Our Old Man was put to Death in Him that the New Man might come to Life in Us
We’ll move on to the tenth one which you will find in your outline at the bottom of the list. It’s entitled Old Man vs. New Man. We need, first of all, to—perhaps we’d better turn to Romans 6 for a moment, verse 6, to locate one of the passages in the New Testament where that phrase “the old man” is used. I think the new translations use the “old person,” is that right? The “old self,” I knew it was different. I’ve preached from the King James so long and memorized it so much that whenever I’m at a loss for anything it’s always the King James that comes back to me.
Anyhow, Romans 6:6. Paul is speaking about the significance of Christian baptism. He explains that it’s a burial and he explains that a burial has to take place because there’s been a death. And so Christian baptism is, first of all, the acknowledgment of a death that’s taken place and then the burial of that which died. But it leads into a resurrection. And then he explains in the following verses the death that took place. So we won’t go into the whole issue of baptism but we’ll just go down to Romans 6:6.
“Knowing this . . .”
Now I have to observe, I trust I’m not cynical, that in many places where Paul says “you know” or "knowing” or other words like that, I have to say frankly the majority of contemporary Christians don’t know. So you check on yourself if you know this.
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, [that’s Jesus] that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
So Paul says our old man was crucified in Jesus when Jesus was crucified. What is the old man? He also uses here the phrase “the body of sin.” Actually there are about four different phrases that Paul uses. If I can get them up. First of all, there’s the “old man, the body of sin.” In one place he uses “the body of the sins of the flesh.” There’s one more phrase that Paul uses and that is “the flesh.”
Now, those are what I would call technical New Testament terms. I think we need to bear in mind that for instance, if a young man was going to become an electrical engineer, he would expect in his study book to encounter certain what I would call technical terms that have to be used because of the nature of the subject that wouldn’t maybe be understood by people who hadn’t studied that subject, but that are essential for proper communication. And any young man that was going to become such an engineer would be prepared to learn those terms.
I believe the same is true of a Christian. In the New Testament there are a few what I would call technical terms that have a specialized meaning that you can only come to understand as you study the New Testament. And there is a whole list of some of them. “The old man, the body, the body of sin, the body of the sins of the flesh and the flesh.” In certain context—and it’s not in every context—those do not mean what they seem to mean. In other words, when Paul talks about the flesh you might think he’s talking about my physical body. But he isn’t. Likewise when he speaks about the body. In some places he’s actually talking about the body, the physical body. But in many other places he’s not talking about this physical body but he’s talking about—well, what is he talking about? This is a matter for—shall I say it’s not altogether easy to define. But I would say myself, what he is talking about is the old nature that is born into every descendant of Adam. He’s talking about a nature. You could call it the Adamic nature.
And that nature is summed up in one word, one very simple word which is? Can you read that? What does that say? Rebel. Now here is an unpleasant fact about each one of us. Inside each one of us there is a rebel. We have no choice in the matter, we were born that way. And God has a program for that rebel. Do you know what his program is? He doesn’t send them to church, or Sunday school, or teach him to memorize scripture. His program is very simple. That’s right, you’ve got it, execution. God has no future for the rebel.
But the message of the gospel, the good news is the execution took place 19 centuries ago when Jesus died on the cross. Our old man was crucified in him. This is a historical fact—just as much a fact as in 55 B.C. Julius Caesar invaded the British Isles. Do you understand? It’s an objective, historical fact. Whether we believe it or not doesn’t change the fact. But our knowing it and believing it will change our experience. You see, Paul says in Romans 6:6, “Knowing this.” And then in Romans 6:11 he says:
“Likewise also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God.”
That order is logical. First of all you have to know the scriptural fact. Then by personal reckoning you have to apply it to yourself. You have to reckon yourself to be dead indeed to sin. It’s a really interesting question what it means to be dead to sin.
You see, all this is part of the provision of the cross. I’ve used in my books this little, simple illustration about this terribly bad man. I mean, he’s the kind of man that churchgoing people just have no time for. He drinks whiskey, he smokes cigars, he watches pornography on the television and he’s mean and beastly to his wife and children. Now his wife has become a believer and so have the children. So they sneak out on Sunday evenings to the local gospel church to just get away from him. And one Sunday evening they sneak out and leave him sitting in his chair with a glass of whiskey by his side, a cigar in his mouth and some unedifying program there on the television. They have a wonderful time at the local church, come back so happy they’re singing choruses. As they come in they suddenly freeze and realize if he hears them singing choruses he’s going to swear at them. And they tiptoe a little further, the cigar is beside him, the smoke is curling up in the air, the whiskey glass is on the table, he’s not drinking it. He’s not watching what’s going on on the television screen. And he doesn’t shout at them, he doesn’t even get angry with them. Do you know what happened? He had a heart attack. That’s right, he died. He’s dead to sin!
