"You may have heard the illustration of the two dogs. Some people say we have two natures within us vying for control of our lives. They claim that our old sin nature, which we inherited from disobedient Adam, is like a big black dog. Our new nature, which we inherited through Christ's redemptive work, is like a big white dog. These two dogs are bitter enemies, intent on destroying each other. Whenever you involve yourself in worldly thoughts or behavior, you are feeding the black dog. Whenever you focus your mind and activities on spiritual things, you are feeding the white dog. The dog you feed the most will eventually grow stronger and overpower the other."
This may be an interesting analogy to explain our sinful behaviors, but let's see if this is truly a Biblical way of looking at our lives. Let's look at the following scripture verses to see if the theory of the two natures inhabiting our lives sounds like what God has to say about us.
For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man is in Christ, [he is] a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
This idea of the two natures and the power we allow them, may be an idea about an "unregenerate" or unsaved person. But once we accept Jesus into our hearts things change. We are "delivered from darkness", "we are not of the flesh, but of the Spirit". We were "formerly darkness, but now we are children of light", and we are a "new creature". So in looking at these scriptures we can see a big difference in the concepts.
To me this sounds like a tug-of-war; an opportunity to have a split personality in our spirit. Brings to mind the idea of the little man in the red suit with horns and a pitchfork, on one shoulder and the little angel with a halo and wings on the other. Both whispering in our ear the advantages of their influence.
The author states, "If we see ourselves part light and part darkness, part saint and part sinner, you will live in a very mediocre manner with little to distinguish you from the non-Christian."
All this goes back to our Identity in Christ. We need to have a strong belief in who God says we are. We need to believe the scripture verses about us being "IN CHRIST". This is why I have spent so much time on knowing our "identity". If that concept is not fully believed and accepted in our way of thinking we cannot move on in our Christian growth. We get caught in the quicksand of failure and stagnation.
"Satan knows he can do nothing about who you really are, but if he can get you to believe you are not different from the natural (unsaved) person, then you will behave no differently from the natural (unsaved) person."
But you may be thinking, all this "new creation" stuff sounds good, but why do I still behave like an unsaved person? Here are the words of Paul, speaking about his old life. Ever feel like this? Why do I still do things that are not godly or Christlike?
For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I [would] like to [do], but I am doing the very thing I hate.
Because we don't really KNOW our true identity in Christ. The fact that we are changed from saint to sinner by Jesus atonement, His death on the cross for our sins, and resurrection, may be understood and acknowledged, but we have not allowed it to penetrate our heart and spirit.
Many pastors and preachers tell us from the pulpit, we are still "sinners", (and yes, we all still sin) but that is not our identity in Christ. Here again, we cannot be confused with what we do versus who we are. This goes back to the last lesson where we discussed our "words", not only to others but to ourselves. If we continually call our children, stupid, losers, a person who will never amount to anything, etc. Will they not believe it? Even if they are good solid kids with a high IQ and motivated; will our words not, over time, begin to tear down their self esteem?
The same holds for our consideration of ourselves. We have been born again, but if we continually call ourselves "sinners", "just barely hanging on", or any other negative description will we too not be in danger of believing it? Negativity in our thoughts and words concerning ourselves and others, shape our opinions and begins to create an atmosphere of defeat.
The "inner change" that the previous scripture verses describe is the result from our "justification"; what happens the moment of our salvation, in our spirit. The outer man's change of our personality, thinking, and emotions occurs throughout our lifetime and that is "sanctification".
Let's look at the diagram from chapter 1 of the study.
Our spirit is changed from darkness to light at salvation, justification, and our outer man is changed over the course of our lifetime by studying the Word of God, prayer and an attitude of willingness and submission to the Holy Spirit.
So let's think of ourselves as that new creation In Christ, and not get caught up in an idea of good dog, bad dog tug of war. We are in Christ and He is in us.
love, in Jesus,
(quotes and concepts taken from
Victory Over the Darkness
by Neil Anderson.)