these verses present a past indicative sense; indicative means factual, a factual sense, stating facts which are already true of every believer positionally. Some people who hold this view would be Lewis Sperry Chafer, William Newell, Harold Hoehner, H.A. Ironside, H.C. G. Moule, John R.W. Stott, Daniel B. Wallace, B. F. Westcott and Warren Wiersbe, that’s just a few people.
Why is this important? Why is this model important? Because it is a grace oriented model, because this model says Christ has already done everything necessary. Big difference.
Ironside says, “Some people confound the old man with the old (sin) nature. You see, the old man is more than the old nature. The old man is the man of old, what you once were before you were converted. Now you are through with the old man.” [H.A. Ironside, Ephesians Commentary (pg. 124)…] You’re finished with him.
Dr. Kenneth Wuest, if you don’t have his commentaries I would strongly recommend you get them, he was a Greek scholar, grammarian, he writes this, talking about the same passage, Ephesians 4:22. He says, ““That you have put off once for all with reference to your former manner of life the old man which is being corrupted according to the passionate desires of deceit; moreover, that you are being constantly renewed with reference to the spirit of your mind that you have put on once for all the new man which after God was created in righteousness and holiness of truth.” [Dr. Kenneth Wuest, Ephesians 4:22 (page 111)]
That is his literal translation of that passage. He goes on to say, “The expression, “put off,” is a figure taken from the putting off of garments…. It was in our identification with Christ in His crucifixion that potentially we put off the old man, and WE DID SO ACTUALLY at the moment we were saved….Since the old man refers to the unsaved person dominated by the totally depraved nature, the new man refers to the saved person dominated by the divine nature. This new man “after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” This is what Paul has reference to when he says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation”[ (II Cor. 5:17). Dr. Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies from the Greek New Testament]
Harold Hoehner writes on this same passage in Ephesians. He says that these are “….accomplished events rather than a process… they have put off or laid aside that old person at conversion…”… “Paul then is teaching, that having been taught in Him, believers have been taught [aorist] that the old person, according to the former lifestyle was laid aside [aorist] at the time of their faith in the one who taught them, namely Christ.” [Harold Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, v. 4:22, (pages 603, 605-606)]
I’m not going to read this to you because it’s a very, very lengthy quote but you have it there, let fast forward through this, it’s probably a little bit more than you’d want me to do.
[Chafer, L. S. (1935). The Ephesian letter (139-140), “The change that has been wrought in them—not by mere reformation, but by divine transformation—is no less than that the former manner of life, which has been so vividly described, and the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, “is put off.” That this is not a command for these saints to do something which was not yet accomplished is seen when two other passages are examined along with this. In Romans 6:6 the old man is declared to be crucified in the crucifixion of Christ; and in Colossians 3:9, it is stated of the believers that “ye have put off the old man and his deeds.” The disposing of the old man is wrought in that particular aspect of the death of Christ which is unto sin (Rom. 6:10), and is also made an actuality by the Holy Spirit in all who believe. It should be observed, however, that the old man now “put off” is not identical with the flesh which, without question, is to abide with each believer to the end of his earthly pilgrimage (Gal. 5:16, 17); but it is rather the first Adamic-relationship which, for the believer, passed out of existence with the death of Christ, being replaced by the New-Creation relationship in Christ, the Last Adam. The connection with the first Adam, which was as …vital as the life stream itself, has been broken by divine power to the end that a new connection might be established with Christ. The appeal here is in accordance with the injunctions of grace. It is because the old man had been put off that they were to abstain from their former evil ways, rather than that by abstaining from evil ways the old man might be put off. Indeed a renewing of mind by the Holy Spirit is needed (verse 23) to the end that the vital importance of this purity of life shall be comprehended at all times and under all circumstances. Similarly, they had been taught as the truth is in Christ that they had also “put on the Man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (verse 24). The new man is that which is wrought by the regenerating power of the Spirit—“a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15)—and, being born of God, cannot participate in the former evil which is the tendency of the flesh and which was the practice of the old man. The new man, being thus begotten of God, is said to be “created in righteousness and true holiness.” The righteousness referred to is that imputed righteousness which Christ is and which He is made to those who believe (2 Cor. 5:21), and, likewise, true holiness is theirs on the ground of their new position in Christ (Heb. 10:14).”]
