Our Old Carnal Sinful Nature
The Christian makes progress in sanctification in his
daily life as he yields to the Holy Spirit. He is in perpetual war against the
old nature or flesh. The greater power in the conflict is the Spirit of God who
indwells the true believer. The indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit is
the secret to our spiritual growth in the likeness of Christ.
The apostle Paul recognized the true believer’s battle with sin in Galatians
5:16-17. The flesh and the spirit are in continuous war. The human body is not
evil per se, but we do have an old nature with its continuing tendency to sin
and rebellion against God. It is this old flesh nature or self that wars with
the Spirit. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the
desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the
Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that
you may not do the things that you please" (Galatians 5:16-17).
We have an old nature that has a continuing tendency to sin and rebel against
God. The born again believer does have within him contrary desires and urges.
The old fallen instincts of the Adamic nature are not yet destroyed. They
constantly distract us from doing the will of God and cause us to sin.
However, we do have the indwelling Holy Spirit who constantly wages war
against this old fallen nature. He is progressively working within us to renew
us in the likeness of Christ.
When we are born again, a new nature or disposition is created within the
soul. The work of the Holy Spirit in our progressive sanctification affects both this new
disposition as well as the old self.
We have a responsibility to cooperate with the gracious operation of the Holy
Spirit by which He delivers us from the pollution of sin, renews our whole
person according to the image of God, and enable us to please Him in our daily
It is by
the work of sanctification that this “pollution” or corruption of our nature is
in the process of being removed. Of course, it will not be totally removed
until we see Jesus in His glory.
It is by progressive sanctification that God cures our sinning
precisely by curing our sinful nature. He makes the tree good that the fruit
may be good. Our personal sanctification is a progressive and gradual
process, not an instantaneous one. In fact, it is a lifetime process which began
with our spiritual regeneration and will continue until we see Jesus in glory.
The Holy Spirit lives within us in order to change us in the inner most
depths of our person,
not merely to influence our emotions and behaviors. He works in order to eradicate our sinfulness and not merely to
counteract its effects. He is working toward a radical change in us (2 Cor.
5:17; Rom. 12:2).
God's way of cleansing the stream is to
cleanse the fountain. The Holy Spirit goes to the source of our problem. He is not content to attack the stream of our
activities; He goes directly to the heart out of which the issues of life
flow (Mk. 7:20-23). The Bible does not give us any promise that the fountain will be completely cleansed
all at once, and therefore no promise that the stream will flow perfectly pure
from the beginning. There is no promise of a once-for-all eradication of
our old nature in this life. It does, however, teach a progressive
sanctification of the believer in this life.
When we were born again, a change in direction and disposition took place in
our lives. We are now a “new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17). We now have a new
direction, new disposition, new attitudes, etc. toward God.
Even though we are a new creation, we are not totally new. We still have in
us an inclination toward sin, and we will until that day when “we shall be like
Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).
We do have “native tendencies toward evil” which consists of those old
characteristics or attributes which incline the believer toward sin. It is our
old nature or old self that we still retain even though we have experienced
In the work of the Holy Spirit, this old nature is progressively being
eradicated and the new nature is being “nourished” and perfected.
The more we can mature and grow in Christ likeness, the more we become aware
of sin in our lives. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. But He also comforts
our hearts with the knowledge that “there is now no condemnation for those in
The apostle Paul is emphasizing a continual habitual action on the part of
the believer as he conducts his daily “Walk by the Spirit.” Let this be your
habitual manner of life. When we are under the controlling influence of the
Holy Spirit, we “will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Verse seventeen stresses the continual opposition of “the flesh against the
Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.”
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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