Two Natures

Romans 7  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
IT is deeply important to have clear hold of the fact of two natures being in him who believes, and of the practical truth that the heart is captive to one of them. Seeing “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,” that experience it is which makes a man cry out, “O! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The soul is thus at the point where it discovers that “to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Thus it is forced to look away from self and to Christ for deliverance, and here comes in the question of souls under law as a principle of responsibility to God. There are many souls who have not really got clear of law. Christianity brings in a new nature, to which the law does not apply. When Christ comes, He brings life and gives righteousness. This is a different thing from requiring it as the law did. The grace of Christ had proved that “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (chapter 8:7), and has taught us the hopeless evil of ourselves, and to give it all up. Law detects the condition of my heart, and raises the question of righteousness, of whether I can succeed in leaving it before God, and it only brings me to cry, “O! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!” It brings me into experiences, into the very depths of conflicts, because I have to do, not with simple faith in the Lord putting away my sin, but with the condition of my own heart, mind, conscience. Experience is really a very important thing, but I never can get peace by it. It is the very contrary of victory, “bringing me into captivity” (v. 23). We have to learn, like Israel, that our salvation is absolutely in God’s hand. We have to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” (Ex. 14:1313And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. (Exodus 14:13).) Then I find that this nature is not myself, and yet it is my master. I am a slave to it. Who is to deliver me?
It is a good test for a soul that needs this deliverance to put himself before the day of judgment. Many souls are not quite at ease there. The Cross is just what they want, but they shrink from the day of judgment; yet there is no place where the Christian is so clear as to acceptance and deliverance as before the judgment-seat of Christ; there we have “boldness, because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:1717Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17).) Only think of it—boldness! If I know myself as a sinner, I can have no hope. Because if God judge me, it must be to condemn me; but if Christ is my righteousness and my judge, He cannot condemn His own righteousness.
You say, Could I pray more—be more in earnest? You must give up all that. What! give up rebelling against sin? I say you must give up the hope of making yourself what you wish to be, and ought to be—you must feel your need of a Deliverer. To hope to get a thing from Christ is not being delivered by Him. This lesson has to be learned, and learned by experience of what we are, what our flesh is. The fact of my having life is the very thing that makes me find out this sin in me, but I have to find that I am in Christ, and then I get deliverance. Here the Apostle argues, “The law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth;” but I am dead-death has conic in and severed the bond. Christ has died; He has put an end to all His associations with man; the marriage tie is broken; we are “married to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Then he begins to discuss, “When we were in the flesh.” Now I do not speak of when I was in such and such a place when I am there. “The motions of sins which were by the law did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”
Look into your hearts and minds and see if there is anything of this. Are you captive still, or are you, as to your conscious condition, fruit of that accomplished redemption before God? It is astonishing that people do not see what a useful weapon law is, but a weapon to bring in death. No man who knew what law was as a matter of experience could talk of keeping it, because “sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.” All the good you bring to this nature only brings out sin. Christ brought to it, brought out hatred. The only effect of envy dealing with it was to put God out, and when God comes He says you are “dead,” “carnal, sold under sin.” This is not a Christian state; it is the state of a man with a new nature, and an old nature, and the law applied to him as in it; but you get no Christ, no Holy Ghost here. It is a soul always desiring to do right and always doing wrong. This is the principle of it. The first lesson God is teaching is to distinguish between what is of God and this evil nature. The heart learns that what leads me captive is not myself. But there is another thing that is exceedingly humbling-when I have learned to distinguish to find that I have not power to choose the good. It is a great thing to learn these two things, and it is a great deal easier to acknowledge that we sin than to acknowledge that we have no strength. Thus we learn to want a Deliverer; and here I get the point where Christ comes in.
I get a real acquaintance with myself, and with the path we have to walk in. I have the comfort of learning that it is not myself. I do hate it still; and if it be too strong for me, it only casts me upon Christ, upon my Deliverer. I have to contend with it to the end, but it is a suspected thing-a thief found out. If I know that I have a bad person in my house, I guard against him; I do not trust him. This is a great thing to learn. I delight in the law of God still; but I have got Christ. I delight in Him. I have got a Saviour. It is a total change. A delivered person has to do with divine grace—divine power for him. He has died away out of the captive state, and is connected with the One who has delivered him out of it. Chapter 8 is the description of the delivered man, as chapter 7 is a description of the captive man.
Do not rest merely in the thought of your sins being forgiven; only remember that until you are brought down to the consciousness (so to speak) that you are shut up to the Red Sea, there is no real and complete deliverance. The back of this self must be broken—there is no trusting in it. I see many a sincere person, who knows forgiveness of sins, trusting in himself. You find that he will get into some scrape by it, like Peter. You never can go on safely if flesh is not judged, for Satan has something to lay hold upon. Only judge yourself, and get Christ instead of yourself; then all is peace and blessed liberty and rest in your souls, and the enjoyment of that favor which is better than life.