The Children of Old Man Adam
June 28th, 1964 @ 7:30 PM
THE CHILDREN OF OLD MAN ADAM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-28-64 7:00 p.m.
You are listening on the radio to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message on the Children of Old Man Adam. That is the title of the subject. Now, I have been preaching, and shall for I do not know how long, every Sunday night through the life of Christ. And in the interview that He had with Nicodemus, He referred to the human family born in the flesh, and how we must be born anōthen, from above, anew, again. And as I began to prepare the sermon and get it ready to preach tonight, why, I just went so far afield in preparing the message that I just went clear out of the life of Christ, and clear out of the Gospels, and clear out of the third chapter of John, and clear out of the interview between Nicodemus and Jesus, and I am over here in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, so turn to the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans. The seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, and we are talking tonight about that drag of original sin that is always with us, inbred in us. Now, turn to verse 14 of chapter 7, and we shall read to the end of the chapter. The Book of Romans, and if you listen on the radio, turn in your Bible to the Book of Romans chapter 7, beginning at verse 14. Now, let us start reading out loud together, everybody, Romans 7:14:
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
And there is not a man that lives, and there is not a Christian in this earth, that does not find a collaboration of that personal testimony of the Apostle Paul in his own soul and in his own life. No matter how sanctified and how committed, no matter how consecrated and how devoted, there is always that same recorded experience that we just read here from the pen of the Apostle Paul.
I think this is the record of a man who is saved and not the record of Paul before he became a Christian, for he writes in the twenty-second verse, "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." And a man who is lost does not have any inward man. He just has the outward man, the old man, nor would a man who is lost delight in the law of God. To me, that is a Christian man, and his name is the Apostle Paul. And that is his experience with the drag of sin in his life, in his members, in the flesh and the body, a shadow that follows him wherever he goes and whatever he tries to do.
Now, there is a conception here in the Bible that I want you to see. It is basic to the Christian faith. He writes, for example, in the eighteenth verse you just read, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh)," in my sarx, s-a-r-x, in my sarx. That is the Greek word pertaining to the unspiritual side of a man’s nature. A man who is a Christian certainly will have a heavenly side to him; he will have a divine side, a godly side to him, but he also has a psuxikos side, a sarkikos, a sarx side. He has a fleshly side to him, a carnal side to him. Now, that same word is used. "So then with my mind I serve the law of God, I want to be holy and sanctified. But with the sarx, I serve the law of sin."
Now, in the seventh verse of the next chapter, Paul writes, "Because the sarkikos [phronema] the carnal, here the word sarx is translated carnal, for the carnal mind, the sarx mind, the natural mind is enmity against God." It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be.
When I turn over here to the fifth chapter of the Book of Galatians, Paul writes again, "For the flesh, for the sarx lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh the sarx." [Verse 17] And these are contrary one to the other so that you cannot do the things that you would. There are two of you on the inside of you.
Now, in the Book of Ephesians, in the fourth chapter, why, in the twenty-second verse, Paul calls that old nature "the old man" that you put off concerning the former life, the old man, the sarx, the life of the flesh, the carnality of human nature which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.
Now, the Greeks had in their philosophy the idea that the body was evil. You will never find that in the Christian faith, and you will never find that in the Bible. The Greek word for "body" is sōma, a somatic disease, a psycho-somatic disease. Sōma, that is the Greek word for "body." And to the Greek philosopher, the body was evil. Not so the Christian. To the Christian, the body, the sōma is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. But the trouble with this is that there is a sarx in our body, an unnatural, God-defying carnality born with us, and if you could get the sarx out of the sōma, the sōma would be alright. That is a great piece of philosophy.
There are two kinds of sin, two kinds of sin. Those two kinds of sins are recognized by all humanity and all literature and all history. Those two kinds of sins are recognized by all the law, all the courts, recognized by human experience. One, there is a sin that is inborn, that is natural, that is congenital. It is Adamic, and you brought it with you into the world. Then there is a volitional sin that we commit, a sin of choice, a sin of will. Those two sins, and they are greatly different.
For example, for example, here is a man that drives down the highway, and he has a wreck. And he has a wreck. Now, if he purposed to have that wreck, if he tried to run over somebody, the law will hail him into court and charge him with murder. But if he has a wreck and it was an accidental thing and it was not volitional, it is just due to human fault and failure. See the difference?
