THE DUAL NATURE OF MAN
The theme for this Bible message is found in Romans 7:18�23 which says, �For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil with I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it~ but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.�
In this passage Paul said some things hard to understand. Outstanding preachers in our brotherhood and preachers outside our brotherhood disagree on whether Paul was discussing the life of a Christian or the life of a non-christian, whether Paul was speaking of his life before he became a Christian or after he became a Christian. I agree with those Bible scholars who believe Paul was speaking in this passage as a Christian and the chief difficulty that he and all Christians have in living the Christian life. I would offer the suggestion that what Paul teaches in this passage may well apply to both Christian and non-christian, for both classes of people have the same basic nature and personality.
After the study of this passage, I qiuestion whether. any person really understands himself, and I am quite certain that no Christian understands himself or herself. The Christian is a great riddle to people in the world, for they can see little attraction in the Christian life which places a restraint on injurious pleasures and habits. Strangely, the Christian is frequently a riddle to himself, for there are times when he cannot understand his own actions. It is not easy to live the Christian life, and the new Christian can become discouraged by the difficulty of the way. Many surpises await the new Christian, and some of these experiences will sorely try one�s faith,
if he be not prepared for them. The person starts out knowing he was a sinner, and for this reason he came to Christ as Saviour, becoming an immersed, penitent believer. But as he proceeds in the Christian life, he finds that he is a sinner more than he thought he was. He discovers that the Christian life is not immune to setbacks, conflicts and disappointments. Our study of this subject will prove informative to those who are not Christians, and perhaps it will prevent new Christians from being overwhelmed with the unexpected storms of life.
Our first heading is that man has a dual nature. Paul spoke of the law of his mind, and then tells of another law in the members of his body warring against the law of his mind. In the same passage he talks about the inward man and the outward man. Alhough a Christian is a new creature in Christ, yet he continues to have an inward man and an outward man. So we may say with emphasis of each Christian that he is two persons in one. This dual nature of humankind is referred to often in Scripture. The Bible says, �But though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day� (2 Corinthians 4:16). The outward man refers to the physical body, and the inward man refers to the soul. Man and woman then have a soul and a body; they are spirit and flesh. But what actually is the soul? The clearest definition of the soul is found in the rendering of Luke on the great question of Jesus about the soul. In Mark 8:36 the Lord said, �For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?� We learn from this verse that the soul of man is more valuable than all material possessions combined. In Luke 9:25 Jesus said, �For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?� Jesus reveals in this statement that your soul is yourself, that part of you that hopes, loves, prays, is tempted, sins, repents, and can be saved. Your soul is your higher spiritual self. By comparison the physical body is composed of a little iron, lime, water, sulphur, gluten, salt, and a few other ingredients. Our physical bodies cannot be saved; they are material, perishing, and corruptible. The Bible says that our bodies cannot enter into heaven by reason of their material and corruptible nature. The Bible says, �Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruptiont(I Corinthians 15:50).
Hence, we have two entirely different natures. The body is fleshly and interested in earthly things, but the soul is spiritual and interested in heavenly things. The result is that we have a split personality, a part of us can die and a part of us cannot die. Accordingly, we can be heavenly minded or earthly minded, according to which part of our nature is aflowe to dominate our lives. There are certain appetites of ours which are perfectly allowable, even necessary to our existence. But they can be very~ easily pushed to sinful extremes, and then that which is lawful and right becomes a nest for that which is unlawful and wrong. It is a commendable thing that a man should seek to provide well for his own household, yet how many crimes and how much greed have come into the world from an inordinate indulgence of that desire. Men and women may eat and drink, yet it is through these appetites that a thousand sins are engendered. When a person becomes a Christian the word of God enters into the soul, and in our obedience to the gospel plan of salvation, the soul is forgiven, cleansed, and purified. Then with the help of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the soul exercises a proper control over the flesh and the desires of the body. Some Christians are under the false impression that sin is utterly destroyed in them and that they have no more evil tendencies or desires. But the Bible does not teach this. As long as we live in a fleshly body body there will be evil tendencies and desires. Any sin which urks in the flesh, will grow weaker in proportion as we allow Christ to direct our lives. Sin in our lives is at no time to be tolerated or excused, but we must fight against it and conquer it. These are the two principles of life which make up the dual man-the flesh and spirit, the law of the mind and the law of flesh, the body and the soul.
