The ‘Old Adam’…what to do with him?

Most of us agree that this scoundrel the ‘old Adam’, or ‘old Eve’, needs to be dealt with in some fashion or other.

What should we do with him/her?

Should we work to clean him up? Should we try and improve how she acts in public and smooth off  her sharp edges?

Should we forget about him, ignore him, and hope he won’t cause too much trouble?

Or should we kill her/him off?   If so, then how?

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29 Responses

  1. Steve – I don’t know why you are still dealing with the ‘Old Adam’…

    We died to sin – Romans 6:2

    because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. – Romans 6:7

    Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. – Romans 6:8

    So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, – Romans 7:4

    we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. – 2 Cor 5:14

    For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. – Gal 2:19

    you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world – Colossians 2:20

    For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God – Col 3:3

    if we died with him, we will also live with him; – 2 Tim 2:11

    For we know that our old self was crucified with him – Romans 6:6

    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. – Gal 2:20

    Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. – Gal 5:24

  2. We died to sin – Romans 6:2

    because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. – Romans 6:7

    Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. – Romans 6:8

    So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, – Romans 7:4

    we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. – 2 Cor 5:14

    For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. – Gal 2:19

    you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world – Colossians 2:20

    For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God – Col 3:3

    if we died with him, we will also live with him; – 2 Tim 2:11

    For we know that our old self was crucified with him – Romans 6:6

    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. – Gal 2:20

    Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. – Gal 5:24

  3. Bino,

    Short answer is because we still sin. The old nature is still with us, and we have the New nature as well.

    Many Christian traditions try and clean up the ‘old Adam’ by applying Biblical Principles to him. We believe that just adds fuel to the fire. Makes him worse!!

    In our Christian tradition we put him to death in baptism and in the hearing of God’s law which produces death in the hearer, towards repentance and forgiveness. Over and over and over. Salvation is a process (as St. Paul reminds us – “for those of us who ARE BEING SAVED.”)

    I know, I know…you don’t buy all that…but millions of Christians do.

    So…in short…you have no more ‘old Adam’.

    Ok. There should be some interesting comments here.

    I have to run up to Long Beach, so I’ll be gone till later this evening.

    Straighten me out on this one, Bino!

  4. Here is my take on it.

    The old adam is dead because of what Christ did and not because of anything we can do. However, the old adam is still in us.

    However, at the same time scripture tells in view of Gods Mercy, we need to offer ourselves as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God…. The words IN VIEW OF GODS MERCY are the important words in Romans 12:1-2.

    James also says faith without works is dead… highlighting the importance for Christian obedience. The difference, however, between, pharasaical religious obedience and the free obedience in Christ is so BIG that Jesus spent a lot of time discussing it and refuting the pharisees and their legalism. If you wanted to use terms that made Christian hairs stand up on end today instead of legalism you might want to use the word moralism. Its like Martin Luther telling people to sin boldly! It will create waves!

    The difference between religious pharasaical obedience and the Gospel is that religius obedience says “if you obey, you are accepted”. The Gospel tells us just the opposite.. that because of what Christ did “you are accepted, therefore, in view of Gods Mercy, you obey”.

    The difference is freedom in Christ and freedom in love. One is legalism… but the Gospel leads to intimacy in relationship “in Christ”.

  5. “old adam, meet Ted Kennedy. He’ll be driving you home, everyday, and twice on Sundays.”

  6. Steve – I am not here to straighten you up! 🙂

    I think I have given enough Scriptures telling us that our old nature is dead and gone. It’s just not dead, it’s also GONE. Whatever is gone is gone. Why are we still dealing with it? Move on to the NEW way of spirit…

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

    If you say, as a believer, you have sin in yourself, I would agree; but don’t tell me that we have two natures. It’s plain and clear in Scriptures that our old self is dead and is GONE.

  7. EC,

    Well…I guess if I have to die, I might as well have a few drinks while I’m going under!!

  8. Jon,

    That kind sorta sounds like a paradox. There can’t be any paradoxes in the Christian life…can there?

    Don’t we have to resolve every question to line up with our human reason?

  9. Bino,

    Here’s a little more Bible.

    What do you make of it.

    Ist John 1:8

    “If we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

  10. Steve – I don’t know why you are reading something I didn’t say or intend to say. Did I say we are without sin? Pls. re-read what I said.

    We do sin (of course), but we do NOT have a sinful self/nature (identity). There is a huge difference. The old is GONE 🙂 We have a brand new identity.

  11. Bino,

    My mistake. Of course you did not say that.

    Here’s where we differ (I think).