All right. I mean it, that’s exactly what Paul is saying. What does that mean? Sin has no more power over him. Sin has no more attraction for him. Sin produces no more reaction from him. That’s to be dead to sin. Paul says reckon yourselves to be dead to sin. Why? On the basis of what took place on the cross. Because God executed the old man in Jesus. Our old man is executed. But we have to know it and we have to reckon it. When we do those two things it becomes real in our experience.
You see, there’s a lot of difference between having your sins forgiven which is wonderful and having the rebel executed. For instance, when I grew up in church as a boy, every Sunday morning we went to church and we confessed our sins. We really didn’t have any option, everybody did it. And I somehow walked out of the church wondering or hoping maybe something would happen. But I knew full well that during the next week I would be committing the same sins that I’d already confessed. And I came to wonder whether it was better to confess them and go on doing them or not confess them. But you see, that’s just a form of religion. That’s not the message of the gospel because God not merely deals with the past. That’s wonderful to have your past forgiven, it’s tremendous. But it still doesn’t solve your problem if there’s a rebel living inside you. Why? Because the rebel will cause you to go on doing rebellious acts. So the provision of God is not merely to forgive us of the past, but it’s the execution of the rebel inside me.
Now God made this vivid to me personally many years ago now. I was for about eight years the pastor of a small Pentecostal congregation in the center of London, England. And some people who know me today would find it hard to believe this, but we conducted open air services three times every week in the center of London at a place that’s known as Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch. And that was where we got our fish. We went out and fished for sinners, brought them in. And we saw over the years hundreds of sinners saved through those meetings at Speaker’s Corner.
But one night during this period I had a very vivid dream. And in my dream I saw a typical open air meeting. A circle of people standing around and a man in the middle preaching. And as I watched the man and listened to him I said to myself, “What he’s preaching is pretty good.” But there was something I didn’t like about the man. It was like he was hunchbacked and he had a club foot and altogether he looked crooked. So I woke up and I thought, “I wonder what that meant,” and dismissed it. But about two weeks later I had the same dream again. So this time I said to myself, “God must be trying to tell me something. I wonder who the man is?” And it was like the Holy Spirit said to me what Nathan said to David, “thou art the man.”
And it opened up to me a completely new aspect of salvation. I was soundly saved by most standards, baptized in the Spirit, serving the Lord, but there was something in me that was crooked and unacceptable to God. It was the old man. I didn’t have any gospel understanding of God’s program for the old man. I had to find my way through these things.
Well, about the same time Easter was coming on and because of the Easter season somehow I had in my mind a mental image of the hill of Golgotha [or Calvary] and the three crosses on it. But the middle cross was much taller than the other two. And it was like the Holy Spirit put me through an examination. He said, “Now tell me, for whom was the middle cross made?” But it was as if he said, “Be careful before you answer.” So I stopped and thought and I said, “It was made for Barabbas.” And he said, “That’s right.” Because it really was not made for Jesus. Do you understand? Barabbas was due to be executed. But he was released at the last moment, Jesus took his place. So then he said, “But Jesus took the place of Barabbas.” I said, “That’s right.” Then the Holy Spirit said, “But I thought Jesus took your place?” I said, “Yes, that’s right.” Then he said, “You must be Barabbas.”
And at that point I saw it. I never try to argue with people about that, it’s a revelation. But I saw that I was the criminal for whom the cross was made. It was exactly to my measure. It was appropriate for me. But Jesus took my place.
That made it so vivid to me, God’s program for dealing with the old man. This is quite distinct from the forgiveness of sin. The forgiveness of sins is wonderful but you’re never going to have a life of victory or real fruitfulness as long as that old rebel is still alive inside you. God’s provision is the execution of the rebel. God’s mercy is the execution took place when Jesus died. Our old man was crucified with him. The Old King James says “is crucified” which is the perfect tense. But the more correct translation is “was crucified.” It’s a simple past tense, it’s an actual, historical fact that took place.
This doesn’t matter whether we know it or believe it, it’s true. But knowing it and believing it is going to change you and me. So that’s the negative side. “Our old man was crucified that the new man might come to life in us.” That’s the exchange from the old man to the new man.
Now let’s look at the picture of the new man for a moment. I have a radio teaching message on this called “The Old Self and the New Self.” And I point out that these are two persons who are central to the whole revelation of the New Testament about whom most Christians know very little. They’re never named, they’re just the old man and the new man. And it’s interesting that when it comes to the old man, there’s no distinction of race. It never talks about the Jewish old man or the Gentile old man or the Greek old man, he’s just the old man. The Adam in every one of us.
You see, Adam never begot any children until he was a rebel. And every child that’s descended from Adam has got in him the nature of a rebel.
