Vol.XIV No.VI Pg.7
August 1977

? You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Our class is confused over the dual nature of man — body and mind of Rom. 7:18-f. Conversion changes what?


Conversion IS something, rather than "changes" something! It IS the turning from and turning to that takes place in man's heart. Faulty theology tends to cloud definitions given in Bible dictionaries and commentaries, so read them with care.

Many believe man's heart is so corrupted by Adam's sin that he can not turn to God — can not even understand God's word. Such must first be "moved upon" or changed by the Holy Spirit, working in some direct fashion IN him. In this case conversion is something done TO man's heart. The carnal mind is replaced by a spiritual mind, at God's decree and doing. Consistency then demands that they say, "Once saved, always saved." Efforts to accept the premise but hold to the "dual nature" of a saint can produce some amazing theologies.

We believe man is neither good nor bad at birth (Rom. 9:11), but responds to stimuli (Heb. 11:25). He is born in a world cursed by sin. Our early life is marred by it, we live in its environment, and our fleshly appetites not sinful per se, are easily diverted to evil ends. But the crucial question is, are we wholly beyond response to God's appeal through His word? CAN man hear, believe, and call upon the Lord? Is God's invitation genuinely universal, or only (so far as "effectual calling" is concerned) to particularly "elect" ones? We believe man CAN have an "honest and good heart" and "understand" the appeal of God (Lu. 8:15, Matt. 13:23). God's invitations are genuine — when He invites who-so-ever will, He means it. There is cost to serving Christ (Lu. 14:26-33), but we can "count the cost" and decide to "give ourselves" to Him (Matt. 16:24).

The "cost counting," the inner struggle between fleshly satisfaction and moral responsibilities, between pride and honestly facing our sinful condition — this is evidence of our so-called "dual nature." It is present in the unsaved man — he can be touched by and respond to heaven's call. And it is present in the regenerated man — and I believe Rom. 7: is proof of this. In Rom. 6: those "crucified" with Christ were told, "Let not sin reign..." and "neither yield ... to sin." Their desire to serve God had still to contend with temptation.

The flesh of man is not of itself sinful. That was the error of some early gnostics, who therefore claimed Christ could not have come in flesh. But fleshly appetites are so often the door for temptation (Cf. Matt. 4: 1-11), that "walking after the flesh" means a sinful manner of life. This "side" of man dominates in the alien sinner, but when we have "turned to God" we have determined that our desire to serve Him will dominate. The flesh is still present, and threatens our "new life." But our heart, our desires, our spirit is now set on heavenly things (Col. 3:1-f). And the blood of Christ cleanseth those who walk after the spirit in the light of God's truth. (Rom. 8:1-f.; 1 Jn. 1:7-f)