- - Endorsed
- - Indifferent
- - Contested
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| The Heart Of Repentance.
|You are a pretty good Christian. You have given up many besetting sins, and have become morally superior to the person you were before you were a Christian. You love to read your bible, and you even pray daily.
But something is wrong.
You know that you are holding back. You know that you are not 100% for the Lord. You have given God everything that you have been willing to let go of, but there are things in your life that you are not willing to let go of.
Maybe you tell yourself that you are not able to be free from these things. Maybe you have tried to be free from them so many times, and failed every time to produce a lasting break, maybe this has convinced you that really, there is no cure for sin - you just have to put up with it, and fight it when you can, but not to get too down on yourself when you fail - besides, doesn't scripture tell us that we are all sinners anyway?
But whatever shallow platitudes you might try to comfort yourself with, fall upon deaf ears, because deep down you know they are bunk. You know that God expects more from you than you are giving him, and your failure to make the grade eats you alive.
That is a pretty complex place to be in, and I will explain why.
First, because you aren't as deceived as you would like to be. You know that you should be obedient to God, but you find yourself "unable to obey" when it counts. We may even identify who is calling the shots at this point - the old man - but where is the victory - how do we break through to the other side?
The Israelites that halted at the Jordon, and didn't want to take the promised land instruct us in this. The ones who don't enter into the promise fail to do so because they don't trust it. They don't believe. They hate where they are, but they think it is at least better than where God would bring them if they obeyed - and they believe that obeying God at this point would be worse than not obeying him.
To put it bluntly - they like their sin more than they want to obey God.
We can even shorten that to, "they like their sin".
The reason a person gets into the habit of "not repenting" is because deep down they don't really want to repent - that is, the "old man" refuses to repent. He ... cannot ... repent.
Think that through.
Your old man, in no way, can ever repent - he is irredeemable, and his song is going to be the same until the day you die - he does not want to repent.
Why do I tell you this. Because you need to -recognize- him. If Christ is in you, you will want to repent, but the old man will not want it. You have to separate yourself from, that is, set yourself apart from, the old man who refuses to repent. Identify yourself, not as the one who refuses to repent, but as the one who is at war with the one who refuses to repent. I do not use my words here carelessly - when a thing is "holy" it is separated unto God. You must be holy as your father is holy - separate yourself from the thing that refuses to repent - that ain't you Christian, that is the thing that is dwelling in your flesh, and you have been set free from it.
It isn't a mind game that you play - it is recognizing who is who. In you dwells a thing that remains no good, and this thing is alien to who you are in Christ, if indeed the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. If Christ dwells in you, you have all you need right now to overcome this old man - this thing that refuses to surrender to God.
Simply identify who is calling the shots, and stop obeying the thing that is killing you. The part of you that rejects this is condemned and powerless. It can lie to you, but that is all it can do. You -can- right now, repent, all you need to do is count on Christ's life in you - apprehend it in your thinking. Examine yourself - find the part that doesn't want to obey, and attack it with the sword of the word of God - the truth can set you free, if you are willing to take your sword out of its sheath and attack that thing that is killing you.
You see, you need to understand that what is killing you is alien to you, and not simply "you". You need to consider it and yourself as two separate things that are both vying for control of your mind, actions, and thoughts. This thing will tell you that you do not want to repent, that you love your sin, and that you will never be free. But the truth is that you are free already in Christ, that this thing is not you, nor is it your master any longer. You must regard it as a dead thing - a thing that is already defeated not because you need to play mind games - but because that is the truth. This thing has been dealt with. The reason you obey it is because you continue to set your mind on obeying it - you haven't separated yourself from it in your own understanding. You need to come out and be separate in your own thinking so that when you set your mind on the things of the Spirit, you understand what you are doing...
Do you get that?
You need to regard this thing as alien to who you are, so that when it makes you think that it is you who love sin you can answer that deceit with the truth - no, I hate sin - it is you, my old man - you! You condemned and alien thing! You love sin, and have deceived me, but the veil is lifted in Christ - the veil is lifted. I see you for what you are, and I will not have you rule over me! Lord Father, have you not put this thing beneath Christ's feet? Haven't you?!?? Is not Christ in me? Isn't He?!! Give me spiritual sight that I might see the chariots of Israel! I know this thing is not me, and I know that I am not it - and though it howls at me to obey it, I know I am the bond slave of Christ - Him will I obey!
You see, repentance begins the moment I recognize that the part of me that wants to disobey, the part that hates God - that thing is foreign to who I am in Christ - If I obey it I am walking in the flesh, but if I regard it as a dead thing, and its lusts and desires as foreign to me, and if in doing so I instead turn myself to the life of Christ that is in me, and willingly obey that whom I am not enslaved to in the flesh - but enslaved to in my spirit - then I set my mind not on the flesh, but on the spirit, and in doing so I am freed from the lusts of the flesh.
Do this and live.
Labels: deceit, sanctification, sin, victory
posted by Daniel @
Right with you on this...good follow up from the last one (Don't Hate Your Sins)...
Hey - I noticed (after I had posted this) that the meta in your current post for today was running along this line.
I feel there is a great need for clarity on this point in the church.
I have questions written for you related to your comment about the old/new nature over at Rose's.
May I post them here in the comments section, or would you prefer that I not?
I don't want to place them over at Rose's so as not to interfere with her post topic and take up too much space in her blog (although it’s off topic for this post of yours, so I'll understand if you don't want them here).
Susan, why not post them here and I will answer them here, Lord willing I have some insight... :-)
It is difficult for me to not see this as simply a mind trick. Other than the thought that the support for it is found in the Bible. How is this different than some other 'mind trick' found in some other book? I'd guess this goes back to what we believe about the inspiration of scripture at some point. But, if you are struggling to trust the words in The Book also, how can this done? Need a little help here...
Thank you very much, Daniel.
It's actually somewhat relevant to your post topic since you address the "old man" in your post.
Please forgive the length; I’ll break it up into several comments for clarity and ease of reading.
I’ll quote you in italics with my questions following each. Feel free to answer with a post if addressing each comment is too much.
Our flesh is temporal. One day it will go to the grave and remain there never to rise. But our old nature is not temporal, it is eternal. It is the thing that is going to go to hell with the unbeliever, and it is the thing that Christ took to the cross and destroyed in Himself there for the believer.
Won’t our flesh rise again, like Christ’s resurrected glorified body?
Witnesses touched His scars and He ate fish.
Won’t our old nature be dead forever when our physical bodies die?
Doesn’t it still reside in us since we still sin and our new nature in Christ is not sinful?
I don’t believe the born again Christian to be ‘dual-natured,’ but we are still sinners this side of glory, yet born again in Christ. So this is probably the biggest part of my not understanding this truth in Scripture: the new man and the old creature – how they fit together this side of glory.
Likewise, the new creation is just that - a new, eternal creation. Those who are in Christ "own" the new creation already, but are not in possession of it yet. We won't come into possession of it until we die or Christ returns. Likewise, our old nature will remain with us until we die or Christ returns.
But doesn’t Paul say that “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” (2 Co 5:17) I read this in the present tense, that when we are born again, truly we are (present tense) born again. So we are at present new creatures.
I think I’m confused how we can own the new creation (as Paul says we are the new creature already) and yet not possess it. I don’t get it.
On Calvary Christ took that eternal part of us that was condemned - "the sin" and condemned it there. There it died, and because this is true, says Paul, we ought to conduct ourselves in accordance with what is eternally true rather than what is temporally visible. That is, we are to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin, and alive to God -in- Christ Jesus.
This all sounds new to me, like we’re separating the sin from ourselves as an eternal part when we still have sin among all Christians on this earth. Our sin hasn’t died in that sense, as I understand it, although we are forgiven it and prompted by the Spirit when we do sin to confess it to Him, repent, and follow. So I don’t get the distinction, I suppose, between your statement of ‘eternal sin’ and ‘sin on this earth now by Christians.’
The old nature is with us till the day we die or Christ returns, it will always lead us into sin - it cannot do otherwise. But knowing that this thing is dead, and that our new creation is life and it is hid in Christ, we no longer are in the same relationship with our the old nature as we previously were in. What previously was producing death in us, has already died in Christ, such that it no longer has the same power to reign over us. Sin reigns in death you see, and when that which is producing death in us is understood to be dead, it loses its hold on us.
I didn’t want to leave out any of your comments because others may be able to read it here and grasp what I am not. You were building to a point, and I was also afraid that by cutting something out your argument may weaken or be lost.
Now, I do see that we don’t have the same relationship with sin that we once had. That is evident in my life. But since I still sin, and it grieves the Spirit within me and He continually (thank GOD!) corrects and changes me, it may have no staying power, but doesn’t it have some power or I wouldn’t do it?
Also, what do you mean by “sin reigns in death”?
We don't reckon on our new creation as though it were a part of us in the hear and now, but rather knowing that it is our inheritance in Christ - knowing that until we die or Christ returns, we have been given a Helper, a Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
So are you saying we’re not new creatures now?
Doesn’t that contradict Paul in 2 Co 5:17: “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.”
That is why we are to set our minds on the things of the Spirit, and not on the things of the flesh - we are to obey God because having been set free from sin and death, we are actually able to do so - if we stop belly aching about how hard it is, and start repenting like God has given us to grace to do.
Even when we set our minds on the things of the Spirit, we still sin. I don’t know a Christian who doesn’t. Only Jesus didn’t sin.
Do you not sin now?
When we obey God, true, we do not sin. But no one I have ever heard of anyone who obeys God perfectly, other than Christ.
Most of the folks I know (well, on-line in the Reformed camp and the folks from my church) don’t belly ache about how hard it is, but grieve when they know they’ve sinned. They acknowledge that they do sin and they plead God for mercy to grant them the ability to do (or be) whatever it is they need to be.
Maybe I should just speak for myself. I know where I lack. I know I can’t muster any of what I need up by myself. I know I can’t even obey what He says to without His empowerment. So my prayers seem to continually be that He will have mercy on me and grant me love for Him as He says in Scripture, an ability to do what He wants me to do, wisdom to pray before I speak, etc. I need it *all* from Him. I’m a wretch without Him! I can’t do it myself.
It’s not hard. It’s just impossible without His doing in me.