Now let’s look in Ephesians 4:22–24. This is part of an exhortation to be real Christians, that’s really what it boils down to. And the figure that’s used is the taking off of one set of clothing and the putting on of another set.
“That you put off [or take off] concerning your former conduct the old man, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man, which [or who] was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness.”
So there you have a description of the two persons, the old self and the new self.
Now the key word that describes the old self or the old man is the word corrupt. Sin has corrupted the nature of the old man. He is morally corrupt, emotionally corrupt and physically corrupt. He is going to die. The end of corruption is death.
God made something very vivid to me which is that corruption is irreversible. Once anything becomes corrupt there is no way of reversing the process of corruption. You can slow it down but it has to go through. And so when God wants to do something for us he has to give us a totally new beginning. He doesn’t try to remedy the corruption, he does away with the corruption and replaces it by a new noncorrupt nature.
If you look in Ephesians 4:22, and I’ll give you a little more literal rendering of it, it says:
“The old man who grows corrupt according to the lusts of deceit.”
You see, the essence of the problem of the old man is he was deceived by Satan. And out of his deception has come what the New Testament calls lust. And in the New Testament lust frequently means desires which were implanted by God and which were originally natural and healthy but which through sin have become perverted, evil and harmful. So that’s the result of the deception of Satan that the desires implanted in us by God have become corrupt, harmful. And God says there’s only one solution: execution.
But he says, “I’m going to replace it with a new man.” Now you look at the description of the new man in verse 24,
“You put on the new man who is created according to God [that is, according to God’s standards and God’s purposes, fulfilling God’s design] in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
It’s important to see that the old man is the product of the lie, the new man is the product of the truth. And the truth brings forth righteousness and holiness. That’s why it’s so important that we see the truth about both in the scripture.
Now, what is the old man or, who is the old man? If you go back one chapter in Ephesians to chapter 3 and verse 17 Paul prays one of his tremendous prayers. I think perhaps the greatest prayer he ever prayed. If I start to get into this prayer I’ll never get out of it so I’m just going to pick out just the one phrase in Ephesians 3:17:
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . .”
So who is the new man? It’s Christ.
You go also to that tremendous statement in Colossians 1:27:
“To them [that’s to us if you can receive it, to the believers, the saints. I like to say to us.] God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.”
And it’s a mystery which has been his from previous ages and generations. That makes it exciting, doesn’t it? I tell you, if you don’t get excited about the gospel, you’ve never really grasped what it’s telling you.
Now, what is the mystery? It is Christ in you. Three short words. That’s the new man, Christ in you. But, and I don’t know whether I can explain this sufficiently, it’s not the person of Jesus Christ who’s at the Father’s right hand, obviously. It’s the nature of Jesus Christ, the Christ nature. Because the purpose of God was to bring many sons to glory, to reproduce Jesus in every one of the believers.
I’d like to take this just a step further and I want to warn you that there are some people who might not agree with me. And again, I have nothing against them, they can still go to heaven and I hope they have nothing against me! But this is my understanding. I always like to warn people that it’s the way I see it and you’re free to agree or not. But if you look in 1 John 3 for a moment and verse 9 you find a very startling statement. Again, if you’re not startled by it you really haven’t seen what it’s saying. 1 John 3:9:
“Whoever has been born of God does not sin; for his seed remains in him [God’s seed], and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
Now does that tell us that a born again believer never sins? That would leave out a lot of us here including me, believe me. One interpretation is “does not regularly commit sin.” I would like to say that in my opinion that is stretching the meaning of the Greek tense far beyond anything that is justifiable. But it actually says he cannot commit sins.
Now is there any one of us here truly born of God? Of whom it would be said he cannot commit sin? I do not believe it is. So what’s the answer? My understanding is it’s the new nature that’s been born in us. This is a nature that cannot sin, it’s the Jesus nature. It’s the new man. Now I’ll support that from 1 John 5:4:
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.”
Now John says they’re not whoever but whatever. Okay? So it’s a person but it’s also a nature. That’s my understanding. It’s the new man. It cannot sin, it’s incorruptible. Do you know why it’s incorruptible?
Because God’s seed remains in him. What is the seed? Turn to 1 Peter 1:23. This is the middle of a sentence, we don’t need to go through the whole thing.
“Having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and abides forever.”
What is the nature of the seed of God’s word, what is the key word? Incorruptible. Understand? It’s exact opposite is the nature of the old man which is corrupt.
