This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Tape No. I-4325Page
Now out of the truth of the new creation we’re going to go on to study two persons that relate to this new creation. Two of the most important persons in the New Testament and yet neither of them is ever given a name. They are simply known as the old man and the new man. Or, the old person and the new person. As I say, although they’re not named they are extremely important. And really, we cannot receive all that God has for us in the Christian life until we understand the nature of the old and the new man and God’s plan for dealing with both. And my experience, as one who travels very widely and ministers to Christians from many different backgrounds in different nations, many Christians really don’t have a clear picture of the nature of the old man and the nature of the new.
So let’s turn, first of all, to Ephesians 4 and we’ll read verses 17–24.
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding being darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to walk all uncleanness with greediness.”
That’s a picture of man in rebellion, cut off from God, going his own way, plunging into deeper and deeper darkness. But Paul says if we have come to know Jesus that’s not the course that our life is going to take. And he says:
“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus...”
And Paul is writing to people who he believes to be Christians but he says it may be that some of you have never really grasped this important truth. You’ve never been taught. And as I said, my experience is that there are multitudes of Christians who have come to the Lord, been born again, and yet have never really been taught the truth that Paul presents in the next few verses. So let’s read those verses, keeping this in mind, asking ourselves have I appreciated this? Have I apprehended this? Is this at work in my life? This is as the truth as is in Jesus. Verses 22–24:
“...that you put 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 was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness.”
Paul there talks about the two men—the old man, the new. They’re completely opposite to one another. The old man, he says, is growing corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. The actual Greek says the lusts of deceit. The new man, Paul says, was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness. But the Greek says in righteousness and holiness of the truth. And so if you take the more literal translation you have the old man is the product of deceit, he’s the product of Satan’s lie. The new man is the product of the truth of the word of God. So the old man is corrupt because he’s the result of a lie from Satan. The new man is created again in holiness and righteousness which are the products of the truth. So the important things to lay hold of are the results of Satan’s deception and the results of receiving and obeying God’s truth. Because, they produce these two different kinds of persons.
The old man is growing corrupt. We spoke about that in the previous session, the result of sin in the physical body is corruption. The corruption really also extends to man’s inner personality, his mind becomes corrupt. His attitudes become corrupt. His desires become corrupt. The key word that describes this old nature is corrupt or corruptible. It’s decaying, there’s no permanence in it.
And then Paul speaks about a transition. In verse 23 he says be renewed in the spirit of your mind. We have to change the way we think. You see, you cannot think wrong and live right. And you cannot think right and live wrong. A lot of Christians are trying to live right but they’re thinking wrong. And the result is they never really come into the victory that God has for them.
Keep your finger there and just look for a moment in Romans 12. Paul says in the first two verses:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice; holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
So Paul says we have to hand ourselves over to God, we have to present our bodies to Him as the Israelites in the Old Testament brought the sacrificial animals—sheep and ox, whatever it might be—and laid it on the altar and it was killed and offered as a sacrifice. Paul says in the same way as believers in the New Testament, you bring your body and lay it on God’s altar. But there’s just one difference, it’s alive, it’s not killed. So you present your body as a living sacrifice to God for His service. You hand it over to God.
When a man presented a sheep or an ox or whatever it was, under the Old Covenant when he put it on the altar it was no longer his, it belonged to God. And when we offer our bodies a living sacrifice, place it on God’s altar, it’s no longer ours, it belongs to God. We don’t own it, He owns it. We don’t control it, He controls it. We don’t direct it, He directs it. We don’t decide what it will eat, He provides. We don’t decide what it will wear, He provides. That sounds frightening to some people. The truth of the matter is God can take much better care of our body than we can without Him.
And then Paul says when you present your body you will be renewed in your mind. You learn to think differently. And when you have been renewed in your mind you will be able to find out the will of God. See, again a lot of Christians are saved, they’re born again, but they’ve never found God’s will for their life because they’ve never made this sacrifice of their body. And consequently, they haven’t been renewed in their mind and the old unrenewed mind cannot find the will of God. It’s only when our minds are renewed that we can discover God’s special plan for our life. God has a special plan for the life of each person here. But until you make that surrender of your body to God and till you give yourself over to Him, your mind is not renewed and you cannot find the plan that God has for you. So Paul says both in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 the transition comes by the renewing of our mind. Our mind comes under the control of a new spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. And when He directs our thinking then we live lives that are in conformity with the way we think.
