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.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I could be wrong, but as I look back on my life I see many areas where I think the old man/sin nature has lost its grip and I am not what I was many years ago. With time and troubles and trials there really is a refining process that has changed some base metals into gold. The old man does truly change, and significantly.

However, at the same time, I start to see sin and failings that I never even saw before. They are not new sin, its just that I was blind. And with age and physical problems there is a whole new battle that I never had to fight in energetic younger days when my shoulder and pancreas and thyroid and ligaments were all just fine. Now I have to fight a certain gloom every time something hurts, and push back from complaining during fatigue that I didn't have years ago.

I suspect that when the finances are not so good during retirement and coming hyperinflation I may have some battles. I am seeing people I love die and that's a new suffering that I didn't have years ago.

You are a beautiful brother Ed, and have greatly encouraged my prayer life. I would adamantly say your old nature has been put to death and changed in many areas. The problem is God always brings along something else to test us in another area. The pruning never stops. We are dependent and helpless until heaven.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I could be wrong, but as I look back on my life I see many areas where I think the old man/sin nature has lost its grip and I am not what I was many years ago. With time and troubles and trials there really is a refining process that has changed some base metals into gold. The old man does truly change, and significantly.

Hi Lynnie,

Thank you for posting. That last sentence embarrassed me just a little, but thank you for the kind words. I earnestly pray that something I say will sometimes help someone in some way. I pray just as often that I never find out. The Lord has spent a lot of time and sent many trials to reduce my pride. I tell Him that I can wait till heaven to find out if I did anything right.