Anyway - the point is that eternally speaking, we have one nature - the new nature - the new creation in Christ. The old nature, in eternity, is destroyed in Christ, and the new nature, in eternity, is hid in Christ. We only ever have the one nature "with" us. Never both residing in the same flesh.
Except that you wrote that we’re not new creatures yet (your distinction: we own but do not possess).
This is where I (and I suspect others) are confused.
If we’re only one nature now, I don’t see how we still sin.
Born again Christians who know they’re saved still struggle as Paul did:
“For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice.” (Romans 7:19)
So for here and now, we have one nature - the fallen one, even though we own another, we have yet to come into that inheritance. For the meantime God has given us a down payment on the promise - the Holy Spirit - so that we can live out the remainder of this time as holy individuals in spite of the old nature.
Okay, maybe a glimmer of understanding on my part. So we’re still one nature – the old man that sins.
But that doesn’t sound like what you’re saying.
And Paul says we’re the new man.
So I’m still confused.
Thanks for your understanding and indulgence (not to be confused with the RC indulgences ;-)
Susan, I will answer all these as I am able, but I may not get to them all today ;-)
I was talking to my wife about this last night as she was giving me her comments on it, and that was the same question she had - how is this not a head game?
Well, first and foremost, if these things are not true, they will not work - that is, the proof (or the refutation) is in the pudding, but since that is a rather pithy answer, I will not leave it at that - though I do think it is a good place to start.
Next, lets agree on a few things from scripture up front. in 1 Corinthians 2:14 we learn that the natural (unsaved) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God because the natural man, being without God's Spirit, lacks the eyes and ears to hear anything taught by the Spirit. Romans 8:16 rests upon this principle, that God's Spirit witnesses to our spirit ~ meaning those who are indwelt by God's Spirit have their own spirit instructed by God's Spirit in spiritual matters. The man who lacks God's Spirit and hears about the things of the Spirit, will never be able to comprehend them, because he lacks God's Spirit in Himself who will witness to the truth of these things.
Now, the truth can sound like a mind game to anyone who isn't being instructed in it by God's Spirit. It isn't that spiritual people hear some disembodied spiritual voice saying "Amen" when something is true - rather it is that spiritual truths are comprehensible - they "ring true" even if the intellect struggles with it - the spiritual man knows when truth comes along.
So if you have never heard the gospel, I suggest you read this article I wrote entitled, How to become a Christian, and maybe give my testimony a read as well before you come back to this, as my answer is going to sound either incomprehensible or foolish to anyone who isn't God's child.
Now, assuming that you are a Christian...
The moment you were saved the Holy Spirit came to indwell you, and immediately began to minister to you in two obvious ways - he began to convict you of the sin in your life and he began to witness to you what is righteous (acceptable to God). The Holy Spirit is our Helper/Comforter, we are not left orphans, but are given the means to mercy , grace, and help, and promised a generous portion of wisdom. Which is to say again, that these things need not remain theoretical for the believer, but ought to be quantifiable if they are true.
Which hasn't answered your question yet, but I hope paves a little of the way. ;-)
The fact that a mind game will not work is enough to disprove the notion that this is just a head game, but let's go deeper than that.
Let's start with a plainly stated a priori: The man who isn't saved will by nature be entirely sold out to sin, and as such will not be able to intellectually separate that which is sin in himself from that which is himself, because he lacks the spiritual perspective to do so. There is no part of him that isn't sold out to sin. If he should ever desire to "not sin", it is not a holy desire, but a selfish one - not a desire to honot God for God's glory, but a desire to pacify God in order to secure for Himself mercy - his motive, in all things whether they seem wicked externally, or righteous, are always and ever - motivated by the old man.
The old man is entirely selfish, and all his desires ultimately protect and satisfy himself. The morally upright, peace loving muslim (for example) is just as enslaved to the old man as the murderous, remorseless homicidal maniac, because both, at heart, are entirely sold out to their own self interest - the muslim pursues uprightness because he believes that doing so will purchase him enough favor with God to avoid calamity and judgment, all his external morality is at heart self serving - the end product of a soul bent on self preservation. Likewise the murderer has no respect for life because all that matters to him is his own life. Anyone that makes his life uncomfortable can be done away with. Both are satisfying the old man, and only the old man - even if it looks radically different on the outside.
But the Christian, having the indwelling Holy Spirit, has a perspective that the natural man cannot have:
 the Christian's old man has been crucified in Christ releasing the Christian from that former slavery to the old man's desires. Not that the old man has no desires, or that he doesn't impose them on the flesh of the believer - but rather that the bondage that formerly was total and utter by virtue of there being no other perspective but that of bondage - has now been undone by the putting to death of that old man in Christ.
 the Christian has received a new creation which is presently hid in Christ and will be received in practice when Christ returns, or when the believer is raised on that last day.
 the Christian is now indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God and this annointing gives to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these we may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
So the natural man who attempts to separate himself from the old man is not going to succeed, he cannot separate himself because the thing that he is trying to be separate from is himself, it is not alien to him, at all, but his very nature. He may well identify that his nature is wicked, but there is nothing in him that isn't wicked, selfish, and in utter rebellion against God, and seriously, lacking the spiritual discernment needed to identify spiritual things - this one will never be able to draw a line between himself and sin, because there is no line to draw - he is utterly sold out to sin, spiritually dead in sins and trespassses - there is no life to put on the other side of the fence and draw from - there is only sin and death. The unregenerate man's every motive is bent towards self pleasure, preservation, or exaltation, and at best the notion of separating himself from such things would be erroneously misunderstood as trying to suppress sin, or worse: the unbeliever may well even imagine that there is some division in themselves between good and bad, and such is deceit, for the unbeliever has nothing good in him to be seperated unto.
So if the unsaved man attempts to separate in his understanding, himself from the sin, he will not be able to do so. He may well separate his obvious self satisfying desires from the less obvious, as say, in the previous example of the "religious person", and such a distinction would indeed be a head game - a telling of oneself that there is this bad part, and there is a good part, and we ought to be separate from the bad and cling to the good - it is the heart of every self help program imaginable. Suppress the bad, feed the good.
But the truth is, for the unbeliever even what is deemed to be righteous is actually a filthy rag. Nothing they do is righteous, because nothing they do is done in the Spirit, it is all done in (and for) the gratification, preservation and exaltation of the flesh.
It isn't therefore that the Christian convinces himself by auto sugggestion that there really is an old man who is producing death in him etc. It is rather a matter of trusting that what God has said is in fact true. Faith is not like auto suggestion. Auto suggestion involves teaching yourself to believe something you do not believe. Faith is trusting in something because you believe it to be trustworthy.
Which is to say that it is much more than a matter of positive thinking or auto suggestion. Those won't produce anything, not for the carnal man, and especially not for the spiritual man. These truths are apprehended because they are true, not because we "make ourselves" believe something we really believe is false.
I don't want to ramble, so let me know if that answers it or not.
Susan asks, "Won’t our flesh rise again, like Christ’s resurrected glorified body?
Witnesses touched His scars and He ate fish."
First, let's not confuse our flesh with our old man. Those who are in Christ will receive a new, glorified body, they will not receive the old body simply brought back to life.
Christ and the apostles miraculously brought people back from death to life, but those who were raised were not raised new creations - they were raised in their old, former bodies - bodies that eventually grew old and died, and harbored sin once again while doing so. Their spirits were united again with their old bodies - and their old bodies, so long as they lived, were influenced by "the sin" or the "old man".
Christ was never influenced by the old man - He was not a child of Adam, was never separated from God because of sin, and as the second Adam his flesh never knew the corruption of sin. There was nothing wrong with Christ's flesh, such that even when he died, he could be raised again in that same flesh, even before it was glorified in the presence of the father.
That is not to say that because he could have, that is what happened, rather it is to state up front that we are comparing apples and oranges when we compare what we expect to be our own experience with the experience of that one sinless man - the only man (besides Adam) who lived without a an "old nature" - though Adam eventually brought this "old nature" into the world through himself and his progeny. If we take Christ therefore and examine His resurrection as the prototype for our own, we are already miles from level ground - as there is nothing redeemable in our bodies, and in diametric opposition to that, there was nothing condemnable in Christ's - so while it is required of us that even our body be destroyed, such is not required of Christ.
I said that our flesh (the bones and muscles and skin etc.) is temporal - it will one day be done away with, and the reason it will be done away with is because it along with the rest of creation, has been corrupted by sin. 2 Peter 3:10 lets us know that on the day of the Lord the heavens and the earth are going to pass away - all of creation (including this flesh that we lived in) will be destroyed by fire. While Christ could certainly reconstruct us after that, we have no reason to suppose this is what he is going to do - since we are not an "old creation that is going to one day get fixed" but a "new creation".
you ask, "Won’t our old nature be dead forever when our physical bodies die? "
Eternally speaking, our old nature is already dead - it died on the cross with Christ. Likewise, eternally speaking, we are already seated in the heavenlies with and in Christ. We don't experience these truths because we are still in the old creation - where the flesh is alive, and where the old man still has influence. His influence ends on the day our flesh dies - our flesh goes to the grave, and our old man to the cross for judgment.
you ask, "Doesn’t [the old nature] still reside in us since we still sin and our new nature in Christ is not sinful?"
Yes, our old nature still resides in us, and yes, our new nature is not sinful being in Christ.
You say, "I don’t believe the born again Christian to be ‘dual-natured,’ but we are still sinners this side of glory, yet born again in Christ. So this is probably the biggest part of my not understanding this truth in Scripture: the new man and the old creature – how they fit together this side of glory."
I also do not believe that Christians are dual creation, as it were, meaning I want to be careful to distinguish between what is true of us, and what can be inferred by way of imprecise language. The old nature is alive and well in every single believer. You know this experientially, I don't need to convince you of it. Is that a new nature, or the same one that was always there? It is the same one.
Some would argue that this propensity in the Christian to sin is not the old man at all, but just "residual sin" which remains in the flesh. They say this because their theology doesn't line up with their experience, so rather than rethink their theology, they instead reinterpret their experience so that it lines up with their theology. They say, the old nature has been put to death in Christ, it is dead, -therefore- I do not have that nature any more, and in the eternal sense they are right - it is a truth that is true, but it is not true experientially yet. The old nature has been crucified with Christ - and the truth of that has implications in the lives of all those who are in Christ today - because the death of the old man happened ==in Christ==, and all our reasoning must center on this truth. Yes, the old man ==is== dead, but not in me, he is dead in Christ. Christ is in me, and by that union the death of the old man renders sin powerless over me - but only so long as I am "in Christ".
