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Part 4 of 6

Our Carnal Nature Was Given To Us By God.

How did we get a carnal (fleshly) nature? Was it a result of the fall in the garden? We can answer these fundamental questions by first answering the following question: How did Adam and Eve get their carnal natures? According to the Bible, God created them that way. Since God created them with a carnal nature, we can likewise conclude that God also created us with a carnal nature because in the most practical sense, we are no different then they were. It is important to note, as the Word of God has shown, Adam and Eve's carnal (fleshly) nature existed before they fell in the garden. Eve, through the lust of the eye and lust of the flesh (carnal desires), along with being beguiled by the serpent, looked upon the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and found it appealing to her flesh. Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Eve saw the fruit and it looked good to her. Her carnal nature kicked in, i.e... her flesh desired and reached out for the fruit, the devil beguiled her, and she yielded to temptation and sinned. There was nothing wrong with her carnal feeling of hunger. That was natural. Her physical desire was part of her nature that God had given her. Again, there was nothing sinful about her carnal nature. It was how she fulfilled her desire for food and why she did it that brought about sin. She disobeyed God to meet the desires of the flesh. Adam did the same, although details of the process surrounding his sin are not recorded in the Bible.

Why Did God Give Us A Carnal Nature?

God placed within man the power to choose whom he wanted to serve (Joshua 24:15). Every individual is given a free will. God did this to allow us to truly show our love for Him, not by being forced to serve Him, but rather choosing to serve Him. But, there had to be something to choose from. Therefore, he designed a way that we can prove our love to Him. Since God will not tempt man to commit sin (James 1:13), He gave us a body, with all it's carnal (fleshly) passions, natural desires and needs intact. This nature was by design, not by destiny. The carnal desires of our body will continually want to be fulfilled. Most of the time, our fleshly desires will be in conflict with the Spirit of God. However, all is not doom and gloom! The good news today is that God also provided us with a means of obtaining His Spirit to keep those passions, fleshly desires and needs under control and within His approved limitations. The solution to the carnal nature problem is called salvation! God changes our hearts very desires once we are saved. He does this by giving us His divine nature. 2 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Once we accept His great salvation, God's equips us with everything that we will ever need to live holy and godly in this present world, since this way of living is His requirement. Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. God never gives us a job to do without equipping us with the necessary tools that we will need to get the job properly done. When everything is working in it's proper place, we can keep the desires of our flesh under control and live a sin-free holy life. When the Spirit of God is not working in our lives as He would like to, the flesh will take control and we will miserably fall into sin. We must always allow His divine nature to override our carnal nature, and even our moral nature at times, if there is a conflict between the two.

Why Does Mankind, Without Exception, Fall Miserably Into Sin?

It could be debated whether or not Adam and Eve possessed the Holy Spirit (whether the "breath of life" in Gen 2:7 was the infilling of the Spirit), however, it is clear that in a picture perfect world, with no such thing as "sin", only a minimum number of commandments to keep, and with divine approval and favor of God resting on their lives, both Adam and Eve miserably fell into sin. Two for two. 100% failure rate. Why? It wasn’t because they were not created right. It was because they didn't maintain what it took to keep from sinning. The failure was not on God's part, but was on theirs. Victory was there for the asking, but they apparently failed to consistently ask for it.

The same is true today, however, the environment is now much worse. As we have shown, mankind is born in an upright moral state but with an active carnal nature. People today are not born with the Spirit of God indwelling in their hearts (John the Baptist being the only noted exception). The carnal nature is always crying out for constant and instant satisfaction. Sin, and it's influence, is everywhere in the world. It doesn't take a whole lot of spiritual discernment to see that this old sinful world is no Garden of Eden. The devil has been in business for quite a while and now knows how to work in a greater way than he did back in the garden. Like a magnet sitting close to a large metal block, human beings, who are accustomed to having their carnal desires met from the time that they are born, without exception are drawn away by their own lusts and miserably fall into sin when they reach the age of accountability; just as the magnet, once it is loosened, will inevitably go crashing into the metal block. When people reach the age of reason and accountability, they have nothing to protect them from sin and it's influences. The odds are too great against them. Just as both Adam and Eve did in the garden, 100% of mankind fall into sin when they reach the age of reason and accountability. It is of little wonder that the Bible proclaims that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23.

A Complete Eradication Of Our Carnal Nature?

There is no spiritual experience that will completely eliminate or eradicate our carnal (fleshly) nature. As has already been explained, God gave us our carnal nature. He gave it to us for a reason and for a specific purpose; to give us a choice thereby allowing us to prove our love to Him by serving Him. I realize that many honest hearted people have a hard time accepting this Truth because of what they've been taught and because of abused terminology, but, it's the same principle that God used when he created the devil (our opposer) to tempt us to sin (Isaiah 45:7, Col 1:16). As Christians, God gives us the power that we need to keep our carnal nature within His approved limitations, just as He gives us the power (through His Spirit) to resist the devil and cause him to flee from us. Some teach that a "second cleansing" or "entire sanctification" totally eradicates our carnal nature. However, this teaching is clearly contrary to scripture. Just a short study in Corinthians and a look at the apostle Peter, before and after Pentecost, settles this issue.

