The Old Man Fallacy as an Excuse for Abuse in Independent Fundamental Baptist Theology

The following lines are taken from the doctrinal statement that appears at the Sword of the Lord website.  Sword of the Lord is a publication that has been around for decades, promoting KJV only, separatist, soul-winning fundamentalism.  In the same statement, the Sword of the Lord insists that:

…the Bible, the Scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament, preserved for us in the Masoretic text (Old Testament) Textus Receptus (New Testament) and in the King James Bible, is verbally and plenarily inspired of God. It is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and altogether authentic, accurate and authoritative Word of God, therefore the supreme and final authority in all things (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Peter 1:21; Rev. 22:18-19).

Hmmm… I can’t find anywhere in those Scriptures they cite that make any mention of the KJV.  But on to our main point in this article. Listen to this statement:

The Believer’s Two Natures

WE BELIEVE every truly regenerated, born again Christian is saved by the grace of God through faith placed in Jesus Christ and is thereby awarded a new and spiritual nature which he did not previously possess.

WE BELIEVE the old nature which we possess from birth is not eradicated but lingers yet within us.

WE BELIEVE it is for this reason that true Christians are not perfect people and they can still sin.

WE BELIEVE the new nature, if nourished properly, should begin to dominate the Christian’s life, and the old nature should be less and less prominent.

If you have ever read David Needham’s book, Birthright, Christian do you Know Who You Really Are?*,  you will note that this idea that the Christian still has a very much alive “old man” is the very point that held Needham in bondage for so many years and which he wrote his book to refute.  It has its roots in the footnotes of the Scofield Bible, though it may have been taught by others before that.  I am not sure.

Here is my thesis:

This teaching that the Old Man is still alive in the Christian and only “positionally” dead (decreed dead but not really dead – go figure), is often used by those who teach it to promote legalism and to justify sin. When a prominent preacher “falls,” for example, his grievous sin is easily chalked up to “well, it is sad.  Brother Jones’ Old Man just rose up and got the best of him.  And well, we must not be too judgmental.  Any of us could do the same thing.  We are still evil and we have to be sure we don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t cuss, don’t miss church… or else the New Man will get defeated by the Old Man.”

The New Testament knows nothing of this spiritual schizophrenia dual personality.  Listen to the Apostle Paul:

(Rom 6:1-7 ESV)  Romans 6:1 ¶ What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  5 ¶ For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  6 We know that our old self 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.  7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

The “Old Man is still alive” theology justifies sin, it confuses Christians, it permits unsaved people to parade as believers, and it holds Christ’s people in bondage.  Who are you, Christian?  Who are you?  Are you still that old man you were before Christ regenerated you, put you to death in Christ, buried you with Him, and raised you up as a brand new creation upon whose heart is written His Word?  When you are tempted to sin, what is it that YOU really want?  Yes, the New Testament says that our sarx (flesh) remains, but that is not the same as the Old Man.  We still live in fallen, corruptible bodies and that is why there is going to be a literal bodily resurrection once day.  These mortal bodies cannot inherit immortality.  But YOU, in Christ, are not your flesh.  You are a child of God, a saint, an heir, God’s beloved, new creations having died to sin.

1Co 6:9-11 ESV Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Such WERE some of you.  But not any more.  That old man is dead.  Really dead.  Crucified with Christ.

Once more, in contrast to this biblical truth, listen to this description of IFB theology from a brother who has seen it all personally from the “inside.”  He points us to another article in the Sword of the Lord doctrinal statement:

WE BELIEVE that the command to get the Gospel to the world is a clear and unmistakable mandate, that this command is therefore, the commission of God to all of us who are saved. (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Rom. 10:13-15).  [Sword of the Lord]

Our friend examines this for us:

Now read a few of the words alone; “clear and unmistakable mandate … to all of us who are saved.” This is the first psychological trap in the IFB movement, i.e. you’ll be told “You’re not saved if you’re not out soul winning for this church!” You think, “Oh crap, I want to be saved and it is a mandate! I better go!”

Here’s how the ‘standards’ get into the congregation. You can’t go soul winning if you’re providing a bad public witness. So, no soul winning for you if you’re going to movies or into bars, smoking, gambling, or even watching television. But, “Wait a minute!,” the sheep declare “I can’t be saved if I’m not soul winning!,” and consequently “I better not do those bad things in public,” the sheep continues “that will make me feel better – whew!”

What’s the problem with this, you might ask? It all started with no sincere personal repentance of answer in faith to the Gospel call, so the unregenerate man simply remained unregenerate. They declare the old man lives right beside the new man, and all sorts of insidious sin dwells privately in the congregation. As long as it doesn’t interfere with public witness or soul winning, then we just whisper about it together. People just quietly mourn the loss of another church member to “the old man.”

The theology of the Independent Fundamental Baptists is cultivating and protecting abusers with this Old Man/New Man doctrine.  It is part of a false gospel that cannot save. All an abusive, wicked man need do is credit his very much alive Old Man with his abusive deeds.  And he still gets to remain a Christian!  According to this doctrine, professing Christians can virtually walk in sin, yet be confident that they are saved.  After all, it is just the Old Man rising up when we get careless and fail to apply the prescribed remedies to keep him weak.  And those prescribed remedies are often nothing more than legalistic, man-created rules and traditions that, in fact, only feed the sinful flesh.  The law, after all, is the power of sin.