I think people miss that - they presume that the old man has died in them in the hear and now, rather than in eternity in Christ - and reasoning from that perspective, they imagine that the thing that is making them sin is not the old man, but just their flesh.
Likewise, I believe that people mistake the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as their "new nature". It makes sense - suddenly they are sensitive to sin, and hunger for righteousness - must be a new nature right? Except that scripture makes it plain that this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit - to convict us of sin and righteousness. To make us holy. He is not our new creation, he is the down payment - the wedding ring, the guarantee. He is with every believer, but He is not the new creation, and calling him a "new nature" is misleading (at best).
So, I don't believe we are dual natured. I believe the old man is crucified with Christ in eternity - that his death is real in Christ, but not in my life, unless I by faith reckon upon that fact, and stop turning to myself, but look for my life in Christ - where the old man has been defeated, and where my new life is hid. Not dual natured, not new natured either - but old natured, with the indwelling Spirit guiding us into the truth of our union with Christ.
I hope I have articulated that well enough.
Now onto the second volley...
Susan asks, "But doesn’t Paul say that “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” (2 Co 5:17) I read this in the present tense, that when we are born again, truly we are (present tense) born again. So we are at present new creatures.
I think I’m confused how we can own the new creation (as Paul says we are the new creature already) and yet not possess it. I don’t get it."
I sort of answered this in my previous comment, but I will address it more fully here.
Pilate asked Christ whether he was the King of the Jews, and Christ's response was that He was, but that His Kingdom was not in this world. He was a King with a Kingdom - but not such as was visible in this world.
He was the King, but this reality wasn't where his Kingdom was found.
Likewise, we are a new creation right now - just as certainly as Christ was the King when Pilate put Him to the question - but just as reality of Christ's answer finds itself both true in eternity, but simultaneously outside Pilate's comprehensible reality, so to our new creation is ours right now, but we have not come into possession of it in this reality.
It is really ours as surely as any inheritance that is guaranteed by God could be - but we have yet to come into it. There is nothing wrong with Paul's language - it is utterly fitting, we are a new creation, we must know this to be a truth that is true in the here and now -even if the reality of it is not for this time.
Susan asks, "This all sounds new to me, like we’re separating the sin from ourselves as an eternal part when we still have sin among all Christians on this earth. Our sin hasn’t died in that sense, as I understand it, although we are forgiven it and prompted by the Spirit when we do sin to confess it to Him, repent, and follow. So I don’t get the distinction, I suppose, between your statement of ‘eternal sin’ and ‘sin on this earth now by Christians.’"
In Romans 5:12, we seldom (sadly) translate the article in front of the word sin. The text reads (my extremely literal translation),
"because of this, even as through one man "the sin" into the world came, and through "the sin" - "the death", and thus into all men "the death" passed through, for that all sinned."
Paul consistently uses the article (the) before sin whenever he is specifically talking about that thing which enslaved mankind and brought in death, not sin in general, in those instances - but "-the- sin".
Paul's whole argument in Romans seven is peppered with references, not to sin in general, but to "the sin":
verse 11: for "the" sin having received an opportunity through the command...
verse 13: but "the" sin, that it might be revealed to be sin, ... the sin might become exceedingly sinful
verse 14: I am a slave to "the" sin...
verse 17: it is no longer I who that work it, but "the" sin that dwells in me
verse 20: it is no longer I that work but "the" sin that is dwelling in me
verse 23: bringing me into captivity to the law of "the" sin that is in my members
and Romans 8:2: the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of "the" sin and "the" death
Paul's argument in Romans seven is an example he gives, by way of defending what he sets forth in Romans five and six. He says in Romans 5 - "the" sin came into the world, and with it death - and Christ came to deal with "the" sin, not the law. The law came to show us where the affront was, but it didn't come to save us from sin. Death reigned through sin, but grace reigns through righteousness to eternal life through Christ. That a Christian is one in whom grace us reigning through righteousness, not in whom sin is reigning in death - because all who put into Jesus, have died to their old master - "The" sin, and that thing ("the sin") no longer reigns over them, and because that is so, they are able to live to God by obeying God's spirit who was given to them as part of the deal. Romans seven argues that this is not contrary to the law, but that the law itself shows that it is only in effect so long as the one who is obligated to it lives - but that since we have died in Christ, the law is no longer over those who are in Christ - and then he paints that picture of the one who attempts to be free from sins without dealing with the root problem "the sin" - he tries and fails because he is still a slave to "the sin" - but Paul concludes that this is not the state of the healthy Christian - that Christ's death did something to break that dominion - that the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets him free from the law he finds in his members - that is, from his enslavement to "the" sin.
That is a horribly brief summary, but it puts us where we need to be for this point - "the sin" came into the world through Adam's disobedience, and with it death came too. Each of us are born into Adam's inheritance - each of us is born cast out of the garden of Eden, into a cursed world, we begin our lives spiritually dead - outside of the life of God, and each of us begins our life with the sin we inherited from Adam.
Christ did not inherit this sin from Adam, being a new creation Himself. Note that - until Christ came, all things were part of the old, condemned, cursed, and corrupt creation (alliteration: no extra charge!), but Christ's human body was a new creation - not corrupted and cursed as the former, but operating within the former.
The distinction between "the sin" and sinning/sins is perhaps the most critical thing we need to understand if we are going to deal with "the" sin directly, and stop messing around with the flesh, or the sins.
Christians throughout history have practiced mortifying the flesh. So have all sorts of other religions. Our job is not to put our old man to death, our job is to reckon him dead already at least with regards to authority in our lives. Our job is not to kill our old man, but to stop taking orders from him.
Our old man has died in Christ, and only in Christ are we are free from sin's power in a practical way. The truth is that we are free right now, but we only appropriate that truth by walking in the Spirit - by setting our mind on the things of the Spirit - that is, reckoning from our true position in Christ (where our new life is hid and where the old man is crucified) rather than reckoning from the worldly mess we find ourselves in. Peter took his eyes off of Christ and sank in the storm. The moment we are not walking by the Spirit we are powerless against the old man. Our victory depends on identifying him, and coming out from him.
I hope I am not just repeating myself.
Susan asks, "Even when we set our minds on the things of the Spirit, we still sin. I don’t know a Christian who doesn’t. Only Jesus didn’t sin.
Do you not sin now? "
When we set our minds on the things of the Spirit we do -not- sin. If we sin, we can be sure that we have not set our minds on the things of the spirit, for Paul says, "walk by the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."
Jesus walked by the Spirit - everything Jesus did was in obedience to the Holy Spirit. He lived the life that is possible for all believers, for he walked this earth entirely in the strength of a man.
It is true that only Jesus didn't sin, but it is not true that Christians -must- sin. What did Jesus die to save us from? Sin. (c.f. Matthew 1:21).
I -do- sin, but only when I am in the flesh, when my mind is not set on the things of the Spirit. My battle is not with "sins" or with "sinning" - my battles is with surrendering everything to God - that is, with walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh.
Please don't understand me as suggesting that I am speaking these things from the perspective of one who has arrived. I am a sinner, I sin, but I am not as some, I do not pursue a life where I sin smaller sins, and less often - I pursue a life where sin is not my master, Christ is.
I hear your heart's cry for deliverance - that is what it means to hunger and thirst after righteousness. I share that heart it sister.
But I do not buy into the idea that Christ died to save me from sin's penalty, or to save me from hell - scripture doesn't say that anywhere - it says he died to save me from sin - and that is exactly what he has done in many instances. I used to be utterly and absolutely bitter against my father. I hated him with a profound and enduring hatred. Yet one day, in prayer I truly forgave him, because I saw him as a sinner just like me, and I could hardly blame him for his slavery to sin, when I myself was so enslaved. The next morning I awoke with a profound freedom I had never known. I didn't hate my father anymore. I couldn't make myself hate him if I wanted to. I didn't try to manufacture this freedom, it was radical, spontaneous, and real. I really didn't hate him anymore. That may seem trivial to some, but you would have to know a lot about where I am coming from to know that when I say I was delivered from sin's power, in that instance - I mean it. I didn't try and suppress it - it was just gone, utterly gone.
Which is to say that in my experience at least with regards to this instance, God had delivered me from sin's grip. I have other victories in Christ, but I don't want to belabor the point. There is a victory that isn't a victory - the kind where you pump all day at the well and whatever water comes out, does so by the sweat of your brow - that isn't victory, victory is when water comes gushing out and no one is pumping.
Victory has never come to me by asking for empowerment - it has come by humbling myself, that is, by repenting - but one cannot repent when one imagines that one is enslaved...
Susan asks, "I didn’t want to leave out any of your comments because others may be able to read it here and grasp what I am not. You were building to a point, and I was also afraid that by cutting something out your argument may weaken or be lost.
Now, I do see that we don’t have the same relationship with sin that we once had. That is evident in my life. But since I still sin, and it grieves the Spirit within me and He continually (thank GOD!) corrects and changes me, it may have no staying power, but doesn’t it have some power or I wouldn’t do it?
Also, what do you mean by “sin reigns in death”?"
A jail cell is still a jail cell, if you are in it and refuse to open the door. Sin still has power, but the power it has is given it by you, for it lacks any authority over you. It is a defeated foe, and you have all the promises of God and His fullness to bring to bear against sin - it is just a question of letting the truth set you free, or hanging onto the lie.
When Paul, in Romans 5:21 says that just as "sin reigned in death" even so grace might reign in righteousness, he is talking about the environment that enables death - when sin is ruling death is being produced, when grace is ruling, righteousness is being produced. Practically speaking, when you humble yourself before God, the result grace that produces righteousness, when you rebel against God in your pride the result has no life in it - it is death - it breeds more death, more lifelessness.
When I say sin reigns in death therefore, I am talking about the mind that is set on that which is producing death in us - obedience to the sin in our flesh. When we obey that, nothing with spiritual life is produced, and the absence of that life is spiritual death. Not that we lose our salvation or that we suddenly drop dead spiritually, but that this thing is producing something that isn't life, it is producing death, separation from life, i.e., from God. In order for sin to reign, one must not be humbled before God.
