Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

What Is Our Old Man?

The Bible uses three terms to make reference to our sin nature: sin, flesh, and old man. What do these terms mean? In particular, what does the term “old man” mean?

Briefly stated, our old man is the type of person we became by our birth into the race of Adam. The Bible provides an even more specific explanation. Romans 6:6 declares that because we have been baptized into Jesus our “old man” has been crucified. Galatians 5:24 states that our flesh with its affections and lusts has been crucified.

We can, then, define our old man as our flesh with its affections and lusts. Or we could say that our old man is our flesh - also called sin - and all it produces in us.

A tree provides an excellent analogy of our old man. The root system is a picture of the flesh; the branches and fruit are pictures of those things produced by the flesh.

If we accept the tree analogy we will then ask, “But what is the flesh - our sin nature?”

The Bible tells us.  When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they believed that they would become wise. They ate. They believed that they were now wise. And that belief - whether conscious or sub-conscious - is our sin nature. That is our flesh.

The Apostle Paul, in a context explaining why all people reject God, declares that they “profess” themselves to be wise (Romans 1:18-22).

There are three passages in the New Testament that list those things the sin nature produces. See Mark 7:21-22, Romans 1:22-31, and Galatians 5:19:21a. All people do not do all the things listed in these verses. But all of us are capable of doing all of them.  We all do some of them.

We should also believe that our flesh has produced other things in us not mentioned in these passages. From our flesh comes the branches of self-pity, depression, feelings of inferiority, and unhealthy guilt feelings - to name a few.

Here is the best news of all. Our old man has been crucified. And by obeying the five commands of Romans 6:11-13, we can experience that crucifixion and the freedom that comes with it.