See, religion essentially, whatever kind of religion, tries to change people from outside. It talks about the clothes that they must wear or not wear, the places they must go or not go, the things they must eat or not eat. All that is external and it doesn’t change a person inside. And most people view religion as some kind of set of rules which we have to observe. What makes us whatever we are is the rules we keep. But Paul says that isn’t what does it. We have to be changed within and when we are changed within, when we think differently inside, then we’ll live differently. You understand? God doesn’t start from the outside, He starts from the inside. When He changes us inside then we live naturally the kind of life He wants us to live.
Living the Christian life shouldn’t be continual struggle to do things you don’t want to do, to keep rules which are irksome and difficult. If you’re living that way you haven’t really discovered God’s pattern for the Christian life. The Christian life begins with a surrender. We put ourselves, our bodies, on God’s altar and that brings about a change in our minds which only God can produce by His Holy Spirit. When our minds are changed it’s not an effort to do the right thing. It’s natural.
Let me take an example for myself. I just happen to be speaking as an Anglican. At the age of 15 I was confirmed in the Anglican Church. I really wasn’t very much in favor of being confirmed but where I was at Eton, all the boys of 15 were being confirmed so I got confirmed. Well, those of you that are Anglicans, you know you have to prepare for confirmation, you have to learn the answers to certain questions. In my day, I don’t know whether it’s still the same, the first question was what was your name. That wasn’t difficult. After that it went a little further. But as I studied these questions, rather against my own will, I concluded that I really needed to be a lot better than I was. I began to see how bad I was. I decided when I get confirmed I’m going to be better. And I really meant it but it didn’t work that way. I mean, I’m just giving my individual experience. The problem was the harder I tried to be good the quicker I got bad. So after a few months I said to myself why struggle because struggling only makes it worse. So I just gave up and said I’m going to be bad, at least I’m not going to be bad and religious. I decided I’d be bad without being religious, which was my decision for a number of years.
But you see, I was fighting against something inside me that didn’t agree with what I tried to do. Understand? I hadn’t been changed inside, I just decided that I ought to live differently. You can’t really live differently if you’re the same inside. The only way to live differently permanently is to be changed inside. And that’s what God says He’ll do. If we will present our bodies to Him, hand ourselves over and say, “God, I’m really not very good at managing my own life. I made a lot of mistakes. I’m not really satisfied. There’s things that I don’t appreciate in what’s going on in me, around me. God, I’ve come to the end of all that. Here I am. I’m putting myself on your altar. I’m a living sacrifice. From now on I don’t belong to myself, I belong to you, God. I’m your responsibility.” Well, the people that have done that have made the wonderful discovery that God can take much better care of us than we can of ourselves.
I remember hearing a preacher speak to a group of young people once and he said this. Young man, he said, God can make much more out of your life than you can. That really is the truth. So, this transition is associated with a surrender, you see? So Paul says present your body, put it on the altar, God will renew your mind. When you’re renewed in your mind you’ll think differently, you’ll act differently, you’ll react differently.
You see, about ten years after I was confirmed I had this dramatic encounter with the Lord Jesus and I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Actually, people weren’t getting baptized in the Holy Spirit in those days, but I didn’t know that. So I got baptized in the Holy Spirit in the army barrack room. I didn’t know you had to go to church to get these experiences. Then I discovered that I really wanted to do the things I knew I ought to have been doing, you understand? One of the things that really amazed me was I heard before I was saved about people who went to prayer meetings. I said to myself prayer meetings? Whatever can people find to talk to God about for one whole hour? After I was baptized in the Spirit the meeting I wanted to go to was the prayer meeting. They couldn’t stop me. At the end of one hour I was just getting started! That wasn’t because I decided to be different, it was because I’d been changed inside. The way I was thinking was changed, transformed.
And so, going back now to Ephesians 4 where Paul is a little more specific, he says in verse 22 put off the old man who is corrupt, who does the wrong thing. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. In Romans 12 he says be renewed in your mind. But in Ephesians 4 he says be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Let the Spirit of God begin to control the way you think. And then he says after that put on the new man who was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the truth. So here we are, this is the new creation again, you understand? This is the product of the new creation. The new man is the result of the new creation. And he’s produced by God’s truth. It’s the truth of the word of God imparted by the Holy Spirit that brings about the new creation.