Now, in all the universe, as far as I know, there’s this principle. The nature of the seed determines the nature of that which is produced by the seed. For instance, you plant an orange pit, you don’t expect to get an apple. You plant an apple pit, you don’t expect to get a banana. The seed determines the nature. So, if we are born again of incorruptible seed, what kind of nature do we get? An incorruptible nature. That’s the nature of the new man. Now, listen, I am not telling you that a born again Christian cannot sin. I’d have to rule myself out if I told you that. What I’m telling you is that in every truly born again Christian there is a nature which is incapable of sinning. It’s the nature of Jesus and it’s born of the incorruptible seed of the word of God and nothing can ever corrupt it.
Now the kind of life we live will be determined by the interplay of two natures: the old man and the new man. The new man cannot sin, the old man cannot help sinning. So in order to live a life of victory, we have to accept the Biblical pattern of dealing with the old man which is? Crucifixion, execution. But it’s not enough just once to reckon yourself dead. If you turn to Colossians 3 Paul makes it clear it’s an ongoing process. In fact, I would say—perhaps I’m unspiritual, but in me it’s an ongoing battle. I mean, maybe some of you are so blessed of God that you have no struggle but not true of me. Looking now in Colossians 3:
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God.”
Paul has been teaching both in Ephesians and Colossians we are identified with Jesus Christ in death, burial, resurrection and ascension. So he says if we’ve ascended with Christ why keep your nose down to the earth?
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Isn’t that a wonderful statement! You died. When did you die? When Jesus died on the cross. You died. You say, “Well, where is my life now?” Paul says you’ve got a secret, hidden life that the world doesn’t understand. It’s hidden with Christ in God. What could ever be more secure than that? With Christ in God. Then he goes on:
“When Christ, who is our life, appears . . .”
Brothers and sisters, everything you need is in that one statement. Christ is our life. Victory over sin, healing from sickness, power over the devil. It’s all in that one statement. Christ is our life. It’s so simple. But then he goes on to say:
“[When Christ appears,] then shall you also appear with him in glory.”
Then the world will really see what you’re like. Meanwhile it’s hidden, the world can’t see it. Now then, verse 5:
“Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
See, the Bible is very realistic. It says all right, you died when Jesus died on the cross. But be sure to keep yourself dead! So he says mortify, put to death, keep dead. So that’s, I believe, God’s provision for victory over sin. I’d have to say lots of born again Christians really don’t have ongoing victory over sin. They’re continually struggling up and down. One day they have the victory, the next day they don’t. I think in most cases it’s because they haven’t seen God’s provision made through the cross.
Let’s go back to Romans 6:6 for a moment.
“Knowing this . . .”
From now on I trust every one of you do know it. You do know it. I mean, if I were to take a poll I think some of you would have to say, “Honestly I never really knew it before. But now I do know it.”
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with.”
Notice the body of sin? That’s another word for this thing in us that’s always motivated to sin. “Might be done away with,” it’s very hard to find a good translation for that word, I would say put out of action. It doesn’t cease to exist. There is some holiness teaching that teaches that the old man has ceased to exist.
Well, who’s doing his job, that’s my question? It just doesn’t answer to experience. One thing about theology, it has to work in experience. Otherwise it’s not much use. “The body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
That’s the ultimate purpose, to escape from the slavery of sin. And that is only when we recognize that our old man was crucified with him. Merely having our past sins forgiven is tremendous but it doesn’t deal with the slavery of sin. See what I’m saying?
Now let’s just do what we’ve done all the time and apply that. We’ll do, first of all, our and then my. I’ve got to think how we’ll put this in words. I’ll say it first myself. “Our old man was put to death that the new man might live in us.”
Does that make sense? Might come to life in us I think is better. “Our old man was put to death that the new man might come to life in us.” Do that once more. “Our old man was put to death that the new man might come to life in us.” Now we’ve got to change it, you know the change, don’t you? “My old man was put to death that the new man might come to life in me.” That’s wonderful.
Now reading from the outline, let me list the ten aspects of the exchange which we have looked at. I would like to suggest if you want an assignment that you memorize these ten aspects. If possible, in this order. The order isn’t sacred but it does help in a way to end up with the old man. Then, when you’ve done that, memorize the related scriptures. Not learn the scriptures by heart but learn the references of the passages that substantiate what’s been stated. Now that’s not altogether easy for some of you but I honestly guarantee that if you’ll do that you’ll be a different person. I will just go through the exchanges. I won’t ask you to join me right now, I’ll do it in front of you. I’ll do it left hand and right hand the way we have.
- Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.
- Jesus was wounded that we might be healed.
- Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with his righteousness.
- Jesus died our death that we might share his life.
- Jesus was made a curse that we might receive the blessing.
- Jesus endured our poverty that we might share his abundance.
- Jesus bore our shame that we might share his glory.
- Jesus endured our rejection that we might have his acceptance with the Father.
- Jesus was cut off by death that we might be joined to God eternally.
- And finally, “Our old man was put to death in him that the new man might come to life in us.