Dan said, Anyway - the point is that eternally speaking, we have one nature - the new nature - the new creation in Christ. The old nature, in eternity, is destroyed in Christ, and the new nature, in eternity, is hid in Christ. We only ever have the one nature "with" us. Never both residing in the same flesh.
Susan pondered, Except that you wrote that we’re not new creatures yet (your distinction: we own but do not possess).
This is where I (and I suspect others) are confused.
If we’re only one nature now, I don’t see how we still sin.
Born again Christians who know they’re saved still struggle as Paul did:
“For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice.” (Romans 7:19)
There are two nows, aren't there. I gave the example in a previous comment about Christ being the King of the Jews in truth and in eternity, but the only way Pilate could understand a kingdom was in the political here and now sense. Christ was the King of the Jews - but at the same time, He wasn't. In reality, in eternity, and in truth - YES, King. In his humility, on earth, during the creation? A King, but not yet throned. Throned in glory and in truth, but humiliated on earth. Christ was the King in the eternal, and fullest sense but at the same time, not a King in the temporal, current (well, current for Pilate) sense.
That is why I said, "eternally speaking" - I meant to distinguish between saying, "I am experientially a new creation" and "I am a new creation". It is the distinction of the child who is born the heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune, but is not allowed to enjoy his inheritance until his 21st birthday. The day before he turns 21 he is certainly a billionaires - but again, right then and there - in the one sense, he is not, but in the other he is. So it is with the new creation - we possess it, but we do not experience it in the here and now.
Susan says, "Okay, maybe a glimmer of understanding on my part. So we’re still one nature – the old man that sins.
But that doesn’t sound like what you’re saying.
And Paul says we’re the new man.
So I’m still confused.
Thanks for your understanding and indulgence (not to be confused with the RC indulgences ;-)"
Paul instructs us to put on the new man (Ephesians 4:17), and presumes that the Christian has put on the new man (Colossians 3:10), we are to serve in the newness of the Spirit (Romans 7:6), to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), but that is not the same as Paul saying that we are a new man.
When Paul says that we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), he is correct, but as I have said, that new creation is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), and not here in the world becoming corrupt by our sins.
Basically it works like this:
Prior to being saved:
You are a slave to sin, and whatever sin wants you to do, you do it. You have only the old nature.
After you are saved:
You are a new creation - hidden in Christ
Your old man is dead - crucified in Christ
Because your old man was crucified with Christ, you are no longer sin's slave
The Holy Spirit of God comes to indwell you - he guarantees your inheritance
Your old nature resides in still, calling you to obey sin, but you can submit yourself to the Spirit and receive grace to help in times of need.
Experientially the old man is with you till the day you die, calling you to sin, but the day you were saved you received a new life that you will come into possession of after this one. The thing that is leading you into sin each day has been crucified with Christ, and although it doesn't go anywhere or act any differently now that you are saved, yet your relationship with it has changed from that of a slave, to that of a free man. But in order to experience the freedom here and now, that is yours in Christ - you must walk in Christ, to walk in Christ you must humble yourself before him, instead of before the sin that is trying to rule over you. When you truly do this you are walking in the Spirit, walking by faith in the truth - worshiping God in spirit and in truth.
Let me know if that clears it up or just muddies it some more.
Phew! I'm not able to read it all this minute, but I'm going to print it all out to read in the next 24-48 hours.
I am much appreciative of your time and effort.
I confess that I tried to read some of this as my 4-yr-old daughter and my son (19) visiting from Israel for a few weeks were clamoring for my attention, so I wasn't able to concentrate well, but something you wrote grabbed me. This:
I am a sinner, I sin, but I am not as some, I do not pursue a life where I sin smaller sins, and less often - I pursue a life where sin is not my master, Christ is.
You're giving me much food for thought. Something in what you wrote here struck a chord.
I want to read this in quiet and depth before I comment more -esp about the old/new man, the flesh, and how our resurrected bodies will not be like Jesus', but please accept my sincere thanks. I hope this helps others beyond myself as well.
Daniel, I am a little bit with anonymous on the "mind games" angle. That is what it sounds like to me, here and in the last few posts. One of my sisters has good, valid questions about brainwashing in religion; specifically self-perpetuated brainwashing. I've been thinking about it.
I do not mean at all to negate your point or insult your scholarship, but personally I come back to and simplify it down to relationship. The "old man" to me is the worldly identity that taught me sinful habits to go along with my ingrained sinful tendencies. That worldy identity died with Christ when I submitted to Him. He was able to establish a relationship with me through that willingness of mine and that grace of His. I have to resubmit myself often because of the habits I learned so well and the tendencies that make it easy to forget or delude myself.
As long as I don't stop identifying with being in His "boat" and as long as I prefer Him to my old identity (in my choices, not solely idealistically), seeking the wonderful, enjoyable connection of that relationship and seeking to restore it through submission when I strain it - I believe being in His company and under His influence will bring about the undoing of those habits and the weakening of those tendencies. I believe that time with Him will strengthen my new identity and change me without me having to manhandle myself with guilt, etc. (Please believe me that I have done this and tasted terrible fruit.)
"The work of God is this:to believe in the one whom He has sent." John 6:29
I take this verse to mean that my role is to remember that in life's situations His relationship to my soul is relevant and act accordingly. I have also learned that this is difficult to do given my sinful tendencies and habitually useless patterns of behavior. I conclude that this sort of focus on my part will allow His Spirit to bring forth good fruit which is a good witness for Him, sactification for me with deeper satisfaction and connection in my miraculously obtained relationship with the Almighty Creator.
I want to note that the best spiritual fruit I have is fruit I never thought to work on myself. Otherwise I do best to tell him what is bugging me or what I desire and then forget it, putting my focus back onto being ready to respond to Him. I may have to tell him what is on my mind 20 times on the hour if I can't forget it but I am best off letting go each time.
I have a lot of learning to do but I have not learned anything truly spiritual by working on it for myself.
MaLady said, "The "old man" to me is the worldly identity that taught me sinful habits to go along with my ingrained sinful tendencies"
The old man however is not simply whatever we make him. The old man was taken to the cross and crucified with Christ and that crucifixion is the foundation for our having been set free from sin, just as we read in clear language in Romans 6:6-7, "We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin."
It is not some worldly identity that teaches us sin - Adam sinned when the world was perfect. We have three enemies that scripture tells us about, and they are our old man, the world, and Satan. I believe that we fight the good fight more effectively when we do not blur the lines between these enemies.
The natural man comes to a conviction by means of a sound rational argument. He is like a judge who hears a case, and based upon the evidence presented he makes a decision. His conviction rests upon the arguments he has heard, and should he hear further arguments, his conviction may well change many times.
The natural man, having never experienced genuine faith assumes that faith is a conviction that is contrary to the evidence, and conclude that those who have faith have apprehended it by suspending their common sense to obtain it. The natural man reasons that it is likely the fear of death that drives the faithful to be so entirely willing to abandon reason and embrace what is clearly false. He reasons that the faithful have convinced themselves of a thing that has no evidence because the faithful are willing to do so in order to generate some comfort for their fear of death.
That is how the atheist thinks faith works - that it is a self-brainwashing - the defense mechanism that intellectual weaklings cling to because they cannot cope with the reality of their eventual, eternal demise.
But we who are in the faith know this to be false. While the idea of my sentience ending abrubtly and eternally some day may offend my consciousness - it is hardly a thing to fear. I would find such a thought quite pacifying if I was a sinner, since I could then live with moral impunity and dismiss my conscience as frivolous, baseless guilt to be discarded and forgotten. Such a system would indeed be an opiate to all that offends my conscience.
Yet I did not come to faith through convincing myself of things contrary to evidence. I came to faith because God opened my eyes to the evidence - I could no more deny God than I could deny the sky being blue, or my own name. It did not involve convincing, it did not involve training my mind to believe something - it happened without effort, and it was as permanent as any unchanging truth.
Likewise, when Paul says that our old man was crucified with Christ - this too is a truth that I need not convince myself of. Paul doesn't instruct us to convince ourselves that it is true - he states that this is how we became free from sin, because our old man was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin could be made powerless. Whether we apprehend that truth or not in no way makes it any truer.
Paul's exhortation however is that because this is true we ought to walk according to that truth - that is, to conduct ourselves with regards to the old man by reasoning it to have been crucified with Christ, and by reasoning ourselves to be alive in Christ.
Paul is =not= saying that we are to pretend that the old man is dead - he is saying that because the old man is dead, we need our conduct to reflect that truth, that is, we need to stop taking our cue from a thing through its crucifixion with Christ has been stripped of its reign over us, and subsequently, we need to surrender to the one who truly reigns over us - Christ.
Not pretending. Paul isn't suggesting that we pretend that the old man is not influencing us, or that we battle that influence by pretending it isn't there. That is absolutely not what Paul is suggesting. Paul is saying this old man who is influencing you in the here and now is not your Lord anymore because he was crucified in Christ for this one reason - to end his reign over you. That is the truth of it, and the truth sets you free only as far as you believe it.
Hearts are cleansed by faith, not by methodologies. It isn't that we pretend we are free in order to become free, it is that we apprehend by faith that we are free and act accordingly.
I can't imagine an unregenerate person being able to fathom such things, for all the world it would sound like brainwashing. I can only suggest that those who have been born of the spirit can witness to the truth of this claim.
Yes, I agree Daniel...
...and now for a curveball, in case anyone thought of these verses and "brainwashing"...
Romans 12:2 / Ephesians 4:23
What do we do with those, within the context of this scenario?
(I have an answer, but I wanted to let Daniel take a swing at it)...
I have a few moments to sit and read through your post and comments. While reading, an old folk tale came to mind. It somewhat illustrates what your post is saying, I think (although the tale is just a tale), but the last line of it is wisdom:
A Cherokee elder sitting with his grandchildren told them, "In every life there is a terrible fight — a fight between two wolves.
"One is evil: he is fear, anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and deceit. The other is good: joy, serenity, humility, confidence, generosity, truth, gentleness, and compassion."
A child asked, "Grandfather, which wolf will win?"
