the believer’s two natures — part 1

The Word for today:
1 Corinthians 7

mark this: 1 Corinthians 2:14
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

and this: John 3:3
I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

1 Corinthians is absolutely loaded with spiritual answers. At the same time, it raises just as many spiritual questions!
Stand in the Rain has been waiting for 1 Corinthians, because it’s the perfect place from which to launch a series of articles that will (we hope) sort out some of the Bible’s paradoxes.

Ten years ago, I stumbled across a reprint of the original (1909) Scofield Reference Bible. Printed in the back was a lengthy article called “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.”

As I read it, so many of scripture’s internal “contradictions” melted away. And so, leaning heavily on Scofield’s original, we present this abridgement to you. We hope, pray, and expect that some concepts which once seemed logically irreconcilable will start to make seamless sense!

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Q. Why do some people “get it” and some don’t?
A. Here’s why:
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Q. What does “natural man” mean?
A. It means he was naturally born. That, of course, would include every person on the face of the earth.

Q. So if everyone is naturally born, how can anyone understand “the things of God.”
A. Some are also supernaturally born.

Q. Say what?
A. I’ll let Jesus explain it:
“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:3, 5-6)

Q. So those who can “see” the kingdom of God are born twice–“of water and the Spirit?”
A. Right. They are born naturally and supernaturally.

Q. So if I’m born again, I’m supernatural?
A. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But you are super-natured!

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We hear the term “born again” a lot, but what does it mean? The full extent of its meaning is best understood by contrasting the born again believer with the person who is not born again…

The Believer’s Two Natures

The Scriptures teach that every believer is the possessor of two natures.

One nature, received by natural birth, is wholly and hopelessly bad.

A second, new nature (received through the new birth) is the nature of God Himself, and therefore wholly good.

Here’s what God thinks of the old (“Adamic”) nature:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalms 51:5)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12)

God does not say that none are refined, or sweet tempered, or generous, or charitable, or religious. But he does say that none are righteous; none understand or seek after God. As genial and moral as many unbelievers are, they “make God a liar” every day by rejecting His Word and His Son:
Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. (1 John 5:10)

An “unregenerate” person (not born again) may be amiable, generous, talented, and religious, but he can neither obey God, nor please God, nor understand God. He just doesn’t–he can’t–‘get it:’
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7-8)

Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:3)

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The believer, meanwhile, while still having the unchanged and unchangeable old nature, has received a new nature:
a new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

Tomorrow, we’ll find out more about the new super-natured self.

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About Stand in the Rain Blogger

Trying to be who God made me, I am wary of my influences. I avoid the culture that surrounds me, for the most part. I soaked up that crap for 40 years. I am trying to replace the word of the world with the unvarnished Word of God.** I like people, but I like solitude just as much. Go figure.** I adore Jesus Christ. I am flipped-out, flamingly and fervently in love with Him. I count it a privilege to draw breath in His universe. All my springs are in Him.** I am crazy about my wife, Shelley. She outshines the sun. I can't help it if I'm lucky.** My heroes are my kids--Caitlin, Gwenlyn, Frankie, & Eddy. I aspire to be like them when I grow up.
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