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Derek Prince - A Conflict of Two Natures

Derek Prince - A Conflict of Two Natures
TOPICS: Bible Study, Book of Romans

In our previous session we examined in some detail the very surprising statement that the law brings sin right out into the open. So, far from giving us victory over sin, it actually strenghtens sin, and provokes sin out of us which is a statement that astonishes most people although Paul states it at least half a dozen times in Romans and probably elsewhere too. So we considered what was the function of the law and the answer was the law does not deliver us from sin but it brings us face to face with the reality of sin, and with the inherant evil and weakness of our own carnal nature. Thus, bringing us to the place where we'll turn to the God's alternative way, which is the way of faith and not of works.

Now we're going to continue with our study in Romans 7 and I want to point out to you that being confronted with the law tends to produce in us a kind of inner spiritual conflict. A war starts within us. As a matter of fact, Paul talks about being brought into captivity to the war of sin which is working in his members. I suppose the more concerned we are to be good and to do good, the more conscious we are of this inner conflict. People who don't care about righteousness or goodness probably don't have much of a conflict. But the more people care and the more they have a desire to be good and to do good, the more conscious they become of this inner conflict. I believe that the Bible gives us a kind of picture of this conflict in the experience of Rebekah. You'll remember Rebekah was Isaac's wife and they were married for a good many years and couldn't have any children because Rebekah was barren.

I don't know whether you've ever considered how many of the women of the Bible for whom God's purpose was that they should become the mothers of most significant children were barren. Sarah, Rebekah, and many others. It's as though God brings us to the place where we have to pray through to the fulfillment of his revealed will. And I think that's an experience that happens in the lives of many of us. God shows us this is my will and it's impossible. But God puts us in a place where it's impossible in order that we may learn to pray through the impossible. So we'll read here in Genesis 25 Verses 21 and following about Rebekah. And Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.

So dear parents or dear married couples who long for children and don't have them, don't give up. I can't count the number of couples who were barren for whom Ruth and I have prayed and when we broke the curse of barrenness, the next news was there was a baby on the way. Now, going on with the story of Rebekah, verse 22: But the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it is so, why then am I this way? In other words, God, what is the meaning of this? Why do I have a struggle inside me? So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples shall be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger. Which is contrary to natural tradition and culture, especially in the Middle East. When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. And afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob... And the word Jacob is derived from the word for a heel. The Hebrew for heel is aqob and the Hebrew for Jacob is ya'aqob. It just means he will take by the heel. So he was called after that. ...with his hand holding on to Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them. So he had to wait to age 60 before he had his children. But I just want to take that as a little picture.

Rebekah felt this struggle going on inside her and she couldn't understand what was going on so she went and asked the Lord and the Lord said you've got two kinds of men inside you. He didn't give much detail but he said contrary to normal culture and custom, when they come out, the older one will be the servant of the younger. And out came Esau and then out came Jacob. Now Esau is all through the Bible a type of what we call the carnal nature, or the carnal man. Jacob is a type of the spiritually disposed man. That doesn't mean that Jacob was always good, you know that. You might wonder why God said, Esau I've hated; Jacob I've loved.

In our culture today Esau would be the good guy and Jacob would be the one the people would take their stand against. That's a remarkable fact but it's true. Esau didn't do anything very wrong but the thing about him that God hated was he was not concerned about his spiritual birthright. He was prepared to sell it for a bowl of soup. And God hates that. Indifference and unconcern about the grace and the spiritual blessings of God is something that provokes God's wrath. Jacob's one redeeming feature was he esteemed the birthright and the blessings. He was very crooked in the way that he went to get them. He did a lot of things he shouldn't have done and he paid for them. But all through he still had this one redeeming feature. He was determined to get the birthright and the blessings. And that really is about the best that can be said of any of us.

So here are two kinds of nature. The carnal nature is unconcerned about the things of God and the blessings of God. It just wants a good time and plenty to eat and plenty of money and a nice house and a swimming pool. Of course, that's in America. A lot of places are different. The spiritual man is not good, there's a lot of crookedness in him but he has this one redeeming feature that he really is determined to get the blessing of God. And you remember it ended up in a wrestling match where Jacob wrestled all night against an angel.

Now there are not many of us who would wrestle all night against an angel. He was a man of strength and determination. He walked away from that wrestling match with his thigh out of joint and from then on he limped. There are lots of men and women who have to have a meeting with God that leaves them limping. For the rest of their days they do not walk in their own strength. At last, Jacob had learned he couldn't do it by his own efforts. The last thing he said to that angel who was his redeemer, who was to be his Messiah, he said, Unless you bless me, I will not let you go. I see the one thing I must have is your blessing. That's very real to me because the night I met Jesus, without any real knowledge of the Bible, I ended up saying exactly the same thing. Unless you bless me, I will not let you go. And that's when I made contact with Him for the first time in my life.