Or, take a guy that has a family, and he puts inside of the house a snake, a rattlesnake, a copperhead, a cottonmouth or a moccasin. And then he goes off, and he leaves that snake in there, and it bites the baby, and the baby dies. And it bites the little boy, and the little boy dies. And it bites his wife, and his wife dies. If the law could prove that, they would hail that fellow into court and charge him with murder. But, if he left the house and there was a snake in there and he did not know anything about it, and it bit all three of them, and all his family died, nobody would say anything about it except commiserate with him in the awful calamity that has overtaken him.
My, what a difference! What a difference! There is as much difference between the sin that comes from Adam that we have inherited, original sin, and the sin of volition and choice. There is as much difference in them as there is between the heavens and the hell below.
Now, God treats us like that. May I speak, may I speak of that volitional sin, that sin of choice? And may I speak of that original sin, that sin that is Adamic, that is inherited? Everything that is born into this world is born in a body of death,everything. And we also are no exception. We are born into this world in a body of death. Give us time, and it works out the seeds. That backdrop contributes to the final disillusion and decay of our very bodies. We are born into this world unclean, and everything that is born into this world is born unclean.
Now, when I was a little boy, a very little boy, I lived on the farm, and we would have a calf that was born. And the first thing the old momma cow would do when a new calf is born is to lick the calf clean, from the toe clear to the tail – first thing she does. Do you know the first thing they do with a little baby that is born into the world? They wash it. The first thing the doctor and the nurse will do, will wash it. Whatever is born into this world is born unclean.
I do not know of a better illustration than that than the purposive doctrine of Levitical legislation, which was to teach the children of Israel and the whole world what God considers clean and unclean. When an ass had a colt, the ass’s colt was unclean. And when a woman had a man-child, the man-child was unclean. Both of them alike. I just could not imagine a better illustration of what God thinks of a man than to put them both into the same category, the colt of an ass and the firstborn of a man. They are both alike; they are both unclean. And both of them are to have their necks broken unless they are redeemed by a lamb. And that is where you get the word redemption. If an ass has a colt, has a foal, and you do not redeem it with a lamb, you are to break its neck because it is an unclean animal. And if a woman has a child and he is a male first-born, and you do not redeem him with a lamb, you are to break his neck. Now, that is the Levitical teaching of the law. That is what God thinks about us in our uncleanliness and in our natural, innate, inborn depravity.
Now, concerning volitional sins, volitional sins. You give us time – all of us that are born with inherited guilt – you give us time, and we will add to our inherited sin acquired iniquities, all kinds of them. Little children will acquire them, and they will grow into a teenager and add to them and multiply them. And they will grow into manhood and womanhood and keep on multiplying them as long as they live. These acquired volitional sins.
Now, we are not judged and damned and lost because of our inherited sin. The blood of Christ covered all of our Adamic iniquity and inherited depravity. As in Adam all die, as all of us are born under death, so in Christ all of us shall be saved. As in Adam we all die, so in Christ all of us are made alive, everyone of us, everyone of us.
In Ezekiel 18 and in Jeremiah, they quoted a proverb saying the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge, and the Lord God said, "No! no!" For, said God, "The soul that sins, it shall die" [Ezekiel 18:4]. And however our fathers may have been, the blood of Christ covers all of the inherited guilt we have ever received through the veins and through the birth and inheritance of our fathers. What we have to deal with is the sins we commit, and that is what I am talking about tonight, the drag of it in the children of old man Adam. For what I want to do I do not do, and what I do not want to do that I do, oh wretched man that I am. That is the experience of every Christian who ever lived on this earth. The things we want to do we do not do, and these Christian people, however much they are sanctified and saved, they have the drag of that old life everlastingly with them.
For example, over here in the First Corinthian letter and the third chapter, Paul says to them, "For ye are carnal," you Christians over there. For you are carnal, sarkikos, carnal. Why, my, you look at that. Those are the same people to whom Paul wrote, to the church at Corinth, sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, elect saints, with all that are in every place. Even his testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. Why, those are the sanctified saints of God, and I turn the page and Paul is calling them carnal. That is the church, the saints, the Christians in the church. You do not ever get away from it. However sanctified and however holy you are, there is that drag in your life, that carnal nature.
