This Learning Activity could also be entitled “What Christians did not tell you when you were born again!”
NOTE: I used the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible in this Learning Activity.
If we search the Bible we will not find a definition for the word “nature.” A dictionary will tell us that in respect to human beings, nature is our character, which we show by the way we behave. Our best point to biblically study our nature in my estimation is to start with the origin of the first man in the Bible, Adam.
Adam’s origin is given to us in the following passages.
“…the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
“So God created man in his own image (God’s image) in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
“And God saw everything tht he had made, and behold, it was very good…” (Genesis 1:31).
The Genesis 1:27 passage seems most important to our study as it includes information that “…God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him…” Additionally, Genesis 1:31 includes God’s evaluation of His creation as being “very good.”
Since God made man in His own image, what elements or characteristics of God seem most important in our study at hand? One that comes immediately to my thinking, that He would have incorporated into His creation, I find in the following passages.
“For we have not a high priest (that is referring to Jesus, see verse 14) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15) Emphasis mine.
“You know that he (Jesus) appeared to take away sins, and in him (Jesus) there is no sin” (1 John 4:15).
From the passages above we see that God is sinless and when He created the first human beings in His image it is not far out to think that they were also sinless initially! After all they did not even realize they were naked and covered themselves with fig leaves until after they sinned! After creating those initial human beings God placed them in a perfect Garden of Eden and along came a temptation. Satan in the form of a serpent! The serpent contradicted what God had said about eating from the one forbidden tree in the Garden by Eve exercising her will and disobeying God’s instructions (sinned) (Genesis 3:1-6).
This disobedient sinful behavior (nature) became a part of both Adam and Eve from that act (behavior) of disobedience. Even worse Adam and Eve passed that nature on to their offspring as indicated in the following passage.
“When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his (Adam’s) own likeness, after his (Adam’s) image, and named him Seth….And he (Adam) had other sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:3, 4).
And so it began that the nature to sin was established by the first human couple and passed on to all generations of offspring that came after them right down to my and your parents who physically brought us into the world! It is correctly recorded that “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
But God had provisions for this misuse of their will and ours today in His plan. And He did not just make it up when the sin took place in the Garden!
“even as he (Father God) chose us in him (Jesus Christ) before the foundation of the world, to be for us holy and blameless before him (Father God)” (Ephesians 1:4). Check the translation in your Bible on this verse because many translators render the one phrase as “…that we should be…” when the Greek actually reads “…to be for us….” which accurately tells us what God has done for us and not to imply that there is something we SHOULD do which is what religion would have us believe!
Not too many Christians understand this powerful verse. God, in His omniscience, knew before He even created the world that part of His plan that He set in motion would be to save us from our disobedience (sin)! That plan, as the verse states, was to have His Son, Jesus Christ, come and live in us spiritually and be our eternal life before the Father holy and blameless – with one thing needed – and that was to believe on His Son Christ! Here is what that looks like in my understanding.
In Figure 90 above I am attempting to use a visual aid to explain the Ephesians 1:4 passage. On the left I would like you to visualize ALL people who have ever been in existence to have been chosen by Father God to be “justified” to God. The word “justified” means that God’s plan is that everyone would be in relationship to Him just as if they NEVER committed a sin in their lifetime.
In the center of the illustration Father God tells us how the requirement of spiritual death for our sin was taken care of by His Son Jesus Christ, who NEVER committed a sin, took the sin of the entire world upon Himself when He was crucified on the Cross of Calvary. This was the just payment for our sin and includes everyone on the left hand side of the Figure!
All of this is being held like in an escrow account waiting for each individual to avail themselves of what God has already done for us some 2,000+ years ago but to have it applied to each individual the Bible states “that whosoever believeth in him (Jesus Christ) should not perish (this means you will physically die but you will never die spiritually, that is you will have eternal life in the presence of God). The ONLY requirement is that each individual must “believe” in what Jesus has said about Himself! There are NO other requirements that other Christians may attempt to tell you that you must do!
But there is more to the Genesis narrative that we should be familiar with. God placed a curse upon the serpent (Satan) that is significant.
“he (a coming Messiah) shall bruise your (Satan’s) head, and you (Satan) shall bruise his (the Messiah’s) heel” (Genesis 3:15b). Take note that the coming Messiah would bruise Satan’s head which is meant to be a fatal blow to Satan which is what Jesus did when He (Jesus) was crucified on the Cross and Satan was later cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). But the Messiah would have His heel bruised (signifying Christ’s death and resurrection from crucifixion) which was minor in comparison to what happened to Satan!
This might be a good time to point out that there were those during the Old Covenant in the Bible who never knew the name of the Messiah as we do in the New Covenant today to be Jesus Christ but their belief in the future coming of the Messiah was honored by Father God to be the equivalent of God’s righteousness! Many of these people can be found in the partial list that appears in Hebrews Chapter 11.