So this is a very real story to me. But what I'm trying to say is don't be disturbed if there's a conflict in you because every one of us — not every one of us. Some of us, don't have a Jacob in us. Every one has an Esau, I think. But if there is a Jacob as well as an Esau, there's going to be conflict. These two natures cannot agree. Now, lets go on with this story let's return to Romans 7 and see the way out of the conflict. It's very obvious that Paul had this conflict in a very marked degree. He says at the end of Romans 7:24–25: Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Or this dead, carnal nature of mine. This body nature that always fights against the things of God, that resists my best intentions to do good and to keep God's laws. Who will deliver me? It's a cry of anguish.

Now the translations don't bring it out but the text goes on: Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! But what he's really saying is Thanks be to God, there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord! That's what I want to leave with you. There is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord. The way out is through the cross. It's through the substitutionary sacrifice and death of Jesus. We go back to Romans 6:6 which says: Our old man [our fleshly nature] was crucified with Him... It was put to death. And because of that we can be delivered from the fleshly nature and come into the fullness of the freedom and the life in the Spirit. But it's only through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It's only when we do two things.

You remember what it said in Romans 6? "Knowing this and reckoning it true. Knowing that our old man was crucified with him. Reckoning that old man to be dead. And as long as we continue reckoning in faith, we will experience it". Now, we are therefore confronted with the fact that we only have two possibilities. They are these: We're either under the law dominated by sin or we're under grace and led by the Holy Spirit and free from the law and from sin. They are mutually exclusive alternatives. You cannot be in both. That's the important fact. Turn for a moment again to Romans 6:14, just this one statement. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace. I've already pointed out that clearly implies that if you are under law, sin will be master over you.

If you are under grace, you are not under law. You cannot be under law and under grace at the same time. You have to make your mind up. The alternative is being under grace and being led by the Holy Spirit. This is vitally important because a lot of people say, Well, if I'm not under the law then I can do whatever I please. That's totally incorrect. The alternative to being under the law is not doing what you please; it's being led by the Holy Spirit. And let me tell you one thing for sure, the Holy Spirit will never lead you to do anything evil or displeasing to God. You can trust him better than you can trust your own efforts to keep the law. Let's look at these statements then very powerfully made, let's go to Romans 8:14. We'll get there later but we have to look at it now.

Romans 8:14. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. And the word means mature sons. You see, in order to become a child of God, you have to be born of the Holy Spirit. But in order to become mature in Christ, you have to be led by the Holy Spirit. The only pass to maturity is being led by the Holy Spirit. And I would say there are uncounted numbers of Gods children who are being born of the Spirit but never learn to be led by the Holy Spirit and they always remain spiritual babies all their lives because the only path to maturity is being led by the Holy Spirit. As many as are regularly led by the Holy Spirit, and it's a continuing present tense, these and these only are sons of God.

So let me say this very clearly. The alternative to being under the law is to be under grace. And if you're under grace, you are being led by the Holy Spirit. Don't ever say Brother Prince said we didn't have to keep any rules so we can do whatever we please. That's totally wrong. The alternative to keeping the rules is being led by the Holy Spirit. The rules are perfectly all right, you see. But you can't keep them. So, you've only got the other alternative. Trust the Holy Spirit. Learn to be led by him. He'll never lead you astray. Look now in Galatians 5 for a moment and we'll see the same truth brought out again. Galatians 5:18: But, if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Could anything be clearer than that? They are mutually exclusive alternatives.

If you're being led by the Holy Spirit, you're not under the law. If you're under the law, you're not being led by the Holy Spirit. But the only way to maturity is to be led by the Holy Spirit. So you cannot come to maturity being under the law. Then let's look in 1 Timothy 1. This is one of those passages that I get a mischievous delight in reading, I'm sorry to say, because it's so totally contrary to the way so many Christians think. I don't desire to shock people but sometimes I desire to awaken people. 1 Timothy 1:9. Paul says in verse 8, we'd better get that: But we know the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that the law is not made for a righteous man Have you been made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ? Yes or no? Yes, all right, then the law is not made for you.

Let me list the kind of people that it is made for and just ask yourself do I want to be among that list. the law is made for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching. Do you want to be in that list? Well, those are the people that the law is made for. Then Paul sums it up: According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. This is the message of the gospel. You cannot be made righteous by keeping the law. The only way you can achieve righteousness is through faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now in Galatians Paul uses an analogy from again, the experience of the patriarchs. The two sons that were born to Abraham. First Ishmael and then Isaac. Again we have their types. Ishmael is a type of the slave woman Hagar. Paul says in Galatians Hagar corresponds to the covenant that was made at Sinai, to the covenant of the law. So Ishmael is the product of the law, he's the works of the flesh. He's the result of Abraham doing his best to achieve God's purpose by his own efforts. He lost patience, he got tired of waiting for the son that was promised and he listened to his wife who said, let's have a child by my maid Hagar. It was not immoral in those days, it was perfectly legitimate within the culture of that day. But it was out of faith, it wasn't in faith.