I heard a long time ago a story that I have heard repeated many times since. This devout and holy Quaker, a devout and holy man of God, he was milking his cow. And every time he would get a little milk in that bucket, she would kick the thing over. And he was a nice, fine, holy, godly man. He never said anything. He just thought a lot of things, and then he just kept on milking. And as she would kick, that cow, that cow would kick that bucket over again.
And he just seethed on the inside. And finally, he walked around to the front of that cow and looked her right square in the face and said, "Thou knowest that I am a Quaker and cannot curse thee. And thou knowest that I am a Quaker and cannot beat thee. But what thou dost not know is that I can sell thee to a Baptist, and he will beat the devil out of thee." However holy and however sanctified we are, there is that seething on the inside of us! And there is not a man who is ever saved that did not feel that in his soul. That is just human nature.
Hosea said, quoting the Lord, "My people have a bent to backsliding" [Hosea 11:7], all of them, us, everybody. There is that same drag in our souls. You will find it in the pulpit. The preacher will be preaching about it as he is tonight. And when the people stand up to pray, they will be confessing it before God, and they will be telling God all about the things that they want God to forgive them. And when you turn to your hymnbook, I turned over here to some of these hymns Leroy sings. I turn over here to these hymns, for example, the one that he sang this morning, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," or some morning. One of Charles Wesley’s most glorious hymns, now you listen to it,
Take away our bent to sinning,
Alpha and Omega be.
Isn’t that something, for us to sing about in these godly hymns? Here is another one in "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,"
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
["Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," by Robert Robinson]
Now isn’t that a sight? We just sing about it in our finest hymns, and we act it out in our lives. I heard a preacher stand up and deliver one of the most marvelous sermons I ever heard in my life, then I met him right after the sermon was delivered and that fellow in recalcitrance and in incorrigible hatred was describing what he was going to do to a man that he hated. There was not any temptation for that man: it was the spirit in him, in him! In the pulpit, he was like an angel, and outside the pulpit, he was like the incarnate devil. And you wish he would just stay up there in the pulpit all the time. That is a preacher.
Leroy Till went over to visit a church. He went over to visit a church, a great church, a godly church, a great congregation. And they just a marvelous pastor. And they are in the beatingness fuss over there in that church that you ever saw. Yeah, the church of God, just having it out, just round and around and around, the people of the Lord. That is the experience of every Christian. That doubleness on the inside of your heart, and in your life, and in your soul, and you do not ever get away from it.
There’s two of us that lives on the inside here. Like that Indian said in Oklahoma, "You know, pastor, there are two Injuns on the inside of me. There’s a good Injun inside of me, and there’s a bad Injun on the inside of me."
When we teach these little children, now, little children, you give your heart to Jesus and Jesus will put a lamb’s heart in you and He will take out that pig’s heart.
No, He won’t! He will put a lamb’s heart on the inside of you, but He will leave that pig’s heart right there. And both of those hearts are there, and they war against one another, the lamb’s heart and the pig’s heart. And there is a civil war on the inside.
There is a double life in all of us. And however we try to escape it, you never get away from it. You can get on an airplane and go to the ends of the earth, and get off of that airplane, and you take that thing with you, right down the gangplank, right down the steps. I live through a Tuesday twice when I cross the International Date Line, I lived one Tuesday, and when the next day came, I lived through another Tuesday. And every hour of that I thought about it, and I was just as mean and as bad, and I was just as good and as good as I was on the Tuesday before. I just did not change. Just like running away from your shadow, you do not do it. Both of them are on the inside of you.
One of the things you will find that James – who was a pastor and who knew people – in the fourth chapter of the Book of James, he addresses his people, and he says, "Purify hearts, ye double-minded." [verse 8] And all of us are like that. These double minds that we have, all of us. We are all like that, ye double-minded.
There is not a fellow here that gets up in the morning, that will get up in the morning, not a one of us, get up in the morning and go downtown and go to work, and the first thing you do is, you go there to the door, and you take off your home face and hang it up on the wall. And you take out your home tongue, and you hang it up on the wall. And then you put on the street face, and you get out the street tongue. And you go downtown, and you pile, and you scrape. And you are so nice, and you are so gentle, and you are so affable, and amiable and lovable and personable and oh, you are just so nice. And then you come home in the evening. And you take off your street face and take down your home face. And then you take out your street tongue and you put in the home tongue. And then you walk into the room where your wife is, and romp blue blazes takes place right there before you even start.
