Tag Archives: New Man

Who I Am and What it Means

I am a brand new person; not a forgiven sinner (as seen on bumper stickers) but a heavenly saint.

  1. Naturally (which a Christian is not – Romans 8:9) a person is self-ish (which is the basic human problem and the root of all sin).  And since no one is satisfied with himself the way he is naturally (physically, etc.) we all tend to have a poor self-image.  The only answer is not psyching oneself up (“I’m OK, you’re OK”), nor even making changes in what we are or aren’t, but becoming a brand new person, somebody different.
  2. In order to effect this, all that we are “by nature” has to die, be buried, and forgotten. (Matthew 10:38, 16:24)  The Bible says that happened to us when Christ died on the cross (Romans 6, Col. 3).  Christ was not simply our substitute, who died for us; we died with Him.  It is up to us to believe that and practice it. (Romans 6:11, Col 2:20)  He that would “save” his life will lose it….etc.  He cannot be two persons, one old and one new.  The Christian is only one person; he does not have two natures, like a Jekyll and Hyde.
  3. In place of our “old man” (like a kernel of corn that dies, or a graft on a stump, even baby in a womb) a new self is born.  (John 3, Matt. 18:3)  It began – just as we all “began” physically in Adam – when Christ came out of the tomb, a new man, Second Adam.  It starts – is born – individually when we become Christians.  It is Christ himself in us, the very Spirit that animated Him.  We are Christ-ians!  (Col. 1:27, Romans 8:10)
  4. This new person, the new”you”, is perfect (can Christ be anything else?).  (I John 3)  That is why Christians are called “saints” in the Bible; it is what they are, now.  The new “you” is immortal; eternal life does not begin when we die, but at re-generation. (John 3:36, I John 3 :14)
  5. How then do we explain the “dualism” in a Christian, his sin?  A Christian consists of three “parts” (like the Old Testament temple, even the triune God).  In this way he is a true human being, a real reflection of God; an unbeliever is just body-soul, a refined animal, whose “spirit” is empty like the Holy of Holies in Herod’s temple.  (Matt. 7:23, I Peter 2:10, II Peter 2:12)  The Christian’s spirit is God’s very Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27), the Spirit of Christ; his soul (mind, will, emotions) is “sanctified” gradually by that perfect Spirit (Gal. 5:16–); his body also is bettered because of its controlling Spirit, but is made up of corruptible elements in order to fit its earthly environment, and perfect Spirit.  (I Cor. 15)  A Christian is satisfied with his present body – insofar as it cannot be improved – , knowing it is perfect for its present purposes.
  6. The “struggle” that a Christian has, then, is not a war with himself (the worst kind there is), but what the Bible calls the “flesh” (including soul as well as body).  These “motions of the flesh” are like the “knee-jerks” of a corpse, or coasting of a “dead” auto.  They are not “you” (Romans 7:17).  Romans 7 is not a description of normal Christian life, but the struggles of a moral unbeliever, or carnal Christian trying to improve in his own strength.

What are the results of all this?

  1.  I am a new person NOW (not in some uncertain future).  Cannan in the Bible is not a picture of heaven (and Jordan of death) but a condition of rest and possession that we ought to enjoy right now.
  2. Total forgiveness; sins of future as well as past (don’t have to ask for forgiveness; thank God for it).  God even says he forgets all our sins. (Isaiah 38:17, 43:25, Jer. 31:33, Hebrews 8:12, 10:17)  We must too.  (Hebrews 9:14; 10:2, 22; I John 3:20; Phil. 3:13)  Satan cannot rob us of our salvation, but he can and does rob us of our assurance, which is almost as bad.
  3. We do not have to fear a future judgment.  (Romans 5:1; 8:1,33,34)  If we already died with Christ, we have been judged and all sin paid for.  (John 5:24; 3:18; I John 2:28, 4:17; Hebrew 9:28) Our old sinful self, dead and gone, will not even appear at the Judgment; just the new perfect “you”.  Matthew 25 and John 3:21 indicate that final “judgment” for the Christian is an awards-assembly! (Also see Psalms 26, 43)
  4. We do not even have to fear death!  The old “us” died with Christ already, once and for all.  Eternal life began at conversion.  What we call death is a painless doorway out of an evil world.  True, our bodies die, but that is only an exchange for a new one; good riddance.  (John 11:25; 5:24; 8:51;  I Cor. 5:14;  I John 3:14;  Romans 8:23;  II Cor. 5:1-8; 4:16)
  5. We have the power and ability not to sin; it is a cop-out to say we have to.  (I Cor. 10:11;  Hebrews 2:14;  I John 2:13, 3:8, 4:4, 5:4;  II Cor. 2:14;  Romans 8:37)
  6. We have the ability to live perfect lives.  (I This 5:23;  Hebrews 13:21;  Eph 3:20;  I Cor 1:30;  Eph 2:10;  Phil 1:6, 2:13)  What God commands, He expects and enables. (Matt 5:48;  II Peter 1:3,9;  1:15,16;  I This 4:3;  I John 2:1)  Paul made self an example!  (I Cor. 4:16, 11:1;  Phil. 3:17; II Thes 3:7)