The Bible says whatsoever is not based on faith is sin. Did you know that? Romans 14:23: Whatever is not based on faith is sin. I'll tell you, God forgave Abraham but he paid a heavy price for that act which is still being paid today. 4000 years later it's the descendants of Ishmael who are the main source of problem to the descendants of Isaac. Could that be interpreted as a warning it doesn't pay to beget things in the flesh? Because, we'll have to live with them. One interesting fact about Abraham is his only errors did not come from failing to do what God told him, they came from doing more than God told him. I would suppose for most committed Christians that's the same. Our problems will not be disobeying and failing to do what God says, they'll be going beyond what God says and doing our own thing and taking our own initiative. The result will always be an Ishmael. The hardest thing to do sometimes is what? Wait. That's where we usually jump in and beget and Ishmael because we get tired of waiting.

Now, I want to see what Paul says here in Galatians, he says when Isaac came, Ishmael immediately started to make fun of him. The flesh always ridicules the Spirit, you see? And Sarah got angry and she counteracted her own advice. How typical when we're in the flesh! She'd said to Abraham, You have a son by Hagar. Now she says, Cast out the bondwoman and her son. Each time Abraham took her advice. The first time it was wrong, the second time it was right. But this is the message. When the child of faith and grace comes, there's no room for the slave woman and her child. Cast out the law and the products of the flesh when the faith child comes.

Notice Isaac was not the product of Abraham's ability; he was the product of a supernatural impartation from God. That's all that's acceptable. What we can do in our own ability is never sufficient to please God. We have to operate on the supernatural level. That's not to become super Christians, that's to become Christians. You cannot live the Christian life on the level of your own ability. You just read through the Sermon on the Mount once and ask yourself how much of that can I do in my own ability, in my own willpower? Let me say it again, Christianity is not a set of rules. Now, we're coming to something tremendously important. To be under the law when you have once known grace I'm not talking about people that have never known grace. But if you've known grace and you go back under the law, you are out of grace, you cannot be under the law and in grace at the same time.

Galatians 5:3–4. What was the problem of the Galatian church? They had known God's supernatural grace and power in a wonderful way, and then because of false teachers, Jewish teachers, they had felt that they had to go back and keep the law of Moses. As I say, Paul was more upset with the Galatians than any other church. It's the only church he wrote to that he didn't thank God for. He can thank God for the Corinthian church even though there was adultery and incest and drunkenness, he still thanked God. But when he started to write to the Galatians he got so upset that instead of saying I thank God for you, he said, I marvel that you are so soon turned away from the grace of God. If Paul had a collar, I think he was hot under the collar at that point. It's really worth noting his reaction to that situation.

So this is what he said in Galatians 5:3–4, and he's speaking to people who are circumcised in order to keep the Law of Moses, do you understand that? A Jewish baby is not circumcised to keep the law of Moses, you have to understand that. He's circumcised because of God's covenant with Abraham made in Genesis 17. This is very interesting and I'll just point this out to kind of substantiate what I'm saying. Paul had two of his closest disciples, Timothy and Titus. Timothy was born of a Jewish mother and therefore was legally Jewish and Paul had him circumcised for that reason. Titus was totally Gentile and Paul fought a tremendous battle not to have him circumcised. You see that? So for a Jew, circumcision is not keeping the law although it may be in the law. Jesus himself said it wasn't of the law, it was of the fathers. We don't need to go into that because most of you are not Jewish but if ever I meet a Jewish believer I say if you ever have a son, be sure to have him circumcised.

Now, we're talking about people who were Gentiles who were circumcised in order to keep the law. And this is what Paul says to them: I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You cannot just keep one point of the law, you either keep it all or you're not under it at all. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. I don't think that means they were lost souls but what it means is they were no longer living in the grace of God. That's a very solemn statement. You have been severed from Christ, those of you who are seeking to be justified, to achieve righteousness, by keeping the law. Could that apply to Christians? It applies to millions of Christians.

Let me close with a little quick picture of the alternatives. You are on a journey from a certain place to a certain place and you've got two alternatives. One is a map, the other is a personal guide. The map is the law, the personal guide is who? The Holy Spirit, that's right. So every one of us is pretty conceited by nature and we say, I'll take the map. I can handle it. So we start out on our journey and the sun is shining and the birds are singing and we're making terrific progress. But 48 hours later we're in the middle of a forest, it's totally dark, it's raining, we're on the edge of a precipice and we don't know whether we're facing north, south, east or west. That's relying on our own ability to read the map. There's nothing wrong with the map, it's perfect. So a gentle voice says, Can I help you? And you say, Holy Spirit, I need you. Give me your hand, I'll lead you out.

So there we are, the Holy Spirit is leading us, we're on the road, we're doing fine and the sun is shining. We say within ourselves, You know, I was dumb. I really didn't need to get so scared. I could have made the way out by myself. We turn around and do you know what? The Holy Spirit isn't there any longer. So about four days later we're in the middle of a bog. Every step we take we're sinking deeper. We're too embarrassed to tell the Holy Spirit we need him now but he says gently, Maybe you need me. Oh, Holy Spirit, get me out of this bog. And he does. Now my question is how often does that have to happen? How many times are we going to snub the Holy Spirit? How long will it be before we realize we can't make it with the map? The map is perfect, the problem is in us. We have to have the personal guide. Then we say to the Holy Spirit, Look, I've got a map. He says, Thank you, I don't need the map, I know the way. Besides, I made the map! You see the picture?
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