The life of the believer in Jesus Christ is not a mix of “old man”/”new man.” Our position in the Lord is not schizophrenic. Of course, we still have the remnant of sin as long as we live in our mortal bodies. We battle the flesh’s desires that wages war in us (1 Peter 2:11). The battle itself can be a constant back and forth of losing ground and gaining ground. Yet, we do battle from a position of being liberated from our old master, the self enslaved to sin.
In Romans 6:6, the Apostle Paul writes, “We know that our old self [or old man] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” As we engage a series on “the old man,” we want to ask the basic question: what is the old man crucified?
Let’s start first with “the old man.” The old man is who we were in our sinful estate and in our slavery to sin. It is the person who is “in Adam” with all the guilt and consequences of Adam’s sin upon them plus their own slavery and bondage to sin. This is the person who is dead in their sins. This “old man” could be described using Ephesians 2:1-3.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
This “old man” is the state of the entirety of humanity apart from union with Christ. In fact, we should say that it is only for the believer that this state is “old.” Paul elsewhere describes this old self/man in Col. 3 and Eph 4:22
Col. 3:5-9 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
Eph. 4:22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
The old man is the man enslaved to sin. This enslavement manifests itself all sort of evil and wicked behavior. The “old man” is the man enslaved to the flesh who walks according to the flesh. He does not desire to obey and he is unable to obey God (Rom. 8:5-8).