But I encourage you to go back and read that extensive passage there, it’s very, very good. So let’s assume for a minute that we understand all this, hopefully we’re getting some insight into it. One of the things that’s always true, regardless of what it is that we’re studying in the Word of God, is if we understand and establish what the spiritual facts are about anything in the Bible, when we couple spiritual facts with faith the outcome is spiritual victory. The reason we have difficulties in our Christian walk many times is because we see the factual information in the Scriptures but we don’t apply faith to it. We allow doubt to come in, to creep in, because you know, when we’re talking about spiritual things, spiritual things often times to contrary to the natural man. Don’t they? I mean, we’ve been raised up from the time we were children where? What’s been our environment? It’s been this world, hasn’t it, and we’re constantly bombarded with the world’s way of thinking about things.
And whether we want to admit it or not, that influences us many times when we come to the Scriptures. So we have to be so careful that when we understand and read the Scriptures that we ask God to illuminate our hearts to the facts. There are many things in Scripture, I’ve been reading the Bible through every years since I was 18 years of age and can I tell you that there is not a day that goes by when I’m doing my daily Bible reading where God doesn’t illuminate me to something that I’ve never seen before. Well now why is that? Is that because the information wasn’t there? NO, it’s because in some way, shape or form my reasoning abilities have been clouded to the facts and I’ve not applied faith to what Scriptures say.
So here’s a profound Scriptural fact that must be accepted by faith; namely that the corruption of the positional old man continues only in the unbeliever. It is no longer active in the believer who is eternally positioned in Christ. We’re no longer associated with the old man. Correctly understanding or former position, our former positional relationship to Adam and our present positional relationship in Christ does what? It awakens us… what’s another word for awaken? It illuminates, it awakens us to the fact that Romans 6 is now addressing the believer’s modified relationship to the sin nature and not the old man who was crucified.
There’s our passage again, what does it say right at the top? “…knowing this, that our old man WAS CRUCIFIED” aorist) “with Him,” do you still struggle with the sin nature? Hmmm… hmmm, well, wait a minute, I thought the old man… well, obviously the Scripture is trying to explain something to us here, that we have a distinction between the old man and the sin nature, we’re going to talk about that some more.
Here’s a great picture. “Scripturally, we know that the Cross is an eternal, impenetrable barrier, however, when the term “old man” is incorrectly employed” in the Scriptures, “as a synonym for the “sin or(old) nature” the implication is that believers can choose to go back or may somehow slip back into being “in Adam”, but we are no longer “in Adam” and never will be again.”
The cross is that policeman standing there between our new position in Christ and our old position in Adam and we can’t go back and forth. Why? Why is this important? Well, if you misunderstand the fact that you can no longer be “in Adam” then you some up with theologies that say things like you can lose your salvation. Or, you say that if a person sins then obviously they were never saved. Do you see the problem here? When we misunderstand the sin nature and the old man we come up with all these interesting ways. And I have a comment on my paper here, confusing terms leads to confusion.
Another way I could represent this to you, the positional person, that is the old man in Adam, cannot revive and he can’t pop back into your life because he was crucified, nor can the believer in any way reverse his or her eternal position and get back into being the old man. If you understand this, does this help you in terms of assurance of your salvation? If you are ministering to someone who is questioning their salvation, could this material help you, maybe, to minister to them, to bring them to a place where they recognize that they’re eternally safe and secure in Christ? I think so.
“By virtue of the Spirit of God identifying us through His baptizing work with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we now stand in a new relationship….” What is our new relationship? We’re “alive toward God and dead to the world and the devil” and guess what, we’re also dead to “our greatest adversary,” which is “our own flesh,” “flesh” here meaning sin nature.
