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Romans 6:6

knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin

Is this the past history of our former selves, before we were born again? What is its relationship with the "body of sin" in the above verse?

I'm thinking the old man is our life centered around self while our new creation is a life centered around a relationship with God, like Jesus's was.

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  • Among the several translations that I have checked, only the KJV uses the term "our old man". Every other versions that I have checked (NIV, ESV, NRSV, NASB, CSB) says "our old self" instead. (Oops, just found that NLT uses "our old sinful self".) Dec 8 '20 at 15:37
  • 4
    There is no excuse for rendering anthropos as 'self'. It means 'man' in the sense of 'humanity'. Our old humanity (the humanity of the first man, Adam) is crucified with Christ. See full answer below. To translate it as 'self' is a philosophical interpretation, not disciplined translation.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 9 '20 at 9:18
  • @Steve How could it be fun for anyone that you Posted a Question with no apparent research or conclusion, let alone both? Why would you do that here, rather than through a generic search engine such as Google? Merry Christmas, Robbie Dec 10 '20 at 22:17
  • @RobbieGoodwin A search for the old man brings up many links for The Old Man and the Sea.
    – Steve
    Dec 12 '20 at 0:40
  • @RobbieGoodwin Actually that's a good question. In my research and meditations on Romans 7 I found several traits of the law of sin. Since the old man is governed by the law of sin, I suppose I could actually pass that list to the old man as well. Thanks!
    – Steve
    Dec 12 '20 at 0:51
5

This is typical of Paul's writings about the old / new self.

Old Self: Our 'natural' flesh, corrupted by sin and sinful desires
New Self: Our new selves, made new to be like Christ

Paul says that our old selves were crucified with Christ when we were baptised, and then raised to new life.

This is consonant with what Paul said in other places:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

However, for Paul the Christian life is not simply a 'done deal' at baptism. It is about continually putting off the old self and putting on Christ. In other words, although we have been united to Christ, we need to actively put off our old selves and put on Christ every day. So, for example:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

One way of summarising the New Testament teaching on sanctification is 'Become what you are'. In other words, our lives should begin to look in external terms what they already are in Christ.

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  • 1
    Phill Sacre: The old personality” (lit., “the old man”) with its bad practices (Eph 4:22), a Christian must make a real transformation by putting on “the new personality.” This new personality, which is “created according to God’s will,” Very good answer +1 to encourage others to read it. Dec 8 '20 at 11:06
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The apostle Paul summarizes very well in Galatians Chapter 5 the acts of the flesh, which acts are carried out by "the body of sin":

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

There is not a sin in the above list that Christians are not capable of committing. Once they are born again, however, God graciously makes them new creations in Christ. The old has passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). In other words, God gives his children a clean slate. They continue to sin, however, not because they are not capable of resisting temptations to sin, but because they do not consciously consider themselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11 NASV).

That process of considering themselves dead to sin does not happen automatically for believers. In fact, some believers actually delude themselves into thinking they will reach a point in their walk with God that they will not sin again. The apostle John, however, disabuses them of that fallacy when he wrote,

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us (1 John 1 NASB).

On the bright side, however, Christians do not have to sin. After the new birth, God graciously gives his children the ability to bear spiritual fruit that remains (Galatians 5:22-26; John 15:16; cf. John 12:14, where Jesus links fruit-bearing with death).

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

In conclusion, life in the Holy Spirit is possible and achievable. There are a number of expressions in the New Testament for that kind of life. It is a life characterized by

a walking in the Spirit

being full of the Holy Spirit

refusing to grieve the Holy Spirit

being led by the Holy Spirit

speaking through the Holy Spirit

being encouraged by the Holy Spirit

worshiping the Father in the spirit and in truth

circumcising the heart, by the Spirit

living according to the Spirit

living in accordance with what the Spirit desires

using the gifts of the Spirit (i.e., "the spirituals") humbly and wisely

teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit

guarding the good deposit entrusted to us with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us

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  • So the flesh and the old man are the same thing to you? How do you relate them? Thanks.
    – Steve
    Dec 9 '20 at 3:55
  • @Steve: the old man is the agent; the flesh is the agency through which the old man expresses himself (or herself). Perhaps to be PC we should call the agent "the old person." The old person can re-appear when a believer succumbs to temptation, allowing the flesh to express itself. The new person needs to put to death the deeds of the flesh (see Colossians 3:5). That is possible because believers are a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Dec 11 '20 at 0:38
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Romans 6 is notable for its repeated use of the metaphor of "death" to sin and "resurrection" to a new life dedicated to Christ and His service. This is repeated numerous times:

  • V2 - How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?
  • V3 - Or aren’t you aware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
  • V4 - We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.