    I say we do have a dual nature. The sin nature has no dominion over us. The Christ nature does, But since we still sin, and we do not want to sin (even though technically we can ), we feel remorse and God uses this remorse to keep us in a living, vibrant faith.

  12. Romans 6:2, “………..How shall we, that are dead to sin”-this is something that is misunderstood. We are never “dead” to sin as long as we are in this life. The literal translation is, “How shall we who have died to sin.” Note the distinction. That means we died in the person of our substitude, Jesus Christ. We died to sin in Christ. But we are never dead to sin. Any honest person knows he never reaches the place where he is dead to sin. He does reach the place where he wants to live for God, but he recognizes he still has that old sin nature.

    When Christ died 2000 years ago, that is when we died. We died in Him, and we were raised in Him, and we are joined now to a living Christ. This is the great truth that is there. I don’t know about you, but I’m not able to crucify myself.

  13. “Pick up your cross and follow me.” Crucify the old flesh. It is easy to say we still sin, but do we sin as we used to? I would hope the battle is on, that sin is not as easy. And when sin occurs, now it is not your friend, but you hate it and repent.

  14. I have one of them there Scofield Study Bibles …Ya know those ones that take a crane to lift..well when I see that guy atry’n to sneak out I just whop ‘im with it! It has about 2000 pages…I use the paper back of course ’cause I just can’t lift the regular one…Maybe that’s why he’s not dead yet…I have maimed him real good a time or two though…(dropped it on his toes.) Those things are kinda dangerous…I dropped it on my toe once.

  15. Let’s not forget that terms like “old Adam”, “old nature”, “flesh” are all metaphors for our fallen pre-Christian existence with all its patterns and orientation, and likewise its “killing”, “crucifying”, putting off” something that marks a radical shift away from that.

    I agree with Bino that the key issue is identity. I would disagree though regarding the reality of the battle we are in. Just because we have found and received a new identity in Christ (past tense) doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically live from that source and never fall back into our old patterns of thinking and living. As a matter of fact, it happens all the time. Otherwise references like Galatians 5:17+25 would not need to be included in our Bibles.

    And I believe that’s why Paul on the one hand points BACK to the cross where God decisively dealt with sin but at the same time keeps exhorting us as believers to accept and apply this reality on a daily basis, just like the taking on and putting off of clothes include something ready to be worn and yet action on our part as well.

    We constantly need reminders who we really are, along the lines of Romans 6:11, Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 2:6. And here I agree with Steve: this is a process that is very much like walking – taking the same steps over and over and over again. Repentance and faith are not just relevant in conversion, they are the continuing heartbeat of our new life in Christ.

  16. I think Mystery is allowed! That is why we call it Faith!

    Human reason can only go so far and then its just God. Lutherans, especially, allow mystery and paradoxes in their understandings.

    As scripture tells us … It is by faith, and especially faith in the Cross and Jesus, and not complete and absolute human understanding.

    God gave us a brain… use it. But in the end our brains or science will come to their ends and whats left…. F-A-I-T-H

  17. Josh, the only word I am going to disagree with is the word “radical shift”.

    Why?

    Because often the radicallness of the Gospel often means slow change in the hearts of men. In the end change comes from God and Cross and what Christ did for us.

    As a person that has struggled with some especially difficult forms of behaviors I know we need to be patient with slow growth or lapses and we need to understand the complexity of change and growth in the grace of Jesus Christ.

    Maybe check out the following.

    http://spadinofamily.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/the-gospel-an-initimate-vulnerabilty-that-comes-from-a-deep-knowledge-of-our-sin/

    Scripture tells us the Gospel is both the way to salvation and its also the power of God, through grace, to mature as a believer. We are not justified by the Gospel and sanctified by obedience. The Gospel is also the power of God,

    In the words of Tim Keller (vis a vis Martin Luther)

    “The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live a good life. The Bible’s purpose is to show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness otherwise you would never be able to overcome… religion is ‘if you obey, then you will be accepted’. But the Gospel is, ‘if you are absolutely accepted, and sure you’re accepted, only then will you ever begin to obey’. Those are two utterly different things. Every page of the Bible shows the difference.”

    Bino, your right. The key issues is an identity “in Christ”, the centrality of the Cross and the centrality of the Gospel.

    http://spadinofamily.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/my-identity-in-christ/

    Oddly enough the above BLOG topic of mine is the one receiving the most hits. I don’t think that is a coincidence.

    Steve your right. We do have a dual nature. The good news we need to keep in mind about our dual nature is that God says in scripture He will provide a way out. Unfortunately, quite often we don’t. Thank God for Jesus’ dying on the cross for my. My sins are forgiven, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

    Jon

  18. I found this under the following. The article was appropriately titled the means of grace.

    http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=572

    The article says:

    The Word of the gospel promises and applies the grace of God, –> works faith thus regenerates man gives the Holy Ghost <— , Acts 20:24; Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23; Gal. 3:2.

