We Do Not Possess Two Natures

December 10, 2015

In my last post, I discussed Rom. 7:24,25 and its surrounding context. Much more could have been said, but one verse I want to highlight now is Rom. 6:17. It says, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.”

That one verse says (and infers) a lot. It reminds us that it was because of God that we are enabled to walk in freedom from our previous slavery to sin. It reminds us that this freedom is also due to our obedience to The Truth (who is Jesus, His words, and correct doctrine). And it reminds us that we are no longer slaves to sin. This is what “though you used to be slaves to sin” means. The verse right before it (Rom. 6:16) has told us that if we are slaves to sin, we walk the death path, but if we are slaves to obedience, we walk the path of righteousness –that Path which, as verses 18 and 22 inform us, is the Path (Way / Life / Lifestyle / Road) that leads to holiness, with the result being eternal life.

So in understanding that we are, by our choices (Rom. 6:12,13), either walking the Eternal Death Path or walking the Eternal Life Path (8:13,14), let’s look again at Rom. 7:24,25. They say, “What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, the Lord [Boss] of us! So then, I myself, with the mind, am a slave to God’s law; but in the sinful nature, a slave to the law of sin.” In my last post I quoted these verses as literally as possible from the Greek, but the above translation is fine. What is not fine, is when translations render “but in the sinful nature…” as “but in my sinful nature…”, changing “the” to “my”. It is not fine because it makes the reader believe that this verse is teaching that Christ-followers can be slaves to God’s law with their mind while being slaves to sin in their lifestyle. It is not fine because such a doctrine is contrary to the doctrine found in all of Scripture, including in Rom. 7:24,25.

Christians need to be taught that we do not carry around the sinful nature, but instead possess God’s own divine nature (1 John 3:9), which, being the case, makes us unable to continue to sin. (Same verse) Christians need to be taught that we have died to sin (Rom. 6:2) and are not to live in it any longer (same verse) because we “have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (v. 18) Christians need to be taught that we have made the commitment to follow Jesus and that this means that we follow faithfully and consistently (Luke 9:61,62 & 14:26,27,33 // John 10:27,28), and that we abide in Him and belong to Him through our obedience to His teaching. (John 8:31-36 & 15:10 // 1 John 3:24) Christians need to be taught that we must choose to submit our will to God’s will in order to learn, know, and progress in the Truth (John 7:17) and that following Jesus (His footsteps and His orders) is a requirement for being His servant and one whom the Father will honor. (12:26) Consequently, before inquirers decide to “become a Christian”, they need to be taught that they are signing up to “become slaves to God” (Rom. 6:22) and that they must therefore renounce all that is not pleasing to Him. (Luke 16:13 // 1 Pe. 4:2)

Let’s get it straight: If someone keeps sinning, they do not belong to Christ. (1 John 3:6-10) Instead they belong to the devil. (v. 8,10) Anyone who claims to belong to Christ, anyone who claims, “Christ’s righteousness has forever been imputed to me regardless of whether or not I keep sinning”, is deceiving himself with an enormous lie. For only “he who does what is right is righteous” (v. 7), and, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (v. 10) Only those who live Christ-like are those whom God views as pure and in fellowship with Him. (1:5-7) Only those who are obedient to Jesus Christ’s commands, and who live as He lived, can legitimately claim to be united with Christ (2:3-6) and thus be possessing Eternal Life. (5:20) Only those who obey Christ’s teaching have the Spirit of the Father and the Son living within them. (John 14:23) Yes, Eternal Life comes only by being in the Son (1 John 5:11), which comes only by remaining in the Truth (2:24,25); and by being in the Son, we also possess the Father. (v. 23-25)

To believe that a Christian possesses both the sinful nature and the nature of God within themselves is to remain in ignorance. (Eph. 4:17-24 // 1 Pe. 1:14) It is to be ignorant of the Truth –the Truth which has taught us to reject our former way of life and our former nature that was in slavery to sin. (Same verses // 2 Pe. 2:17-22) The Truth teaches that we have been baptized into Christ’s death (Rom. 6:3) and have been raised with Him to live His life (v. 4 // Gal. 2:20) as entirely new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) who are devoted to His will (v. 15 // 1 Pe. 4:2) and are controlled by His Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) Indeed, this last verse says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” How then can people legitimately claim that Rom. 7:25 teaches that those in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit are also still enslaved to the sinful nature? They cannot, for it is not so.