The point of this extended argument is that if we die to sin we can no longer be slaves of sin. However, we are resurrected to a new life as slaves to Christ and His service. As slaves to sin, we are slaves to the "body" of sin, namely the sinful tendencies and urges within us all.

  • V7, 8 - For anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.
  • V11 - So you too must count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • V16 - Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to righteousness?
  • V18 - You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
  • V22 - But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the fruit you reap leads to holiness, and the outcome is eternal life.

Thus, Paul repeats himself numerous times - we die to sin and are thus freed from the power of sin in our lives and become slaves to righteousness and a life in Christ.

There is a similar theme in 2 Cor 5:

  • V15 - And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.
  • V17 - Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.a The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!
  • V21 - God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Thus, service to Christ is our highest calling; this is accomplished by the miracle of the Holy Spirit in our lives when we behold Jesus.

2 Cor 3:18 - And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

This stage of salvation is aimed primarily at fixing the corrupt human nature – removing the tendency to evil and our enjoyment of sin. That is, as we “grow into Christ”, He begins to break the power of sin over us.

While this is a single functional stage of salvation, it involves several separate logical steps:

  • Consecration, on-going commitment and Christian character development. The Bible has numerous phrases to describe this including: “reflecting the Lord’s glory and being transformed into His likeness” (2 Cor 3:18), being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2), “follow after righteousness” (1 Tim 6:11), walking in the “newness of life” (Rom 6:4), “perfecting holiness” (2 Cor 7:1), “partaking in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), “growing up into Christ” (Eph 4:15), “pressing toward the mark” (Phil 3:12-15), “being built up in Christ” (Col 2:7), “becoming complete in all the will of God” (Col 4:12), “fighting the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:12), “growing in grace” (2 Peter 3:18), “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8), “walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16), plus many more. See “Imitation of Christ”.
  • Perseverance of the Saints – a life-time commitment to serving Jesus and the Imitation of Christ. The Bible calls this, “enduring to the end” (Matt 24:13, Mark 13:13, Heb 10:36), “remaining steadfast” (James 1:12, 1 Cor 15:58), “fighting the good fight” (2 Tim 4:7), “being strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph 6:10), etc. That is, the Christian life consists of much more than simply believing and being converted – it involves a lifetime commitment to Jesus called the Imitation of Christ and obedience to Jesus’ commandments. Seven times in Rev 2 & 3 such people are called “overcomers” or “conquerors”. See “Perseverance of the Saints”.
  • Discipling and teaching others (Matt 28:19, Acts 1:8, 2 Tim 2:2) or being “fishers of men” (Matt 4:19, Mark 1:17). See “Discipling”.

While it is obvious that the Christian life is lived by cooperation and consent of the Christian, it is still a miraculous work of transformation and renewal by God in us. It is also God’s initiative. “God is sovereign, Man is responsible”.

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  • (+1) This is a fairly full and comprehensive answer. It doesn't explicitly nail down the 'old man' phraseology, but does so much work around it in the passage that it's still a clear explanation.
    – Steve Taylor
    Dec 10 '20 at 10:45
  • @SteveTaylor - "old man" is just the pre-christian life" and "new man" is the "new Christian life".
    – Dottard
    Dec 10 '20 at 19:49
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Colossians 2:14-17 assures Christians that we were made alive with Christ, our sins all forgiven,

"having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross... Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."

That which was crucified with Christ and buried are all the laws and requirements agreed to by the Hebrews at the foot of Mount Sinai. They have been done away with, being nailed to Jesus' death-dealing cross. Christians have died to the law, which only proves everybody who tries to keep it to be sinners, unable to keep it. Christians are liberated in Christ to rise above mere legalism, for He is the reality Christians follow, as opposed to the ‘shadow’.

Romans 6:7-23 needs to be included in your quotation, for it shows that the contrast is between the wages of sin (death) which the law guaranteed to all who tried to keep it but who inevitably failed, and the free gift of life eternal through Jesus Christ to all who trusted only in his finished work in the cross, where the law was nailed just as surely as he was nailed, unto death.