The elder looked him in the eye and said, "The one you feed."
Your comments speak to the on-line debate about what "true believers" will or will not "do" or "be," don't they?
In other words, true believers can be saved, yet choose to disobey God?
Is that thinking in line with Scripture?
Ok, let me see if I've got the first part as you state.
We're still "old man" in nature. We are not "dual natured."
The Spirit of God that indwells us is not a "new nature."
We have one nature this side of glory and that is the old man. Walking around in the tents of flesh we have today, our "old nature" is always present, living aside the Holy Spirit (our downpayment, which Scritpure affirms), who continually guides us and prompts us to obey God and His righteousness.
When we listen to the "old man" and choose his bidding (because we still love our sin more than God), we feed the old man and succumb to him.
When we listen to the Holy Spirit and choose to "walk in Him" (obey, beg God for help to love Him and be obedient), we deny the old nature and grow more Christlike.
Our "flesh" is just the tent, which will die never to be resurrected. Our new bodies will be something other than what we know in the here and now.
Am I on the right track according to your thinking so far?
I think what you're saying about the resurrected bodies being different from what we have now is new thinking to many. At least, I've never heard that before.
Although, it seems to be in line with the new heavens and earth, since John saw in Revelation things that we don't have here now (walls of jasper, city of pure gold, foundations of walls adorned with every kind of jewel, etc).
So we "are" new creatures now, but only have the downpayment as a guarantor (so to speak) - that of the Holy Spirit, which witnesses to us that we will receive our inheritance, that of our new body and soul in eternity with God and Christ. Yes?
Kind of like God told Abraham that he would have as many children as the stars, if they could be numbered. They were Abe's because God told him so, but he didn't have them in his lifetime. As Abe's spiritual children, we are numbered among those who are his. Yes?
So although Abe didn't "possess" or "have" these children during his time on earth, they are his nonetheless.
Ok. This whole own/possess thing may be making more sense to me. I often hear it used when referring to the land of Israel with respect to the Jews of the OT.
By the way, you weren't just repeating yourself. Each answer you wrote teaches something more onto the previous.
I think in this answer where you wrote: The truth is that we are free right now, but we only appropriate that truth by walking in the Spirit... I see something of an analogy I read earlier (maybe on this blog?) of a black man freed from slavery, but didn't leave the plantation because he didn't understand or know his true freedom. That he knew what life was on the plantation in slavery, but didn't know what freedom was, so he remained in his old slave state even though freed.
I'm not sure where I read that, but it may be a good analogy here.
(ps - I noticed you took out some of the gobledee-gook characters. They must have be imported from MS Word, wherein I typed my Qs to your comments. Sorry about that and thank you for rectifying them. Much easier to read.)
My battle is not with "sins" or with "sinning" - my battles is with surrendering everything to God - that is, with walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh.
YES! That's true! I think the contemporary church has this reversed. Yes, what you're saying makes sense!
I am a sinner, I sin, but I am not as some, I do not pursue a life where I sin smaller sins, and less often - I pursue a life where sin is not my master, Christ is.
YES! This sounds very Scriptural to me. We were bought at a price. A very dear price. And we are His bondservants, but do not live as such. Just as Jesus *is* Lord, but many deny the need to live as though He actually is *their* Lord.
But I do not buy into the idea that Christ died to save me from sin's penalty, or to save me from hell - scripture doesn't say that anywhere - it says he died to save me from sin -
Thank you SO much for beating this drum as often as you have. You've stated this before, but I never really got it. I'm beginning to. Wow. This is freedom indeed. I hadn't heard this before in church. I hear more of how Jesus died for us to be with Him in eternity, as if we've received the ticket to some ride and that's it. I hadn't heard our freedom from sin (not just its penalty) in church. It's not just that the Truth *can* set you free. It *does.* Free from sin and its power over us NOW.
So it is with the new creation - we possess it, but we do not experience it in the here and now.
But part of our not experiencing it is when we submit to the "old man," yes? That is, we won't fully possess the new creature until the flesh is dead, but we can experience freedom from sin when we walk in the Spirit and not succumb to the old man.
In other words, we can experience our inheritance to some extent by submitting to the Spirit? Although we're not yet fully a new creation.
JD - I will get back to you in a bit...
Susan - It sounds like you are really starting to get it!
My conviction does speak to the on-line debate about what a Christian will do or will not do.
The Holy Spirit is no silent guest in the life of the Christian. When the Christian obeys the old man it produces a spiritual tension between Him and the indwelling Holy Spirit within. He is grieving the Holy Spirit and he senses that.
The believer experiencing this tension might describe it as "guilt" - that sense that we have transgressed. He knew better, but he caved in - giving into the old man and his desires. What he is doing is responding to the old man's desire to gratify, preserve, or exalt itself in the flesh by giving into (obeying) those desires. No matter who owns you on paper, you are (in practice) the slave of the one you obey. So even though the Christian is no longer the slave of the old man "in truth" - if he continues to obey him, he is his slave in practice.
It is the "in practice" part that we need to bring into line with the "in truth" part. Men like Miles J. Stanford would have described this in terms of our "condition" versus our "position" - saying, positionally we are free, but our current condition only reflects that freedom so far as we are surrendered to the Holy Spirit in any given moment.
Now the problem is, and this is where the on-line debate comes into it, the problem is that not all believers walk in the Spirit, in fact, most are carnal - meaning they obey the flesh and not the Spirit.
There are two ways to be carnal, the first being the most visible - you can resist the Holy Spirit altogether.
This is typically what happens to the person who receives the gospel in truth, but is never discipled into the faith. As they give into the old man, they grow calloused, and sin becomes easier and easier, until they are practically indistinguishable from an unregenerate person. This is a tragedy, but it happens. Some would argue that God would chastise them out of this and into obedience, but I believe God only chastises those who can comprehend they are being chastised (recall that when the Israelites refused to go in and take the promised land, their children - those who were under the age of 20 - were not included amongst those who would die in the wilderness - God was merciful to those children because they would not have fully understood what was being done - but God chastised the rest, who died out there in the wilderness)
The other way to be a carnal believer is to be misunderstand how we are supposed to deal with the sin problem and attempt to solve it by other means - which usually amounts to pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. This is the "suppressionism game" where we force ourselves to not do what we want to do, and imagine that this act of suppressing the old man is the very deliverance and sanctification that God promises. Those who follow this regiment break all sorts of bad habits, and make all sorts of good habits - but not in the strength of the Holy Spirit - rather they just do it and blame the Holy Spirit for every habit they break and every temptation they manage to suppress. The tree is still producing bad fruit, but they have learned to cut it off in the bud.
The carnal Christian is the most common of all Christians - he is a baby Christian no matter if he pastors a church, has the bible memorized in three different languages, and is a world class Christian apologist - the maturity of the believer is tied to whether or not they walk consistently in the Spirit and not how much they know.
When this is understood, the discussion about whether or not a Christian will continue in sin is moot. The genuine believer will be moved by God's Spirit to deal with sin - but that doesn't mean that the believer will do so, or that the believer will do so in a way that is appropriate. That is why even the angels lack the discernment necessary to know who is the genuine wheat and who is the tare.
I say that every genuine believer has the witness of the Holy Spirit within him - they want to please God, they don't want to be a sinner, they want to be righteous. That is not something that the old man generates. The old man simply wants to escape judgment - wanting to please God is the universal Christian theme, but actually doing so is not universal, but dependent upon the spiritual maturity of the individual in question.
Reading over your comments, I think you are now beginning to see what I am saying.
I agree, these things are not taught in most churches. What -is- taught is that everyone sins, and the best you can hope for is to sin less and less, chant some verse to yourself, and suppress, suppress, suppress -and the one who is the best at it is the most spiritual, but even that is left unsaid and implied, since most churches are far more interested in numbers than mature believers - and many don't have the first clue what maturity looks like - they think that doctrinal education equates to maturity - looking for pastors with degrees behind their name rather than Spirit led men who are able to teach.
Bah - don't get me started on that. ;-)
JD, I think Romans 12:1-2 give us the walking orders - present the bodies that we are currently inhabiting, to God as an act of worship. What does that look like? It looks like this - our body is going to obey someone today, and by an act of our will it will obey either the old man or Christ. As we obey Christ, we are conforming our flesh, not to the old man, but to Christ - we do this, not by following the old paths our minds previously followed, but by keeping our minds trained on the things of the Spirit, always examining every motive in the light of what is the eternal spiritual reality rather than in the absence of it.
When Paul tells us to walk in the newness of life and serve in the newness of the Spirit, he is saying that we have received something that wasn't there before - something new - and that we are to conduct ourselves in accord with the new, and not in accord with the old. This walking in the "newness" of life and serving in the newness of the Spirit is the same thought as being transformed by setting the mind on what is new, that is setting the mind on something new - the Spirit, it could be said many ways, but it boils down to setting your mind on what is new to the former unbeliever - the things of the Spirit.
In Titus 3:5 it is not us doing the renewing, but the Holy Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 4:16, we read that what is external to the root of who we are, our "outer man" is wasting away, but what is internal, the real "us" is being continually made new - day by day.
Thus the renewing of our mind is not mind control, though it is a washing out of the brain in the once sense since it is setting our mind upon what is new, real, and eternal which in doing cleanses our conscience, and strengthens the inner man - as opposed to setting our mind on what is old, and passing away (however present), which only produces a hardening of our heart against what is true.
Those are good verses to quote JD - you are the man! (er, small "m" mind you.)
Didn't I post a quick reply this morning? Must've forgotten to hit the publish button...
What I said was that you sound like you are of the mind that the old man should be crucified over and over again, and with that I disagree. Otherwise I consent agreement to all of what you are saying. I was not at all talking about pretending or any warm & fuzzy "it'll be alright" philosophy.
My point is basically that the "old man" (old self, I'm a girl) is crucified, dead. I am free to bury it and move on. The only thing left to deal with is its legacy - the old habits and tendencies I still carry in my flesh (ingrained in my brain, if you may). The way to fix a bad habit is to replace it with a new one, not to obsess about fixing the old one. People who are on a diet who obsess about losing weight and caloric intake, etc. are missing the point because the subject gets more and more of their attention, albeit in the negative, and the healthy life has less and less room to grow in their minds' patterns. It becomes a bigger issue instead of a smaller one.
