The following is derived from a comment that I posted on Facebook, in response to comments that stated that our “old nature” is still alive in us, and is known as “the flesh.”
The first three things that I would point out is that:
- The “flesh” (Greek: sarx) is not our nature. It’s not who we are. I’ll explain this in a bit. This is very important in understanding the various verses that talk about the flesh.
- By very nature of the word “nature,” an entity cannot have two natures. If you have a certain “nature,” it’s impossible to also have another nature, because having a “nature” means that that IS your nature.
- Someone recently pointed out to me the verse in which Paul tells the Corinthians to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Wouldn’t it be kind of a tall order to give to someone who has two natures that are unevenly yoked? We’d literally have to split ourselves in two.
Errors of the NIV version
Part of the problem in understanding all of this has resulted from the NIV version of the Bible, in which the translators, of their own accord, translated the Greek word “sarx” as “sinful nature” *twenty three* times (I counted this myself) in the New Testament. The word “sarx” is used many more times in the NT, and it’s rightfully translated as “flesh,” but for some odd reason the NIV translators inserted “sinful nature” 23 times instead of “flesh.” The word does not mean nor imply “sinful nature.”The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave His life for me. Click To Tweet
The Bible doesn’t actually use the phrase “old nature.” But what it does say is that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave His life for me.” It also says that we’ve become a new creation – 2 Cor 5:17. We’ve been “born again of incorruptible seed” –1 Peter 1:23. We’ve become “partakers of the divine nature” in 2 Peter 1:4.
Your Old Nature is Dead!
The old “us” DIED. The old us, our old nature, was crucified with Christ and no longer lives. The person who we were in Adam is gone, never to be brought up again, because when we rose together with Christ into a new life, with a new nature (the divine nature), having been born again of incorruptible seed. This is the reality of who we are. We are now a one-natured being. There is no other kind of being. We have become one spirit with Him – 1 Cor 6:17.
Now, here’s the rub. Because of the “flesh”, which is not who we are – it is not our nature, we can be led astray in our souls and bodies, and follow after other things that are not our nature. Our spirit, which is the core reality of who we are, is where we have the divine nature. It’s been born again. Our spirit was dead to God and alive in Adam, but that entity *died* and we became a new creation. However, when we were born again, we didn’t have a physical lobotomy, so our soul (mind, will, emotions) and body can still follow “after” the flesh. But again, the flesh is not our nature.
We were in the flesh – Rom 7:5, but we are no longer “in” the flesh. This is the very reason why we are actually able to “serve in the newness of the Spirit” -Rom 7:6. We have “died” to what we were held by. If we have died to something, it cannot be said to be our nature.
The Battle Within Us
Galatians 5:16-17 gives us a description that is rightfully described as a battle that is “within” us. However, it is not *our* battle. It’s a battle between the Spirit, who is not us, and the flesh, which is not us. In our soul (mind, will, emotions), we have the choice to walk after either the flesh or the Spirit. The good news is that it is the Spirit who fights the battle!
The Galatians passage uses the word “lusts.” The Spirit lusts against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit. What a cruel existence for us if the flesh is our nature, and by nature we lust against the Spirit! The word “lust” in the Greek is “epithumeo”. It means “to have a desire for, to crave”. The flesh lusts AGAINST (has a desire against, craves against) the Spirit. The Spirit lusts AGAINST (has a desire against, craves against) the flesh. Again, what a horrible existence for us if we have a NATURE that not only is set against the Spirit of God, but the Spirit of God is set against us!!!Righteousness and holiness are the essence of who we now are, in Christ Jesus! Click To Tweet
We do not have a heart that is “prone to wander.” Our new heart (spirit, core of who we are) is actually “one spirit with Him” and is prone to righteousness, because it has been made righteous and holy. Righteousness and holiness are the essence of who we now are.