The best article I've read on this is William W. Combs, “Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two?” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 2 (Fall 1997): 81–103.
Those who affirm the Reformed view of sanctification use different terminology to describe the same phenomenon. Some describe Christians as having only one nature, and others as having two. The one-nature and two-nature views are practically identical because both acknowledge a conflict between what Combs calls “two opposing somethings—principles, desires, urgings, etc.” in the believer.
* Two-nature advocates call them natures: (1) the old/sinful/ depraved nature of a regenerate person, i.e., "the flesh" and (2) the new nature of a regenerate person.
* One-nature advocates describe these two aspects of the believer’s one nature as “two struggling principles” (Gerster), “two opposed sorts of desire” (Packer), or “contrary urgings” (Packer).
The "old man" or "old self," on the other hand, refers to the whole unregenerate person:
* Sin reigns as his master (Rom. 6).
* He is totally depraved.
* He is characterized by sin.
* At conversion a Christian puts off "the old man" (Col 3:9; Eph 4:22), who was crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6).
A Christian, thus, is a "new man" or "new self." This refers to the whole regenerate person:
* Though he still struggles with sin (Gal 5:16–26; 1 Pet 2:11), Jesus the Messiah (not sin) reigns as his Master (Rom. 6).
* He is still depraved but not totally depraved; he is genuinely new but not totally new.
* He is characterized by righteousness.
* A Christian puts on the "new man" at conversion (Col 3:10; Eph 4:24).
Friday, June 25, 2010
The Old Man? The Sinful nature?
Here is a question from an interview that I came across on Alex Chediak's blog: when discussing the believer's ongoing struggle, should we use the word "flesh" or "old man" to refer to what John Owen called our "remaining corruptions"? Is there a difference? The question was directed towards Dr. Andy Naselli and I found his answer, below, helpful.