Let’s shift now and focus exclusively on the New Covenant in which mankind and we live today. I find it best to understand that in the New Covenant we consist of three “parts” (See Figure 176b below).
The three parts consist of body, soul and spirit. We are very familiar with the body because we make contact with it through our five physical senses. The body is physical in substance. We can see from the Figure that Matthew 10:28 states that we have a body.
The second part (box on the chart) is the soul and it is more complicated because it is NOT physical in substance but rather is spiritual or non-material and it consists of three parts which are the mind, will and emotions. When we discuss the Holy Spirit of God we will find that the soul is where the Holy Spirit conducts His ministry to us by renewing our minds (teaching us Christ) which gets our minds to be more in tune to the mind of Christ!
The third or innermost box on the illustration is the spirit which is also spiritual or immaterial as afar as substance.
There are only two kinds of biblical people in the world – unregenerate or unsaved and regenerated or saved who have eternal life. What determines which of the two a person is is determined by whether or not Christ is living (present, indwelling) a person’s spirit. If Christ is not living in their spirit their body is alive but their spirit is dead to God! Let’s look at how an unregenerate person operates in this life here on earth.
The first thing to take note of is the connection made between the body and mind in the Ephesians 2:3 passage at the top of the Figure. I have placed a note there with an arrow pointing to the association of the two words. There are also numerous influences (temptations) present to the unregenerate mind that has not been renewed to Christ as indicated on the chart. I have indicated them in the box labeled “influences of the world!” box. In another box I have listed as “body pulls” and still another representing the Adamic sin nature we inherited from Adam through our parents, all of which are presented to the mind of the unregenerate person. These are acted upon by the will. It is the decision of the will that controls the actions of the body in a negative (sinful) manner to these temptations (desires) if the person has an unrenewed mind!
Figure 81 indicates two major weaknesses in the unregenerate (unsaved) person: the presence of the Adamic sin nature and an unrenewed mind! The answer to the Adamic nature is found in its clearest manner in the following Bible passage.
I (Paul and we today in the New Covenant) have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The passage above informs us as to how God in His plan for humanity made provisions in the spirit realm to crucify (put to death) the Adamic nature in we human beings by our spiritual crucifixion taking place with the crucifixion of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
“We know that our old self (sometines translated old man, the Adamic nature) was crucified with him (Christ) so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6).
The Adamic nature also uses the “old nature” description in the Bible. You have seen that in Romans 6:6 above where it was referred to as our “old self.”
“Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts” (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). Putting off is meant to be understood in the sense that you stop thinking of that old life, set it aside or cast it off from your mind because it is DEAD!
“unspiritual or natural man” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
“sin nature” (Romans 5:12).
This nature was inherited from our physical parents just as David tells us in Psalms 51:5. Although many Christians will tell you that you can improve this Adamic nature and make it acceptable to God the Father, regardless of what you think or are told it will remain evil and corrupt! The only remedy for the Adamic nature is to totally replace it with a new and entirely different nature (being born again) which is God’s divine nature!
You inherited this Adamic nature by your physical birth. It is replaced by a second birth which is a spiritual birth after being crucified on the Cross with Christ. This second birthing takes place when you believe in Christ (being born again as Jesus told Nicodemus in John Chapter Three). When that takes place you become an entirely new creation: “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Consider the chart below of this process (miracle!).
Let’s now take a look at the physical body and your spiritual mind. In Figure81 I illustrated that the mind controlled the body. Our minds are not totally in agreement with the mind of Christ which is available to us as Christians so after becoming a Christian our bodies are still going to sin. Here again God has provided a means for minimizing these sins. See Figure 104 below.
Starting in the upper left hand corner of the illustration take note that reading and studying the Bible is something Christians do for their entire time here on earth. Through Bible study we gain knowledge of what is in the Bible and what it says about God. That Bible knowledge results in developing a Christian conscience for our behavior and knowing God more completely. We call this “renewing our minds” which the apostle Paul tells us should take place so that we allow Christ to live His life through our bodies. This gives us understanding to act upon that agrees with the mind of Christ and to reject the “ways of the world” which are not in harmony with God’s ways. In this way our will can result in thoughts, actions and deeds that represent Christ living His life out of our bodies to the world in which we live right now.
The will always has differences between the mind of Christ and our minds will will result in thoughts, actions and deeds that do not reflect the character (nature) of God (which are sins) but God does not hold these sins of the flesh against Christians.
“blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin” (Romans 4:8).
“…God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
“…I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more” (Hebrews 10:17).
“I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
“Then as one man’s trespass (Adam’s) led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness (Jesus’) leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience (Adam’s) many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience (Jesus’) many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18, 19).