The Old Man which Died is NOT the Old Indwelling Nature
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. So we talk about salvation as getting a “new nature” or we think about our old nature being born again (reformed and regenerated) 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 in Christ” (new creation) becomes so by God’s justification. Instead of “infusing” into us a new disposition , our hope as the justified is that God has counted the death of Christ as our death.
The elect are transferred from a condemned state to a justified state by God’s legal imputation. These elect individuals are then no longer part of the “old man”. They become part of the “new man”. This happens not by impartation but by imputation. Is guilt transferred to Christ, or is corrupt “old nature” also transferred to Christ? Our guilt not our nature was given to Christ.
When I think of “new man”, why do I think of justification, and not only the regeneration which results from God’s imputation of Christ’s death to us? 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 “old man” has to do with our previous guilty 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 sake 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 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 neither adding a “new nature” or “changing the old nature”. The new is by God’s imputation of what God did in Christ in His death and resurrection.
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.
Although the Bible does teach that the sheep are always in Christ by election, Romans 16 teaches that some of the sheep are in Christ before other of the sheep. This change is not a first of all a change of regeneration or birth but legally a change of state before God. To be in Christ in this way is to be justified.
Union with Christ is legal solidarity with Christ and His work and His benefits. As a result of this legal change, the sheep are born again and believe the gospel, but “union” does not precede justification, except “union by election”.
God justifies the ungodly. God does not justify because of Christ’s indwelling (or the gift of faith). God does not justify because God knows that God is going to indwell and change the person. Christ indwells the person because God has imputed Christ’s death to that person. A change from a belief in the false gospel to the true gospel is evidence of God’s imputation, but this change of belief is never the condition or the reason for God justifying. Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God, that you were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were called…”
Jesus was not under a curse for being a man, nevertheless as a man became a curse for the elect. The notion that Christ must have assumed a fallen human nature in order to be “made like his brothers in every respect” (Heb 2:17) subtly transforms sin into a constituent of human nature per se rather than an acquired status and condition by virtue of man’s failed ethical response to God and his covenant revelation. By contrast, those who maintain (against Barth; see CD, 4/1, pp. 478-513) a genuine transition from man’s original state of innocence to an estate of sin and misery through Adam’s historical fall hold that human nature as such is necessarily finite but not fallen. To put it differently, original sin is not a given of created humanity, but came upon humanity in the fall. It is, therefore, an ethical, not a metaphysical, aspect of the post-fall condition of man prior to his ethical resurrection in regeneration. http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/08/carlton-wynnewas-jesus-morally.php#sthash.5Uu1qB0d.dpuf
Man does not become a sinner by consenting to Adam’s sin, and the elect in Christ do not become appointed righteous by consenting to Christ’s obedience. The elect in Christ become righteous by imputation. This legal event results in new birth, but it does not include new birth.
Why does this distinction matter? Even if you agree with me that sinners are made guilty in Adam by legal imputation,why does it matter? Don’t I agree that the moral corruption of sinners is the immediate result of the imputation of guilt? Am I just being picky, just arguing for argument’s sake?
NO! If the only problem elect sinners have is corruption and inability to believe, then the only need they have is for the Holy Spirit and the new birth. Then it finally does not matter what Christ did, and it certainly makes no sense to argue about for whom Christ did it.
If “life” in the Bible is ONLY about the ability to believe God’s testimony about the Son, then the good news is no longer what the Son did or did not do, but the good news instead becomes our believing, and being careful to give God all the praise for our believing.