Now, add into this whole mix other doctrines which are claimed to be biblical (but which are merely the traditions of men) and you have an environment which cruelly oppresses the weak and oppressed.  For example, think carefully about the following typical doctrinal points which we have taken from the doctrinal statement of a large IFB church.  How do these teachings enslave people?  Let us know in your comments (boldfacing is mine) —

Lawsuits Between Believers: We believe that Christians are prohibited from bringing civil lawsuits against other Christians or the church to resolve personal disputes. We believe the church possesses all the resources necessary to resolve personal disputes between members. We do believe, however, that a Christian may seek compensation for injuries from another Christian’s insurance company as long as the claim is pursued without malice or slander. (I Corinthians 6:1-8; Ephesians 4:31-32)

Giving: We believe that every Christian, as a steward of that portion of God’s wealth entrusted to him, is obligated to support his local church financially. We believe that God has established the tithe as a basis for giving, but that every Christian should also give other offerings sacrificially and cheerfully to the support of the church, the relief of those in need, and the spread of the Gospel. We believe that a Christian relinquishes all rights to direct the use of the tithe or offering once the gift has been made. (Genesis 14:20; Proverbs 3:9-10; Acts 4:34-37; I Corinthians 16:2; II Corinthians 9:6-7; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 4:28; I Timothy 5:17-18; I John 3:17)

Divorce and Remarriage: We believe that God hates divorce and intends marriage to last until one of the spouses dies. Although divorced and remarried persons or divorced persons may hold positions of service in a church and be greatly used of God for Christian service, they may not be considered for the offices of pastor or deacon of a church. (Malachi 2:14-17; Matthew 19:3-12; Romans 7:1-3; I Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6)

To protest against these kinds of things in a “church” where such doctrines abound and you had better be ready to duck and run.  But the fact is, these are the things that are believed.  And if pressed closely enough, one will find once again an example of how the IFB doctrine moves quite close to that of Rome.

“One man to rule them all, and in the darkness, bind them.”


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8 thoughts on “The Old Man Fallacy as an Excuse for Abuse in Independent Fundamental Baptist Theology

  1. Tragic. Here we see the teachings of those who place human effort at the center of the gospel – and attempt to rationalize gross moral failure as a spiritual norm. Yet the entirety of Scripture identifies a holy, yet altogether relational and merciful God and Savior who will transform our lives from the inside out if we are willing. The Spirit of God brings about rebirth and renewal that far surpasses human effort.

    And as far as the “old man” goes, we must always remember that a tree is identified not by its appearance or its words or even its expressed intent, but by its fruit.

  2. whenever I had visited one of these churches in the past, there is one word that immediately came to my mind LEGALISM! I wonder what these folks think of 2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.


  3. It took me a long time to realize that I had been deceived by the enemy through churches like these. I was also taught that I would not like everything in every church, because we are not all perfect, only one man was perfect on this earth.

    I have needed help here and there for paying bills or house payment due to being released from a job or once following the direction in which God led me. The church requirement were unbelievable. I was asked, do you not have family that can help you? You have to be a member of our church and fill out a 6 page questionnaire along with copies of all your banking accounts for 6 months. You have to go through 3 sessions of counseling to determine if you can be awarded any money, but not exceeding $500. Plus you will have to promise to volunteer for 6 months in the church which the church will determine where you will serve. And you will have to meet the requirements of going to counseling for the church 3 months to learn how to manage your finances better in the future.

    I have been abused by godly men at home and in the church that we are not to air out our dirty laundry. Although my husband abused me and did not go to church, they talked to me, but when the divorce started, I was exiled and no one spoke to me, because God hates sin and I was a sinner for divorcing the abuser. I should have to forgiven him 70 times 7. God loves you unconditionally, you have to love your abusing husband the same way.

    I am so grateful that I never stopped seeking the Lord for the truth. I will not never stop my perseverance in the truth of God. I have an Amazing intimate relationship with God now. I am so in Awe of Him. So different that the world and the enemy wants you to believe.

      1. Thank you for sharing as well. I do appreciate your post. Understanding the tactics of the enemy was not something I was ever taught by my parents nor any of the churches I’ve attended. I prayed for years that God would show me his truth, to open my eyes and ears. He has truly done that. God allowed me to enter in the lions den, although I did not realize that at the time, be the ones who taught me the most. When I started to realize I was in danger, God removed me immediately.

  4. I would love more teaching on this!! I grew up in a very influential ifb church, but I have come to realize that their beliefs were largely toxic to me. I was sexually abused by my step-father for 12 years while regularly attending this church. When the pastor became aware of the abuse I was encouraged to be quiet—it wasn’t forgiving to speak of these things or to seek legal help. Just 3 years ago we discovered that this abuser hadn’t changed like he had claimed. He is now in prison where he belongs. I am gaining greater clarity into these harmful teachings now and with God’s help I am learning the truth. I am glad for this article and the further insights I can gain from it. (In full disclosure I still use the KJV, but I am not militant in my belief that no one should use any other version—it is what I use, but I understand that others can choose their own version. I also currently attend an ifb church—it’s a small congregation and has been blessed with a godly pastor who truly cares about people. He and his wife greatly supported us when we reported our family member’s abuse to the authorities. But I am sure he is the exception to the rule). Bottom line—I love God and want to please him and bring him glory. I am learning that some things I grew up believing were false and downright harmful, but God has not left me in my ignorance. I purchased the book you linked in the post, and I look forward to studying this more! Thank you for shining the light!!

    1. Thank you Tina. So glad you have found a safe and healthy church. If you haven’t ever read the story, google Pastor Jack Hyles and read about him and his Hyles-Anderson college and church. Good example of the abusive environment That hurt so many.

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