The rest of Rom. 8:9 says, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” So we see that anyone who is still controlled by the sinful nature does not belong to Christ. Could Rom. 7:25 contract this? It cannot and it does not. Instead the verse is contrasting two lifestyles that come as a result of two opposing natures (qualities / characters / dispositions).

Rom. 8:1-14 describes the contrast as well, and verses 5-8 teach that those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on sin, have minds that are hostile to God, are people thereby not able to please God, and are people thus walking in death (the Eternal Death Path). This is the opposite of those who live by the Spirit, and who, with their minds set on what the Spirit wants, have allowed their minds to be controlled by Him, and are thus walking in Life and Peace (the Eternal Life Path).

How can there be so many church-goers insisting that Rom. 7:25 teaches that we can, in our mind, be a slave to God’s law while at the same time, in practice, be a slave to the law of sin? They are in error, for the two natures are not compatible within one person. They teach a falsehood, for anyone possessing the Holy Spirit cannot possess the sinful nature. As Rom. 8:10,11 tell us, if Christ is in us, our old self is dead, while our spirit, along with our mortal body –yes, our existing mortal body– has been given a new life, and this by the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

Rom. 6:1-15 speaks of this concept also, telling us that because Christ died to sin once for all, we, “as those who have been brought from death to Life” (v. 13), are finished with sin, even in our mortal body, and that this is because we are under grace, not law. The chapter in question (Rom. ch. 7) speaks of this same thing –that we have died to the old husband / master / reality / way / lifestyle / mindset / nature (v. 1-6), that we have died to the old self who was “controlled by the sinful nature” (v. 5) and who was “unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin” (v. 14), that it is God, through Jesus, who has rescued us (v. 24,25), and that we now “serve in the new way of the Spirit.” (v. 6) All three chapters (Rom. ch. 6-8) are informing us that the divine nature and the sinful nature are entirely incompatible!

Gal. 5:17 is another verse that speaks about the contrasting natures, and along with its surrounding context, we are taught that our choices have us following the Spirit (the divine nature) or have us following the sinful nature, our eternal destiny being determined by our subsequent behavior. Those who live by the sinful nature “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (v. 21), whereas “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (v. 24) This same thing is what Romans chapters 6-8 are most emphatically teaching –that “our old self was crucified with Him [Christ] so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin –because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (6:6,7)

Let’s go back to the verse I began with today –Rom. 6:17. It says, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” Are we hearing what God’s Word is telling us? Christ-followers (those who belong to Christ / those who are saved) used to be slaves to sin, but through Jesus we have crucified that defiled body and have been raised to a new life –the life of and in Christ. Moreover, it has been explained to us how this life is lived out: It is by continually submitting to the Holy Spirit who guides us into all Truth (John 16:13) and who reminds us of all that Jesus has said (14:26), including that He has taught that remaining in Him and in eternal life comes by eating and drinking Him (6:53-58) –meaning The Word. (1:1,14) For as He has said, “The Spirit gives Life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are Life.” (6:63) Therefore, by obeying the Truth, we are kept cleansed (1 Pe. 1:22), fully able to enact our obedience through the power, faith, armor, and gifts God has given us. (1 Cor. 12:4-11 // Eph. 1:19 & 3:20 & 6:10-18 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4 // 1 John 5:3-5)

Let’s solidify within ourselves the Truth from Rom. 6:17: “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” If we do so, no one will be able to deceive us when they twist Romans chapter 7, particularly verses 24 and 25, claiming that Christians still possess the sinful nature and are therefore still enslaved to sin. God’s Word states the opposite: That we have been freed. So let’s live in accordance with that.

with love,

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