ERADICATION OF SINS
God’s salvation is different from our human concepts. His way is deliverance from sin. We think that everything would be all right if sins were uprooted from our being. But God’s salvation is not the eradication of sins. He does not pull out our sins like uprooted trees.
The eastern mind always thinks that perfection is attained as soon as one has all sins repressed. But our person is one that loves to sin. It does not even want to suppress sin. Even when it tries grudgingly, there is no lasting result. The way of God is not a subjugation of sin, nor is it a mortification of the body. It is an exchange of person. The old man that was attached to sin is removed, and a new life that abhors sin is put in its place. When temptation comes, this new life naturally shuns it. In this way, the body loses its function in regard to performing sins.
GOD ONLY DEALS WITH THE OLD MAN
Hence, God’s salvation is entirely different from the concepts of other religions. God does not deal with sin, nor does He touch the body. All He takes care of is the old man within. This old man is just our life. When the old man is put to death, it means that the old life is terminated, and a new life is put in its place. The two ends, sin and the body, are left untouched, but the middle agent is taken away. Sin can now no longer communicate with the body.
The man that is constituted with this new life is called the new man in the Bible. When temptation comes again, the new man reacts very differently from the old one. He no longer hearkens to those lures. He never seconds the motion of sin, and he never actuates the body to commit evil. The new man is diametrically opposed to sin. He is deaf to the suggestion of sin.
UNEMPLOYED IN REGARD TO SIN
What about the body? At this point, although the body is still willing to be a slave to sin, the power of the latter is blocked by the new man from being transmitted to the body. This new man no longer obeys sin or agrees with its proposals. Under these circumstances, the body has nothing more to do; it becomes unemployed. Formerly, my mouth constantly cursed. Now it does not function that way anymore; it has lost its job. My hands that used to fight with others have been discouraged by the new man. Now they no longer fight; they are likewise unemployed. My eyes, my ears, and even my whole body have become unemployed in regard to sin.
This is what the Bible means when it says, "Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him." It clearly tells us that God deals with the old man. The result is that the body of sin is unemployed, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves. That means we will no longer come under the sway of sin. We have nothing more to do with it.
We can see that the basic strategy in God’s salvation is the removal of our life. Our life is just the old man. In God’s eyes this has to die. If it does not die, it will produce millions of sinful offspring. It will give birth to jealousy, pride, murder, adultery, and so forth. It has an inherent and insatiable love for sin, and no matter how much you suppress it, it will still run after sin. It takes no effort for it to perform evil, but it is impossible for it to be patient, loving, and holy. There is no other way for God to take but to pronounce death for this life. Its last breath has to be taken from it. It must be utterly terminated. When this happens sin will lose its partner forever.
(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 10, by Watchman Nee)