The Dueling Natures

Written by Bill Burkett

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh:
and these are contrary the one to the other:
so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
– Galatians 5:17

Note: The mentioned reference charts are posted at the end of this study

The Power Of Word Knowledge – The revelation of the duel natures of man represents one of the most dynamic revelations given to man in the Bible! Here lies a key doctrine to a comprehension of the believer’s dominion over sin! The struggle between the flesh and spirit natures of man is the most common to human experience. The only place you will find the facts about the dueling natures and how to bring that conflict to an end is in Scripture!


Knowledge of the Word is not an option for those who would be saved…It is an imperative. Scriptures which speak of the connection between knowledge of the Word and growth of the spiritual life are many: Matthew 9:13; 11:29; 12:42; 13:54; 24:32; Mark 6:2; Luke 1:77; 2:52; 7:35; 8:10; 20:21; John 6:45; 7:17; 8:32; 14:17,26; Acts 4:18; 13:1; 15:35; 17:11; 18:25; 28:31; Romans 1:19,21; 2:18; 7:25; 9:23; 10:2; 11:33; 12:2; 15:4; 15:14; 1 Corinthians 1:5,30; 2:12,13; 12:28; 15:34; 2 Corinthians 6:6; 8:7; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 1:17-18; 3:4; 4:13; 6:19; Philippians 1:9; 3:8; Colossians 1:9-10,28; 2:3; 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; 1 Timothy 2:4; 3:2; 4:11; 2 Timothy 1:7,11; 2:2,4; Titus 2:4; Hebrews 8:10; 2 Peter 1:3,5,8; 3:17-18)

Doctrinally, the greatest lack of doctrinal truth in the church today is the knowledge of what Scripture teaches concerning the human nature!

Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese warlord, considered to be the greatest military strategist of all time, wrote: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

CHART No.18 THE TWO NATURES: (1) The first thing to be established is that the two natures are taught on the authority of the Scriptures found in the words of Christ and the Apostles. (2) That these two natures violently oppose each other, war against each other! (Romans 7:23; Galatians 5:17) SUMMARY: To establish the teaching of the two natures on Biblical authority; and that they are dueling natures. Study carefully the references given on this chart and maybe add some of your own which reveal a dichotomy of the human nature, e.g., John 3:6; 1 Corinthians 7:34;

Two Natures b

 CHART No.19 – APPETITES: (1) Flesh must be identified as to it’s functions, what it consists of. Flesh expresses itself and functions through three primary appetites. These are also called sense pleasures; sense meaning sensual, and pleasure meaning gratification. These two words identify the gods of this world.



SUMMARY: Defining the nature and function of the flesh as being very
distinguishable from the nature of the spirit.


The appetites were created by God and are essential to natural man (soma; see chart No. 20). The appetites without Christ cannot function in a pleasing manner to God. The proof of His presence is when the morally ungoverned appetites come under the control of Christ (through new birth) and His Word (the moral standards taught in Scripture). (Romans 13:14) SUMMARY: “Flesh” is constituted of three basic appetites, and that these appetites in their original state were not sinful, but the appetites of unregenerate and carnal Christians are still out of control and given to pleasurefully indulgences which conflict with the moral commandments.


THE SEX APPETITE: Is twofold; a. To take away the loneliness of man through a marriage between husband and wife in a conjugal relationship. (Genesis 2:18) b. Procreation. To reproduce and multiply the human race. (Genesis 1:28)

THE HUNGER APPETITE: feelings that signal the body to take on food for needed energy to sustain the physical life.

THE GREED APPETITE: It was ambition or transcendence before the depravity of man. After depravity it became greed. Intended for the improvement of man’s life and state. All of these appetites return to their original created state under the control of the Holy Spirit and functioning within the limitations set forth in the Word of God. All moral commandments apply to one or more of these appetites. There is no sin outside of the appetites of the flesh nature. All sin (all autonomous acts of rebellion against the moral commandments of God) are committed through one or more of these three appetites. (Galatians 5:16) (2) The appetites of the Spirit – The spiritual appetites are distinct from the appetites of the flesh. Just as these appetites are held in suppression by the flesh so now when the spiritual man is born the appetites of the flesh become suppressed by the will of the spiritual mind. (Romans 8:6) Before the new birth the flesh nature dominates the spirit of man to the point of man being spiritual dead. After new birth the flesh appetites (which are contrary to the holy nature) are dominated by the Spirit and the Word to the point of “death.”

The purpose of the spiritual appetites:
To sustain spiritual life.

