Does the believer have two natures?

Why do some question the use of the expression, the believers two natures?

Sometimes defining terms helps resolve differences. At issue is what constitutes a nature? If we accept that a nature is the essential characteristics and qualities of a person or thing, we can suggest three possible objections.

A first objection is that this expression is not biblical. Some point out that we have become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). This cannot mean we have been made to share in the "essential characteristics" of deity, because those characteristics are non-transferable. If this referred to a "new nature," we would hardly have expected the word "partakers." Peter would more likely state that we received it or that God imparted it, since "nature" seems to imply something that has now become native to a believer. The suggested meaning is that, as possessors of new life - eternal life, we share the quality of life possessed by God.

A second objection is that it is difficult to define any "entity" or nature imparted at salvation. What was imparted to us at salvation is a new principle and power. We have been made alive spiritually and have received eternal life. Our quickened spirit or mind now has a relationship with God and delights in righteousness (Romans 7:22, 23). Because of this relationship, a new law or principle is now active in the believer.

In addition, the Spirit of God now resides within us. He empowers the believer to live righteously. This is a more intimate and effective provision than Old Testament believers enjoyed, yet they lived righteously as a result of having been made spiritually alive. Our minds have always been able to make moral choices, but when made alive spiritually our mind functions properly by responding to God and to righteousness.

A third objection is that "the essential characteristics and qualities of a person7 define that person. Is a believer, then, "defined" by "our old man" (Romans 6:6), his old standing in Adam, or by "the new man" (Colossians 3:10), his new standing in Christ? The essential characteristics of a believer in Christ are "righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). Every believer is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and this defines his characteristics.

Many able teachers and commentators refer to the believer's two natures, so it is best not to crusade on this point.

D. Oliver