I want to emphasize to you we can never have too much of God’s word. When I got saved in the army I didn’t know anything about Bible studies but I just decided I ought to share with my fellow soldiers what had happened to me. So I started right in the middle of the war in the desert of North Africa while fighting was going on all around, I started a Bible class. I had no idea how to conduct a Bible class. I just said to myself where do you begin? I said skip the Old Testament and start at Matthew 1:1. So, we did. Later on when I was in the Sudan I had another Bible class. One thing I discovered was if you really get people studying the word of God without messing around or adding to it or taking from it or mixing up a lot of religion, it will always change people. I have total confidence in the power of the word of God. And it’ll do it for anybody, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter how bad you are, it doesn’t matter how stupid you are or how clever you are. If you will deliberately expose yourself to the word of God and let it do its work, it will change you. I have total confidence.
Today my confidence is expressed in a radio program that I have called “Today With Derek Prince,” which is just about a little less than fifteen minutes of Bible teaching five days a week. I started that about ten years ago in the United States. I didn’t know what was going to happen but I just felt I want to proclaim the word of God. We don’t mess around, we don’t appeal for money, we don’t get involved in a lot of emotional hoo haa, we just teach the word of God. Well, I say this to the glory of God. That same program is now being taught right around the world, being broadcast in eight different languages. It’s reaching basically the whole of mainland China about seven times a day in four dialects—Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghaiese and Amoy. It’s reaching most of the Soviet Union about three times every 24 hours in Russian. It’s reaching Central and South America once or twice every 24 hours in Spanish. It’s also in a language called Tongan which is the language of a small island in the Pacific. And God helping us, within a month or two it will be in Arabic reaching the Middle East. And that’s only the expression of my total confidence in the word of God. And we have piles of letters of testimony of people whose lives have been just changed by the word of God. I cannot too strongly recommend you, take time with the word of God. Don’t get involved in a lot of time wasting activities. One of the things that grieves me about some churches is so much time is spent doing things that really don’t accomplish anything. Let’s get the word of God. We need praise, we need worship, there are other things. But let the word of God always be the center because it produces results that nothing else can produce. It’s the only agent in the universe that will produce the new birth, the new creation and the new man.
All right. Now let’s turn to Colossians for a moment, chapter 3. There’s a lot of parallels between Ephesians and Colossians, in much of them the same truth is contained in both. Let’s just read what Paul says along the same lines in Colossians 3:8–11. He’s writing to Christians:
“But now you must also put off...”
You remember he talked in Ephesians 4 about putting off the old man, putting on the new man. Here he says you must also put off all these:
“...anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”
So the old man is associated with all those things. When we put him off we put those things off with him. Verse 9:
“Do not lie to one another, since you put off the old man with his deeds...”
One distinctive characteristic of the old man is he’s a liar. And Jesus told us Satan is the father of all lies. So when we get involved in lies we’re coming under the control of Satan. One thing we have to be is honest. It’s not always easy but it pays. So Paul says:
“Do not lie to one another, since you’ve put off the old with its deeds, and have put on the new man...”
Notice we have the same transition from the old man to the new.
“...who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One who created him...”
In Ephesians he said the new man was created. That was a single act of God. But here he speaks about an ongoing process, being renewed. And the object of renewing is to restore to man the image of God which he lost through the fall. Do you remember, God created man in His own likeness and in His own image. That image was marred by the fall. But in the new creation God’s purpose is to renew us so that the image of God is restored in us. That’s God’s end purpose. If you study the record of creation in Genesis 1 you find that in six days, whatever that may mean, God created all sorts of things—the sea, the earth, the stars, the sun, the moon, and lots of other things. The vegetation, the fish, the cattle. But He didn’t rest until He had brought forth His own likeness. When He had made man and brought forth His likeness in man, then He rested. And this is true in you and me. God will not rest in dealing with us until He’s brought forth His likeness in us. His likeness is restored in you and me.
Now how does God deal with the old man? This is a very important lesson. I fear some Christians are not familiar with it. The old man is corrupt, he’s incorrigible. Do you know what that word means? There’s no way you can straighten him out. He’s as crooked as the serpent that produced him. You’ve never seen a straight serpent, have you? All right. And anything the serpent produces is crooked. And God doesn’t mess around with the old man. He doesn’t send him to church, He doesn’t teach him to memorize scripture, doesn’t teach him the golden rule. God’s only got one solution, do you know what it is? Execution, that’s right. God’s solution is execution. Shall we say that together? God’s solution is execution. He has no mercy on the old man. He knows he can never be straightened out. But the mercy of God consists in this, that the execution took place more than 19 centuries ago when Jesus died on the cross. Turn to Romans 6 and just read with me verse 6. Romans 6:6:
The problem is that multitudes of Christians don’t know it. See? It’s in the Bible but they don’t know it.
