1) YOU, WITH YOUR SINFUL NATURE [flesh], ARE INCAPABLE OF PRODUCING ANY GOOD THING…
2) GOD HAS GIVEN HIS HOLY SPIRIT TO DWELL WITHIN YOU, FOR THE PURPOSE OF WORKING IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO ALL THAT HE REQUIRES OF YOU…
3). WHEN CHRIST WAS CRUCIFIED, HE TOOK WITH HIM TO THE CROSS, NOT ONLY YOUR SINS, BUT YOUR SINFUL NATURE [“the old man”] TOO.
In some wonderful way, deeply mysterious, but nevertheless true, your sinful nature [“the old man”] was put to death on the Cross with Christ. So, not merely has God pronounced that our sinful nature [flesh] can produce no good thing, but He has shown His estimate of that nature, shown how He regards it as an utterly corrupt, useless thing, by passing sentence of death upon it, as being unfit to live, and nailing it to the Cross with Christ. (Let me say again with emphasis, this is a truth so deep that it is not only unappreciated by, but utter foolishness to the one who is not taught it by the Holy Spirit.) And as with the fact of the power of the Holy Spirit, so with this fact, its power can only be known in your experience as you lay hold of the fact by faith God has finished with your old nature, “the old man” as it is sometimes called if Scripture. It has been judged, condemned, and executed in Christ. “Our old man,” writes Paul (Rom. 6:6), “is crucified with Him.” And he goes on, “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” (Rom. 6:11). As you reckon on this amazing fact, the power of it begins to be experienced in your life (how, you cannot tell), and there is worked out in some degree in your life what God tells you is indeed a fact; your old nature [the flesh] is kept in the place of death, and its former power to make you sin has gone.
The mystery of this truth is beyond the grasp of the human mind; the power of it in the life can be unmistakable. But do not make the mistake of trying to lay hold of this great negative truth that your old nature [old man] was nailed to the Cross with Christ, without laying hold, first of all, of the even greater positive truth that the Holy Spirit is within you to produce all the power and goodness that you need. That is why we stated the truth about the Holy Spirit’s work before this other truth that you are “crucified with Christ.” Because it is as you reckon on the Holy Spirit dwelling within you to work in you all that God requires, that you will be able to understand more clearly and reckon more confidently and effectively on the great fact that you are crucified with Christ. So it is that the Apostle wrote, “if ye live after the flesh (that is, obeying the desires of your old sinful nature [the flesh]), ye shall die [experience the principle of destruction]: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live [experience the principle of wholeness]” (Rom. 8:13).
Those three words, “through the Spirit,” are very important. This great truth of crucifixion with Christ will be understood and experienced only as the Holy Spirit is allowed to do His work in your life. It is His work to make real in your experience all the benefits of your union with Christ in His death. It is the ceasing from self-effort, the receiving of His fullness, and the reckoning on His working, you need to learn first of all. And as you do that continually, making it the habit of your life to refuse to expect any good thing from yourself, and confidently to expect every good thing as the result of His working. The understanding of this second truth, that your “old man was crucified with him,” will help you when that old nature [flesh] comes clamoring for recognition and seems likely to entice you to sin, or drive you to despair. Refuse to recognize its [the old man’s] existence or its claims; recognize only one thing: the Holy Spirit’s perfect working in your life. When the old nature [flesh] rises up (as it will), with its promptings to sin, and you are tempted to doubt whether the Holy Spirit is really at work in you, and to worry because of the existence of that “old man” [flesh] within–take your stand upon God’s unshakable fact, “My old nature [old man] was done with forever at the Cross.” Because of that do not let any of its manifestations of life move you from depending utterly and only on the Holy Spirit’s work, and believing that He is active within you even when you are not conscious of it [Gal. 5:16].
In Thy strong hand I lay me down,
So shall the work be done,
For Who can work so wondrously
As the Almighty One?
As you live thus you will enter experimentally into the meaning of those great words of Paul in Gal. 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (by His Holy Spirit): and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the SON OF GOD, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
So we have seen that the entrance into and continuation in the life for which you have been longing will be by faith; the faith which listens only to God’s voice, turning a deaf ear to the many other voices which clamor for a hearing; the faith which does not look for feelings, but reckons on God’s facts, resolutely counting on them, in the face of everything that may seem to contradict them.