The next sentences are a technicality. But they in no way argue against your (and my) experience.

~~~~~~~​

The old man can indeed be subdued through sanctification, even quite a bit in some. But we should not be mistaken about the sinful nature itself. It is fit only for death which is no small reason why we still die. It's similar to Satan being chained in Revelation 20.
Consider the passage below from several translations.

Galatians 5:16-17
[ESV]
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh,
for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

[NIV]
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.
They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

[KJV] - (my favorite)
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.

Of course, Romans 7 is the classic on the subject.

Ed
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Ed,

This is a really important question and is something the PCA is dealing with right now with respect to "Side B" theology wherein some claim to come from a Reformed perspective but deny progressive sanctification.

You are correct to note that there is an irreconcilable war within the believer the whole life long wherein the flesh (old man, corruption) is at war with the Spirit (in Christ, new man).

Joel Beeke talks of a Puritan image in which mankind in sin is said to be on Adam's belt. In Adam, men are guilty federally and they inherit the corruption of their first parents as a penalty for sin. Thus they are guilty and corrupt.

When Christ redeems a man (or woman), He unhooks the sinner from Adam's belt and He is hooked to Christ's belt. He is in Christ and is now declared just (not guilty) but Christ hooks sinners (corrupt in their nature) to His belt.

Progressive sanctification is the process by which Christ, by the Spirit, makes persons more and more holy while simultaneously purging corruption (the flesh) from them. It is progressive in the sense that there is progress. It is not perfect in this life but a Saint ought to have his/her affections progressively renewed while he/she also puts to death the corruption from which actual transgressions arise.

So, you are correct in your OP to see a lifelong battle with corruption (the flesh). This is the seedbed from which evil desires and internal temptations arise and is the very place where temptations from without get root unless, by the Spirit's power we resist them.

Thus the admonition to kill the old man is not merely that we deal with temptations themselves but, by the Spirit's power, to reckon ourselves dead to sin's (corruption's) power to enslave us and to perpetually weaken/destroy the power of the flesh within us as the Spirit purges it and replaces evil desires with the expulsive power of a new affection.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Brother Ed, I agree that there is an old man within that we have to work at putting off again, and again before we get to our heavenly home.


If you've got the time, and the inclination here are two sermons by MLJ. The first below, covers that Scriptural command. put off the old man.


The second one, from Romans 6 looks at 'the old man' from another perspective that I found very informative.



 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
If you've got the time, and the inclination here are two sermons by MLJ. The first below, covers that Scriptural command. put off the old man.


The second one, from Romans 6 looks at 'the old man' from another perspective that I found very informative.

Thanks, Jimmy, for writing. I am a big MLJ fan. Lately, I have been strongly influenced by his teaching on the need for Revival. He considered it nothing less than the greatest need of the modern church. He has about 50 sermons that deal with revival. It's kinda become the theme of my life, and the only hope for our country. For every country.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks, Jimmy, for writing. I am a big MLJ fan. Lately, I have been strongly influenced by his teaching on the need for Revival. He considered it nothing less than the greatest need of the modern church. He has about 50 sermons that deal with revival. It's kinda become the theme of my life, and the only hope for our country. For every country.
Ed, I couldn't agree more, and MLJ's emphasis on revival led me to include it in my morning prayer for more years than I can count. Indeed, Christ is 'the answer', but strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it. Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

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
What exactly do you mean by saying the old nature is unchanged entirely in this life? I think I am probably not understanding you correctly. My nature has been dramatically changed. There was a point in time when my entire way of living seemed to change overnight, and I never looked back. The sins that I presently commit are not willful intentional sins; there is nothing inside of me that wants to do what's wrong or that desires what is not good.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
What exactly do you mean by saying the old nature is unchanged entirely in this life? I think I am probably not understanding you correctly. My nature has been dramatically changed. There was a point in time when my entire way of living seemed to change overnight, and I never looked back. The sins that I presently commit are not willful intentional sins; there is nothing inside of me that wants to do what's wrong or that desires what is not good.

Hi Ryan,

Did you read the previous posts by others?

Perhaps you will consider some things I said as either untrue or a mere technicality, but I think it is essential to see what we really are like.

My conversion was like yours. I was hopelessly hooked on drugs, untrustworthy, and at a point of complete hopelessness. Then one night, I went into convolutions and thought I was going to die. But I didn't. Then late in the morning, my sister just "happened" to bring a book home by Billy Graham called The Jesus Generation. For "some reason," I picked it up and was transformed before I got halfway through the book. I was born again, and man, did I change. As for the drugs, I didn't even have a cup of coffee for maybe five years. The same day, I spoke to my X girlfriend (X because she broke up with me for cause) and told her what had happened to me. That day she read the entire New Testament. Anyway, we got back together, married six months later, and were known as "The God Squad." It was not a term of endearment. :) There's a lot more but suffice it to say that I, like you, was changed.

But since then, I have learned, hopefully from the Bible, and certainly from my experience, that it was the Spirit that God placed in the very center of my being that made the difference. But that I, like Paul, now "know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh [AKA the old man]." (Romans 7:18) In Romans 7, the Apostle uses the pronoun "I" 27 times. It would be beneficial for you to see the several different ways Paul used the word. Sometimes 'I' referred to strickly the old sin nature which I claim is unchanged and fit only for death. Other times he uses the term for the new nature, which he boldly says does not sin. Take a look at the five verses below and see how Paul changes the referent in the 17 times he uses the pronoun. I count at least three.

Romans 7:16-20​
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.​

Anyway, there is nothing in this post that is not said above.

Thanks for your question.
 
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Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
Hi Ryan,

Did you read the previous posts by others?

Perhaps you will consider some things I said as either untrue or a mere technicality, but I think it is essential to see what we really are like.

My conversion was like yours. I was hopelessly hooked on drugs, untrustworthy, and at a point of complete hopelessness. Then one night, I went into convolutions and thought I was going to die. But I didn't. Then late in the morning, my sister just "happened" to bring a book home by Billy Graham called The Jesus Generation. For "some reason," I picked it up and was transformed before I got halfway through the book. I was born again, and man, did I change. As for the drugs, I didn't even have a cup of coffee for maybe five years. The same day, I spoke to my X girlfriend (X because she broke up with me for cause) and told her what had happened to me. That day she read the entire New Testament. Anyway, we got back together, married six months later, and were known as "The God Squad." It was not a term of endearment. :) There's a lot more but suffice it to say that I, like you, was changed.

But since then, I have learned, hopefully from the Bible, and certainly from my experience, that it was the Spirit that God placed in the very center of my being that made the difference. But that I, like Paul, now "know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh [AKA the old man]." (Romans 7:18) In Romans 7, the Apostle uses the pronoun "I" 27 times. It would be beneficial for you to see the several different ways Paul used the word. Sometimes 'I' referred to strickly the old sin nature which I claim is unchanged and fit only for death. Other times he uses the term for the new nature, which he boldly says does not sin. Take a look at the five verses below and see how Paul changes the referent in the 17 times he uses the pronoun. I count at least three.

Romans 7:16-20​
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.​

Anyway, there is nothing in this post that is not said above.

Thanks for your question.
Thanks for sharing, brother! That is an amazing testimony. I think I understand where you're coming from.

I've always thought of myself as a new creation, where the old has died and the new lives. But at the same time I understand that we still wrestle with our flesh in this life. At any rate, it is really good stuff to be thinking about, and keeps our focus on God who redeems us. Have a good night!
 

cmiersma

Puritan Board Freshman
This is a subject I have dealt with extensively in recent years. It seems to me that there are two competing views in the Reformed and Presbyterian community. One view makes the old man or the flesh an exclusively spiritual reality. The other ties it inextricably to the physical body, though recognizing that it is also a spiritual reality. The confessional standards generally recognize that in the unregenerate man, it is a corruption of the whole nature. The issue concerns the regenerate and therefore it is connected to sanctification. To my mind, the Three Forms of Unity are extremely precise in tying the old man to the body itself, particularly in Canons Head 5 Art. 1, which mentions both the infirmities of the flesh and the body of this death. One is physical, the other is not. The Westminster Standards, particularly Chapter 13 on Sanctification treat the old man almost as if it were a humour in the body, in harmony with the four humours theory that was still around at the time. Tying the concept of the old man to your body means that there will necessarily be ups and downs. To my mind, the conception in the Three Forms of Unity leads to a more realistic view of sanctification, as well as sticking more closely to the plain teaching of biblical passages that refer to the flesh.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I've always thought of myself as a new creation, where the old has died and the new lives. But at the same time I understand that we still wrestle with our flesh in this life. At any rate, it is really good stuff to be thinking about, and keeps our focus on God who redeems us. Have a good night!

Hi again,

When you say, “I’ve always thought of myself as a new creation, where the old has died and the new lives,” you are speaking accurately according to the Scriptures.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)​
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.​

All living men have a Body (sōma) and Soul (psychē). Or, more accurately, a man is a “bodily soul, [or a] besouled body” [1]. Take your pick. Paul often included a sub-factuality spirit (pneuma). (see Romans 8:2–9)

Notes:
[1]Sherlock, C. [quoting Barth] (1996). The Doctrine of Humanity. (G. Bray, Ed.) (p. 215). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
~~~~~

