There is a direct result of what God did in and through Jesus (we call it the “good news”) that, in many congregations and by many Christian teachers, is not truly taught. And actually, in its place, something else is put and then taught as being biblical when it flies in direct contradiction to the gospel the Apostle Paul preached, the gospel which Christ Himself revealed to and taught to Paul. (Galatians 1:11-12) And this thing that is now taught as being part of the gospel is actually something that occurred under the Old Covenant and the Law.
What is this thing that I would personally classify as an abomination? The teaching that a believer, a person who is in Christ and Christ is in him/her, has two warring natures inside him/herself.
Those who assert this teaching point to passages like Romans 7 and Galatians 5. In both of these passages, Paul does seem to be talking about a person’s flesh nature and spiritual nature fighting against each other for control.
But is that really what he is saying? No.
Like any other passage, it is crucial, (CRUCIAL!) to read the passage in context. In the context of both passages, Paul is saying that when a person is under the Law, like people were in the Old Covenant, this warring did occur. It’s the reason why Paul says that while he was under law, “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, nothing good dwells, for to will is present with me, but to work out the good is not. For I do not do the good which I will, but the evil which I do not will, this I practice. But if what I do not will, this I do, it is no longer I that work it out but sin that dwells in me. I find then the law with me who wills to do the good, that is, the evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man, but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and making me a captive to the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:20-24)
Earlier in the chapter, Paul says that the law of sin and death seized the opportunity and used God’s righteous law to bring about death. This is what was happening under the law.
But, and this is a BIG but, Paul, at the beginning of chapter 7 tells those who know the law (meaning Jews) that those who have received Christ have died to the law. It no longer is in force. At the beginning of chapter 8, Paul specifically states, “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” That means that all of the results, the situations, and how things went under the law are no longer the reality for the one who is in Christ. No longer is the believer involved in some internal spiritual warfare between two natures because s/he has been freed from all that!
When a person is incarcerated, s/he has to do things the way that the prison and the warden and the guards say they must be done. That prisoner has no other choice. But when that person is released, no longer is it that way. That person has the freedom to do it when and however s/he decides.
It is the same way for the believer. That old way has been crucified, been put to death God in Jesus. And when God kills something, someone else cannot come along and resurrect it.
The other passage to which these teachers point is Galatians 5:17 – “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these oppose each other that you would not do the things that you desire.” Again, it sound like Paul is saying that there are two warring natures inside a believer, since he is addressing believers. And it sounds quite similar to what he says in Romans 7 about what occurred inside a person while under the law.
And since, once again, he is saying about how things went under while we were under the law, verse 18 is very important and informative. Paul says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” The conjunction Paul uses is very important. It is the conjunction that denotes contrast to what he has just said. So, what he’s saying is the person who is led by the Spirit is not under the law and how things occurred under the law, which he has just described in verse 17. So the conflict between flesh and spirit that occurred in a person under the law is no longer reality for the believer.
This is why Paul, in the gospel which Christ revealed and taught to him, has death as a very important piece of it, and not just Christ’s death, but also our own by participating in Christ’s death upon belief. The old man – the old nature, the old way of doing things – has been crucified; it has been killed. It’s dead, deader than a door nail. And when we have died to it, it no longer has any control over us. How it worked no longer has anything to do with us.
So, when it is taught that there are two warring natures inside a person who is in Christ and Christ is in him/her, what is actually being taught is the Old Covenant because what is being taught is how things worked under the Old Covenant and the law. And as far as I’m concerned, that is an abomination, for if the sinful nature is still inside a believer warring against the spiritual nature which is Christ, then what God did in Christ was not sufficient. And I definitely will NOT say that.
Why do I say, “If Christians don’t get this, we might as well go home” regarding all of this? I say it because it has to do with understanding who we truly are in Christ. If we, for the most part, are just like we were when we were alive to the law, meaning before belief, then nothing has truly occurred and we are just wasting our time. And if that is the case, we might as well go home.
But if a believer truly as only one nature, then why does s/he still sin? Well, the source of that sin is now habit, not nature. Let’s go back to that person who was incarcerated. While incarcerated, that prisoner had no choice but to do it the way s/he was told. After release, because of the way things were done in prison were ingrained deeply in that prisoner, s/he can tend to still do things the same way they were done while in prison because that’s what s/he knows. The way things were done in prison are not required, but occur because they are habit. And, hopefully, as that prisoner grows in the freedom now possessed, that habit changes to how s/he wants to do things.
It’s the same way for the believer. Under the law, sin was the natural result because of the sin nature being present. When that sin nature was killed and replaced with the nature of Christ upon belief, that believer still struggles with still doing things the way s/he did them while having that sin nature because they became habit. But as that believer grows in the freedom in Christ and in realization whom s/he truly is in Christ, those habits are changed to come into alignment with his/her true nature. Habit can be broken; nature cannot.
But first, a believer must understand what has truly occurred upon belief. If that does not happen, then the rest will be a struggle at best because, “As a person thinks in his/her heart, so is s/he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
But if nature has not been changed, if the sin nature is still very much part of the believer, then we might as well go home. Nothing has truly changed.