The Old Man - Has it Changed?

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings fellow pilgrims,

Am I speaking accurately according to the Scriptures in what I say in the paragraph below?

I am accustomed to thinking, saying, praying, and lamenting the fact that, although Christ's Seed (1 John 3:9) is planted in my inner man, that the flesh, or the old man, our sinful nature, remains entirely unchanged throughout this life.

Below are the relevant Scriptures that come to mind with a thought or two above each verse. The verses are in no particular order.

In Ephesians, Paul uses the past tense to say that we can have a pretty complete victory over the old man.
Ephesians 4:22‭-‬24 KJV​
that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.​

In Colossians, Paul intimates that putting off the old man can be a done deal once and for all.
Colossians 3:9‭-‬10 KJV​
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:​

In Romans, we have another example of Paul, which suggests we can be done with the old man once and for all.
Romans 6:5‭-‬7 KJV​
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.​

Ah, but when we get to Romans 7, we see a real-life experience of the Apostle that seems to tell a different story. Paul uses the pronoun 'I' in several different ways. He boldly claims that he does not sin when speaking about his new man, his new center of being.
But Paul, speaking of his sinful nature, refers to himself again as 'I,' says that he is "carnal," and "sold under sin" and that "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing." These statements of Paul weighed pretty heavily upon my conclusion above.
Romans 7:14‭-‬23 KJV​
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth 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 which 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 dwelleth 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.​

In Galatians, Paul speaks of the never-ending conflict between his flesh and his Spirit, concluding that he can never have complete victory over his old nature, which I claim has remained quite unchanged.
Galatians 5:16‭-‬17 KJV​
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.​

This 1 John verse seems to be doing what Paul did by claiming that he did not send. The real him, which he called "I."
1 John 3:9 KJV​
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.​

For the reasons above and a lifetime of personal experience, I have concluded that the old nature remains quite unchanged in this life.

So, where am I going wrong?

I would appreciate any help you can provide.

Ed
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
The old man, like the church of Rome, cannot be reformed it must be destroyed.

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7

When a sinner is regenerated a new principle is introduced to the soul: the principle of grace, the new man. There are then two natures warring against each other: remaining sin, the flesh, the old man vs. grace, spiritual life, the new man. This is the context in which we should understand the verses from Galatians and 1 John quoted above. In the latter the believer can say he does not sin in reference to the new man, grace in the soul. That grace is perfect but there is also remaining sin in the soul and so John can say what he says here and he can also say in 1 John 1:8-10: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

So if you are saying that there are two natures at war in the soul- death and life, the old man and the new- and not that the old man is what is sanctified, rather than the soul of the believer (which encompasses the old and the new) then you're not going wrong at all.

This is a very helpful sermon by Thomas Boston on the subject:

 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
So if you are saying that there are two natures at war in the soul- death and life, the old man and the new- and not that the old man is what is sanctified, rather than the soul of the believer (which encompasses the old and the new) then you're not going wrong at all.

Thanks for responding.

I think I said that several times, but not as clearly as you did.

For the reasons above and a lifetime of personal experience, I have concluded that the old nature remains quite unchanged in this life.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Ed, it seems to me that the "old man" can become stronger, or weaker, in its activity – depending on how we continually hammer the nails it is crucified with. Essentially, I think you are right, it remains the same. Even at almost 80, the old man – the flesh – is still active and seeks power – which I must resist. No doubt it will be so till I draw my last breath, and be freed from these "mortal coils". In the meanwhile it remains a fight for one's life, though the Lord sustains His children in it, and enables them to persevere in faith and holiness.
 
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