Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ern Baxter on "The Old Man"

I found this very interesting transcript from one of Ern Baxter's series of sermons; "The Adam/Christ Analogy". During the sermon he spoke about the "Old Man" from Romans. Why do I quote him? I don't even presume to imagine that Ern Baxter is seen as an authority who will persuade those who doubt Rob Rufus's stand on the issue. However for me it serves to personally amaze me at the similarity in theology and teaching between these two heroes of mine and to men of God. Here's what he said;

"Our 'old man' is not something that is in us, it is something in which we are".

You don't have an 'old man' in you. Having said that, I have to prove it don't I? Well what does this have to do with the corporate? We will get to that. You have to realize how important the Corporate is. You see this whole matter of unity isn't just something nice. It's something mandatory! We have to come at it from God's side not our side. Not from holding ecumenical meetings. We have to find out what it is all about from God's Word.

In Romans 6:6, let's assume for a minute that you have got an "old man" in you, dirty, rotten, nasty fellow in there. He's in you! It says; "Our old man was crucified". In the English, we do not have a corresponding tense to the Greek aorist tense. The Greek aorist tense is simply this;

"It declares that something happened in time, once for all, never to be repeated - the effects of which continue".

Our old man was crucified! Now whatever that old man was; whenever it was crucified; it was crucified once for all - never to be repeated. Now let's be very logical about this; if that "Old Man " in you was crucified, at sometime back there, "he" was crucified! When a person was crucified, what happens to them? They die! If you have an old man in you - and there was some point in time when he was crucified - he's dead! Very dead! Right? If he was dead, dead then you don't have an old man in you because he's dead! He isn't there!

But the fact of history and the fact of experience is, whatever makes people sin, continues with us and it's something that we have to deal with. Therefore if that "old man" is in me and he's supposed to be dead - who's that other guy in there giving me trouble?

"Our old man was crucified with him that the body of sin (this is in the aorist tense) might be destroyed. Now if the body of sin is destroyed or made ineffective (and that's my physical body) - because that's what people say; "I have an old man in me and he makes me sin and he sins through my body!" - but the Bible says that old man was crucified, so he's dead and the body of sin has been destroyed, so I don't have a body?"

And if we are Christians we would all be in the grave! If you take it without looking at it closely, it becomes ludicrous; silly. If the body which is spoken of here is your body through which sin manifests itself then then the Bible categorically states that at some point in your past your old man was crucified and your body was "destroyed". Now your body is not destroyed, you are sitting here - unless I'm looking at a mirage - you are here. So what does it all mean?"

"Let me be autobiographical for a moment. I was raised under the teaching that I had an "Old Man". And when I became converted, I had - me. Then there was my "old man" which is seperate from me, which is my sin nature. It is not really me, it is my sin nature. Before I was converted it really dominated me. Now when I became a Christian, I got a "new nature". So now there is three of us in here. I know this because I was taught this. I am concerned because it kept me in semi-defeat for about 20 years of my Christian life even in the ministry!

I was taught that I had this "old man" plus me and then the "new man". Three of us in there. And I am the neutral umpire who decides who operates. And my old man is a disreputable, scandalous, vile, foul, vicious thing living in there - but I got converted and now I got a new man and he lives in there too. One of them wants me to do something wrong and one of them wants me to do something right and I am in the middle here and I kind of arbitrate between the two. So I am caught in this everlasting dichotomy; this on-going tension. Now I believe this, every one in a while to prove my orthodoxy that I have to let this "old guy" have some sort of expression, just to prove I am sound.

I was raised to believe it was not possible to really have complete victory in life and only in death would I have complete victory".

One day I was researching Romans chapter 6 and I decided to look into a commentary. I really didn't like this commentator because he didn't hold to my theological views. I decided I would look at him anyway on Romans 6. As I was reading him, he said;

"Many of my brethren feel that the article of physical death has more power to deliver Christians from sin than the Cross of Christ".

And I slammed the book shut and said; "I never liked him anyway". But the hook was in my jaw. I began to laugh and I saw the logic of what Adam Clark said. Everybody believed that when we die - we are going to move into instantaneous sanctification. I was sitting in my study and I said; "Come quickly terminal cancer that I may enter into sanctification!". You know the more I ridiculed the view that I held, the more I began to see the truth.