We notice, secondly, that the existence of these two principles in a Christian necessitates a conflict. The text says, for I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warrinig against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Paul speaks of a battle or conflict going on within him as a Christian. Because of our dual nature there is a duel within. Occasionally, this conflict leads the Christian to sin. Paul said �For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.� as a general rule a Christian does not sin, but lives a holy, sanctified life, yet sin does, at times, touch his life because of the conflict between the soul and the body. A deadly duel is going on within each one of us between our body and our soul, and heaven is at stake in the resolution of the conflict. When we became an immersed penitent believer in Christ, we were born again and became new creatures in Christ Jesus. At that time there was dropped into our souls the living and incorruptible seed of the word of God, and this introduced us to a new and higher principle of life. By repentance we threw sin out of lives once and for all; we crucified our old life with its old appetites arid sinful desires. We promised God that we would correct anything that was amiss in our lives, and henceforth you live as Christ directed. Because of our conversion, forgiveness, and regeneration, our souls always wish to do good and delight in the law of God. If we were free from the flesh, we would always do the will of God, but we do not shed our bodies when we become Christians. The Christian still lives in a fleshly body, and Paul says there is no good thing in it. The new Christian must be prepared to enter into conflct, for there is a fight ahead of you. The reason for the fight is this; Christ and the word of God comes into our hearts to rule over us, but the carnal mind with the fleshly body is not willing to surrender its power. This is the reason for the perpetual strife within our souls. The old desires and pleasures of the past life, forbidden by God, put their heads together and labor to regain dominion. We cannot be too watchful, for the flesh will rebel all of a sudden. With the Christian this is both the fact and the philosophy of sinning. The sin and evil in the world excites our fleshly desires and come back to tempt and haunt us. There is no power working for good in the flesh; sin dominates the flesh, and from the body we can expect no aid in doing the will of God. There have been many Christians who have lost their souls by giving in to the flesh.
Thus the apostle Paul has shown us that there is a conflict within us, and let me congratulate you if you recognize it. The ungodly know of no such inward warfare. Non�Christians sin and they love it, but where there is a spiritual conflict theword of God is present in the life of that person. Christians do occasionally sin but they detest it. We do not merely disapprove of it or dislike it, we abhor it. In our souls we wish always to do the will of God, but excited and tempted by the fleshly desires of the body, we at times do wrong. We fall into it, but we loathe it and fight it. Just here you see the great difference between Christians and those who are not Christians. The ungodly know nothing of this inward warfare against sin. They sin constantly against God and love the sinful pleasures of this life. Their conscience does not bother them, and they see nothing in their lives to condemn. But in the life of aa Christian there is a spiritual conflict, and the soul delights in doing the will of God. We Christians do not claim to be sinless people, but we but we despise ourselves when we let temptation get the best of us.
No wonder Paul said, �0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me ,from the body of this death?� While I sympathize with all New Testament Christians because of their struggle and mental conflict, yet I congratulate them that they do feel this inward warfare; for this is one of the marks of a child of God. We must not forget that in born again Christians, there are two opposing natures, two opposing forces, and that these necessitate a lifelong war. But there is something we can and must do with these sin�dominated bodies. We can keep our body in its place and under control by a powerful effort of the soul and will. We cannot completely tame the body, neither can we remove all sin from our lives. But for the most part you can compel it as a reluctant instrument to serve in the cause of right. It will lead us to sin some of the time, but most of the time a God�directed and regenerated soul will keep the body under subjection so as to please God. More than this I am afraid we shall never achieve. Because of our sin�hating attitude and our love of holiness, God will forgive us of our sins when we repent of them. God remembers that we are dust.
Of the truth of these things a well-informed Christian needs no proof. He has the proof in his daily experience. The Christian who does not recognize his proneness to sin has not yet learned himself. The Christian who does not know that he can sin and be lost for it has but a poor conception of his heart and of the struggle in which he is engaged. Who has not promised himself, �I shall not be angry again�, and while you were congratulating yourself on the sweetness of your temper, you were suddenly provoked from quite a new quarter; and your wrath boiled over shamefully. �No�, you said, �1 shall never be impatient again" and yet within a few moments you were as full of murmuring and complaining as you ever had been in your life. Who has has not experienced a very violent tendency toward some evil desire, the very thought of which was detestable to you? The enlightened mind of teh Christian says, �How could I even want to do such an awful thing and sin against God.� But the flesh says, �Do it, do it, do it! Till the flesh lies in the grave sin will not be dead in our lives.
I close with the reflection that we can be victorious over the flesh only with the help of Christ. The very fact that the flesh wins an occasional victory over Christians makes us look to Christ for help. Do not let Satan cause you to doubt yourself as a true Christian simply because you fall into sin through weakness of the flesh. Paul said, �Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord� (Romans 7:24). I am persuaded that there is no place so safe as sitting at the feet of Jesus. There is safety in being in the fellowship of the church which Jesus purchased with his own blood. If you are not a Christian, you have no part or lot in the matter of salvation. Sin has conquered your life, and I can only hope that those who have no conflict within may begin to feel one. May God grant that you may not rest quiet in sin, for to be at peace with sin is to be sleeping yourself into condemnation at the judgment. The command of God to you is to come to the cross, for Jesus will meet you there. Christ was your sin-bearer; he bore your sins on the cross. You need to have all your sins forgiven, every last one of them. You need to start life all over again. The command of God to you is, �Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins� (Acts 2:38). No person can disregard this command or refuse to obey it and hope to be saved. Galatians 3:26,27 says, �For ye are all the children of of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.� May God arouse you so that you may flee to Christ for mercy while you have time and opportunity.