The good habit I am working to replace the old one with is trust. Trusting God in a relevant way in a relevant situation takes focus away from the fear (not fear of death) and leaves no room for the solutions of pride I so naturally produce. I have to practice that staying focused, staying calm with trust in the practical minuate of life. I'm not talking about recreational religious semantics here, it has to work in the daily grit of raising kids by myself and dealing with the fallen world out there, including people and situations that seem to be personally tailored to my weaknesses. Focusing on fixing what is wrong does not work; bothering to pay attention to it only takes away from what does work.
With all the years of working hard to submit every detail to God's will I ended up asking myself "Why am I not free?" The answer I found in scripture was trust. I must trust each situation into His hands with my weaknesses factored in as well, not just His character and his big plan for the world.
God's directions are simple enough for an unintelligent illiterate widow with children in unstable rural South America to understand and live. Such a person does not have 2+ hours to give God in prayer and study- only an entire day with it's choices and a shoeful of children willfully trusted into His hands.
You talk about freedom and trust and I agree with what you say.
I do not go to a church that teaches as you say most do.
Brainwashing by Christians comes into play when they are religious and not trusting the Spirit.
He handles the soul, we trust it to Him, His Spirit does what is not possible in human effort - sanctification. It is simply about relating to Him as He is, the Way, the Truth, and the Life; trusting Him to carry on to completion the good work he began in me. I need to focus on being sensitive to Him despite the distractions so that He can steer me well and so that we can enjoy each others' company.
"Christ was never influenced by the old man"
How can he sympathize with us then?
Also, I struggle with Paul saying that 'the old man has been crucified', which seems to indicate final death, and none of the 'death throws' of the old man some write about. It just doesn't seem that Paul is saying something like 'the old man has been crucified in Christ, but not really now, only later for real.'
I realize this betrays a 'what have you done for me lately' 'tude, but the more questions I ask and the more disconnect between what (in my understanding at the moment) the scriptures say our experience(s) should be and what they really are the more those I talk with push all those promises of experience, 'abundance', etc. into eternity. I realize the promise was never a bed of roses etc, but in all of this I sure don't sense the HS helping out or testifying (whatever that's suppose to be like) or lending clarity or guiding into the truth of the Word etc.
MaLady said, What I said was that you sound like you are of the mind that the old man should be crucified over and over again, and with that I disagree.
I believe that our old man was crucified with Christ, and since Christ was only crucified once, so too I believe our old man was crucified only once. Just as Christ did not crucify Himself, so too, it would be a mistake to think that we are supposed to crucify our old man. It is not us doing the crucifying, nor is it something that is ever repeated.
If I have ever seemed to say otherwise allow me to be precise here and now - we do not crucify the old man, and the old man is only crucified once, in Christ.
Malady said, The only thing left to deal with is its legacy - the old habits and tendencies I still carry in my flesh (ingrained in my brain, if you may).
I think this is where you run amiss of what I am saying. Follow me, and let me know if this makes sense...
The old nature doesn't die twice, that is, it didn't die on the cross with Christ, then die once again the moment I was saved. It has but one death, and that death was in Christ on Calvary. Which is to say, that we err if we imagine that the old nature died when we were saved - it didn't, it is alive and well, and will remain so until Christ returns of you go into the grave - then comes the judgment, the old nature goes to the cross, and you go to Christ.
In John 1:12-13 John says, "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." [ESV]
In articulating the source of our spiritual birth, John presumes a distinction between  the unregenerate man's "free" will and  some other will that is resident in the unregenerate man's flesh.
I think that this same will that resides in a man's flesh is not understood to be a product of the flesh itself, (for then we should expect to see all manner of animals - anything with flesh - in open rebellion against God, and moreso having no intellectual will to hold them in check); I say, no, I believe that whatever it is that resides in the flesh is not something produced by the flesh, but rather something alien to what was originally created - a tempter whose residence is in the flesh - our old man.
I don't think our old man dies the moment we are saved, what happens is that the moment we are saved we receive the Holy Spirit who immediately inclines us towards spiritual life - towards maturity. Not a new nature - a new Master. The old man is alive and continues to tempt us through our unredeemed flesh. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is at odds with the temptations the old man continues to produce, and because the Holy Spirit produces in us a desire to be right with God, we begin to work out our own salvation (from sin) with fear and trembling - why? Because God is working in us to that end.
The old man hasn't gone anywhere, all that has changed is that we have been born from above - that is, we are born again in Christ, not in the flesh - but in Christ. Our life is hid, not in the flesh, but in Christ. We have entered into a spiritual union with Christ - receiving the Holy Spirit as the proof - and the truths that are true in the wake of that union are the meat and potatoes of our sanctification, the meat and potatoes of our deliverance from that bondage to sin that we experience in the here and now.
So it isn't just that my muscles and bones have some bad habits that need breaking; it isn't that my muscles and bones have a will of their own and are making me sin - it is that the old man is still alive and well, and calling the shots that would most gratify my flesh - and my will must choose between obeying the old man, or obeying the Holy Spirit who is actively motivating me unto true righteousness.
This isn't replacing bad habits with good habits - that is popular psychology masquerading as something spiritual. You don't need God to replace bad habits with other (albeit externally "good") bad habits. It isn't about making better choices, and making sure we don't fixate on the "bad" - people do not sin because they are fixated on sin - they sin because they are enslaved to it. They stop sinning, not because they think good thoughts, but because they are transformed, not by their own power - but by God's power from glory to glory as they surrender themselves to the truth of what God has already wrought in them.
I don't imagine that you (MaLady) are suggesting as much as I have discussed - I only use the opportunity to illuminate what I feel are some errors in that arena, so I hope you will not regard my zeal as my being zealous against you, but rather a zeal for what I believe to be the truth, and against anything that exalts itself against that.
Anonymous said: "Christ was never influenced by the old man"
How can he sympathize with us then?
Christ's sympathy towards us is not founded upon the simultude of suffering against the old man, but rather in suffering against temptation. Christ, like Adam before Him, had no "old man" to tempt Him - His temptation came, like Adam before Him, from Satan. These many temptations were -real- temptations. Christ sympathizes with us, not because he had an old man to influence him, but because He had Satan himself constantly tempting Him.
His mercy and faithfulness are more than mere sympathies - He aids us in our temptations - not because He is sympathetic familiar with failure, but rather because He faced temptations and rose above them - however merciful He may be to our failures, His ministry is not one that is sympathetic to failure, but instructive in victory by One who is the proven Victor.
Anonymous said, Also, I struggle with Paul saying that 'the old man has been crucified', which seems to indicate final death, and none of the 'death throws' of the old man some write about. It just doesn't seem that Paul is saying something like 'the old man has been crucified in Christ, but not really now, only later for real.'
I appreciate your sentiment. Please read my latest reply to Maladay, I cover this somewhat in that reply, but I will add to that the wisdom of God in Paul's words: you are that one's slave whom you obey. If you find yourself enslaved to sin -experientially-, just whom or what are you obeying? The flesh? The flesh is never described as being your master. It houses temptations, but not dominion. Think it through. Does the old man die in Christ or not, and if in Christ, then how many times does he die? If you imagine that he dies the moment you are saved, then you have the old man dying twice. That isn't rational, it isn't biblical.
With very few exceptions, the promises are for here and now. The mature believer should be living above sin.
When we identify "when" the old man dies - we are not inadvertently excusing sin by suggesting that since the old man is alive and well we are justified in remaining in bondage - that was =NOT= the argument Paul was making in Romans 5-8. Paul's argument was that because the old man died in Christ, we are free from sin's power right here, and right now because the thing in us that is producing sin (the old man), has been crucified (past tense - a completed action). Paul's instruction is -not- to go on sinning because it will all work out in the end - his instruction is that those who have died in Christ are the only ones who can live free from sin - and that the way they do so is to grasp what is eternally true of themselves and live it out in the here and now.
I am not suggesting otherwise. What I doing, Lord willing, is expounding the same message - that part of the gospel message is that Christ came to set the prisoners free in the here and now. Not that we are free later on so that we can sin all we want in the here and now - but that the path to freedom in the here and now involves understanding the truths of our deliverance - and in dragging every false way into the light and exposing it as counterfeit.
Let me know where I messed up in explaining this, and I will try to clear it up.
Ok, Daniel. I rest. You win.
you seem to like using my angle as an opportunity to zealously expose errors in that arena...
I get it now, though. I can go on botching my own crucifixion of the "old man" over and over again because I'll find out when I die that it already happened with Christ on the Cross once and for all...and it just hasn't gotten the news yet... ;-)
Malady, I am glad that this is starting to make more sense!
Grace and peace!
Thoughts from 10 years later...
What is really being discussed in this thread can be found in Romans 5-8.
The way we translate "ἐφʼ ᾧ" in Romans 5:12 influences the way we understand Paul's discourse on how we are freed from sin's power.
I think the traditional Greek Orthodox understanding of this passage makes more sense than modern translations do. Instead of interpreting the phrase "ἐφʼ ᾧ" as an idiom meaning "because" - the Greek church rather understands the phrase normally, as a relative pronoun pointing back to the only grammatically viable noun in question: the word we translate as "death". I would say that the Greek Orthodox church "translates" the text this way - but they don't actually translate it, since their bible is, and has always been, in the original Greek. They simply "read" it, and (as far as I know) have always read it, as a reference back to the word death.
Thus, though the ESV translates Romans 5:12 as, "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 - " I think it ought to be translated as, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, with the result that all sinned - ".
I suspect that those who presume Augustine's doctrine of original sin will be more inclined to translate the text according to the (presumed) idiom, since in translating the phrase as an idiom helps the text to support Augustine's doctrine. I would go so far as to say that historically, this was the likely the reason that western theologians originally translated the text in that way. The fact that it has become the traditional translation in the west adds no actual weight to it's correctness - but for many, the idea of disagreeing with one's peers and the common majority is not an attractive thing to do. Isn't it more likely that I am wrong, than that everyone in the west is wrong? What an arrogant man I must be to think I have more light than the whole church in the west.
So when I say I hold a view of this text that differs from the classic, western view, it is not something I do lightly or with ease. I tremble at the thought that all my understanding of how a Christian is supposed to live in the light of what Paul has written, is not informed by a majority opinion, but rather by a minority one. God help me.