I suggest that the features of the ‘old man’ that was crucified with Christ and buried are the ‘old’ covenantal law, which means that all features of legalism comprise the answer to your question. Those who are liberated from the old law covenant rise to new life in the new covenant in Christ and form the new huMANity that is raised up.

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ο παλαιος ημων ανθρωπος [TR and undisputed] Romans 6:6

There is no excuse for translating anthropos as 'self'. This is a matter of humanity. The first humanity is Adam. The second humanity is Christ.

This is a matter of headship and of a new creation.

There is no excuse for not rendering this wording as :

the old, of us, humanity (literally)

our old man [YLT]

our old man [KJV]

our old man [JND]

To render anthropos as 'self' is a philosophical interpretation, not disciplined translation.

The features of the old humanity (as the header question asks for) are summarised by Paul in Romans 5:12-21.

  1. It is a humanity of offence

For if by one offence death reigned by one ... Romans 5:17

  1. It is a humanity of transgression

... sinned after Adam's transgression ... Romans 5:14

  1. It is a humanity of death

... so death passed upon all [of that] humanity ... Romans 5:12

  1. It is a humanity that is condemned

... by the one offence upon all [of that] humanity to condemnation Romans 5:18

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  • 1
    (-1) A fair reflection, but this feels more like a Comment, as it does not clearly engage with or answer the question. This feels like the foundation for a good answer, though.
    – Steve Taylor
    Dec 10 '20 at 10:40
  • 1
    +1 because, in order to obtain correct answers, the correct questions have to be asked. If this question is misleading in its assumption that 'old man' can equally be rendered 'old self', then all answers agreeing with that assumption will be skewed. This answer exposes the fundamental flaw in many answers that did not detect the danger of wrongly equating 'old self' with 'old man' when it is the old humanity that is in view.
    – Anne
    Dec 10 '20 at 13:08
  • +1 I found that this answers the question rather well minus any commentary on the body of sin.
    – Austin
    Feb 26 at 23:40
0

You err in thinking anyone is yet born again - this happens at Jesus' return for those who are his - whether dead or alive.

As you suggest, we are no longer in bondage, yet not immune from the effects of evil in the world and yet remaining within ourselves - as Paul (the apostle) aptly described. Rom 7:14++

We are only yet partly freed from deception which uses 'self' as it's primary weapon against godliness.

Ephesians 4:22 to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

When we are 'born from above', as the text puts it, all sin will be behind us and we will be changed to a spirit-life as Jesus now has. Right now, we only have the spirit as a deposit 2 Cor 1:22 - this is not 'born again' as you put it.

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Cor 5:5

When we are, 'born from above', as Jesus says, we will have spirit life as he now does. 1 Pet 3:18 This is not the case yet, as we are still flesh.

The old man is crucified - but dies daily. Crucifixion is a process of dying - it is not death of itself. 1 Cor 15:31 Thus, it/we will not be fully dead until our change.

As Paul and others have expressed, we are no longer bound to sin by a corrupted nature inherited from Adam. God, through Christ, has placed within us a new way - of good, of peace, love etc, that is of Him, from His spirit, and not of the spirit of the world.

What has died is the deception that 'self' is the most important. God grants us a repentant heart that is willing to change and grow in grace, obedience and humble response to His calling to live like Jesus did.

But until the transformation to new life at his return, we are still fighting over evil and yearning to do good - that is God's spirit in us at work. Not an overpowering or possessing, but a help, a comfort and a power to override the corrupted nature and do good instead. It IS a struggle...

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6

Summary:

Our death in Christ is an ongoing process - but it has certainly begun. Just as a slave is set free, they have to make a new life for themselves - learning a new way to live with totally different parameters than before. They are free indeed, but still battle with the baggage and damage from their time in captivity.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship Rom 12:1

...be transformed... v2

The process of new living is juxtaposed by the ongoing dying - every day a new opportunity to advance the good and retard the old.

The old man is still alive, but mortally wounded. There is a new spirit that is opposing the old - this state remains until our rebirth.

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Gal 5:17 Rom 7:23

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  • Please sum up your answer to, "What are the features of the “old man” that was crucified with Christ and buried?"
    – Steve
    Dec 9 '20 at 3:57
0

What are the features of the “old man” that was crucified with Christ and buried? Is this the past history of our former selves, before we were born again? The old man is your old identity as part of this present (old) creation that is destined for eternal destruction on the day of judgment. When you are baptized into Christ that identity dies and your new identity as part of the new creation begins.