Now, isn’t that something? Isn’t that something? Like that guy said, "I’m going home for supper, and if it ain’t ready, I’m gonna raise old billy neck, and if it is ready, I ain’t gonna eat it." Now, isn’t that nice? Isn’t that nice? The double-mindedness that is in all of us. The double-mindedness that is in all of us.
Why, I see a group of women every once in a while, and one of them does not dare leave, because when she is gone, oh, my, what the rest of them will say about her. So she has got to stay, to protect herself. Were you ever in a group of men, and they are just hilariously taking somebody apart, then "Cheese it, Shash, Shh, shh, shh. There he comes." And everything is quiet. Double-mindedness that is in all of us, in all of us.
Now, how do you get rid of it? How do you get rid of it? Well, I want you to know when you read the story in the history of the Christian church and the Christian faith; you will find a record of every way you can imagine that people have sought to get rid of the drag of that inherited, Adamic nature that is with us until we die.
Alright, here are several ways that I have come across. One, seclusion in the monestary, in the convent, living in a cave, an anchorite on a pole. Done everything they know how to get rid of that old Adamic nature, and after you live in a convent forty years, or in a monastery fifty years, or been an anchorite and lived all your life on a pole, as they used to, when you get old and feeble, up there on that pole or in that cave, or in that convent, you have still got that old man Adam in you just the same.
Another way they try to do it was with flagellation. I went to see one time that film of Martin Luther, and one of the things Martin Luther did as a monk was like so many of them did, they had a whip, a scorpion of nine tails in their cells. And in order to get rid of the old man, they would take that whip and they would lacerate themselves! After they had beat themselves blue and black and bloody and to a pulp, the old man was just as fine and fresh and untouched as ever.
And then they tried fasting. And they have lived as skeletons for years, trying to get rid of that old Adamic nature. And after they had turned to skeleton and lived for years fasting, that old man on the inside was just as fresh and vigorous as he ever was in there all of his life.
Many have tried, this modern day, an improvement. You know, this modern educational theory that if you just educate them, if you just teach them, if you do not refine them, you will just give them culture they will get over all of those propensities to sin. Only difference is, you have an old man or a guy out here who is a sinner and all lost, and when you educate him and refine him and put culture in him, he is just a bigger sinner in tails, that is the only difference, and far more dangerous. Does not change him at all, does not change him at all.
And then they will come along and say, "Now, what we ought to do is repress that old man." And we try to repress him, and he is still there. And then we come along and somebody else says, "What you ought to do is give expression to him." And we try to express him, and then it is worse than all.
And finally we all have struggled around with reformation, reformation. I want to do better. This tongue of mine, this spirit of mine, this propensity of mine, this nature of mine, I’m gonna reform! I’m gonna do better. So we reform, and we try to do better. And after we have reformed and tried to do better, we are just about like we were, just about like we were. Like even some of these preachers that drink. Alright, I know two great preachers, and they reformed, never gonna drink anymore. And both of them died in the gutter, both of them did, going back to the vomit from which they were saved.
Reformation, reformation. You know, so many of these people who lead, spend so much of their energy trying to keep the old man down that they do not have any energy to do anything else because they got that old man down and they have got to stay down with him, because if they loosen up just a moment, why, there he is up again and grappling again, and they are worthless down there. One is just as inable and impotent as the other, down there. It is just like a fellow with a tiger by the tail; he does not dare turn loose. Or like a guy riding a lion; he does not dare get off. That is reformation. And of course, all of us somehow have the persuasion that you give us time and an old age, and an old age, and an old age, why, we’re gonna be saints. We are going to grow into this beautiful life of being old.
I do not know whether he knows it or not, but there was an old woman died here in this church. She was the meanest woman I ever knew in my life! And when time came for her to die, I left town so Mel Carter could have the funeral service. And if you said any good about that old witch, you told a lie at the funeral service. That is the meanest woman I ever knew in my life. I inherited her when I came to be pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.
You know, there are sins of youth. That is correct. There are sins of manhood and womanhood, of middle age. That is correct. But there are also sins of old age, and out of all the sins, I believe those in old age are the most pernicious and obnoxious, that high persensitivity, and that everlasting ding-donging and driving you crazy. You didn’t come and see me; you didn’t hold my hand, you weren’t here; you didn’t speak to me; you passed me by. Whew! That is the old drag, that is the old nature, and it is still in us.