A Look At The Church Of God In Corinth.

Paul writes to the saved and sanctified saints (we should note here that the Greek word for "saints" [hagios] means by definition "the most holy ones". There are no unholy or unsanctified saints.) and says: 1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. The Bible says that these Corinthian saints were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor 6:11). They had experienced the washing of regeneration and the renewing of holiness by the Holy Spirit. Their hearts and lives had been wonderfully transformed. They had gone out of the sinning business, for whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (1 John 3:9). They had gone into the holy and righteous living business, for "he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous" (1 John 3:7). Furthermore, they had the Spirit of God dwelling in them. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? The same Truth is also emphasized in 1 Cor 6:19. However, it turns out that these sanctified saints were having problems with divisions among them (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?) and were also going about glorying in the flesh. One of their problems, it appears, was that they were all involved in boasting about who water baptized them! Of all things, this caused major divisions among them. The seeds of sectism were being planted. 1 Corinthians 1:10,12,&29 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ... 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

In chapter three, Paul writes to these saints to set them straight. Their problem was that they were all acting carnal. They were sanctified saints, yet still in possession of a carnal nature. In other words, instead of allowing the unifying Spirit of God to work in their lives, they were still operating by dictates of the flesh by allowing the carnal nature to control their actions. Somehow, they had gotten sidetracked. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Those who teach that carnality is completely burned out (eradicated) during a sanctifying second work of grace suffer a big blow to their doctrine with these scriptures. However, if these dear loved ones would take an honest look around their own camps and congregations, or their "fellowships" as they now prefer to call them, it would be apparent that the sin of division and sectism is still working today and carnality is still alive and well in their ranks. Among the two cleansing saints, history has shown over and over again that division runs rampant and is very prevalent among them. Since the early 1700s when this teaching was first taught, such has consistently been the case. Carnality is definitely the leading cause of division. I say this as lovingly as I can but I doubt that there is a more divided and harsh-spirited people in the religious world today than are those who teach the doctrine of a second cleansing. I doubt that there has ever been a more divided people. The ironic thing is that they all claim to have received a complete eradication of their carnal natures in the second work. Can this be true? The Bible teaches that we are known by our fruit, not by how loud we toot. From the outside looking in, it doesn't take much spiritual discernment to see that something somewhere is definitely wrong. History clearly reveals that the teaching of two definite cleansings, and doctrines associated with it, have led to all kinds of confusion and other related subsequent "spiritual" experiences that are also contrary to the Word of God. Infant baptism, baptismal regeneration, speaking in modern unknown ecstatic tongues, being slain in the spirit, receiving the third anointing, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and other unholy "Pentecostal" and Charismatic chaotic experiences are just a few that could be named. Even in the Evening Light Church of God, it is my observation that this teaching, and elements of it, has consistently caused more controversy and contention then all the other doctrines combined! This has in turn resulted in untold division after division among the very people of God. From its inception and general acceptance by the early Church of God reformation leaders, such characteristics have been the result. One could not count the highly contested "holiness competitions" that have been brought on by this teaching. Sadly, many individuals, and often times entire groups of people, desperately attempt to out perform or de-Christianize others, so as to prove that not only have they legitimately and uniquely received the second cleansing, but that the other party or parties have fallen short of it. (The Church of God necktie controversy in 1903 is an example of such a outward "holiness competition". Even among some Church of God groups today, this controversy is still being hotly contested. Also, in recent years, the 7th seal two cleansing camps have split over the interpretation of a Revelation symbol. Both camps now call the other side “Babylon”.) It is doubtless that in many instances the two cleansing doctrine has helped to promote the "holier-than-thou" attitude that seems to be so prevalent among the many professed Church of God two cleansing groups today. These facts alone should cause us to at least question it's validity. It is a far cry from the Bible requirement of a meek and quiet spirit, a spirit that prefers our brethren over ourselves.

The saints in the Corinthian Church of God congregation as a whole, though sanctified in Christ, still had very active carnal natures. This early congregation is certainly not the standard for a healthy Church of God congregation today. In fact, once light comes and exposes the working of carnality, as did Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church, if that light is refused and carnality is allow to continue to work, salvation is sacrificed. One can never knowingly be or act carnal and yet be saved. As present day saints of God, we must continually ask the Lord to help us always allow the Spirit of God to keep the flesh crucified and not allow it to resurrect and take control our actions. We must keep carnality crucified! If we fail to do so, we risk becoming carnal and surely destruction is out ahead, especially among those enlightened. Let's not be like those saints in the Corinthian Church who failed to keep the flesh crucified.

