When I first came to Christ I was taught that I now had two natures. One being a sinful nature and, the other being the nature of Christ. I was taught that the nature I fed the most would win out over the other. It was explained that it’s like to dogs, and they represent your two natures. If you feed the one dog and not the other he will be stronger and could, therefore, overcome the weaker dog in a confrontation.
Well, after a few years of believing this I had come to be quite frustrated and confused by the teaching. Finally, through a great deal of pouring over the book of Romans, I had to come to the conclusion, I do not have two natures. Did it help? A little. I have not come to a point where I am satisfied in the way I live my life. However, I am less frustrated and, I am a lot better than I used to be.
I found what I believe to be a really good teaching and explanation of our nature or identity in Christ as children of God. It comes from a website that I recently found, Christ In You Ministries. This excerpt is from the FAQ (frequently asked questions) page of the site. The question is being answered by Jim Fowler, owner of the site. I have found it to be quite helpful.
And the question is…
The majority of Christian teachers state that the Christian has “two natures,” but you have denied such by stating that the Christian has only “one spiritual nature.” Would you explain this difference?
In this case, we are definitely limiting our reference to the spiritual nature of the Christian person. We go back to our discussion of how derivative human beings are all indwelt and energized by God or Satan; there is no 3rd alternative called “self,” or independent, human spirit nature.
The apostle Paul told the Ephesians that in their unregenerate spiritual condition, prior to becoming Christians, they “were by nature (phusis) children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). It was the nature of the diabolic prince of the power of the air, working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).
Christians, on the other hand, have had a spiritual exchange of spiritual nature. The apostle Peter explained that we have become “partakers of the divine nature (phusis)” (II Pet. 1:4). The nature, the being, of the Triune Godhead, Father, Son and H.S. has come to dwell in us. We are participating in the nature of His character.
This all gets rather fuzzy and messy, semantically ambiguous, when we turn to several of the more modern English translations such as the Living Bible, the New International Version, the Good News Bible, The Message, and the Amplified Bible. In these versions, the translations have been most injudicious and ill-advised, failing to remember that the Greek word for “nature” is phusis. They have taken other Greek words for “flesh” and “soul,” and translated them “sin nature, sinful nature, fallen nature, human nature, old nature, unregenerate nature, Adam nature, Adamic nature, depraved nature, carnal nature, flesh nature,” etc. – phrases that have no legitimate basis for such translation in the New Testament Greek text. They interpolate their own psychological and theological interpretations into the text of their translation of scripture, misleading many Christian readers into thinking it is biblical teaching. I think it is quite disingenuous and abominable!
I recall one teacher who explained that when a person becomes a Christian, they now have 2 natures in their spirit – the “old sin nature” and the “new Christ nature.” Can you imagine? It is inconceivable that a person could be half regenerated. Such teaching leads to a schizophrenic understanding of one’s spiritual identity; to a paranoid uncertainty of what/who is prompting and motivating my behavior; and a convenient excuse for blaming that old sinful part of me for sinful behavior. Is it any wonder Christians throw up their hands and do not concern themselves with holy behavior?
Many who espouse “two natures” within the Christian individual are failing to differentiate between the spiritual and the psychological. What they are calling “two natures” is really the admitted conflict of “spirit and flesh” within Christian behavior. NOT “two natures,” but the desires of the Spirit of Christ within our spirit, contrasted with the patterned desires within our soul that are inclined toward previous action and reaction responses of selfishness and sinfulness. There is, no doubt, a behavioral conflict within, as the satanic tempter utilizes the patterned desires that he helped develop to tempt us to quench the desires of the Spirit of Christ, and thus to allow him to energize sinful, misrepresentative character in our behavior via our desires.
But the Christian has only one spiritual nature. We are “partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4), the nature of the Perfect Lord and Savior.
Listen to these quotes:
John MacArthur – “It is a serious misunderstanding to think of yourselves as having both an old and a new nature. We do not have a dual personality.”
J. Sidlow Baxter – The two natures theory is unscriptural, self? contradictory, and baneful.”
old nature, sin nature, sinful nature, human nature, Adam nature, Adamic nature, unregenerate nature, depraved nature, corrupt nature, defiled nature, carnal nature
Not one of these phrases found in the original text of the new covenant scriptures.