Understanding the Struggle: Natural Man VS Spiritual Man War
by Robert Childress
BookVenture Publishing LLC

"…most religious groups today…are trying to improve the natural man and do not yet understand that the natural man has not been redeemed…"

The struggle Childress addresses in his book is between two warriors―the natural man and the redeemed nature―within a born-again Christian. The author experienced this first-hand and also witnessed others struggle with this during his 40 years of serving as a church pastor. His book provides words of encouragement, promise, and protection.

This struggle began in the early years of the church and recently has returned with ferocity. Two natures within the believer war against each other. As the Apostle Paul stated, the good that he wanted to do, he could not; the evil he did not want to do, he did. Recently, the doctrines called Sinless Perfection, Holiness, or a Higher Life have gained many adherents. In a society where no one is willing to admit he/she has sinned, promises which offer freedom from guilt appeal to the new believer. Childress declares that what is being promised by these concepts cannot be delivered. While measuring self by comparison to others, an honest heart will soon become discouraged with failed attempts at perfection. Even a person who boasts must spend time and energy defending a sinless claim against facts and conscience. When Jesus appeared to the Apostle in the Book of Acts, he announced that it was hard for Paul to kick against the pricks of the law. How much harder is it for believers to kick against the extended offers of grace?

The author tackles this important subject in six chapters. Within each chapter, insights are followed by scriptural references to substantiate points made. This format is a highly effective teaching/preaching tool. Chapter 1 places the focus on man's position in Christ, not on the corrupt nature of man. The natural man continues to seek position, power, and possession. Only when these are lost will he/she pursue either religion or addiction. The goal of the spiritual man is fellowship with God. Chapter 2 explains how we grow in grace but are never meant to reach a standard of sinless perfection. Attempting to do so transforms the Good News into Bad News. Chapter 3 instructs the warrior that the real struggle is learning to trust God’s love for us, not our own abilities. Trusting in self will eventually lead to depression, anxiety, anger, and frustration. Chapters 4 through 6 are studies from the Book of Romans regarding righteousness and grace [unmerited favor]. Proponents of Sinless Perfection worry about falling away or giving new believers a license to sin. However, a serious study of God’s righteousness and great love gifted to us is motivation enough to constrain obedience.

The author’s decades of familiarity with the Bible have given him some valuable insights into its interpretation. Still, for long-time preachers like Childress, adapting spoken messages for print is not always that easy. The spoken word often has sufficient pauses, but these do not necessarily correspond to the standard punctuation rules that make written content more readable. More editing in this regard would enable the author’s points to come across more clearly to the reader. Childress admits that fellowship with God will not improve the natural man. But complete surrender to the Lord will increase the maturity of the spiritual man and prepare him for the ongoing battle.

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