I give up for now. I read and thought about the subject from 2:30 to 5:00 this AM and finally knew I was whooped. What I want to get across would have taken a dozen pages. Uncle!

Instead, I have posted the first half of a shortish article from Author Pink that you may find helpful. The Title links to the full article hosted at
Monergism.com.

by A. W. Pink
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6); “The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other” (Gal. 5:17). These and similar passages clearly connote that there are two distinct and diverse springs of action in the Christian, from which proceed evil and good works. The older expositors were accustomed to speak of these springs of action as “principles”—the principles of evil and holiness. Modern writers more frequently refer to them as “the two natures in the believer.” We have no objection against this form of expression, provided it be used to represent Scriptural realities and not human fancies. But it appears to us that there are not a few today who speak of the “two natures” and yet have no clear conception of what the term signifies, often conveying a faulty idea to the minds of their hearers.

In ordinary parlance “nature” expresses, first, the result of what we have by our origin: and second, the qualities that are developed in us by growth. Thus, we talk of anything bestial or devilish as being contrary to human nature—alas that the beasts so often put us to shame. More distinctly, we speak of a lion’s nature (ferocity), a vulture’s nature (feeding on carrion), a lamb’s nature (gentleness). A “nature,” then, describes what a creature is by birth and disposition. Now the Christian has experienced two births, and is subject to two growths. Two sets of moral qualities belong to him: the one as born of Adam, the other as born of God. But much caution needs to be exercised at this point, lest on the one hand we carnalize our conception of the new birth, or, on the other hand, dwell so much on the two natures that we lose sight of the person who possesses them, and thus practically deny his responsibility.