The Means of Realizing this Security

  1. One must want it.  Unbelievably, there are many Christians who do not want it; they prefer selfness (false humility, etc.).  We must be willing.  Eph 3:20.  This requires open-ness, readiness to change.
  2. We must simply ask; God wants nothing more than to give it.  (Luke 11:13, Matt 7:11)
  3. Abandon all self-effort.  We are especially weak here, thinking that once we are Christians, we must “work out our own salvation”, forgetting Phil. 2:13.  Christian life is not one of gratitude, but Christ’s life in us.  So: we are not to ask that God give us love, etc., but that He be our love, wisdom, joy, truth.  Sanctification is not we growing in grace, but more of Christ in us.  (Phil 3:10, 14)
  4. Have the very mind of Christ, so as to know the will of God and God Himself.  (Phil 2:5;  I Cor 2:16;  Romans 12:2)  The way to achieve this is by saturating oneself with Scripture, which is God’s mind on paper; think like God!
  5. Rejoice always!  God operates via the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3.  Note context.)  Jesus did; Paul did.  (Eph 5:20;  Phil 4:4, 6;  Col. 3:15;  I Thes. 5:16,18;  Phil 1:18;  Col 1:24;  II Cor 6:10; 12:9,10.)

Holiness, Sanctification, and Sin in the Christian

A clear understanding of sanctification is not possible with the theory that man is only body and soul and regeneration renews the soul.  The Christian ends up with a soul that is 1-99% holy and half or 3/4 “dead”, etc.  (See previous post as to Trichotomy.)

IDENTIFICATION:  What is often thought to be “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and/or “Second Blessing” is the tardy discovery that salvation is NOT simply substitution, but actual identification with Christ.  This is what makes a person perfect.  This removes all self-effort.  This alone makes salvation truly God-centered (see previous post on “In Christ”).  Salvation is not just forgiveness, but making a new person.  It is not “Paradise Restored”; innocent, mortal Adam was only a stepping-stone toward God’s goal of people made in the image of Christ.  Now we are partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1); we reign with Christ.

SIN IN A CHRISTIAN.  There are not 2 persons, an “old man” and a “new”.  But like Jesus (1 person, 2 natures) the Christ-ian has an old nature, whose seat is in the soul (mind, emotions, will).  After regeneration, the old habits persist like a chicken with its head cut-off.  That is what Paul says we (the new man) must work to “put off”.  It is like telling an adult, “Be a man!”  (Romans 8:1-14; 7:17; Col 2:20-3:3)  The battle is between the real you and the “flesh” (see below). Gal 5:16-26; Col 3:5-17.

ROMANS 7:  This chapter is often thought to be a picture of the “normal” Christian life.  Watchman Nee and others show that this struggle is ab-normal.  In Romans 5 Paul says we are justified in Christ.  Chapter 6 says we must also be sanctified.  Chapter 7 then describes human effort, either the moral unbeliever or the carnal Christian, to become holy (“I” used 45 times!).  Romans 8 says that the Holy Spirit sanctifies!  The defeatism of Romans 7 is often used as a defense mechanism for persistent sin in church-members.  Paul condemns it just as in Gal. 3:3.

THE CHRISTIAN FIGHTING THE FLESH:  What is there different about THIS struggle (Col. 3:5-17)?  It is not a civil war; it is occupant vs invader.  Victory is certain ultimately, and possible always.  No Christian ever has to sin!  Christ is always superior to Satan.  (See “In Christ” post.)  If a Christian is not growing in Christ (Phil 3:8-16) he is either carnal or not genuine.  (John 15:1-9)  Sinning is not a Christian’s lifestyle.   I John 2:1 says, “If we sin,” not “whenever.”

FLESH:  What does the Bible mean by this?  It is not just our bodies, as though it is evil in itself; it is morally neutral.  Jesus had a body.  “Flesh” includes our souls;  many of the sins of the “flesh” are non-physical (Col 3).  The soul too, however, is not naturally bad; sin spoiled our minds, wills, emotions.  So, “flesh” is sinful soul/body as it has been since Adam.  The reason why soul is given that physical term too is that the physical is what Satan often uses to reach me (cf Eve).  Most sins are expressed through the body and it is the last part of us to be saved.  It has no eternity about it; we “share” it with animals and unbelievers.  Note: It is very likely that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was not something physical.

CROSS-BEARING:  This concept is related to all the foregoing.  It is not the trials we have in common with all men, even if we endure them in a Christian way, as we should.  They are not even sufferings that come to us because we are Christians, though they can be converted into “cross-bearing”.  What it is is dying to SELF.  This is much more important than the problem of sin.  Jesus says we have to lose our own, our old lives.  Here is where the unbeliever fails altogether, and the Christian has to die daily.

