The believer who would be truly spiritual must recognize the presence of the old nature within. It would be dangerous not to recognize a foe so near.
The old nature in the believer is that which is “begotten of the flesh.” It is called, “the flesh,” “the old man,” “the natural man,” “the carnal mind.”
Just as “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8) so that which is of the flesh, in the believer, cannot please God. “The flesh,” as we have already seen, is totally depraved. God calls it “sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), warns that it seeks “occasion” to do wrong (Gal. 5:13), and declares that “the works of the flesh” are all bad (Gal. 5: 19-21).
Nor is the old nature in the believer one which improves by its contact with the new. It is with respect to “the flesh” in the believer, even in himself that the Apostle declares that in it “dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18), that it is “carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14), that it is “corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22), that it is at “enmity against God,” and is “not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).
“The flesh,” even as it remains in the believer after salvation, is that which was generated by a fallen begetter. It is the old Adamic nature. It is sinful in itself. It cannot be improved. It cannot be changed. “That which is born [begotten] of the flesh is flesh,” said our Lord (John 3:6), and it is as impossible to improve the “old man” in the believer as it was to make him acceptable to God in the first place.
The “old man” was condemned and dealt with judicially at the Cross. Never once is the believer instructed to try to do anything with him or to make anything of him, but always to “reckon” him “dead indeed” (Rom. 6:11), and to “put him off” (Col. 3:8-10).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.