Notwithstanding, the way I understand this verse seems to fit the rest of the scriptures like a glove. In the next comment I will map that out.
What is death?
We can measure light, but we cannot measure darkness. Why not? The reason we cannot measure darkness is because darkness isn't a "something" it is the absence of something (i.e. light). All we can do is measure how much light is present. When there is little or no light, we say it is "dark" - but darkness has no substance - it is just a word we use to describe the absence of light.
The words life and death share the same logic. We don't describe a stone as being "dead" because it was never alive, but we describe something in which life dwells as alive, and something that has lost it's live as dead. Death itself isn't a thing, it is the loss of a thing (life).
But life is something that cannot be had apart from God. God must impart (and sustain) life for there to be life. A person is said to have died, when the life that he or she was living is no longer animating the body that life formerly dwelt in.
When we die, our life leaves our body, so that the body is said to be "dead" - then our life goes to be judged, and if there is sin found in the history of that life - the judgment is death - not the death of the body - which has already happened at that point, but the "second" death - being cast into the lack of fire for all eternity.
In one sense, the life we are given will have two deaths, a physical one, and a "spiritual" one. The spiritual death happens when God pours out his wrath in judgment on the soul that has sinned. At that point the soul that has sinned is eternally foreaken by God; i.e. it is cut off (i.e. forever separated) from the source of life: God.
Thus as darkness is the absence of light, so death (real death), is the absence of life, or said another way - the absence of Christ who Himself -is- the Way, the Truth, and the -Life-.
I don't think that Christ was waxing poetic when he identified Himself as "the life" through which men come to the Father. I think he was being as plain, blunt, and literal as was possible. We do not come to the Father through our own sinful life, we come to the Father through the life of Christ.
So when Paul writes that death came into the world through Adam's sin, he is describing exactly what God said (On the day that you sin, you shall surely die).
Even though death was something that as yet had no precedence, it is certain that Adam understood what God meant by "die" - it meant that you would no longer possess the life that was given to you.
Another way of saying that is, you will be cut off from the source of your life: Me.
We note with interest, that on that day, Adam and Eve were cut off from God physically (being cast out of the garden, and being no longer "naturally" aware of God's presence), and cut off from God eternally having forfeited the eternal life with God that would have been theirs had they obeyed God.
In short, Adam's sin brought Adam into judgment; and the judgment is twofold: all of creation was cursed (which is why we age and die physically), and all of creation is cut off from God the source of life and righteousness, both now and eternally.
This curse, and the judgment of separation from God persist in all creation, not as something passed on genetically from father to son, but having been brought in through Adam's sin, remain in the wake of that sin, and are experienced by all.
Because of the curse we all grow old and die (physically), and because of the judgment, we are all born separated from the life of God.
Let's unpack the significance of that in the next comment
Jesus, speaking in John 15:5 says, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing..
In the context, Jesus is talking about the fruit of righteousness. They do not produce fruit in order to graft themselves into the vine, they produce fruit because they abide in the vine.
There is no neutral ground when it comes to God. You are either doing his will, or you are not doing his will. If you are doing His will, what you do is righteous, and if you are not doing his will, what you are doing (or "not" doing) is wicked.
Here is where a incorrect understanding of sin really cripples a person. It may be true that when we do something "bad" like lying or stealing we are sinning. But the reason it is a sin is because in doing so we are rejecting God's will for our lives. It is sinful to lie and to steal because God makes it plain that it is not his will for us to lie or to steal. God commands us not to murder, so murdering someone is a sin. But God also commanded His people to wipe out entire (sinful) nations. That's murder on a grand scale. When Saul failed to "murder" everyone God commanded Saul to put to death - Saul was "sinning" not because he murdered someone, but because he refused to murder someone.
In this situation, God (who gives life) has the right to take it away. God does not "owe" any of us the life we are living - even if we lived it without ever offending God. How much less does God "owe" a person life who ignores the God who created them, and spits on the purpose for which they were created? When God commanded His people to wipe out another nation - it was a judgment against that nation. God, as the giver of life, has the right to revoke it whenever and however he pleases. Murder isn't evil "because" it is the taking of a life - it is evil because only God (as the Giver of life) has the right to take that life away. It is evil because God has told us plainly that it is not his will for us to murder one another - the penalty for doing so under the Mosaic Covenant was to have your own life taken away by someone who (in ending your life) was not sinning, but being righteous.
Some people act as though good and evil are moral truths that exist apart from God. That God says not to do what is evil, because those thing are inherently evil - as though God Himself was looking to some higher (moral) authority, and agreeing with it "because" He is good.
It doesn't work that way.
Whatever we do upon the earth either intentionally conforms to the will (and is righteous), or fails to conform to the will of God (intentionally or otherwise) and is wicked. There is no neutral middle ground - you are either obedient to God, or you are in rebellion against Him, there is no fence to sit upon.
When Jesus says that apart from him you can do nothing (i.e. you will no produce the fruit of righteousness), he is saying that apart from the obedience He Himself brings about, there will be no obedience in your life - no fruit of righteousness.
We sin, not because we have inherited a "sin nature" - we sin for one of two reasons: either we have not inherited that life (the ONLY life) that is capable of righteousness (i.e. the life of Christ), or we sin even after inherited that life, because we continue to obey those desires which our condemned "old self" continues to produce in us - that is, we sin when we fail to submit our will to Christ who dwells within us.
Said another way, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh so long as we are walking according (i.e. conduct ourselves according to) to the desires of Christ within us (c.f. Galatians 5:16).
Keeping this in mind, let's plug in the life of Christ...
The life of Christ
Romans 6 describes what happens when we are "born again" (i.e. repent of our rebellion against God and recognizing as His creatures, His right to command our obedience, we commit ourselves to His kingdom by trusting that His redemptive promises are certain to those who call upon His name).
What is described there is a baptism, not into/with water, but into/with Christ Himself.
What does it mean to be baptized into Christ?
The word baptize isn't a translation, it is a transliteration - a word that is presented in the original language rather than translated. We do that all the time in English - if a word doesn't translate well into English. I am sure you can think of a few examples without my help.
The point is that the word means (more often than not) to immerse something into something else. Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are baptized into Christ. Whatever we understand baptize to mean (pouring/sprinkling/immersing), we understand that after we have been Baptized "into" Christ, we are said (elsewhere) to be "in Christ". Whether that means I have been poured into Christ, sprinkled into Christ, or immersed into Christ - at the end of it all I am "in" Christ.
What does it mean to be in Christ?
Paul answers that in the text - it means that we have become united with Christ in his death, and having been united with him in death, we shall likewise be united with him in His resurrection.
That's the key to it all right there. It describes not only what happens to us, and our estate as Christians - it goes on to define the scope of the atonement, and even lays plain how a righteous God can forgive a condemned sinner without compromising his own righteousness.
if you get this, you get it all, and if you miss it, you'll never fully understand any of it.
Our union with Christ is the foundation of all our hope, as I hope to make more clear in the next comment.
United with Christ
When Paul describes us as being "in Christ" he is referring to this union described in Romans 6. We have been united with Christ in his death, and in his resurrection.
How does a righteous God justify a condemned/guilty sinner?
Easy - he punishes the sinner in full because the sinner has earned the punishment (death). Once the wrath of God is poured out in full upon the guilty sinner, so that not a drop of wrath remains that hasn't been spent - then and only then has the sinner received in full the wages God owed him.
Of course at that point, the sinner is entirely dead in every possible sense.
It may be difficult for some to grasp, but this is what God will do to every last sinner, including those who are being saved.
You heard me right. Including those who are being saved. They will absolutely suffer the wrath of God in full for their sins - how can they not? They have earned these wages, and God would be unjust if He failed to pay them in full.
But this is where the life of Christ comes in.
Those who are "in" Christ, do not suffer this wrath alone. They have been united to Christ in His death - where all the wrath of God was poured out. Being in Christ when God poured out His wrath on Christ, did two things:  Our union with Christ made it possible for God to put Christ (an innocent man) to death. In order to justly punish all of us who were in Christ in His death - God -had to- pour out His wrath on Jesus (in full)! But God also was forced to  raise Christ from the dead after pouring out His wrath on Him, because He was innocent, and God's righteousness would not suffer the undeserving death of an innocent man (Christ).
In other words, in order to save us, we were put into Christ - that is, our sinful, condemned lives were spiritually joined to His sinless and uncondemned life, so that God was just in putting him to death in order to put us to death - but equally just, once our debt had been satisfied by our death in Christ, in raising us (who were in Christ) from the dead when God raised Christ from the dead.
The life that was raised, was not our old sinful life - what Paul describes as the "old man" - that "life" was condemned and put to death along with/inside Christ when Christ died. The life that we were joined to - the life of Christ (Christ's actual life) is the life that was raised from the dead what Christ was raised from the dead - but we, having become partakers of that life, were raised when that life was raised.
So God punished us in Christ in order to satisfy his own righteousness - and raised us up with Christ, once again in order to satisfy his own righteousness.
This was not God looking at us as he pulled the trigger to kill Jesus. This was Jesus joining himself to our sinful lives, and taking on our condemnation to do so, in order that having received it, he could become the ark, as it were, to bring us through God's actual wrath - which was poured out on Christ on the cross (rather than poured out on the world in the form of a flood in Noah's day).
Just as Noah's family came out of the ark on the other side of God's judgment, we too pass through God's judgement in Christ, only we do not pick up our sinful lives on the other side, but take up new lives, the life of Christ to be exact - rather than our old lives which were condemned on Christ's cross.
That's how it goes for believers. This work of atonement is only applied to those who are in Christ. You must be joined to the life of Christ to survive the wrath of God when it is poured out on your sinful life. If you are in Christ, your death becomes his death, and his life becomes your life - and in this way your sins are atoned. If you are not joined to Christ by faith and repentance in this life - then you will face God's wrath alone, experience the second death personally.
In other words, because Christ makes atonement by bringing us through God's wrath through our being joined to his life by faith - the atonement is "limited" to those who by faith will have been found in Christ.
Jesus did not die for everyone. He did not die to make salvation possible for everyone. Jesus came to save those whom God chose to give to Jesus, every last one of these Jesus took to the cross with Him and redeemed. Everyone else will receive the wages of their sin, and God will be just in meting those wages out.