Why would we say that the flesh is our greatest enemy? Again, what did we say “flesh” means? “Flesh” basically means our bodies as the vehicle through which the sin nature expresses itself. But we still have this problem: I still sin! The sin nature which pertains to the old man remains associated with the yet to be glorified physical human body of the believer and it’s going to be that way until the Lord takes you home or the rapture. So now you can see if you look at our graphic here one thing that has transitioned from the old man into the life of the believer is that sin nature. Some people teach that it was eradicated and that’s not true, and we’ll talk some more about that.
There is a great article, and I have the link at the bottom of the slide and I would strongly encourage you to get a copy of it and it’s called Distinguishing the “Man” and the “Nature” by Tom Stegall. And he has an interesting quote here, it’s rather lengthy. But he says,“…we need to keep in mind the difference between our positional identification in the sight of God versus our constitutional make-up as a total person. Before I was saved, God did not see me as “a sin nature” but as an “old man” in Adam possessing a sin nature. Similarly, now that I’ve been born again, God does not see me as “a new divine nature” but as a “new man” in Christ possessing a new nature. The “old man” versus the “new man” references in the Bible deal with the identity of the person as being either an unregenerate person in Adam or a regenerate person in Christ. The “sin nature” versus the “new nature” references deal with what we possessed or possess internally as part of our constitutional make-up.”
He goes on, “…if we assume for a moment that Scripture doesn’t distinguish between the “old man” and “sin nature” or between the “new man” and “new nature,” then 2 Corinthians 5:17 would be teaching that believers no longer possess a new nature,” since “old things have passed away” and “all things have become new.” There must therefore be a distinction between the “man” and the “nature.” And he goes on here, I think I’ll skip this one, let’s go to the next one. Again I want you to read through these but let me… here’s one, “…we have already permanently ‘put on’ the new man. If the Old Man is equivalent to the Sin Nature, then this passage would be teaching that we have also permanently put off the Sin Nature. But, as we have seen, the Old Man refers to the old unregenerate man positioned “in Adam.” Since Scripture teaches that the Sin Nature still exists after the spiritual transition from “in Adam” to “in Christ” and it seeks to express itself in the unredeemed, unglorified physical body, there must be a difference between the terms Old Man and Sin Nature.”
Scripture is clear that the sin nature and the new divine nature co-exist within the believer” isn’t that true? Yeah, read Romans 7. “The old man and the new man, however,” notice the distinction here, “The old man and new man, however, cannot simultaneously co-exist. The old man was terminated at the Cross of Christ and ceased to exist at the moment of regeneration and identification with Christ. To teach that the old man is equivalent to the sin nature is to teach that believers no longer possess a sin nature. The old man is NOT equivalent to the sin nature.” [Tom Stegall, Distinguishing the “Man” and the “Nature” Pt.1, http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9896.pdf ]
And there are, of course, those who teach this very thing; they say there is no longer sin nature. So I thought well, how can I express this idea of what is the sin nature in the life of the believer and I came up with this analogy, and see what you think about this. “The believer’s deposed, judged, and condemned Sin Nature is like a vicious, murderous, sea captain who, while bound to the ship’s mast awaiting execution at the next port, continually calls out to the sailors, like an alluring siren, berating them and making false promises all designed to secure his release. Although stripped of all authority, he continues his assault on the hearts and minds of the sailors, hoping they will be seduced by him, and thus allow him to regain control of the ship and continue his murderous ways.”
I think that’s a fairly good description of what the sin nature is like in the life of the believer. He has no power, he has no authority but that which we give him, but what’s he constantly doing? He’s whispering in our ear, he’s trying to draw us back, release me, set me free, right. Sometimes people are just astounded at the sinful and evil things that a believer can do. Have you ever looked in the mirror on that one? You know, one of the things I always say is that I can’t get too upset with somebody else because if God were ever to just pull back the realm of the spiritual and let me see my sins, see my own self the way He sees me in terms of when I’m disobedient, that wouldn’t be a pretty picture, would it. That’s because that sin nature is endeavoring to find expression in my life through my body.