Everything then depends upon such faith. Leave the other truths for a moment, and focus your thoughts on this central one. You have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, and He desires to fill you, and to be to you all you need in your Christian life. There is nothing for you to do but just to take what He wants to give. Will you do that now, deliberately and definitely? Bow in His presence; tell Him you have failed; tell Him that if any good thing is to come in your Christian life, He must do it all; tell Him you give yourself to Him, just as you are, not trying to make yourself better, or prepare for His Blessing, just “letting go”; ask Him now. “Then” (in the words of a great Christian leader) “rise up and go forth from your chamber, not trying to feel filled, but reckoning that God has kept His Word with you, and daring to believe it, though you may not be conscious of any emotional outburst.” Take a few moments in silence to do that– now.
One word in conclusion. This life which you have entered is all the way along a life of faith. Feelings there will be at times, feelings of joy unutterable and full of glory–but not always. When the feelings come, they will be as the result of faith, but they are necessary part of faith and the lack of them is by no means a proof that faith is in vain. Faith rests, without emotion, on immovable facts, not on feelings which are ever changing. And so for the maintenance of this life–as for its start–for the continual “being Filled” with the Spirit as with the first “filling,” everything depends on your faith.
It is well to get that firmly fixed in your mind. In the days to come there will be seasons of desperate attack from the enemy of your soul. All his power will be put forth in the endeavor to shake your confidence in your Lord. The words of the Lord to Peter before his fall are well worth bearing in mind, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not”(Luke 22:31,32). It is on your faith that the strain will come. Get that clear. That is the point of the enemy’s attack. That is the one point that you must guard at all cost, whatever may come. Satan will not waste time attacking God’s facts. They are unassailable:
(1) God has finished with your old nature [old man] on Calvary.
(2) In the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you, you have all the resources you need.
These two facts Satan knows. They cannot be attacked. They are tremendous, unalterable, unassailable facts. But only your faith will make the facts real in your experience. And your faith can be attacked. Your faith may fail. Those glorious facts may become almost useless so far as your experience is concerned, because you fail to reckon on them and live in the power of them. So it is your faith that the enemy will single out as the chief point of his attack. Whether by fierce temptation, whether by the circumstances into which you are brought, whether through your feelings, whatever means he may use, his one aim will be to discredit God’s facts to you, and so shake your faith in them and Him. “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith ” (1 Peter 5:8,9). When circumstances seem impossible, when all signs of grace in you seem at their lowest ebb, when temptation is fiercest, when love and joy and hope seem nearly extinguished in your heart, then cling, without feeling and without emotion, to God’s faithfulness; hold on to the fact that He loves you infinitely, and even now is working in you mightily; and honor God and put the enemy to flight by taking to yourself the words of Job, “Though he slay me yet will I trust in Him [Job 13:15].” “I have prayed for thee,” says the One who ever lives to make intercession for us, “that Thy faith fail not [Luke 22:32].”
This faith of yours can only be maintained and strengthened by regular, prayerful study of God’s Word, depending on His Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth, and in prayer and waiting upon God receiving each day afresh the needed strength to lay hold of the things that are freely given to you of God [1 Cor. 2:11-13]. So set apart each day a definite time for being alone with Him, if possible in the early morning, and let nothing take that time from you. Then, before the rush of the day begins, seek a fresh and firmer grasp of the great facts of His Word, each day anew reckoning yourself dead unto sin, and alive only unto God; each day anew claiming and reckoning on the filling of His Holy Spirit in whose power alone can you live to please Him each moment, each hour, each day.
Thus you will have found God’s way of deliverance. The cry of your heart, “How to perform that which is good I find not,” will be silenced forever, for you will have learned the secret that is only learned by those who have passed from Romans 7 into Romans 8, and who can make the words of the second verse of that great chapter their own, saying with the Apostle,”for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Part 3 of 3. Bracketed words added by editor
This article (part 3) focuses on the death of “the old man.” This co-crucifixion has already been accomplished positionally and spiritually for every child of God (Gal. 2:20). Yet each of us need to reckon this true personally (Rom. 6:10,11) and yield our bodies as “instruments of righteousness” (Rom. 6:12,13) by faith, through grace (Rom. 6:14). For definitions that distinguish “sinful nature” from the “flesh” or “the old man” (Rom. 6:6; Col. 3:9) see https://gracenotebook.com/definitions/. For further reading on the believer’s union with Christ see A Guide to Freedom through the Cross, by Charles Solomon at https://gracenotebook.com/a-guide-to-freedom-through-the-cross/ – JBW
David Tryon was a leader with AFRICA EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP (now part of www.SIM.org)