A Look At Peter.

Before Pentecost, it is doubtless that the Apostle Peter many times was operating under the dictates of the flesh. He was very carnal indeed! Some of his recorded carnal acts included: rebuking Christ (Matt 16:18), denying Christ three times (Matt 26:70), being a busybody (John 21:4), preparing himself for pagan-like worship (Matt 17:4), cutting off the high priest's servant's ear (John 18:10), cursing and swearing (Matt 26:74), and doubting Jesus (Matt 14:31). In Peter's own words, he was a "sinful man" (Luke 5:8). However, through all this, Jesus prayed for him and told him that after he was genuinely and wholly converted that he was to strengthen the brethren. Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Satan had desired to have Peter, but Jesus wouldn't allow that to happen. After being converted, baptized, and filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, Peter was definitely a changed man! In Acts 2 we read of him boldly preaching the Word of God to those whom he once feared. Some stop here and think that since Peter was so-called "second work sanctified", his carnal days were over. Not so!

In Acts 10, Peter was shown in a vision from God how that the Gentiles were no more unclean than the Jews. Up until that time, Peter had harbored prejudice feelings towards the Gentiles. God said there was to be no more of a distinction between Gentiles and Jews when it came to being partakers of His eternal salvation. God viewed them both as one in the same. The Lord was beginning to gather people from all nations into His one body. In Acts 10: 28, & 34, Peter acknowledged this Truth. Acts 10:28, 34 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons. As we can see, God brought light and understanding to Peter. However later, in Galatians, we find Peter acting carnal again! Galatians 2:11-12 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I (Paul) withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. He even influenced others to act carnal (verse 13)! Peter, like ourselves, still had to learn to keep the flesh or the carnal nature under subjection and in the envelope of God's will. Clearly, Peter did not have his carnal nature eradicated on the day of Pentecost. It is doubtless that once Paul rebuked Peter for his actions and Peter then saw his true condition and how that he had acted in a carnal way, he straightened things out. This is apparent as Paul continued to work with Peter in furthering the Gospel, even after this event.

Why Re-Sanctify?

The teaching of a total eradication of the carnal nature as an inherited sin condition has many loopholes. I have spoken to well meaning people who teach that man is born with inherited sin and also believe that a person can be "entirely sanctified" and have that sin permanently removed and eradicated. As we have shown by the Word of God, and by examples in the Word, this teaching simply is not true. However, it is my personal observation and opinion that many who teach this doctrine really don't whole-heartedly believe or practice their own message!

Example: Why is there a need to re-sanctify a previously sanctified backslider? Why is it necessary to re-remove (remove twice) the inherited sin that the backslider was born with? Consider this likely scenario: Let's say a person gets saved and subsequently “entirely sanctified". According to the teaching, at the time of his "first" experience of entire sanctification he has the inherited sin permanently removed and totally eradicated, never to return again (which is by definition the meaning of the word eradicate). According to this same teaching, he now has complete victory over all the carnal desires of the flesh with no inward temptations. Now let's say that same individual backslides and goes back out into a life of sin (the mere fact that one can backslide should teach us something). Now, suppose that the person gets saved again later on. Why do the same people that teach that he was physically born with inherited sin insist that it must be "entirely sanctified" and eradicated out again? If it was something that he was physically born with, and it was permanently removed once before earlier in his lifetime, how did he get it back? If inherited sin is something that can come upon a saint by his choosing to backslide, then it is not something that is inherited, but is rather something that he has a choice in by exercising his free will. With an inherited condition, you have no choice in the matter. As this illustration shows, either the eradication teaching is wrong or the inherited sin teaching is wrong. Both cannot be right, and neither are they.

Here is yet another loophole with this teaching. Why is it that two "entirely sanctified" parents, a husband and wife that have been restored back to the absolute purity of Adam’s position before the fall, pass an inherited sinful nature onto their children? If both the husband and the wife were truly purged from their inherited sinful natures and at some point had their sinful natures totally eradicated, how can their off-spring be so evil, corrupt, sinful, and unholy? The Bible says in Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. Equally absurd, if their unborn child inherited Adam's sin, can it not be said that the mother also had indwelling Adamic sin during her pregnancy? If so, how could she have been holy with indwelling sin? Also, if both of the parents were holy and "entirely sanctified" at the time of conception, where did the sinful root come from? The mother? The father? Why do their children just inherit this sin and not their parents righteousness? These are all difficult questions for our two cleansing brothers and sisters to scripturally find answers to, however, they reveal the inconsistencies of the teaching.

The Old Man.