So let’s ponder a few things here. We said the sin nature remains associated with our physical human body and yet at the same time Paul wrote that we as believers are all new, and that word means new in kind, he says we’re all new creations. Here’s the verses, you are familiar with them. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. And Galatians 6:15, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”
We also know that the old man refers to everything we were in Adam but at the same time Paul wrote that all those things have passed away. If Paul was a new creature in Christ here’s a question I want you to think about: how is it that he could write about who he was and who believers were before believing and still say it with him? You know, if he was going to talk about everything was made new and that he was no longer in any way associated with that, why wouldn’t he just say you know, that fellow, I don’t remember his name, but you know, that fellow was this way or that way. But he doesn’t do that; he uses terms like “I” and “we” when he talks about believers having old things really passed away.
Here he goes, look at this, 1 Timothy 1:13, “I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.”
Ephesians 2:1-3, now he’s talking about us, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,…  we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Well wait a minute, I thought all things were made new; why is he bringing up all that stuff? Can’t we just leave the past in the past? We know that the old man and the sin nature both positioned in Adam cannot be improved, refurbished or renovated. Would you agree with that? There’s a lot of people trying to do that, aren’t they? That’s why we have so many self-help books and certain television programs; I won’t mention any names.
We also know that neither our position in Christ nor the new man, nor the new nature can be improved, refurbished or renovated. Have you thought about that? Can you improve on the new nature? That’s Christ’s nature, how are you going to improve on that. Can you improve on the new man? That’s who you are “in Christ.” I don’t think so. Therefore the old man and the new man cannot simultaneously coexist.
Well, do you believe that the Scriptures tell the truth. I do! Since the Scriptures cannot lie how is it that the New Testament can command believers, as new creatures in Christ, to be conformed, changed, transformed, growing and maturing? Why are we getting these commands? I thought it was a done deal. Well, evidently there is something that still needs to be changed, but if “old things have passed away” what is it about the believer that continues from before we were saved that still needs to be changed.
Ah, now we finally come to the crux of the matter, don’t we, and here it is. It’s what I’m going to call the continuity of the person and that refers to the physical body, other characteristics and personal identity. Tom Stegall,, in his article earlier referred to the Constitutional makeup of the total person, you might want to go back and read that, the continuity of person refers to that part of man that we have yet to discuss. Let’s talk about that quickly here.
There was this fellow who used to be “in Adam” who’s now “in Christ.” And yet there’s still some things that remain, even through that radical spiritual transition of the new birth. What are they? The human body. When you became a Christian did you suddenly inherit that perfect body you wanted? How many did? Not a single hand went up. I know I didn’t. How about your relationships and identity? Did you suddenly have a new identity? I don’t know about you, I kind of like James Bond. No, I didn’t change. You know what, I still was a father, you’re a mother, a son, a daughter, those things didn’t change, did they. How about your personal characteristics? When I became a believer I had a full head of black hair, something ain’t right here…right?
What about your likes and dislikes? Did that suddenly change when you became a believer? You know before I became a believer I liked chocolate ice cream. Guess what? I still like chocolate ice cream. There’s some things that didn’t change. How about skills and knowledge? Well, whatever skills and knowledge I had accumulated before I became a believer, suddenly the slate was wiped clean and all of a sudden I started brand new. No… no! All those things come through the spiritual transformation. And that’s something we need to understand, this continuity of person.
The New Testament affirms that there is continuity of person and that continues from the old man to the new man. We can call this, if you want to, the essential view and this essential part of us continues and it conveyed through the transition from being spiritually the old man to being spiritually the new man who is “in Christ.” And guess what? This remains with us throughout all eternity.
So now we can add something to this picture and that’s that center white block. It is the “continuing person” that is moment by moment being changed during our earthly pilgrimage. Ultimately, when we see Christ face to face, being then, fully like Him, these changes will be fully realized! And everybody says yes, bring it on, I’m ready for the rapture. How about you? “…We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” [1 John 3:2b] I can’t wait for that day. Each believer has, right now, and maintains his or her own unique identity and your individual relationship and fellowship with Christ. But not just now, that’s going to continue on into eternity.