I do not know whether time is gone, but I just now got to my sermon. Now, Paul writes, Paul writes, and he says, he says, I do not know what I am going to do; the things I want to do I do not do. I said I’s never going to be short-tongued again, I’s never going to lose my temper again, I’s never going to speak bad again, I’s never going to get mad again, I never . . . on and on and on! The things we are never, never going to do. And all these wonderful resolutions we make, and then I am right back like I was, just as I was. Oh, wretched man that I am, with the drag of this carnal nature. "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" [Romans 7:24] Is there any answer? Well, I have gone through all those things that men have tried, from reformation and growth clear to flagellation and fasting and monastic convent life. I have gone through it all.
Now, this is Paul’s experience. It is my experience, and it is the experience of every man of God who has ever lived, or has ever preached, or has ever written, or has ever prayed, or has ever made appeal to God. Whenever you go to yourself and say, Now, look at me, I am going to reform. I am going to do these things. I am going to pay these penalties. I am going to do this thing. I am going to elevate myself and make a spiritual man out of me. Whenever you do that, you are headed for disaster and disappointment and despair just as certain as the Lord lives in heaven.
Now, what do you do with yourself? Just what Paul did. You take yourself to Jesus. You take yourself to Jesus and make a clear breast and a frank confession of all of those things that drag you down and make your life miserable to you and an unblessing to others. "Now, Lord, look at this," and start with your tongue, and start with your eyes, and start with your hands, and start with your feet, and start with this day, and start with this night, and start with this moment, and start with everything about you. "Now, Lord, look. Now look, Lord." And that in the Bible is called consecration, consecration. You take it to Jesus. You take it to Jesus.
"I beseech ye, therefore, brethren, for the mercies of God that you present your body a living sacrifice on the altar of God, a spiritual service." [Romans 12:1] Give it to God! Give it to God. "Lord, I high me to thee. I take myself to thee. And I give myself to thee." Now, that is called consecration.
Now, there is another word in the Bible, and this is what God does. That word is "sanctification." And Christ is made unto us wisdom, and redemption, and sanctification, and God sanctifies. God makes anew this anōthen, this above, this again. God makes anew the tongue you have to speak with, and the life you have to live with, and the feet you walk on, and the hands you work with, and the heart you feel and love with, God makes it again and anew, a new man, putting off the old man, putting on the new man, in Christ.
Now, I told a story about a guy who had a kicking cow. I want to tell another about the same thing, what God can do with a man. Ah, this farmer, how he cursed. Yeah, he cussed when a cow kicked over the bucket of milk. Vile in his language and vile in his life, and he was wondrously saved. Marvelously converted, gloriously changed. He became a Christian, and a member of the church, and a baptized believer of Jesus, gloriously saved. And the old cow, just with that old nature. He is out there milking the old cow and had the bucket about half full of milk, and she kicked the thing over and kicked milk all over him and all over the place. Why, bless you, he took out his handkerchief. He unfolded his handkerchief, and he wiped the milk off of his face, and he brushed it off of his clothes, and he began to sing a song, saying, "Tis so sweet, to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word" [by Louisa M. R. Stead].
Isn’t that great? Isn’t that great? That is what Jesus does for us. "Oh, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" [Romans 7:24-25].
And there is a victory in every day, and in every moment, and in every area of your life when you high yourself to God, when you take yourself to Jesus. "Lord, I want to be different." He will make you different. "I want to be new." He will make you new. "I want to be Lord God’s," or like the old song, "Lord, I want to be more like Jesus in my heart, in my heart." ["Lord, I Want to Be a Christian"] And He will do it for you. And the most wretched, He will make happy. And the most ugly, He will make lovely. And the most lost, He’ll make saved. And the most of us who are weak, we shall find strength and victory in Jesus. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now, while we sing our hymn of appeal, you, somebody you, give your heart to Jesus. Putting your life in the fellowship of the church, as the Spirit of the Lord shall lead in the way, shall press the appeal to your heart. Make it tonight, in the balcony round, somebody you, on the lower floor, a family you, a couple and a daughter. "Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children; all of us are coming tonight." Make it now; make it now, while our people pray, while we sing this song of appeal, giving your life to the Lord. "Lord, here I come. I trust Thee for all You said You were able to do. I let You have me, Lord; do it for me, do it for me." As the Spirit shall lead the way and invite to the kingdom of God, to the blessedness of Jesus or into the fellowship of this precious church, come. Make it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.