TRUTH: Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Psalms 51:6 Truth is the supreme quality of the kingdom of God! The Holy Spirit, according to Christ, is The Spirit of Truth. (John 14:17; John 15:26; John 15:26) It is absolutely the supreme principle of the Kingdom of God! John 1:14;8:32;14:6;17:17;18:37;1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 Corinthians 6:7;13:8; Ephesians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:10,12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 2:4; 3:15; 2 John 1:2,4; 3 John 1:3. My relationship to truth is my true relationship to the Father in Heaven! A love for truth is the first proof of being born of the Spirit of God. To trifle with truth is the most damning thing a rational being can do! The rejection of truth transforms normal people into reprobates; is the basis of all human disorder and unhappiness! John 3:21; 4:23-24; 8:32,44; 14:6,17;17:17,19; 18:37; 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 11:10; 13:8; Galatians 3:10; 5:7; Ephesians 5:9; 6:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:10,12,13; 1 Timothy 2:4; 3:15; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:1; Hebrews 10:26; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 2:4,27; 2 John 1:2.

WORSHIP: As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. Psalms 42:1 The Psalms establishes the spiritual man’s longing (appetite) to worship and wait before God in adoration. It is a “natural” spiritual desire of those who possess the indwelling of God’s Spirit. The spiritual man must worship! Matthew 4:10; 14:33; 28:17; Luke 24:52; John 4:23-24; 9:31; Romans 1:25; Philippians 3:3; 1 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 4:10-11; 7:11; 11:16; 14:7; 15:4; 19:4;

PURITY: holiness, perfection, moral excellence. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 The desire to be holy given to those who tarry in His presence and know Him experimentally. 1 Kings 8:61; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 37:31; Psalm 119:1-3,6,96; Luke 6:40; Romans 6:17; 2 Corinthians 13:9-11; Ephesians 4:24; 6:6; Philippians 3:12-15; Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 2:4; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 11:5; 12:14; 13:20-21; 1 Peter 1:15,22; 2:9; 1 John 2:5; 1 John 5:18; Jude 20.

Truth and lust are at war.
Unrestrained appetites enslave truth,
And truth constrains the appetites.
Romans 2:8

CHART No.20 – THE DICHOTOMY OF THE FLESH NATURE: Showing the distinction the Bible makes between sinful flesh nature and the physical man. There are two Greek words used to describe these two distinct parts of the physical person; (1) SARX: Refers to the sinful nature of the flesh. (2) SOMA: A very broad term speaking of the body in many different ways. For an excellent treatment of this subject see The Quest For Christian Purity by O. Talmadge Spence, page 93. While SOMA is used in a broad and generic sense, SARX is used almost exclusively to refer to the sinful nature and it’s rebellion against the governing moral laws of God.

SUMMARY: That there is not only a distinction between flesh and spirit but a distinction between the sinful flesh nature and the human body (the temple of the Holy Ghost).

Flesh and Spirit

 CHART No. 21 WORKS OF THE FLESH: A Word study of the works of the flesh found in Galatians 5:21-22 leaves no question as to a. the distinction between FLESH and SPIRIT, b. That these two natures embrace two different value systems, c. That FLESH has it’s affinities (common interests) in the world while the SPIRIT has it’s affinity with the Word! Something that should be noted carefully in these two verses is the mention of what we often call “spiritual sins” such as witchcraft and the occult. God’s Word tells us these are works of the “flesh” and not of the spirit. While the occult is devilish and spiritual in itself, to enter them is a rebellious act of the flesh nature. This chart gives a concise word study of each of the “works” of the flesh. SUMMARY: Identity of flesh character.

Works of the Flesh

 CHART No.22 – THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: A concise word study of those terms used in the text to leave us with a clear idea about what the Holy Spirit produces in us; that the Spirit life producesspiritual goodness. SUMMARY: The identity of Spirit character.

Fruit of the Spirit

 CHART No.23 – PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER: (1) That the difference between PERSONALITY and CHARACTER corresponds to the difference between FLESH and SPIRIT. (2) That personality corresponds to the visible and showy tendencies of the flesh nature. As new birth transforms our thinking personality alters or is affected by (faith in) a new way of thinking. The pursuit of personality is the embellishment of the visible person. (3) Character corresponds to the SPIRIT life. The pursuit of the spiritual man is character of the divine kind. Humanistic fundamentalism tends to emphasize the visible man, the personality; to present a “faith” that enhances our material life in this world. Personality religion thrives on the self centered idea of material gain and self esteem; it promotes personality celebrityism. Apostasy is characterized by a personality oriented religion. It’s focus is on personalityism and attracts those who confuse personality with character. (4) Emphasis should be placed on the definition differences between personality and character. (5) A list of the extensions of personality (the manifest or visible man) and the qualities of character (the latent or invisible man) are given here but will be treated in a separate study later. SUMMARY: That personality, the world system, sin and the flesh nature have common characteristics and interests while character, the Kingdom of God, holiness and the Spirit nature are united by common characteristics.