The next area of our study is that of the old man. Who is he? The old man is that person that is associated with our unregenerated (unsaved) self. It is he who puts us into subjection to sin through his corruptness. Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy talk, lies, deceitful lusts, are but just a few of his evil deeds or fruit. The old man is who we were or used to be, before we were saved. The following scriptures outline the old man and his associated deeds:

Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.

Colossians 3:8-10 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds. And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.

What Happened To The Old Man?

As Christians, no one is proud of who they were or what they did before they received the gift of salvation. In fact, all who are truly saved are ashamed of their past no matter how deep into sin they may have gone. Once saved, why don't truly born-again Christians have the same desires to do the old sinful things that they once enjoyed doing? What happened to the old man that motivated them to do those sinful things? Answer: He was crucified and died. How do we know he died?

Once saved:

1. A child of God is no longer in subjection to the old man and his sinful dominion. Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we (the saved) continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Romans 6:18,22 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

2. A child of God is a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ (His body, the Church), he is a new creature: old things are passed away (including the old man); behold, all things are become new (including the new man).

3. A child of God no longer lives after the flesh. Romans 8:1,5,9 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Again, when did all this happen? We could answer this question by answering the following questions: When are Christians given the power to cease from sin? or When do Christians become new creatures and stop living after the dictates of the flesh? Answer: When we are truly born-again and genuinely converted. When we get saved, we are made free from sin, we became a new person, and we stop living after the flesh. The Bible says that we become new creatures when we are "in Christ". 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. How do we get "in Christ"? We are in Christ when we get baptized into Him. 1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. When we are spiritually baptized into Jesus' body, we become members of the Church of God. Finally, when do we become members of God's Church? When we get saved. Acts 2:47 ... And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Tying this all together, we can now scripturally answer the question: When does the old man die? When we are "in Christ". When we get saved, we get into Christ and old things (including the old man) pass away. The Bible is clear on this subject. We know, as Church of God people, that it is not permissible to continue to live in sin or be knowingly carnal once we are genuinely converted. God does not approve of a professing saved person still doing the same things that he did when he was out in sin. We cannot be a "new creature" and still live the same old sinful life and have the same old desires. We know that once we are saved, it is not permissible in the sight of God to continue to live our lives to please the flesh. We cannot let "the old man" dictate the way that we live our "new life" because he would lead us right back into sin. If we allowed him to force us back into sin, what would we be saved from? What would we be converted to? God's requirement is for complete holiness; holiness of heart and holiness of life. It all comes down to this: The old man must be crucified at once, when we get saved, and his works must be totally destroyed, or we don't truly get saved! We must die out to sin once and for all. We cannot wait until sometime later in our experience with God to crucify the old man. The old man must be crucified at the time of our conversion!

A Spiritual Burial.

Where there is a death, a burial is sure to follow. The Bible likens our conversion to a burial. When we are saved, we are actually buried with Christ. Romans 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. The Bible compares our conversion to a burial because there is a death involved. Who dies during this experience? As previously shown, the old man dies and the body of sin is destroyed, and henceforth (from that point on) we no longer serve sin. The Bible is so clear. Thank God for this dying out experience! Also, at this time of death, the new man (Jesus Christ) comes to live within us, making us a new man. My friend, it comes down to this: If you do not cease from sin after conversion, then you are not saved! Paul said in Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. If you are living after the flesh, you are not saved. If you did not become a new creature in Christ, you did not even get saved. In conversion, when we put on the new man, we are empowered to serve God in righteousness and true holiness from that time on. The old man dies, and the new man, Jesus Christ, immediately comes to live within us. To profess otherwise is to stray from the sound teachings of the Bible. As one brother said in regards to the old man, Kill him, and kill him good! How badly this message needs to be proclaimed today!

Renewing The New Man.

The new man, or the new person we become, must be daily nurtured or else he will die. 2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. If the new man is not renewed, the old man will soon make a resurrection. In fact, all throughout our Christian life, the old man will try to raise his ugly head every chance he gets. This is why we must keep him crucified. Luke 9:23 And he (Jesus) said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Paul said that he had to die daily to the flesh (1 Corinthians 15:31) and keep his body under subjection. However, unlike the anti-holiness people claim, Paul did not die out daily to sin. That death was performed only once in Paul's life. But, the Apostle Paul did have to die out to the daily desires and dictates of the flesh. 1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. This daily walk is a repeated and continual walk of consecration and faith. It is "dying daily" by repeated consecration and habitual obedience to the Lord's clearly given directions. It was the indwelling continual presence of the new man, Jesus Christ, that enabled Paul to keep Saul, the old man, dead. The same is true for us today. If we "fall away" by sinning once we are saved, we crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (Hebrews 6:6). If we crucify the new man, the old man will resurrect and come back to live in our lives again. Our challenge as saints of God is to keep the new man renewed and the oldman dead!

 


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