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Jesus, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
Now this is a historical fact. It’s true whether you know it or whether you believe it. But knowing and believing it will change you. When Jesus died on the cross, in God’s eternal counsel, this rebel inside you and me was executed, was put to death. That’s the only solution for the old man. And Paul says until the rebel has been dealt with in you and me, we’ll still be slaves of sin.
I suppose perhaps because I’m in an Anglican Church, which I enjoy, but my mind goes back to lots of experiences of mine in the Anglican Church. I remember going to church Sunday morning and in those days we used to say something called the general confession. I expect we used language that isn’t used today. Amongst other things we said pardon us miserable offenders. And I always looked around and thought it’s a pretty good description. But the thing was that when I walked out of the church after that I said to myself did God really forgive me? I was never quite sure. Then I thought to myself if God did forgive me I know full well I’m going to go on committing the same sins I’ve just confessed. So, what’s the good of that? In fact, does my confessing my sins help or does it make things worse? Suppose I go to go out every Sunday morning and say I’m sorry, I’ve done this, I’ve done this, forgive me but I’m going to go out and do the same. How does God react? I wasn’t sure. Actually, the highest I ever achieved was a vague feeling of guilt. I thought that’s what religion is designed to do, it’s to make you guilty. So I walked out of church feeling guilty and feeling rather righteous because I was feeling guilty. And after about half an hour it all dissipated and there I was back again.
But you see, I didn’t understand Romans 6. The rebel had not been dealt with. And until the rebel has been dealt with, you cannot help sinning. Okay? Because there’s a rebel inside you. It’s one thing to have your past sins forgiven, that’s wonderful. But it’s not the total solution. If you have your past sins forgiven but the rebel is not executed, he’s going to go on causing you to commit more sins. So God’s remedy is, first of all, the forgiveness of our past sins. Thank God for that. But that’s not the end. Then the rebel in me has to be executed. The good news is it happened 19 centuries ago when Jesus died on the cross.
So Paul says the first thing you have to do is know it. Knowing this. Then in verse 11 of Romans 6 he says:
“Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
First of all you know what the Bible says. It’s a historical fact. Secondly, you reckon it true in your own experience by faith. You understand? That’s what brings the results. First know, and then reckon. If you don’t know you can’t reckon. See? I have to say honestly my observation of the Christian church generally is multitudes of Christians don’t know. They don’t know that their old man was executed when Jesus died. When you know, then you can reckon. And when you reckon, it becomes true in your experience.
And it says reckon yourself to be dead indeed to sin. That’s a very powerful phrase, dead to sin. Have you ever considered what’s involved in being dead to sin? I have a little illustration I use just to bring it out, of a very bad man. I mean, he was as bad as he could be. He swore, he drunk whiskey, he watched things on television you shouldn’t watch. He was very unkind to his wife and children, he swore at them. He talked very badly about the church. But his wife and children had become believers. And so, every Sunday evening they would sneak off to the local gospel service. They knew when they came back he’d be swearing at them. One evening they went out, leaving him sitting in his armchair, smoking a cigar, drinking whiskey, watching the television, being really bad. Then they had a wonderful evening in the gospel chapel, came back and they were so excited they were singing the choruses. Came into the room and suddenly realized he was going to swear at them. So they froze and didn’t do anything but nothing came from him. There he was, sitting in the chair. Smoke was going up from the cigar but he wasn’t smoking it. The whiskey was on the table but he wasn’t drinking it. There was something on the television but he wasn’t watching it. And, he didn’t shout at them. What had happened? You can guess. He had a heart attack and died. And you see what he was? He was dead to sin. That’s exactly what it was. Sin had no more attraction for him, sin had no more power over him, sin produced no more reaction from him. And Paul says reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin. How can we do that? Not by our efforts but by identification with Jesus Christ. When He was crucified my old rebel inside me was crucified with Him.
