The “New Man”–Not Two Natures, Two Legal States
Romans 6 describes two legal states, one of which is “free from righteousness”. We tend to judge people (even ourselves) to be saved on the evidence of something in us which wants to be better. We even like to think that it’s God in us causing us to want to be better. But the true God will not accept us into His presence based on something in us, not even based on something God has put in us. If we have not yet been legally justified by God, we are still in our sins.
Romans 6 defines the “in Christ” in terms of legally being placed into the death of Christ. The “new man” (new creation) in Christ becomes that by justification. Instead of a “sacrament” which makes you a participant in Christ, our hope as the justified is that God has counted the death of Christ as our death.
When I think of “new man”, why do I think of justification, and not only regeneration? Well, I could ask you, why do you always draw the line between two natures? Where does the Bible talk about two natures? Why don’t you draw the line between the justified and the condemned?
I am not denying the new birth or the absolute necessity for it. I am only saying that the new birth is not “union with Christ” and that it does not result in something called “the new nature”. The “new man” has to do with a change in legal state, and not first of all with a change of substance or nature.
II Corinthians 5:14 “one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sakes died and was raised. From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh (judging by morality or immorality or by other non-gospel standards)….If anyone is in Christ, there is a NEW CREATION. The old has passed; the new has come.”
“Those who live” means first of all those who are justified. The category of “we died” is not about a change of substance or nature but about an imputed legal reality.
The category of “those who live” is also not about a change of substance or nature but about an imputed reality, legal life because of justification.
The “new man” is first of all about a legal change of identity, a legal before and after. It’s not gradual; it’s an either or—- this legal state or that legal state. The new is not effected by a “sacramental feeding on Christ” but by God’s imputation of what God did in Christ in His death and resurrection.
Christ is here, yes, but not in some different way because of water or bread and wine. And also, Christ is not here, not yet, and we believe and obey and hope, waiting for the day when Christ will be here. He is not now coming down from heaven as He will someday, and we are not now going to heaven, no matter what the “minister of the sacrament” might say.
So how then are we in Christ? Only for those now in Christ legally has the old has passed. For some of the elect, God has already declared the legal verdict. One day, at the resurrection, there will be visible evidence of that verdict.