(We’ve corrected last week’s blog where the names of Sherri and Naomi were strangely transposed in Part 1. Thanks for giving us grace!)
Alex and Sherri were sitting with me wondering if their marriage was over. Sherri had caught Alex planning to hook up with an old girlfriend whom he had reconnected with on Facebook. Let me pick up the conversation from the last blog.
“Do you believe a Christian has one nature or two?” In unison, they both said, “Two.” My next statement caught them off guard when I said, “This may surprise you, but I believe this issue is one of the main reasons your marriage is suffering. Confusion over our spiritual identity affects everything, especially our closest relationships.” I handed Alex my Bible and asked him to read Romans 6:6.
“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
“Alex, do you believe that the old self means the old nature?” “Yes and in other versions it reads ‘old man,’” he said. “Then would you tell me what the tense is when it says, “that our old self was crucified?” Alex said, “It’s past tense.” “Exactly”, I said. “So it already happened to you, right? Your old nature has already been crucified with Christ on the cross, right?”
He replied, “Yes, but I’ve always taught people that we have two natures because our old nature isn’t really dead. God just sees it as dead but it’s not really dead until we get to heaven. We have to keep the nails in the coffin to keep it under control.”
“Alex, in the Greek, ‘have been crucified’ is past tense, never to be repeated. In other words, it’s a done deal. We only have one nature, the new nature, not two. We do have the flesh but that’s not the old nature. The flesh is all of the ways we try to get the deep needs of the heart met outside of Christ.”
Alex and Sherri sat stunned. I allowed that truth to hang in the air. Then I asked, “Alex, has the teaching of two natures ever helped anyone you know overcome a specific sin, experience emotional healing or restored anyone’s marriage?” He said, “If I’m being honest, the answer is no.”
Alex protested, “But what about Ephesians 4:22-24, which says to ‘put on the new man and to put off the old man.’ That sure sounds like we have two natures.”
I opened my Bible to that passage and asked him to read verse 22 very slowly. He read, “In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” He couldn’t see what I meant until I said, “It tells us to lay aside the lifestyle that is the behavior of the old self, doesn’t it?” The light went on and Alex had to agree.
I said, “When you were trying to overcome temptation to rendezvous with another woman, you had no chance at victory. That’s because you didn’t realize you could live out of your new nature in Christ. That is who you really are. Alex, you are not an adulterer. You are a faithful man in Christ who wants to live pure, love God, and your wife.”
Sherri was listening closely and suddenly piped up, “I realize that believing I had two natures caused me to get busy serving in the church. I was trying to feed the good nature instead of what I thought was my old nature. I did this to try to fill the emptiness I felt in our marriage.”
“Sherri, just as I told Alex, you only have one nature, which is your identity in Christ. In Christ, you are a loveable daughter of God and therefore your deep need for love has already been met by Jesus Himself.” Sherri began to softly cry as she felt hope, not only for restoring her marriage.
As Alex saw Sherri crying, he felt godly sorrow for his sin in such a deep way that he broke down and wept. The lie of two natures that had kept them in bondage was being replaced with God’s truth and you could see the healing process begin.
That day sparked a new beginning for Alex and Sherri in their marriage and their relationship with God. As they embraced their identity in Christ, they experienced a new sense of peace and freedom, which opened the door to work on other areas of their relationship. Before they left that last day, I watched the two of them embrace in the parking lot with rekindled hope.
Today, many years later, Alex and Sherri enjoy a growing, fulfilling marriage. God put them back together in a way that only He can. Even better, their ministry has led others into the same freedom about knowing we only have one true nature, our identity in Christ.
© Mark Maulding