That I was saying that terminal cancer or a heart attack could do more to me in terms of sanctification than the Cross of Christ! And I saw how ridiculous this way. I saw how I was constantly downgrading the accomplishment of Calvary and I was imputing to the act of physical death a power that it didn't have.

"In fact - death is the last enemy - it is not my friend at all! It is not a sanctifying power; it's an embarrassing power! It's going to be done away with!"

Well to a cut a long story short ... and a very long story ... I discovered that I didn't have a seperate person in there called an "Old Man". And I tell you something else that does. It gets you off the hook of moral responsibility. I do something wrong and I can say; "It wasn't my fault - it was my old man". So what do I do? I cope out of moral responsibility as a responsible person and I say; "It was my old man!". Now I am doing exactly what Adam did in the beginning. So what are we doing? We are saying; "God it is Your fault! If I didn't have this "old man" then I wouldn't be doing this bad thing". I've got news for you.

"You are not going to be able to blame Him again because you don't have it! You don't have an "old man"! You are in, by nature, the "old man" but there is no "old man" in you! In fact what ever old man is in you is just as old as you. Your old man is you, not something seperate from you".

See when God came to save us, He came to save me not replace me. He didn't come to replace me. He didn't come to put someone beside me and call that "me". That isn't fair. There is just me in there. He came to save MY soul. He came to regenerate MY spirit. To renew MY mind. The Holy Spirit has come into MY life, not seperate from me. For the Bible said; "If anyone be joined to the Lord, he is one spirit with him" (1 Corinthians 6:17).

"Now it is very important that you see that we are members by nature of an Adamic body. And that the "old man" that was crucified was not something in you, but something in which you were and furthermore that the crucifixion of the old man and the destruction of the body of sin is a legal, judicial act which God performed in the Cross".


jul said...

I love this Dan! I especially love the part about imparting so much power to death instead of the Cross. That is so true, and I think I just heard this idea taught somewhere else recently...interesting.

Dan Bowen said...

It's quite a challenge isn't it. Can death EVER have more power than the Cross of Christ?! Surely not. See - John Owen the Puritan has quite a lot to answer in that respect. His work on mortification of sin (I believe) is counted among C J Mahaney's most influential books - and in that volume, Owen himself writes that it is only death that will free us from sin.

Ern puts it a bit in perspective. Not that I would ever want to criticise a monumental theologian like John Owen - but can we ever claim that death pulls rank over the most historically significant event of all time?

jul said...

We don't have to criticize theologians but it's time to start rejecting their demonic doctrines. I have not read John Owen, only heard tons of quotes over my time at SGM and many of them were terrible. Does that mean that he was a terrible man? No, but I'll get my theology by God's living word breathed by revelation into my spirit from now on. I don't care what any man, dead or alive, has to say if it isn't the life giving gracious truth of Jesus.

And that confirms my idea that many of the puritans were morbid and weirdly obsesses with suffering, pain, depression, and death. No wonder. Imagine if your hopes were all set on death!

janelle said...

This is great Dan. I'm slightly confused though...are you saying that the "old man" was never there at all? Where did it come into play? Did our very natures change at the cross, where we go from old man to new man? Or did we not have an old man, it was just us? Sorry if I'm slow on the uptake:-D

Jul, have you read any of John Owens books? Just curious. I find it interesting that you could ever actually read him and come away thinking that he was obsessed with death or suffering. He is hailed by John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, JI Packer and others as one of the most influential writers on holiness ever. He also wrote a book on the Holy Spirit; a quote "To believe that He will preserve us is, indeed, a means of preservation. God will certainly preserve us, and make a way of escape for us out of the temptation, should we fall. We are to pray for what God has already promised. Our requests are to be regulated by His promises and commands. Faith embraces the promises and so finds relief." This is a mainstay of his writings.

I've also found that reading "The Valley of Vision", a collection of puritan prayers, to be so filled with hope from the Gospel that it seems they had a better understanding of it than we ever could. I think you would like it, too:-)

lydia joy said...

