From the book “Rightly Dividing the Word”, by Clarence Larkin, 1920
It is very important that every Christian Believer should understand what the Scriptures teach as to the “Two Natures.” Because of a lack of knowledge of the “Dual Nature” of the “New Born” Soul many a new convert, after rejoicing for a while in his new found hope and then suddenly awakening to the fact that his old fleshly inclinations are not dead, is led to believe that he was never converted, and disheartened and discouraged he begins to drift and finally backslides.
When Nicodemus made his night visit to Jesus, Jesus said unto him, “Except a man be born of water (the Word of God, 1Pe 1:23; Jas 1:18), and of the SPIRIT (Holy Spirit), he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” Joh 3:5. And He gave the reason why. For “that which is born of FLESH is FLESH; and that which is born of SPIRIT is SPIRIT.” Joh 3:6. Here we see two lines of HEREDITY. The “Flesh” line, and the “Spirit” line. The Scriptures speak of the first as the “Natural Man,” and the second as the “Spiritual Man.”
I. THE NATURAL MAN
Of the “Natural Man” the Scriptures say, “That his understanding is darkened.” Eph 4:18. That he cannot receive (perceive) the things of the Spirit of God, for they only can be spiritually discerned. 1Co 2:14. That he is the child of wrath. Eph 2:3. That he is at enmity with God, and cannot please Him. Ro 8:7-8. That his heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9), and out of it proceedeth “evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness.” Mr 7:21-22. That he is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. Eph 2:1. That there is no good thing in him. Ro 7:18. That as the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, or the Leopard his spots, so the “Natural Man” without supernatural help cannot change his character. Jer 13:23.
Now God does not say in this description of the “Natural Man” that none are refined, or cultured, or sweet-tempered, or generous, or charitable, or honest, or truthful, or religious, but that none are RIGHTEOUS, for “ALL have sinned, and come short of the GLORY OF GOD.” Ro 3:23.
II. THE SPIRITUAL MAN
While the “Natural Man” has a human parentage, the “Spiritual Man” has a DIVINE parentage. All life must come from “pre-existing life.” There is no such thing as “Spontaneous Generation” of life. No life can come without parentage. There must be a father and a mother. In the “Spiritual World” the Holy Spirit is the FATHER, and the “Human Heart” is the WOMB (Mother) into which the “SEED” of the “Word of God” is dropped. 1Pe 1:23. If seed in the Natural World is lifeless no plant will spring from it, and if the “Seed of the Word” is not VITALIZED by the “Holy Spirit” when it falls into the human heart there will be no “New Life.” This explains how men and women can read and study the Scriptures and not be converted.
This “New Birth” imparts a “NEW NATURE.” This Nature is SPIRITUAL. “That which is born of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is SPIRIT.” Joh 3:6. This New Nature CANNOT SIN. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed (Life) remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is BORN OF GOD.” 1Jo 3:9. This new “Spiritual Nature” is called “CHRIST IN YOU ” (Col 1:27), and imparts ETERNAL LIFE. “He that hath the Son (Christ in you) hath LIFE.” 1Jo 5:11-12. This “Life” is HID WITH CHRIST IN GOD. Therefore we cannot lose it, and “when Christ who is OUR LIFE shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him IN GLORY.” Col 3:3-4. The “Fruit” of the “Spiritual Life” is-“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness faith, meekness and temperance.” Ga 5:22-23. The Spiritual Man is SPIRITUALLY ENLIGHTENED. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man (the natural man) the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us (the Spiritual Man) by His SPIRIT (Holy Spirit): for the SPIRIT searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” 1Co 2:9-10.
We see from this description of the “Spiritual Man” that he is not an Evolution or Development of the “Natural Man,” but a “New Creature” or “CREATION.” 2Co 5:17. When the profligate Augustine sat under a Numidian Fig-tree thinking over his past life, there flashed into his memory, vitalized by the Holy Spirit, the words of Ro 13:12-14, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But PUT YE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND MAKE NOT PROVISION FOR THE FLESH, TO FULFIL THE LUSTS THEREOF,” and at once the “Seed of the Word” thus dropped into the “Womb of His Heart,” created a “new life,” and the profligate arose from the ground a “New Creature” known thereafter as Saint Augustine.
