Every believer has two natures and we must understand this if we want to grow and make progress as Christians. When we are born into this world, we receive the old nature which is also called the flesh. We receive the new nature when we believe in Christ and are born again. This new nature is also called "spirit". The Lord made this very clear when He said that the Spirit gives birth to spirit, John 3:6.
In the Bible, the word "flesh" has two meanings. Sometimes, it means the physical body as in John 3:6. At other times it means the old self, the sinful nature which we all received as descendants of Adam. In this lesson we will talk about the second meaning.
The word "spirit" is also used of man's own spirit: every man has body, soul and spirit, 1Thessalonians 5:23. The new nature is also called spirit, because it is the opposite of the flesh.
You will understand the difference between the two natures when you read the following verses:
(the old nature)
(the believer's new nature)
|John 3:6||John 3:6|
|Ephesians 4:22||Ephesians 4:24|
|Romans 7:23||Romans 7:22|
|Romans 8:7,8||2 Peter 1:4|
These two natures are always fighting against each other. Our old nature is opposed to what the new nature wants and the new nature is opposed to the desires of the old nature. The two natures are enemies and so we cannot do what we want to do, Galatians 5:17.
Many new believers do not have victory in their lives because they do not know:
Let us see what the Scriptures teach about these things.
Nothing can make the flesh or old nature any better. In Jeremiah 17:9, we read that our hearts are very evil and we cannot trust them. Evil ideas come from a man's heart and these ideas lead him to do all kinds of wicked things, Mark 7:21-23. The flesh is the enemy of God and does not and cannot obey God's laws. Some people do the things which their old nature wants; they cannot please God, Romans 8:7,8. In John 6:63, we read that the flesh is of no use at all. The unsaved person cannot obey, please, or understand God, Ephesians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 2:14.
We do not lose the flesh when we are born again. This is what the Bible teaches and our own lives show us that it is true. Paul knew that there was nothing good in his old nature, Romans 7:18; and he told us not to do anything to please or satisfy the flesh, Romans 13:14. He would not have said this if we did not have our old nature any more.
The flesh does not get any better after we are saved. The flesh can produce only flesh, John 3:6. It can never be changed into the new nature or be improved in any way. It is always the enemy of God, Romans 8:7, and seems to be even more evil after a person is born again than it was before. This is because the Holy Spirit has come to live in that person and reveals how evil the flesh is. It is the same even after a person has been a Christian for many years: his old nature is as evil as that of a wicked unbeliever. The flesh may show itself in a different way in a Christian, but it is the same old flesh.
The two sons of Abraham are a picture of the two natures. Ishmael speaks of a natural man or the old nature. Isaac is a picture of a spiritual man or the new nature. At first, Ishmael did not cause any trouble in the home, but when Isaac was born the conflict started, Genesis 21:9. In the same way, the old nature does not make me unhappy until I get the new nature. Then the fight begins.
A true child of God does not go on sinning because he has God's nature in himself. He is not able to continue in sin because God is his Father, 1 John 3:9. Notice three things about the new nature:
A. The new nature comes from God. We received the old nature from Adam when we were born into this world and we receive the new nature from God when we are born again. The old nature is completely bad but the new nature is wholly good. It is also called the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4.
B. The new nature cannot sin, 1 John 3:9 and 5:18. This is true of all believers, not only of a few who are especially spiritual. Of course, it does not mean that a believer never sins (see 1 John 2:1), but that he does not continue to sin. God's own nature is in the Christian, and this nature is not able to sin. A tree can bear fruit only according to its own nature. For example, a fig tree can produce nothing but figs, James 3:12. In the same way, God's nature in me can produce only what is good.
Read Romans 8:8 and 1 John 3:9 and compare these two verses.
What is impossible according to 1 John 3:9? ___________________________
What is impossible according to Romans 8:8? ___________________________
C. The new nature enjoys the things of God. Paul said that his inner being delighted in the law of God, Romans 7:22. The new nature causes the believer to turn to God in prayer, as Paul did, Acts 9:11; and to the Word of God for food, like new born babies, 1 Peter 2:2. Those who have the new nature love other believers, 1 John 3:14, and this helps us to know we are saved. These are some of the ways in which the new nature shows itself.
There are two kinds of Christians: those who do what the old nature wants them to do, and those who obey their new nature. Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 ['carnal' means 'fleshly'] and 2:15. How can we obey our new nature and become spiritual Christians? We will answer this question now and also in Lesson 4.
When the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, God judged my sins. These sins are the result of my sinful nature. He forgives my sins, but He condemns my sinful nature. I must do the same if I want to please Him. Think about the following three verses:
We can do these things only in the power of the Holy Spirit. The next lesson will teach us more about this.