I remember many years ago having a struggle about this that I can share with you. I was pastoring a small congregation in London and we used to hold street meetings three time a week at a place called Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch. It’s very well known in the center of London. We would preach to all sorts of people and quite a lot of people were getting saved. Generally speaking, they were the bad people that ended up there. And then one night I had a dream and in this dream I saw a typical street meeting with people standing in the ring around and a man in the center preaching. I listened and watched and I thought what he’s saying is quite good but I don’t like the way he looks. He looks crooked. He had a sort of club foot and, generally speaking, he was all crooked. SO, I didn’t think any more about it, I thought it was a strange dream. And about two weeks later I had exactly the same dream again. And so I thought God must be trying to say something to me. I said, “Lord, what about this dream? What about that man? His preaching was all right but there was something I didn’t like about him. He seemed to be sort of crooked. Who was the man?” And you know what God said? Thou art the man. And I realized that was how God saw me. He wasn’t criticizing my preaching but He was saying there’s something crooked inside. That’s how God dealt with me about the old man.
And then I came to Romans 6 and saw God’s solution—execution. Well, at that time it was just about the Easter season and while I was struggling with this my mind had a sort of mental picture of Golgotha, or Calgary. I saw three crosses there with the center cross taller than the other two. The Holy Spirit seemed to say to me tell me for whom was the middle cross made? And then it was like He said think before you answer. So I thought for a moment or two and I said it was made for Barabbas. And He said that’s right. Because, if you read the story you’ll realize the cross was there for Barabbas but there was a switch made at the last moment. And then He said that’s right, but Jesus took the place of Barabbas. I said yes. But He said I thought Jesus took your place. So I said yes. Then He said you must be Barabbas. And I had a revelation. I never argue with people or try to convince them but I saw I was Barabbas. That was my old man, the criminal, crooked, dishonest, unreliable, unfaithful. And then I realized the solution. Execution. That the mercy of God, execution took place when Jesus died. How do I respond? I reckon myself dead. I reckon that rebel dead. And when I do it in faith I’m delivered from him.
I’m going to go on to explain that it’s not an instantaneous process. As far as God’s concerned it’s finished. For us it has to be worked out. Let’s go to Colossians again, chapter 3. Colossians 3:8–11:
“But now you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy...”
You’ll see there that the old man has to be put off. And then he says, we’ve looked at this already, you put on the new man in verse 10:
“...which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him...”
But if you look a little further up in Colossians 3, verses 3–5, you find the contrast between what God did and what happens in us. What God did was done once for all. The way it works in us is progressive. So, don’t come under condemnation if your old man still gives you some trouble from time to time. You wouldn’t be the first to have that experience. It happens even to preachers, I have to tell you that. But the solution is still there. Let me show you. Colossians 3:3–5:
“For you died...”
This is addressed to Christians. When did we die? Tell me when did we die? When Jesus died. Understand? His death was our death.
“For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
We have an invisible life that’s not visible to the world. It’s hidden with Christ in God.
“When Christ, who is our life, appears [is seen in glory], then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
You understand? When Jesus died we died. We have a life now but it’s not a life the world understands, it’s hidden with Christ in God.
And then it makes a tremendous statement, it says Christ is our life. If you can absorb that statement, it’ll keep you going from now until eternity. Christ is our life. I told you how much I appreciated the Bible because it says things in simple words. All those are monosyllables, words of one syllable. Christ is our life. If you can absorb that, you’re undefeatable. There’s nothing that can ever overcome you.
I’d like to invite you to say it together with me in faith. Christ is our life. Say it again. Christ is our life. Now let’s make it personal. Instead of our, my. Christ is my life. Now I want you to do something which you may find a little strange. It’s easy to sit there and say it out at the air. I want you to turn to somebody beside you, look them right in the face and say Christ is my life. Understand? Don’t be embarrassed. All right? Okay. Now you’ve settled the matter forever. Christ is your life. Okay.
When He appears in glory then we’ll appear with Him. Understand? So a death took place. Our old nature died, it’s finished with. There’s a new life but it’s a life that’s a hidden life. The world can’t see it, the world doesn’t understand it.
Let me give you a favorite scripture that Ruth and I quote about once every day. Hebrews 10:14. I explained to you that we believe in quoting scripture for ourselves, not to preach to people. Hebrews 10:14, I’m going to put sacrifice in the place of offering. All right?
“For by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Say that again.
