by Brian E. Trenhaile, MTh, 12 October 2010
This nugget of truth involves what happens to the old nature when salvation occurs. According to the Bible the old nature automatically dies when Christ is accepted as Lord and Savior. Some Bible verses and comments that substantiate this position follow.
For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3, NLT).
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20, NLT).
In these verses note the use of past tense regarding the death of the old nature. The preceding verses do not say to crucify the flesh; they say that the flesh is already crucified. When I first got saved, I used to think that I needed to crucify the flesh daily. Well I was wrong, because I really needed to deeply understand that my flesh was already crucified and to live in the new nature that God had given me. You might say “Well Paul said “I die daily” in I Corinthians 15:31.” Yes he did, but in context he died daily to going back to a life in the world that is outside of the life of Christ. Paul in a practical manner was actually acknowledging and enforcing the fact that he had already died with Christ.
To get a grasp on what is going on I really needed to understand what I actually died to. Well, I died to the old nature, an existence that is outside of the life of Christ. In Romans 6:6 Paul said, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him.” In Romans 6:11 he said, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The old nature is naturally sinful and it lives under law, not grace. When one is living under the law the performance of the individual is of utmost importance. But, when one is living in Christ with a new nature Romans 6:14 states, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: because you are not under law, but under grace.” So, I died to the law and its demands upon my performance. Romans 7:1 states, “Do you not know, brothers … that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?” Paul points out that a person who is dead is no longer under the jurisdiction of the law. In Romans 7:4 Paul says, “So my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” According to this scripture, I died with Christ and then I was resurrected with Christ.
I Corinthians 12:13 states, “For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body …” So at salvation the new believer is automatically baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. This is not water baptism which will be discussed next. The Greek word baptize is the same word they used to describe what happens when a ship sinks at sea. One could say that the new believer leaves life in the air, dies to the old life, and is immersed under the sea, signifying being plunged into a new life hidden in Christ. In I Corinthians 1:30 Paul said “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” This verse clearly states that God is the one who puts you in Christ Jesus. This baptism into the Body of Christ is something that happens inwardly in the heart of a believer at the time of salvation, it is something that God does.
Water baptism is an outward ceremony that the believer does. It is a physically demonstration of what has already occurred inwardly in the life of a believer when they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus told His followers “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” In Romans 6:4 Paul said, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death.” The immersion under water signifies the death of the old nature, and the rising back out of the water signifies resurrection to a new life in Christ. Water baptism is an acknowledgement of the death of the old nature and the presence of a new creation or a new nature in the believer.
The Epistles of Paul clearly point out that when we are resurrected into this new nature, we are given His righteousness. We do not earn His righteousness, it is given to us. Also the power that caused Jesus to rise from the dead is now in us. So, God does not leave us simply with death of the old nature, He wonderfully gives us an empowered new nature in its place. See the nugget on the new nature.
a) Wade, Dr. Peter, I’m Excited About Colossians: How to Live and Grow in Christ in a Hostile World, Seaford, SA, Australia, Positive Word Ministries, 2010.
b) Richards, Dr. James, Foundations of Faith, Huntsville, AL, USA, Impact Ministries, 1998.
c) Richards, Dr. James, Grace: The Power To Change, New Kensington, PA, USA, Whitaker House, 2001.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Scripture references marked NLT are taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION ®. NLT ®. Copyright © 1996, 2004 by the Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.