This interesting - I recently read something and am about to post more on it soon! I think it is so crucial to help christians see that God had no intention of partnering himself, His Holy Spirit with anyone's old sin nature. Why would he join His Spirit to an old nature with a new nature and have a half spirit child of God. That would be setting us up for failure, not success. Would we not then be a "house divided against ourselves"? (although at times we may 'feel' like a house divided against ourselves) Anyway, Jesus said, you can't sew a patch of new cloth on an old garment. Could this be an analogy of the old and new man - wouldn't it be futile to do this, sew the old onto the new. Jesus said you can't put new wine(the Holy Spirit) into an old wine skin(the old nature). You have got to put new wine into new wineskins. That doesn't mean somehow we have to strive to pursue this new wineskin status, you can't do that, the old one is no good period!! Also the verse "no one can serve two masters." We can only have one master, Satan or God. Christians only have one nature that serves God alone - but our former master constantly tempts us and trys to get us to submit to him again, that is a lot of what we struggle with when we think we still have an old nature.

Romans 6:6 -knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
Isn't that pretty clear that our old man died? Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation, the old has gone, the new has come!

Yahoo, no more old man!! He is dead!! If we base our theology on our experience we are screwed (sorry but it's true!) - what's more true God's word or our experience and feelings????!!!!
If somewhere in Scripture we have found verses that contradict these truths that we are dead to our old sin nature and alive to Christ, we gotta find out why they sound like they are contradicting. Because God is not a liar!!

Anyway, you know I love this topic, I love to be able to get a firmer and firmer grip on the dead old sin nature - and my aliveness to Christ and the awesome power of what the cross accomplished for me! If we are alive to Christ - living life is so much greater, so much freer and has so much more power!!

jul said...

Janelle, I've read some book by him on sin, of course quite a while ago now. I'm sure he has some good points, but I'm not into mixtures of some truth and some lies though of course sometimes you can learn as much from the wrong as the right. He also says "Load thy conscience with guilt" according to DH.

The whole issue of dealing with sin is irrelevant to me now, since I now believe all my sin was (in the past) once for all dealt with by Jesus on the cross and neither God or I am conscious of my sin anymore, or at least, I'm not usually conscious of my sin, I still have to fight condemnation sometimes. If the Holy Spirit is in the business of convincing us of our righteousness in Jesus, that His work really did finish the job, then who do you think would be in the business of constantly pointing out our sins and failures? Who is the accuser of the brethren? Who goes around like a lion seeking who he may devour? Who first tempts us into sin then immediately condemns us if we give in?

God will never never never never ever make us feel guilty or ashamed or condemned in ANY way if we should happen to act out of character at times and sin. He has set up a fool-proof covenant this time that we can't break, because the man who keeps our part of the covenant is Jesus himself who is eternally perfect and can never fail.

As far as the Puritans, I haven't studied them much at all. I have read the Valley of Vision and some of it is uplifting, I have read Spurgeon and generally like him very much, I have read David Brainerd's journals and he was one screwed up depressed morbid soul who practically killed himself with his crazy 'sacrifices', but God used him greatly anyway. Sometime I really would be interested in reading more about the history of the Puritans so if you've read anything like that please recommend it.

And no list of men's names will impress me because all those men stick together and never disagree with each other for the most part. I like some of them or some of their teachings, but they are still wrong about some things because they are loyal to systems of doctrine made by men and therefore have trouble thinking outside those boxes. Packer has a whole book on how the problem with the church is that we don't strive to follow the ten commandments! That is blatant legalistic heresy, so while he has some other books that may have some truth, I can't ignore the fact that none of the great men of God you mentioned don't seem to have a problem supporting each other even if certain popular heresies are involved.

I should say that I don't know any of these men personally and if I did I would love them as brothers but I would certainly bring up some of these points hehe.