    The Gospel, the Cross, and Jesus Christ, the perfector of our faith are the “power” for our justification and our sanctification.

  19. Mortification!

  20. Broa,

    Great website. How can I get some of those songs. They are wonderful.

    Mortification is a good word…. especially if we can sin at a deeper level and mortify both the religious pride as much as we can the worldy pride. The problem is we LOVE to mortify other peoples sin but NEVER our own. I have a lont story here and wont go into the details. But if your ever in Minnesota lets do lunch.

    How do I get some of those songs?

  21. Maybe the Old Adam is rather like a zombie–it’s dead, but still lumbering around, being deadly persistent in its quest for our brains. 🙂

    In all seriousness, I read the following from Aquinas in the Treasury of Daily Prayer (a great devotional book that Brigitte recommended) the other night that made me think of this discussion:

    God permits the devil to deceive men by certain person, and in times and places, according to the hidden motive of his judgments. Still, there is always a remedy provided through Christ’s Passion for defending themselves against the wicked snares of the demons, even in Antichrist’s time. But if any man neglect to make use of this remedy, it detracts nothing from the efficacy of Christ’s Passion.

    So because of the cross, we have the freedom not to sin, but when we do sin, we also have the cross to provide grace.

  22. Teresa,

    Great comment.

    Thank you.

  23. “So because of the cross, we have the freedom not to sin, but when we do sin, we also have the cross to provide grace.”

    Great distinction Teresa…the freedom NOT to sin…not the freedom to sin!

    Our pastor makes that distinction after sharing the good news that it is not our code of conduct that makes us acceptable to God.

  24. Nancy, Teresa, Great Comments!

  25. Nancy,

    You have got a good pastor there. Give him an amen on that score for me, the next time you see him.

    Thanks, Nancy!

  26. The adam thing is all metaphor in my personal opinion.

    “Should we work to clean him up? Should we try and improve how she acts in public and smooth off her sharp edges?” (Steve)

    Better question – should we help our kids to become working and productive citizens in society?

    As for Adam – as an ideology – he is nobody – we are not even sure he existed. Adam (meaning ‘man’ – how original) is a story about humanity – for generation to generation – with things to learn about the human experience. There is no old adam – there is just you.

    As for language of life and death and this new life and old life – these things are metaphorical in nature. You do not ‘die’ if you sin – but you can die to the passions of what makes u sin – in that you can actually lose those passions for doing it (ie: hurting other people out of envy). Sin is alive and well – as long as u breathe the chance to sin is present.

    Does Christianity recognize a metaphor when it see’s one? Or does the language of the Greco-Roman culture just not translate well into modern English in the 20th and 21st century? Or do we need to get linguistics on the case (lol).

  27. “Better question – should we help our kids to become working and productive citizens in society?” (Jason)

    Absolutely we should!

    In the here and now we ought do all we can to improve ourselves and others.

    For the sake of righteousness, there is no cleaning up the sinful person (the old Adam) outside of the person of Jesus the Christ and His work for us on the cross.

    The Bible does speak of both the “old” person and the “new” man or woman in Christ.

    When I look at myself, I can clearly see this ‘old man’ living inside of me, still causing all sorts of havoc.

    I think when we take an honest self examination, we see that the problem still exists and we realize that the problem exists not just for us but for everyone in the world.

    So, while self improvement is good, it can never attain the level of goodness required to get into heaven, and it (self improvement) should never be looked at from the perspective of becoming more righteous in God’s eyes.

    The cross is our death, and our perfection (resurrectuion).

    Christianity may or may not recognize metaphors, but it does have a way of being brutally honest about our condition and what has taken place and needs to continue to take place in order to remedy the problem.

    Death and resurrection. Law and gospel. Repentance and forgiveness.

    Thanks much, Jason!

    – Steve

  28. theres no law against burying the dead eh?

  29. “So, while self improvement is good, it can never attain the level of goodness required to get into heaven, and it (self improvement) should never be looked at from the perspective of becoming more righteous in God’s eyes.” (Steve)

    So you would say – your actions are not tied to what God thinks of you? If this is so – then I am not sure God is concerned with morality (which might make sense considering that state of the world)

    If one proclaims to be ‘godly’ – what is God like that we can make such a statement? God-ly meaning to be ‘like the pattern of God’.

    As for self improvement – I am not sure what God is looking for – I am happy with people tending to their personal property and leaving mine be – and I am happy enough with that (lol).

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