In the interests of clarity we must contemplate these two natures separately, considering first what we are as children of men, and then what we are as children of God. In contemplating what we are as men, we must distinguish sharply between what we are by God’s creation, and what we became by our fall from that uprightness in which we were originally made, for fallen human nature is radically different from our primitive condition. But here, too, great care must be taken in defining that difference. Man did not lose any component part of his being by the Fall: he still consists of “spirit and soul and body.” No essential element of his constitution was forfeited, none of his faculties were destroyed. Rather was his entire being vitiated and corrupted, stricken with a loathsome disease. A potato is still a potato when frozen; an apple remains an apple when decayed within, though no longer edible. By the Fall man relinquished his honour and glory, lost his holiness, and forfeited the favour of God; but he still retained his human nature.
It cannot be insisted upon too strongly that no essential part of man’s complex make-up, no faculty of his being, was destroyed at the Fall, for multitudes are seeking to shelter behind a misconception at this very point. They suppose that man lost some vital part of his nature when Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, and that it is this loss which accounts for all his failures. Man imagines he is far more to be pitied than blamed. The blame, he supposes, belongs to his first parent, and he is to be pitied because deprived of his capability of working righteousness. It is in such a manner that Satan succeeds in deceiving many of his victims, and it is the bounden duty of the Christian minister to expose such a sophistry and drive the ungodly out of their refuge of lies. The truth is that man today possesses identically the same faculties as those with which Adam was originally created, and his accountability lies in the use he makes of those faculties, and his criminality consists in his abuse of the same.

On the other hand, there are not a few who believe that at the Fall man received a nature which he did not possess before, and in his efforts to evade his responsibility he throws all the blame of his lawless actions on that evil nature. Equally erroneous and equally vain is such a subterfuge. No material addition was made to man’s being at the Fall, any more than that some part was taken from it. That which entered man’s being at the Fall was sin, and sin has defiled every part of his person—but for that we are to be blamed and not pitied. Nor has fallen man become so helplessly the victim of sin that his accountability is cancelled: rather does God hold him responsible to resist and reject every inclination unto evil, and will justly punish him because he fails to do so. Every attempt to negate human responsibility must be steadfastly resisted by us.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
This is a subject I have dealt with extensively in recent years. It seems to me that there are two competing views in the Reformed and Presbyterian community. One view makes the old man or the flesh an exclusively spiritual reality. The other ties it inextricably to the physical body, though recognizing that it is also a spiritual reality. The confessional standards generally recognize that in the unregenerate man, it is a corruption of the whole nature. The issue concerns the regenerate and therefore it is connected to sanctification. To my mind, the Three Forms of Unity are extremely precise in tying the old man to the body itself, particularly in Canons Head 5 Art. 1, which mentions both the infirmities of the flesh and the body of this death. One is physical, the other is not. The Westminster Standards, particularly Chapter 13 on Sanctification treat the old man almost as if it were a humour in the body, in harmony with the four humours theory that was still around at the time. Tying the concept of the old man to your body means that there will necessarily be ups and downs. To my mind, the conception in the Three Forms of Unity leads to a more realistic view of sanctification, as well as sticking more closely to the plain teaching of biblical passages that refer to the flesh.
You aren't reading either Confessions clearly if you think that the flesh or remaining corruption deals primarily with the "physical" or that anything in the Westminster Standards has to do with "humours".

If you read the Westminster Confession from the point where the Fall occurs then it is abundantly clear. Search the Westminster Confession and Catechisms for the word "corruption" and you'll note how corruption is not a "physical" thing but an effect of the Fall that affects the entire nature.
 

cmiersma

Puritan Board Freshman
You aren't reading either Confessions clearly if you think that the flesh or remaining corruption deals primarily with the "physical" or that anything in the Westminster Standards has to do with "humours".

If you read the Westminster Confession from the point where the Fall occurs then it is abundantly clear. Search the Westminster Confession and Catechisms for the word "corruption" and you'll note how corruption is not a "physical" thing but an effect of the Fall that affects the entire nature.
I do not assert that the corruption is exclusively physical. However, I emphatically maintain that the Canons in particular have in view the idea that the body, although it can be controlled by the regenerated will from the heart is directly connected with the concept of the flesh. The Westminster potentially implies that the nature can be gradually cleansed from sin in this life. The Canons in Head 5 oppose that. The difference is between a cleansing of the nature and spiritual graces that drive activity. For this reason, the Canons also deal far more extensively with backsliding.

Both standards are in agreement when it comes to man's condition before regeneration. The issue with the old man is after regeneration, so that the question has to do with the continued presence of sin in the regenerate.
 
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