Bottom line, the gospel reveals the righteousness of God. It doesn't reveal the righteousness of man, or the sinfulness of man. The law reveals our sinfulness. A basic reading of Romans shows that this is the purpose of the law, the reason so many are caught up in their sinfulness is because they are still under law. They cry out 'who will save me from this body of death?" but can't seem to see the next verse that practically sings out with desperate joy "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Dan, maybe the Puritans are at least partially right, doesn't the fact that we have been crucified with Christ mean that death has already released us from the bondage of sin and law (Romans 7 also uses death in the marriage scenario)? It's just that is seems they think we have to contribute to Jesus work with our physical death when the death talked about in Scripture was accomplished for us through the death of Jesus' physical body...they must have struggled greatly with sickness and premature death seeing as Paul warns that's what happens when we break bread without discerning the Lord's body.

Oh and Lydia, I loved your comment too.

lydia joy said...

I know you are asking Dan, but may I attempt to answer your questions.......
When we were born into the world we were born in Adam, and we were spiritually dead to Christ. When Jesus died on the cross he made a way for us to become alive to God through his death and resurrection. Jesus didn't just die to take away our sin problem. He died to give us a new life, and took care of the source of our sin problem at the cross. This goes beyond forgiveness. Through Christ's body we have become new creations. Our old man died with Christ. We were changed from sinner to saint. Why? Our being a new creation is that we are dead to our old man, dead to sin and alive to Christ. We have been given the very spirit of God, our old nature was replaced with Christ's nature. that is how God can see us as he sees Jesus. So our old spiritual identity, the one that was sinful was excuted and replaced and now we have a wonderfully alive spiritual identity. We are no longer in Adam, but in Christ. In the very core of our being, in our spirit lives the very spirit of the son of God - and that is "Christ in you the hope of glory!!"
So now we can live in this truth that He is now our very life.....and we can walk by the spirit, the very spirit that lives in us. We can rest in Him and let Him live His life through us!! Isn't that awesome!!

Anway, I just can't be silient, I just love the truth so much - when we realize that our old man is dead and we are alive to Christ and focus on that we can live in victory and not defeat and feel constantly like that old man is keeping us down! He isn't, he can't, he's dead!! Awesome!!

Much love!!!!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

it's great you dug this out.
I don't know what you think, but I think both Rob and Ern see the once for allness, that IS NOT GENERALLY preached in the Body of Christ.
I just think that Norman has it clearer what is going on when we sin. Ern and Rob are very clear that we don't get an old man popping up inside us...

So what happens? When we're drawn by temptation to the extent we succomb to its lying seduction...we're choosing to be run by Satan's spirit again.
But the trick that page Prewitt found...and in a sense none of us have been able to better this so far...the sheer power of the false spirit does not lie in the spirit....so when Romans 7 mentions not us but the sin in us...it's not saying "you're off the hook now..the devil made you do it..."
No the hidden strength which eluded me for a particular lengthy amount of paralysing years....was me in my inward parts saying "I was a just me...an alone me...and I wanted that sin and I was an anointed worship leader and how could I...and that proved how awful I was......

But the self-run me bit, the alone me, the self-running single me...was the strength of the lie....

As soon as I saw Satan's trick...which is that the alone/me running my own godlike existence in the world is a total delusion,

and all I had to do was to agree with God's Word which stated I am a soul and a Body and I simply choose the spirit that runs me. We HAVE TO BE ONE THING OR THE OTHER. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. There is no neutral switch.

In Genesis 3:5 the devil dreamed up a neutral switch which doesn't exist...he said you can be like gods....You don't need God. You can be self-running beings.You decide good or evil...here's a list of laws.

Well as soon as I saw there was no neutral switch...and having believed what Ern said in Thy Kingdom come about there being no the-er power by which we can be saved....save for Christ's victory on the Cross..I really saw that Chris Welch is now technically, according to Bible revelation Christ run.

And when I saw that in 1987-8, a particularly paralysing sin fell off my life in an instant.I still slip, but not in the same stuff. And because I don't have any Old me's to cast out...I just choose Christ again and set off.
Our problems are so deep that we need the Body, the preaching, the Word to literally unpack generations of behaviour that is not part of us. They are behaviours and ways of being that just don't marry with our new status as King's kids.

A bit like Lazarus waddling out of the tomb...the big job done, now we need other disciples to peel off the bandages!!