PERFECTIONISM:  No genuine Christian claims perfection in this life.  Those who do define “sin” to fit their attainment.  We (the “new man”) are perfect in Christ, now.  And it is possible – we are commanded! – to be perfect.  Alas, we fail.  But our guilt is the greater because it is not inevitable.  To say, “I have to sin” is blasphemy.  (I Cor 10:9-13; James 1:13, 15).  The Puritans had a perfect “cop-out” in the doctrine of total depravity for their failure to keep their own blue laws.  This – not their high ideals and standards – is what brought them and their faith into disrepute.

So Great A Salvation (Part II)

Well, the result of all this (see previous post) is that God himself declares that we are perfect.  Not like a judge who says, “Well, Jim Jones, I know you are guilty but I am going to give you another chance.  I’m going to put you on probation or declare your sentence suspended,” and all that sort of thing.  Or you have heard this illustration where a judge comes down off the bench and takes off his robe and takes the place of the prisoner.  Preposterous if ever I heard it.  God doesn’t regard us as if we are perfect, He says, “You are perfect!”

A minister’s wife, a younger woman with a busy family, said to me she was contemplating suicide.  And I said to her, “Dear girl, you’re much too late.  That was done long ago.”  And she said, “What do you mean?”  And I said, “I mean simply that you died with Christ.  That old suicide prone nature of yours died with Christ.  You are a new girl.  You’re the daughter of a King!  You should act like it and live like it.”  One of the oldest ministers at one time in the Christian Reformed Church was Leonard Verduin who had been reminding us for years that the song “Rock of Ages” says “…let the water and the blood from thy wounded side which flows, be of sin the double cure, cleanse from sin and make me pure.”

That leads us to the second proposition and that is that baptism is more than washing.  What does Romans 6 say and what do all our formularies say, like baptism and communion and so on?  That our old nature was buried and is dead and gone.  It says 150 times in the New Testament that we are in Christ and that Christ is in us.  And it ransacks nature for analogies and illustrations and parables of this thing.  Jesus says on the last night of his life, “I am the vine, you are the branches.  A common sap flows through us, a common life.”  Paul, as I said before, uses the illustration of a husband and wife.  “I’m talking about a great mystery,” he says, “of how this can be true, but it is.”  Peter talks about bricks in one house.  And Paul speaks in I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 about our being members of just one body, Christ and we, He is the head and we are the body.  And the very formulary says, “You have been baptized into God.”  What a grafting.

Now that that is clear to us comes the problem, what about sin?  If I’m so perfect, why do I still keep on sinning?  Is Jesus party to all that?  Do I sin or does satan make me do it?  Well, there are lots of illustrations.  Cory Ten Boom uses the illustration of the bell towers in the Netherlands where the trusted players can let the rope go and the bells will keep on ringing.    But I like the illustration, more contemporary, of an automobile where the motor “dies”.  We say, “He killed the motor.”  But the car could coast for miles if going down a long enough hill.  Or here is a medical illustration:  The Bible talks about the motions of the flesh.  I had to have a physical exam one time and I sat up on the table and the doctor took out a little hammer and he started to hit me, he hit me on the knee.  But I got even with him.  I gave him a swift kick.  And he said, “Oh, you are in good condition.”  Now I hadn’t meant to kick the man, that was just a reflex.  So I said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that”  “That’s all right,” he said. “I understand completely.  That wasn’t you.”  And so there are these old motions of the flesh, these old floppy discs in our computers that are programmed wrong, and every now and then the old man that I’ve said more than once is dead and buried pushes up the ground and his hoary, cadaverous head, his skeleton looks out at me and says, “This is the way you used to be.”

I used to hate like mischief the occasions when the old me would crawl out of the grave.  If I had had a mountain top experience I was almost reluctant to live the next couple of days because I knew there would be this insane boy at the bottom of the mountain to face me, who was myself as a boy.  But I thank God, just recently I have begun to thank God, who periodically says, “Look at these old pictures in this family album.  See what you once were, what you would be today without me.”  It makes me think of Peter walking on the water.  The Bible says he looked down at the waves and got scared.  Prior to that I think he was looking over his shoulder at his fellow fishers and saying, “How am I doing?  Get a load of this! Me, walking on the water!”  And Jesus let him go down, down, down.  And he would have gurgled to his death except that he had to come to realization that he wasn’t walking on the water, but Christ was, in him.

So that is the answer to those places in the Bible where it says, “Put on the new man!”  What it is saying is, “You are a new man.  Act your age.  Be what you are.”  Hebrews 6 scolds us when it says “You act like children.  You are not children.  Don’t act like children.”  I was once trying to console an elderly widow about the Christian life who was desperately lonely and she said, “It’s hard.”  And I said, “My dear sister, it’s impossible.”  Jesus himself in John 15 when he was talking about being the vine and we the branches, said, “Without me you can do nothing.”  Nothing.  “In Him we live and move and have our being,” says Paul in Ephesians.  And in Philippians says Paul in chapter 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who is constantly infusing me with his power.”