Our Position in Christ
By Jim Allen
Have you ever tried to imagine how you can be in fellowship with Christ one minute and in a squabble the next? How is it possible to switch back and forth between two natures with such ease? Or are we in both natures at the same time? What divine mechanism is at work to split the mind between two realities, causing confusion and struggle one minute and joy and the assurance of God's love the next?
Before going much further, look at the drawing below. The real you in the drawing is split between two kingdoms. You know it to be true. Before salvation you (shown in blue) were body and soul with a mindset known as the old nature. After salvation you (shown in white) received a new mindset known as the new nature, the nature of Christ. Now there are two of you. This should be interesting.
About the new nature the Apostle Peter writes, "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (1 Peter 1:23). Though we understand the new nature is eternal, we struggle to know what that means and how it relates to the old nature. How is it possible to have an old and new nature at the same time when Paul says the new nature makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)?
God imparts the new nature into the soul in a way no one really understands. It happens during justification. Once imparted, the Spirit begins to instill holy desires, a few of which are hunger for God's Word, expressions of love, joy and peace, a decreasing pattern of sin, and a desire to draw nearer to God (James 4:8).
Paul says such holy desires are real and living evidence that change is occurring. He writes, the new nature is that part of you God says is holy and blameless (Romans 5:1-5; 9-10); but then John explains the new nature (that part of you abiding in Christ) cannot sin (1 John 3:9). While the new nature cannot sin, the old nature has the potential to sin and does.
When God looks at you and me He sees Christ, our righteous covering (1 Corinthians 1:30). When we look at us we see us in the flesh. Even so and as new creations in Christ, we have the tendency to remember the past and allow it to disfigure the truth about who we are in Christ. H.A. Ironside writes,
You may never be able to forget the years of wandering, the many sins of which you have been guilty. But that which gives peace is the knowledge that God will never recall them again. He has blotted them from the book of His remembrance, and He has done it in righteousness, for the account is completely settled. The debt is paid. Old Nature
Though Ironside speaks a truth, we are left to deal with the old nature. After all, it does like us. It's been our best friend for as long as we can remember. It wants to be our best friend forever, which is a sweet thought; but the Apostle Paul frowns on such a notion. Paul says we are to reckon the old friend dead, cut off and discarded (Romans 6:6-8). These are harsh words from Paul. But how do you reckon it dead when it seems so alive?
I suppose it would be like living in an apartment with an old friend while inviting a new friend to move in. We know the old friend doesn't want to leave but there is an old saying about "two's company and three's a crowd." To say it politely, someone has to go and it's not going to be the new friend.
Even so, the old friend is in no hurry to leave and will give you a million reasons to stay. But, the new friend has some transformative ideas about how to live apart from the demands of the old friend; and as you might have guessed by now this is going to be a struggle (Galatians 5:17).
Work in Progress
Aside from the burdensome presence of the old nature, the Christian life is the power of God pulsating within. When Jesus came to be baptized, John the Baptist said, He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). Was John suggesting that the former order of things must give way to the new order of things, such as the "law giving way to grace" and the "flesh to the spirit" (Romans 6:14)? I think so.
Even so, while giving up the old life might appear to be a boring undertaking to the world, may I assure you it is anything but boring. Yes, Christians are imperfect, but we have one thing the world does not have: We have life. We have life besieged with struggle, like a butterfly breaking free from its cocoon (1 John 5:4; Romans 6:3-5).
In closing and though the struggle is real, breaking free from the old nature is what we do because our destiny is to soar aloft (John 8:36).
Note 1: The next article continues with this theme on the new nature and renewing the mind. Note 2: Unlike spiritual growth and maturity in the Christian walk, positional truth is not progressive. From the moment of salvation, having been placed into Christ by the Spirit, believers are blessed with every spiritual blessing and are complete. They lack nothing, but they do need to grow in their understanding of what they have in Christ. (Source)
1. (H.A. Ironside, Full Assurance, p. 23).
Image credit (Two Natures): Jim Allen
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Sin-Evil
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