The Spiritual man then is a “New Creation,” and entirely different from the Natural man, and opposed to him in character, temperament and disposition. So far all is clear, but here we are brought face to face with the PARADOX, that while there are TWO SEPARATE MEN spoken of in the Scriptures, the “Natural Man” and the “Spiritual Man,” these two men make up in the Believer but one PERSONALITY, known as–
III. THE REGENERATED MAN
When the “New Man” is born in the heart of the Believer the “Old Man” does not die. He is still there and very much alive. There are now two natures, diametrically opposed, fighting for the possession of the same body, like two tenants fighting for the possession of the same dwelling house. Paul graphically describes it in Ga 5:17. “For the FLESH (the Old Man) lusteth against the SPIRIT, and the SPIRIT (the New Man) against the FLESH; and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” See the Chart The Two Natures. This explains the “SPIRITUAL WARFARE” so vividly portrayed by the Apostle Paul in Ro 7:14-25. This was the Apostle’s own experience after his conversion and before he learned how THROUGH JESUS CHRIST (verses 24-25) to overcome the flesh, and let the Holy Spirit reign in his life. Read Ro 8:1-39.
It is not until we have been “Born Again” that we awake to a knowledge of the depravity of our heart and discover tendencies that we never knew we possessed, and realize the power of sin over us. It is this awakening that startles and dumbfounds us, and makes us doubt our conversion and salvation.
HOW IS THIS WARFARE BETWEEN THE TWO NATURES TO BE CONDUCTED?
1. We must remember that we cannot get rid of the “Old Nature” until the death of our body of “Flesh.” Therefore the warfare must continue until death.
2. We must not try to improve or make a fair showing of the “Flesh.” Ga 6:12. We are to have NO CONFIDENCE in it. Php 3:4.
3. We must STARVE the “Flesh,” and make no provision for it to fulfill the lusts thereof. Ro 13:14.
4. We must FEED the “New Nature.” The “New Nature” at first is but a “babe,” and must be fed with the “Sincere Milk of the Word.” 1Pe 2:2. It must also be fed regularly. The best human literature ever written will not feed and nourish the new nature of the Child of God. We must remember that while we may starve the Old Man, and he may become very feeble and cause little trouble, and we may reckon him dead, he is not dead, and if we begin to feed him again he will revive and recover his strength and give us trouble. This accounts for how some Christians who have lived for years a consecrated spiritual life suddenly fall, having yielded in an unguarded moment to some former habit of their old nature. We must not forget that we cannot feed both Natures at the same time. We cannot be studying the Scriptures and listening to music, or a conversation that gratifies the Flesh, at the same time. Neither must we forget that what feeds one nature will starve the other. The “Spiritual Nature” will starve on novels, and the “Flesh Nature” on the Scriptures.
5. We must “WALK IN THE SPIRIT.” “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the Flesh.” Ga 5:16.
The Scriptures mention three ways in which the Believer can overcome the “Flesh.”
1. BY AMPUTATION.
“If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off.” Mt 18:8-9. Not literally, but if thy hand causes thee to steal, stop at once, don’t taper off. If thy foot causeth thee to go to the haunts of sin, stop short as if you were footless. “If thine eye offend thee,” causeth thee to look upon a woman to lust after her, it were better if you were suddenly to lose the power of sight.
2. BY MORTIFICATION.
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness,” etc. Col 3:5-10; Ro 8:13. To mortify is to cause some part of a living body to die. There are some things we cannot amputate, they must be removed in some other way. So there are things in our lives that take time to overcome, as weak nerves, impatience, pride, etc., these we must destroy by mortification. This treatment is more “medical” than “surgical,” and is INTERNAL rather than external. It is not by our own effort, but by letting GOD “work in us.” Php 2:12-13.
3. BY LIMITATION.
“Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” Heb 12:1.
There is a difference between “Weights” and “Sins.” All “weights” are not “sins,” though all “sins” are “weights.” It is not a sin to be a slave to your business, nor to be so absorbed in social service as to neglect other important duties, but these things are “weights” and prevent the proper cultivation of the Spiritual life and should be limited. On the other hand every sin is a “weight” for it loads us down and interferes with our running the Christian race.