Although there is confusion in the churches, the Scriptures clearly teach that we cannot have two natures. We can have only one nature. We are either spiritually dead or we are spiritually alive.
The spiritually dead have unregenerate souls; they are slaves to sin, not raised from the dead by Jesus Christ. Those spiritually alive have regenerated souls; they are slaves to righteousness, raised from the dead by Jesus Christ. This is as simple as darkness and light. Darkness and light cannot coexist because light automatically casts out darkness.
The confusion arises from the Romans 7 conflict. In this chapter, Paul is characterizing the conflict of one person with a divided identity, not one person with two natures.
Identity is everything. What we identify with we will think, say and do. If we are spiritually alive, our identity is designed to be in Christ alone. However, the enemy knows that if he can lure us to identify with anything other than Christ, we will be unstable and doubleminded.
He cleverly lures us to identify with our behavior, our wounds, our sin, our bad habits, and even other people. But his favorite lure is our behavior. He knows that when we identify with our behavior we will never experience victory in this life. Simply put, when we identify with our behavior, we are sent forever chasing our tails.
In Romans 7, Paul has been raised from the dead by Christ and is spiritually alive. However, his internal conflict begins when he identifies himself with his behavior. When he does, he falsely believes that…
~he must “perform” righteousness and cannot do it
~he must live the Christian life and cannot do it
~it’s all about him being good enough for God and he cannot do it
But guess what??
He’s not supposed to be able to do it. Because it’s not even possible!
Romans 7 is like a terrified child in the pool for the first time with a swim teacher. The child stresses out, flailing and fighting the teacher thinking that she must somehow save herself. Over time, though, she learns that as she stops fighting, he keeps her afloat. As she stops trying, he positions her safely. As she stops doubting, he proves trustworthy.
The identity conflict rages in Romans 7 until it finally dawns on him that he, indeed, cannot do it. Then his focus shifts victoriously to the One Who can do it! The end of Romans 7: “Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
In verses 24 and 25, he finally realizes that
~Christ is the only one who can live the Christian life
~he is one spirit with Christ
~he doesn’t have to try, but to trust
You have ONE nature and it is in Christ. That’s all you are now. And that is MORE than enough. Christ is Faithful and True to begin, sustain and complete your salvation as you trust Him (Heb. 12:1-2).
Remember the enemy tactic of luring you to focus on your behavior and resist him (Ja.4:7, 1 Pet. 5:8-10). Identify only with Christ who raised you from the dead. In that faith focus is your life source and your victory.
When Christ raises someone from the dead, they are alive forever. If someone was supposedly made alive and then falls dead again never to be raised back up, then they never were alive (1 John 2:18-19) at all.
When you slip and focus on your behavior, remember that sinning cannot turn the new nature back into a sinner any more than doing good deeds can turn an unbeliever to a believer. You’ve either been raised from the dead by Christ or you are dead in your sins. There is no in-between.
Meanwhile, you may need healing, discipline, endurance and mind renewal. Believe God’s Word, keep your eyes on Christ, get your feet washed and receive prayer in safe, authentic community (James 5:16), get help for your issues, ask God to reveal the lies you believe, and trust Him through it all.
Instead of living your own life… in your own strength… with your own understanding, realize that only Christ can live the Christian life. And He wants to live it through you!
Stop trying harder! Wave the white flag! Surrender your whole life and ask Christ to live His life through you. Trust Him. When you do you will find, just like the little girl in the pool did, that He is Faithful (Rom. 7:24-25).
Galatians 3:1-3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
1 John 2:18-19 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
1 Peter 5:8-10 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Romans 7:24-25a What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.