The Bible Proof Of Inbred Sin III
The “Old Man” The “Flesh”
Inbred sin appears again in Ephesians iv. 22: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Here is an exhortation not to sinners, but to a church. Certain expressions in this Epistle show beyond all question the spiritual condition of the members of the church. Paul says that they were “quickened” who had been “dead in trespasses and in sins;” that they were once “afar off,” but were now “made nigh by the blood of Christ;” that they were no more strangers and foreigners, but “fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” Still again he tells them to forgive one another “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you,” and a few verses after that states: “Ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
These expressions undoubtedly declare the saved condition of the people to whom the apostle wrote. And yet to these who were “forgiven” and “light in the Lord” and “of the household of God” he writes: “Put off the old man.”
Could anything be plainer? Does not the reader see that something dark and evil is left in the heart of the regenerated man? That this something which is here called the “old man” is not to be pardoned, but taken away, put off, removed.
If this were the only verse in the Bible that taught inbred sin, it would be a Gibraltar for the doctrine.
Let not the reader be confused by the following verse, “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” thinking that this is regeneration. Let him turn to Romans xii. 2, where Paul exhorts the brethren to this very grace in which they will be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Here evidently the “renewing” is not regeneration, for the people he exhorts are “brethren” and “living sacrifices” already.
Still more light thrown on the words “renew” and “renewing” as used in these connections, is obtained in Titus iii. 5: “He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” The Italicized words will open the eyes. Salvation is seen to be a double work, and the last work comes with the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. When it came the Apostle Peter said in Acts ii. 33: “He shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”
Regeneration is a birth, and not a shedding forth. The baptism of the Holy Ghost was “shed forth” according to Peter. This additional work Paul had in mind when he wrote to Titus as quoted above, mentioning the two works and calling the second “the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
The mistake made by many is in making these words “renew,” “renewed,” “renewing,” refer every time to regeneration. The expression “new creature” always refers to the regenerated man, but the words “renewing of the Holy Ghost” evidently stand for a subsequent work. Let the reader turn to Titus iii. 5 again: “He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” The word “and,” which we have Italicized, is a copulative conjunction, and always means something else in addition to what went before.
In full confirmation of the thought advanced we read in Ephesians iv. 24 that immediately after Paul says the “old man” must be “put off” he adds: “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Here is taught the coming upon us and in us of Christ which follows instantly the removal of inbred sin or putting off the “old man.”
Let no one make the mistake of thinking that this is the first coming of Christ to the soul. As he cleansed the temple twice, he has a second cleansing for the soul. This last purifies from inbred sin. The “old man” is cast out; and Christ, the New Man, will come now not as a visitor, but as a perpetual indweller. This is what he promised in John xiv. 23 to his disciples and all else of his followers who will love him and keep his words: “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” This is the “mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints;… which is Christ in you.”
Regenerated people are termed “saints” in the Epistles; and here Paul says is a mystery long hid, but now revealed to them, “Christ in you.” For this same thing he “travails in birth again” for the Galatians that Christ might be formed in them “the hope of glory.”
The New Man will visit the regenerated heart, and sweet and delightful are these visits; but he will not take up his abode with inbred sin. Hence the regenerated man is constantly made to wonder and grieve over the absence of Christ from the soul. He went to bed happy with his presence, but awoke, and the Saviour was gone. All this was Christ’s way of showing that he will not abide in the heart with unsurrendered and unexpelled inbred sin. This very departure of his lightsome and joyous presence without sin having been committed was intended of him to occasion deep searchings for the cause, and the discovery of carnality or the remainder of iniquity.
The instant the “old man” is “put off” Paul says that we “put on” the New Man. Christ enters the heart to stay. He ceases to be a visitor, and becomes an indweller and abider.
Still again inbred sin is seen in Galatians v. 17: “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.”
Here inbred sin is called the “flesh.”
Notice that a church is being written to. This time it is a church that has gotten into bondage; just such a bondage as we see many churches and Christian individuals in today. “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?. .. Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
They had become entangled by the vain hope and endeavor to reach perfection by the deeds of the law. “This only would I learn of you,” said Paul: “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? “And in the fourteenth verse he continues, calling attention to Abraham’s faith: “That we might receive the promise of “the Spirit through faith.”
Does not any Bible student know that “the promise of the Spirit” is not regeneration, but that which Christ told regenerated disciples to tarry for in Jerusalem until it came upon them?
All this settles the condition of the Galatian church; they had begun in the Spirit, but had made the mistake of believing that they could be made perfect by the deeds of the law, and so had gotten into bondage.
This was the explanation of their now being removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” Truly it is another gospel that teaches perfection by the deeds of the law.
Let the reader get this idea, and he has the key that unlocks the book of Galatians. They were not sinners, but had been “troubled” by teachers who had “perverted the gospel.” They had gotten to observing “times and seasons,” had been “hindered” in their “running well; “in a word, entangled in a yoke of bondage. That they were still the Lord’s people is seen in the way that Paul addresses them, calling them “my little children” and “brethren,” and saying to them, “Ye are spiritual,” etc.
There is nothing said to them by way of rebuke that cannot be said to any body of Christians who seek perfection by the deeds of the law.
Now to this church Paul writes; and in the seventeenth verse of the fifth chapter describes their inward state, and for that matter the state of every regenerated man on earth in the words: “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”
The word “flesh” does not mean the body. The word in the Greek is “sarx”, signifying the carnal mind. It has been observed that Paul adopts the word “sarx” to describe carnality, and the word “soma” to speak of the body. In this instance it is sarx, and not soma.
A strong proof of this interpretation is seen in the fact that God has no quarrel with the body; the Spirit does not lust against the body. Sin is not in the body, as it does not, and cannot, exist in any form of matter. The soma, or body, is the work of God; while the sarx, flesh or carnality, is the work of the devil. If we get the sarx out, the soma will be all right. If the “flesh” be burned out of us by the baptism of fire, we will find the body all right.
It is, then, the “flesh” (sarx) that Paul says was left in these Galatian Christians, which lusted against the Spirit, so that he wrote: “Ye cannot [may not] do the things ye would.”
Let the reader note the striking fact that the Spirit here mentioned is not the man’s soul, but the Spirit of God. The letter “S” is here a capital, and reference is made to the Holy Ghost. So the contest going on that the apostle speaks of is not a conflict between a man’s body and soul, but between the “flesh” and the Holy Spirit.
The point that we make is that if the “flesh,” or carnality, was left in the Galatian church, whom Paul calls “brethren” and “spiritual,” then is it left in converted people in America. And this is just what every true and honest regenerated man will admit when questioned on the subject, whether he lives in Galatia, Europe, Africa, America, or the isles of the sea.