“For by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Okay. You see there the contrast between the perfect tense and the continuing present. What Jesus did on the cross is perfect, it’s forever, it never has to be repeated. But our appropriating it is progressive. We are being sanctified. You understand? So, first of all, I preach to you what Jesus accomplished. You have to know that. Then we have to consider in a practical way how do we appropriate it? Do you see what I’m saying? And although it’s complete and perfect and finished on God’s side, it’s progressive on our side. I say that because I don’t want you to get condemned and say well, my old man still gives me a lot of trouble. You won’t be the first Christian to have that experience. Some of the greatest men of God that have served God most effectively had the greatest struggle in their inner being. You can read their biographies and the records of their lives. So don’t be condemned. Especially if God is going to use you the devil will see to it you have a lot of struggles. So the fact that you have struggles may actually indicate God is going to use you. Don’t get discouraged. Okay?
Now let’s look in Galatians 2. What I want to say now is very important. Galatians 2:19–20. Death is the doorway to life. There is only one way to come into life and that’s by death. I don’t know whether this is vivid to you but when man sinned, God threw him out of the garden so that he would not be able to eat of the Tree of Life and live forever because he would have lived forever in his sin, you understand? The only way out of sin and corruption is death. But the mercy of God is that it’s through the death of Jesus. So, Galatians 2:19–20, Paul says:
“I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God.”
Okay? So the kindest thing the law ever did to me as a sinner was put me to death. Because when it put me to death I was finished with the law. No matter if a man has committed sixty murders, he can only be executed once. And once he’s executed he’s not accountable for any more of those murders. You understand? So, the mercy of the law, in a sense, is it puts us to death. So Paul says I through the law died to the law. But the mercy is I died in Christ. Christ died for the sins of those committed under the law. So, in Christ I died. And once I’ve died I’m no longer under the law. It’s very important to understand this, we’ll probably come to this later when we talk about how to be guided by the Holy Spirit. You cannot be guided by the Spirit and by law at the same time. It’s one or the other. And so in order to be free to live for God Paul said I had to die to the law. Look at those words again and you’ll see. Galatians 2:19:
“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.”
And then he goes on in the next very familiar verse:
“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me...”
So that’s the only way into the new life is by death. It’s God’s mercy that provides death as the exit from the old life. But the death took place when Jesus died on the cross. Our old man was crucified with Him. That’s a historical fact. It’s true whether you know it or believe it. But knowing it and believing it and acting on it can radically and totally change your life. You do not have to be a slave of the old nature. God has provided a way out from the slavery of sin. Paul says our old man was done away with that we should no longer be slaves of sin. AS long as the rebel lives and has his way inside you, you’ll be a slave of sin. But once the rebel has been dealt with, you’re free to live to God.
Now let’s take a little while and consider the nature of the new man. We’ve dealt with the old man, he’s corrupt, he’s crooked, he’s just no use. Let’s see how the new man came into being and what he’s like. And remember, you should be looking at the picture of yourself inside. Remember, James says this Bible is a mirror. When you read the Bible you’re looking in a mirror. It doesn’t show you your outward appearance, it shows you what you’re like inside. And there’s nothing else in the world that can do that. Science can’t do it, psychology can’t do it, nothing. But when I preach the word I tell people I’m holding up the mirror to you, look in it and see what you’re like. And now if you’re a born again Christian I want you to look and see what you have inside you. And it will startle you. You’ve got much more inside you than you can imagine, most of you. You’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of the new man.
Let’s look now in 1Peter 1:22–25. And it begins in the middle of a sentence but that’s okay.
“...having been born again not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. Because...”
And then he quotes from Isaiah:
“...all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls away. But the word of the lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”
So Peter is quoting and he’s saying our outward physical nature is like grass. It’s withering, it’s fading away. You remember the key word, corrupt. Corruptible. It doesn’t continue, it’s on the way out. But he said the word of God abides forever. It doesn’t change. It’s eternal. It doesn’t wither, it doesn’t fade, it doesn’t grow old.
And then he says you have been born again of the incorruptible seed of the word of God. The life in you is the product of the seed of God’s word. Now, in all nature the nature of the seed determines the nature of what grows out of it. If you plant an orange pit you will not get an apple. If you plant an apple pit you will not get an orange. An apple pit produces an apple, an orange pit produces an orange. And it’s the same in the spiritual realm. The nature of the seed that produced the new life in you determines the nature of the life. And the key word is incorruptible. You have an incorruptible life inside you.
And then in 1John 3:9, John makes a very startling statement and I think a lot of Christians have had problems with this statement. I think I can help you. 1John 3:9:
“Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for his seed remains in him, and he cannot sin because he has been born of God.”
