Does A Christ-Follower Have Two Natures?

Have you ever heard the story about the two dogs fighting within you? There are several accounts of it, so I’m not sure of its exact origin. One version says that the Indian chief, Sitting Bull, was led to faith. When the preacher returned some time later and asked how things were going, he replied, “Two dogs inside, a small dog & a big dog, always fighting.” So, the preacher asked, “Well, which dog is winning?” to which the Chief replied, “The one that I feed.”

This story is often used to teach that as a Christ-follower, we have two natures, and we must feed the new nature so that it becomes more dominant. I’m not sure I agree with that theology. We are born with a fallen nature, but when Christ comes in and regenerates us, that old nature dies, and we are gifted by grace with the new nature – the divine nature of Jesus.

Colossians 3:3 – For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Our old nature is crucified with Christ, and no longer has any power over us. We have been given a new nature. (See Colossians 2:6-3:17; Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:22). We are, literally, the temple of the Holy Spirit; God could not dwell in us if we were not made holy in Christ. He could not dwell in a sinful man who had a fallen nature. This is why Paul could refer to those who had put their faith in Jesus as saints.

2 Peter 1:4 – For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

So, what then, is the battle that all Christians face? Why do we still sin? While our nature is new, we still live in an unredeemed, fleshly body. This is the conflict that the Indian legend describes – not a battle between two natures, but a struggle between our redeemed soul and spirit, and this fleshly tent we live in.

Our flesh can go two different ways. We can surrender to the lure of evil and indulge in sin, or we can submit to the draw of pride and try to please God with our flesh. The Judaizers Paul was speaking to were in the latter category. They somehow believed they were better than other believers because they “did more” by keeping the old Mosaic law.

What’s the secret? Well, the old legend is correct in that we have a choice. We can walk by the Spirit and allow Him to work out our salvation and produce His fruit in us, or we can walk by our flesh and look no different than a person who doesn’t know Christ. Take heed, though. The divine nature in us will prove to be genuine; a Christ-follower cannot sin without conviction and will be drawn to repentance. A person that never repents or never feels conviction gives evidence that they do not possess the nature of the Holy Spirit within them and are not saved (Galatians 5:16-24).

I love how Paul concludes this strong and convicting teaching. He admonishes us to have mercy and grace with one another, gently restoring the one who has gone the way of the flesh. We are to remember that we, too, are capable of being tempted and not to judge too harshly, but to help each other come to the place of repentance.

There is a principle of sowing and reaping as we deal with the challenge of walking by the Spirit or following our flesh.

Galatians 6:7-8 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Whether we obey God’s Spirit or give in to our unredeemed flesh, each choice we make has long-term consequences. As we sow to the Spirit, we don’t always see immediate results; it takes time and patience as God matures us spiritually. As well, we don’t realize the impact of little decisions to compromise or focus on our flesh until many years later when we see the results in our children and grandchildren.

If you are a Christ-follower, saved by grace through faith, you only have one nature. You can overcome what your flesh desires through the Holy Spirit who lives in you and has given you the mind of Christ; you are a partaker of the divine nature of Jesus. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9).

One day this old flesh is going the way of the grave, or perhaps even better, it will drop off on the way up as Jesus calls His church to come home. We won’t ever deal with it again but instead will shine with the glory of Christ, the righteousness He clothed us with revealed for eternity. Until then, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

2 thoughts on “Does A Christ-Follower Have Two Natures?

  1. Alice

    A friend shared one of your blog posts-love it and plan to follow. Bless you for serving God, sharing your writings, and serving others with the truth of God’s Word through this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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