Revelation 2:17 says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’” That’s kind of exciting; there’s going to be some aspect of our identity still unique, that we’re each going to have, we’re going to receive once we get to heaven. Presently, during our earthly existence God is changing the spiritual aspects of the continuing person through the use of specific processes. How’s God doing this?
How is He doing this? Well, one of the things He’s doing is He’s conforming us into the image of Christ. What are conforming processes? Well, for the most part when you look at them in the Bible generally speaking they are external things that are brought to bear in our lives that cause us to get our minds off of ourselves, fun things, like losing your job; fun things like having a child that wants to go off and become a heroin addict. Fun things, you know, maybe experiencing ridicule for Christ from others in the work place. Aren’t those fun things; don’t you just love it? When those kind of things come into your life do you just stop and go yeah, all right, I’m becoming more like Jesus!
Well, hopefully, as we understand this information that that will become our attitude but I will confess to you that when I’m in my car pulling out onto the highway and that, God bless them, wonderful person decides that they just want to cut me off and not let me on the highway my first thought isn’t thank You Lord for conforming me to the image of Christ. No! And then I get to repent, you know, confess or repent, which then a part of the process of conforming me to the image of Christ. So external things are used a lot.
What about transforming processes? How did God transform us? Well, the Bible is very clear that there’s only one way that we can be transformed into the image of Christ and that’s through having our minds renewed… our minds renewed! How do we get our minds renewed? We get a tape from some speaker and listen to him tell us… there was a guy who used to be very popular, I won’t mention his name, he had a great big smile and he was a motivational speaker, very popular back in the 80’s. Is that how we do it, we put on the latest greatest motivational speaker? No! The only thing that transforms us is the Word of God. How often are you in the Word of God.
This is not condemnatory, the idea behind this is to challenge you toward victory, to challenge you toward growth in Christ. Am I in the Word of God enough? NO, I’m not, and like I said, I have a daily Bible reading… yeah for me, pat me on the back thing. I’m constantly in the Word of God but I’m not in it enough. And you know how I know? Because that old sin nature keeps talking to me and I keep yielding to it. Transforming process, and we also have spiritual growth and maturing processes that God brings into our lives, and sanctification processes.
I really like that picture down there in the right hand corner; I hope you noticed that. What God is trying to brings to through all these processes is the place that when we look in the mirror we see Him, we see Jesus. More and more that image of Jesus becomes brighter and more full and we don’t see ourselves so much. These processes are changing the continuing person more and more into the positional person of the new man.
So in this life we as believers are actually continuing running to catch up with our established position “in Christ.” Have you ever thought about that? We have a position, don’t we, “in Christ.” We have wonderful divine riches and we spend our time here pursuing that position and that’s the sanctification process in our hearts and minds.
So how are we doing on time. Just about right, let’s close here. We talked about this morning, we introduced this concept of a spiritual anatomy, we briefly touched upon what it meant to be “in Adam” versus being “in Christ.” We spent a little bit more time talking about the old man and the sin nature, there’s the new man and the new nature. And let me again ask you, be sure you go back and look over those slides that we didn’t finish and I think they’ll be helpful to you. And then we talked about and introduced this idea of the continuity of persons. So with that said let’s close in prayer.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for these wonderful peaceful people and their kindness in attending and being attentive to what’s being said this morning. And Lord, I recognize that I am not able in my own abilities and strengths to really correctly articulate truth; I’m totally dependent on the Holy Spirit to do that and my prayer this morning is that You would take something that was said and that You would minister to the hearts of Your people and it might be used by the Holy Spirit to grow us and mature us. Help us to be more the people You want us to be. Thank You for the service that will be coming after this; we pray your blessing upon Pastor Morris as he comes to speak to us. And we just pray Father God that You would receive all the glory. In Jesus name, Amen.