That is how we are atoned, that is how we are saved, that is how a righteous God can justify a condemned sinner without compromising his own righteousness.
Having laid this out, victory over sin is simply the working out of God's sanctifying grace in our lives in accord with these truths.
That is what Paul is arguing in Romans 5-8.
Shall we continue to sin? God forbid! How shall we who have died to sin still live in it?
We died to sin when we died in Christ on the cross. Here is the most glorious thought in all creation - God could not have raised Christ from the dead unless our sins were fully forgiven, and we were made perfectly acceptable to God. If those two things were not accomplished God could not have raised Jesus from the dead, because our death was his death. When God raised Christ from the dead - it was the living, eternal declaration that we were, and always would be acceptable to God (in Christ). In reason Jesus, or said another way, in raising Jesus (and us in Jesus) God was demonstrating the reality of our forgiveness and acceptance in Christ.
The unregenerate man does not possess the life of Christ, and so when he or she sins it is the outworking of that (dead, sinful) life within him - plodding ever closer to damnation.
The believer, having been joined to Christ's life in eternity, still experiences all the lusts of our old life - the one Christ took to the cross, because that old life isn't over yet. It ends when we (physically) die. The life that will continue is not that life, but the life of Christ that is in us through the same union that tied our old life to Christ.
We experience both in the here and now - desiring to obey the old self, but also desiring to obey the life of Christ.
In the next comment, I'll describe how we overcome the one by and through the other.
How does Crucifixion/Resurrection with Christ affect my sanctification?
We did not put ourselves to death in Christ, nor did we raise ourselves from the dead in Christ. God did both (c.f. Romans 6:3-4)
That's a start.
Likewise we do not save ourselves from sin, but Christ saves us from sin. (c.f. Matthew 1:21)
Likewise we do produce in ourselves the will and ability to do what God expects of us: God does that. (c.f. Philippians 2:12-13)
Likewise we are not the Author/Founder of our faith, Christ is (c.f. Hebrews 12:2)
We do not grit generate in ourselves the desire to repent (i.e. to obey the will of God) - God grants that to us (c.f. 2 Timothy 2:24).
I wouldn't need any other verses to make the point that we do not sanctify ourselves, and that our sanctification does not depend upon us. Christ is the one who is working in us the desire and the ability to become sanctified.
The problem most of us have with this doctrine is not the fact that it is Christ who sanctifies us, it is that we don't know where to draw the line between what Christ is doing in us, and what we must to ourselves...
Reading Romans 7, we see what a struggle there is between the old self which would rule over us, and the indwelling of Christ who would have us be sanctified. On the one hand we want to indulge our every sinful desire, and on the other we want to live holy, godly lives. How can this be? How can the same fountain be producing both salt and fresh water?
The answer is - it can't. These desires are not coming from the same fountain - one set of desires comes from the old self, the other from the person of Christ who through the (aptly named) Holy Spirit, indwells us.
Understanding that these desires are coming from two different sources - the one being the old self - the life life we presently live which was crucified with Christ, and the other coming from our new life (the life of Christ).
Paul tells us because our sinful life dies in Christ on the cross, and we become partakers of the life of Christ, we are no longer living as though the only life influencing us was the old sinful life - now we are influences also by the life of Christ. Alongside our sinful desires which flow from the old life (that remains with us till the day we day) are righteous desires which flow from the life of Christ - and carry with them the conviction of our own sin, and also the conviction of what God would truly have us do.
In Romans 6, Paul refers to death (rather than sin) as the master over the old self. This lines up with my understanding of Romans 5:12 - where Paul describes death as coming into the world, and spreading to all men because of Adam's sin - having this result, that all men, being cut off from the righteous life of God, have no connection to righteousness, and being incapable of righteousness, the result is that sin is common to all men, because man has been cut off (by death) from the only source of life (and righteousness): God.
Thus our separation from the life of Christ (i.e. "death") which has always reigned in us, and has always produced rebellion in us (sin), is something that Christ defeated when He (along with us) was raised from the dead.
Let's be clear at this point - death produces sin, and has always produced sin, and will always produce sin in the "old man". Death reigns over the old man. That is what Paul is saying. But Christ defeated death on the cross - and made us partakers of the same life that was victorious over death (the life of Christ which is in us through our union with Christ).
When Paul says that death no longer has dominion over us, he is talking about the death of the "old self" in Christ. Said in a way that jives more easily with our own experiences - he is saying that the life we are living right now, the life that desires to sin - died in Christ. Since death reigns through sin, the life we are living is ruled by death. But we have now a new life - the life of Christ, which is not ruled by death - and we experience the desires of the old life alongside the desires of the new life. so that on the one hand we want to sin, and on the other we want to obey God.
That's what Romans 7 is picturing - the struggle between death that reigns over the old self, and Christ which reigns over the new.
Make no mistake: Death really does rule in sin over our "old self/man"
Just as one cannot produce "new" virginity by subsequent abstinence, a sinner cannot produce righteousness by and through doing "good". Jesus did not become righteous by doing good, he demonstrated that he was righteous by the righteousness that was already in him.
Practically speaking, that means that our "old self/man" is incapable of becoming righteous, and that even if the our "old self/man" could do something righteous (it can't), the doing of that righteousness would not make us any more "unrighteous" - meaning it would by no means "sanctify" us. We would be no better for it, nor any worse for it's lack.
Sanctification is not about making our sinfulness less sinful, or alternately "more holy". It is about acting in the knowledge that our old self died in Christ, and because that is so, the death that reigns the old self, and produces sin through the old self, cannot reign in the new life we have been joined to: the life of Christ.
Anyone who is a genuine Christian, has this life of Christ in them, and because they do death cannot reign over them (entirely), it can only reign over their "old self".
What Paul prescribes in the wake of this knowledge is the Christian endeavor: because we are in Christ we have something non-Christians lack - the ability to obey Christ, not in the strength of our old self - but in the strength of our new life in Christ.
The question is which of these two rulers (Death or Christ) shall we let reign in our bodies?
If Christ who overcame death is in us, it follows that His reign will increase and Death's reign will decrease.
When we allow death to reign over us, we hinder the sanctifying work of Christ in us - who makes his desires known to us through biblically informed convictions concerning what is wicked and what is righteous and empowers us to abandon the one and embrace the other in the power of His own life that is at work overcoming the reign of sin and death in us.
The author of Hebrews tells us that the reason we fail to thrive spiritually is because we do not put these truths into practice - we do not walk in the light of these truths, but continue to walk in our flesh - and that is why we remain immature spiritually (and that is why our sanctification is so stunted).
The author of Hebrews doesn't single out one or two believers who has failed in this - but calls the whole congregation out on this account. This is how such a thing typically is allowed to continue - because we tend to conform ourselves to whatever the norm is - if the church we attend puts no expectations of holiness on the congregation - no one in the congregation is going to rise above that - and pretty soon, no one will even imagine that can be done.
God Help His church in the day when holiness wanes and ignorance thrives.
How many a brother have I spoken with who believed with all his heart that he as sin's slave, and was not able - by Christ or any other means - to overcome the sin in his life. He believed that because his own experience was a litany of constant, unvaried failure. He imagined that Jesus was supposed to zap him with the power to not sin - and begged him for the zapping - make me stronger, make me someone who can resist temptation - all the while being entirely unwilling to let Christ do any such thing in his life whatsoever. He loved his sin, and had no desire to be free from it - what he really wanted was to be free from the agony of Christ's spirit within him, that would not condone his pursuit of sin. He wanted peace where there was no peace. He didn't want to be free from sin's rule, he wanted to be free from the condemnation he felt for obeying that which Christ crucified.
That is where baby Christianity lives, and the long we live there, the more comfortable we are living there.
My final comment will discuss what we ought to be doing...
What Christ Expects From the Chrsitian
If you love me, keep my commands (John 14:15)
The love Christ describes here is the love God commanded Israel to have for him - a love that comes from all your heart, your soul, your mind, and strength (i.e. effort).
Why do you call me Lord, and not do the things I say? (Luke 6:46).
Who do you believe has a right to command your obedience? Death, or Christ? If you believe Christ has the right to command you, then you are his slave if you obey Him (c.f. Romans 6:16).
Repentance does not operate in a vacuum - it comes coupled with the certainty - the trust - that we actually are Christ's slaves. Do you really believe you belong to Christ - that you are His slave? Do you believe that He has the right to command your obedience? Do you believe that your "old man" still has the same hold on you that he held when you were unsaved? What part of you is enslaved to sin? The "old self?" - they why do you let that which is condemned and put to death in Christ rule in your flesh?
Here's something you can try, oh pathetic worm of a weakling: Admit that your old self cannot overcome sin, because death is the master of the old self, and death will never give the old self up.
That means that you will need to continue repenting. Repenting is just denying death's reign in your life, and surrendering yourself to Him who has the right to command you: Christ.
Were you expecting some sort of secret knowledge - some hidden truth to suddenly show up, such that you would arm yourself with this new power and surrender would become easy?
That isn't promised, and isn't how it works. Here is what you have - a faithful Savior who can sympathize with you in your weakness. Who is willing to walk with you through all your failure, if you continue to lean on Him - good gravy! When was the last time you really poured your heart out to Christ? You live as though he's watching, but not in you. You live as though he judging you and not saving you.
You're living as though He won't hear you if you ask him to teach you how to walk with Him, or worse, that He will hear you, but won't walk with you in this.
You don't believe He loves you.
Get on your knees, and tell him all your heart. Tell him that the only you, that you find in yourself is the one that wants to chase after sin. Tell Him how you have only been playing at sanctification - that you've never really given yourself over to him, and have always held out that last bit because you're more convinced of your failure than His victory.
Cry out to Jesus: not for deliverance from your sin - but for the reality of His life in yours - overcoming your slavery to sin - not by making you stronger, but by showing you that the "you" that you keep in control, can have no strength, and will never gain any strength, over the old self. That you must regard that "you" as dead in the truest sense, it is the you that you are in Christ, so you should stop living it's life, and begin living the new one.
You can't do that by yourself, you must walk with Christ as He does it in you. But you can't walk with Christ and the old man at the same time, so chose today who you will follow.