Let me not apply that to any of you, let me apply that to me. I was born again of God in 1941. Does it mean that I’ve never sinned since then? Definitely not. Does it mean that I cannot sin? Definitely not. Derek Prince has sinned and can sin. And yet I’m born again. So what’s the explanation? The explanation I believe is this. That John is not talking about you as a person but he’s talking about the new man that’s produced in you by the seed of the word of God. Because the seed is incorruptible the product is incorruptible. The new man is incorruptible. He does not sin and he cannot sin. If you look further on in the same epistle, chapter 5, verse 4, John says:
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.”
So it’s a whoever in verse 1John 3:9 but it’s a whatever in 1John 5:4. In other words, it’s not an individual like Brother Prince or Sister Prince or whoever, but it’s the nature in you he’s talking about. The new man. It cannot sin, it’s incapable of sinning because it’s incorruptible. And what is incorruptible can never become corruptible, you understand? So we have in us a nature that cannot sin. That doesn’t mean that you and I cannot sin because it all depends on which nature controls us. You understand? This is the key. The old man cannot help sinning, the new man cannot sin. What kind of a life you will lead will depend on how the new and the old man are at work in you. If the old man is truly executed and kept dead then the new man will give you a life of perfect purity and holiness. But, for most of us it doesn’t immediately happen that way. I’m not saying it couldn’t but the Christians I know, including myself, are people who haven’t fully appropriated all that the Bible teaches about the new man.
And one main reason is because it isn’t taught. We don’t know what our inheritance is. That’s my main purpose in teaching this, is to hold up to you the standard of God’s word, to hold up the mirror and show you you have inside you an incorruptible person, a nature that is incapable of sin.
There have been other ways to explain 1John 3:9 but I cannot say that any other explanation covers the fact that John says he cannot sin. Not merely that he does not sin but he cannot sin.
All right. Now let’s look a little further in Colossians 1:25. Paul says:
“I became a minister of the church [a servant of the church] according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you to fulfill the word of God [or to declare the whole of God’s word to you].”
He said God made me a servant of the church for this purpose, to proclaim the full truth of the word of God. I feel that is my calling also. I’m a servant of the church to proclaim the full truth of the word of God. Because it’s only when God’s people hear the full truth that they come into the full experience of what God has provided for them.
Then he goes on to say this full truth in verse 26:
“...is the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.”
So God has a secret which he kept from ages and generations but now He wants to reveal it to you and me. If that doesn’t excite you there’s something wrong with you. Think of it, that we have the privilege of sharing a secret which was kept from all previous ages and generations. Now, what is the secret? In verse 27:
“To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles...”
Now what is it?
“...which is, Christ in you...”
See what I say again? The greatest truths are expressed in the shortest words. What is the ultimate purpose of God, what is the secret that He’s kept from all previous generations but now is made known to us? That He wants to reproduce Christ in every one of us. The ultimate product of the new man is Christ. Understand? The Bible is the word of God, Christ is the word of God. So when the Bible is received by faith into us and is allowed to grow and bring forth what it will naturally bring forth, it will bring forth Christ in you and me.
See, God can’t improve on Christ. He’s the ultimate. So the best He can do for us is reproduce Christ in you and me. But He comes by new birth out of the incorruptible seed of the word of God through the new man into an expression of Christ. And every born again child of God is designed to express Jesus Christ in a different way. God never makes one Christian a copy of another. Paul says in Ephesians 3:14:
“Now by the church might be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavens the manifold wisdom of God.”
That’s exciting. Every one of us can be a specific demonstration of God’s wisdom in some way different from every other one. It’s like a beautifully cut diamond which has innumerable different facets and each facet reflects the light in its own particular way. But each of them reflects Christ, you understand? It’s Christ multiplied over and over and over again in His people.
Let me close with Romans 8:29. This is speaking about God’s eternal plan. I want you to know you’re not an accident looking for somewhere to happen, you understand? You’re part of a plan that God had in eternity. Before creation took place God had a plan and you were included in it. And this what it says:
“For whom God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
So the ultimate purpose of God out of the new birth, out of the new creation, out of the new man, is to reproduce Christ in each one of us. That’s the purpose for which He’s working.
But, it demands the execution of the old man, understand? As long as the old man operates the new man cannot effectually be what God intended him to be. So I invite you as we close to consider just how much or how little of you is the new man and how much or how little of you is still the old man. But when you’re confronted with the problems of the old man remember there is a way out. The way out is death. God bless you.