What is its relationship with the "body of sin" in the above verse? The body of sin can be either understood as the body whose condition is a result of spiritual sin (Adam's) or as a body who is in a state of physical sin, as in missing the mark or of failure. Either way, we are talking about our mortal bodies that are corrupt and will ultimately fail as a consequence of Adam's sin. The idea is that although we still live in cursed bodies, the physical curse we endure in the body ultimately means nothing because of our union with Christ & his death. His death is the means of his and our victory over death and our ticket into eternal life in the new creation.

0

At the level of the individual, the old man is the part within each of us that has to die in order that we may live in Christ or in order for Christ to live in us. That part of ourselves is intrinsically related to sin and hence, is what keeps us separated from God.

Paul does not clearly define the features of the "old man," perhaps because it can be different for each person. For Paul, his old self was bound up with the law that he so zealously upheld:

  • If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, … a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. (Phil 3:4-6)
  • So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good. (Rom 7:12-13)

Paul’s old self reminds me of the elder son in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke (15:11-32). The main theme of that parable is also that of death and resurrection:

  • But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found. (Lk 15:32)

Though these words were spoken about the younger brother, in actuality, both brothers had distanced themselves from the father. The nature and cause of their estrangement can serve as a framework for us to examine the features of the “old man” that was or that needs to be crucified with Christ.

The nature of the younger brother’s estrangement was tied to the gratification of the flesh:

  • The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. (Lk 15:12-13)

The elder brother, on the other hand, represents the kind of estrangement that may result from gratifying the pride or ego:

  • Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing… Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. (Lk 15:25-29)

Thus, Paul’s words (apparently about himself) seem particularly applicable to the situation of the elder brother:

  • So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Rom 7:21)

Perhaps Paul isn't really saying that the flesh or the ego is inherently bad or evil. It is only that the weaknesses in our human nature can be used or exploited to bring us to sin. In Paul's own situation, sin took advantage of his zeal for upholding the law:

  • For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (Rom 7:11)

In the parable, the elder brother was blind to his own faults. Prior to his encounter with Jesus, Paul too was blind to his own sin. Like Paul, perhaps it is only in Christ’s light that a person can see the features of the “old man” within him or herself, the part in each of us that needs to die in order that we may truly find new life.

-1

When a believer is ‘born again’, this is a literal process. Paul constantly refers to the ‘change’, including in the verse you quoted. The is outlined very clearly in the following verse....

2 COR 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new

The ‘old man’ is dead. Now let’s look at what this means. To understand what happened, you need to understand ‘who’ you are. This is found in this verse....

1 THESSALONIANS 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body [snip]

‘Man’ is spirit, posses a soul, and ‘lives’ (is housed) in a physical body. So what is ‘reborn’? Obviously not your body - it’s still going to look and be the same. And, obviously not your soul (mind/will/thinking/etc). But you spirit has Become a new creation - as per the above verse. That’s the ‘new man’. The ‘old man’ has gone/died ‘crucified in christ’.

Now the issue for believers is the soul. Your ‘thinking’, what you have learnt (‘know’). And the fact that your soul is dominated by your body. (Feelings). This is what Paul refers to as ‘the natural man’, or, the flesh, or, ‘carnal’. (Sax). Your soul needs restoring. Your soul still needs to be ‘saved’, or renewed.

It’s this ‘flesh’ that we ‘battle’ or struggle with. But you are reborn. Your spirit is now righteous. (All Sin is ‘done in the flesh’. And at times it needs ‘cleaning’.). You are as ‘born again’ as you can be. But, what you are awaiting is a ‘new body’, and that comes after you ‘leave’ this current one your using.

This view is not necessarily the traditional ‘doctrinal’ position, but it is for you (and others) to ‘test’, to test exegetically.

[added later, in response] - summary - the ‘old man’ was a believers ‘previous’ spirit. This was unrighteous, through Adam. That is, it was ‘dead’. Death in the Bible means separated, so the old spirit was separated from God, therefore unrighteous. And, all unrighteousness is ‘sin’.

1 JOHN 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin:

Therefore, that is ‘the [spiritual] body of sin’ that was done away with, was crucified. And, a believer’s recreated spirit is righteous - unlike his ‘flesh’ which still ‘sins’, and needs cleansing.

2
  • Now sum it up and answer, "What are the features of the “old man” that was crucified with Christ and buried?"
    – Steve
    Dec 9 '20 at 3:54
  • @Steve - summary added.
    – Dave
    Dec 9 '20 at 19:45

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