Personality vs Character

CHART No.24 – BONDAGE AND FREEDOM: This chart study deals with one of the biggest lies of liberalism! One of the statements they make that is a dead give away of their doctrinal ignorance is the accusation that Christians who have convictions and separate themselves from the world are “in bondage.” What they do not understand is that the same Word that ministers life to the spiritual nature, ministers death to the sinful nature! (1 Corinthians 2:14-15) What is death to the FLESH is life to the SPIRIT! What is FREEDOM to the SPIRIT is BONDAGE to the FLESH, e.g., stealing is positive to a thief and negative to an honest person. When the Word tells us that we shall not steal, that is negative to the FLESH nature of a thief but it is positive to the SPIRIT nature of the Christian! Moral truth is negative to the rebellious nature of the FLESH! Moral truth is glorious and rejoices the heart of the SPIRIT nature! (1 Corinthians 13:6) SUMMARY: Refutes the carnal philosophy that equates personal convictions and moral standards with bondage. (Romans 8:10; 13:14; Galatians 5:24)) Of course the FLESH NATURE is in bondage to the SPIRITUAL NATURE! But this bondage is not a duress to the physical man (soma), in fact it brings peace. (Romans 8:6b; Isaiah 26:3)

Life and Death b

The truth of the word sets the spiritual man
Free from the bondage of the sinful flesh nature!

CHART No.25 – HAPPINESS AND HOLINESS: This chart can be used with charts 23, 26 and 28. Each of the two natures have separate goals (objectives in life). The goals of the flesh nature are in the world. The goals of the Spirit nature are in the Kingdom. Happiness, according to the Greek Hedonists, was to be found in the pleasures of this world. Jesus taught that His disciples would have tribulation in this world and that cross bearing was part of true discipleship! Matthew 13:21; John 16:23; Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:4 On each of these charts you will note that the word in the left is the opposite value to the word across from it in the right column. This is called “antithetical.” This allows us to identify quickly the opposing traits to be found in each of the two natures. SUMMARY: The contrasting goals of the two natures.


CHART No.26 – THE CROSSING NATURES Here is a tremendous fact concerning the two natures that will give us wisdom in understanding our own behavior. (1) The spiritual nature bases choice on the principle of RIGHT AND WRONG. (2) The natural man or the flesh nature bases choice on the premise of PAIN OR PLEASURE. It avoids all pain and is attracted to pleasure. (3) Pragmatism (choices based on producing preferred results) and expedience (choosing what is most advantageous) are closely related to human behavior and too often related to Christian doctrine and conduct. (4) Christians must not make the mistake of associating pain with what is wrong and pleasure as being right. Never make a decision that considers pain or pleasure in the making of it! SUMMARY: Decisions are made on the basis of RIGHT AND WRONG ONLY! PAIN AND PLEASURE is too often the basis of the decisions made by the flesh nature. Pain and pleasure are incidental where RIGHT AND WRONG is involved! All the martyrs will tell you someday that pain and even death often accompany right choices!

Crossing Natures

CHART No.27 – MASTER REVIEW CHART This visual study allows us to see the total scope of the material we cover in all 11 charts. It has many uses such as reviewing studies past, previewing the next study or overview of all the material we cover in this study on the DUELING NATURES. SUMMARY: A panorama study chart showing the gist of the entire study of DUELING NATURES.

Flesh vs Spirit

 Applying these truths to the life

CHART No.28 – CARNALITY A COALITION (Or the “Coalition Chart”):
These last two charts show us how to apply the knowledge of the two natures to our daily walk. Carnality is a condition which results from trying to marry Christ to the weak and beggarly elements of this world.(Galatians 4:9) It is an effort to bring the two natures into a coalition arrangement. It is an attempt to achieve salvation without having to denounce the flesh nature…the futile philosophy that reconcilingthese feuding natures is a solution. Here is yet another characteristic of the apostate…who thinks that valid salvation is possible without having to separate from the world. We call this THE GRAY GOSPEL. Scripture teaches the death of the sinful nature! (Romans 6-8) These two distinct natures derive their strength from and feed upon two very different sources. A partial list is included on the chart and can be added to by your study group. SUMMARY: It is impossible to have vital and valid salvation operating in a life that claims to be under the Lordship of Christ and the conflicting moral influences of the world system at the same time. (James 4:4)

Carnal Christian


(1) You feed the nature you want to live and

(2) starve the nature you want to die!

At this point go to the Master Review Study Chart:

(1) study the traits of the flesh nature and identify those things which strengthen the flesh nature and then in Paul’s words, “put off those things.”
(2) By reviewing the spiritual man’s qualities we learn what must be “put on.” (Colossians 3:5-10) SUMMARY: Let’s get on with the funeral so we can have a resurrection jubilee!

Two Spiritual Laws


  1. Boonmee Ruenpanya Reply
    Thank you Amen
  2. mary Reply
    Just discovered this article and your powerful, awesome, can't-say-enough-about them charts & diagrams on flesh vs spirit . I have put every other study aside and writing out every Scripture on the diagrams, and my life goal now is: feed my spirit & starve the flesh program. Just in the last few days of sharing it w my spiritual study friends- I'm doing your study from Charlotte nc. One in hawaii, one in Louisiana, & one in UAE I just want you to know that this article and diagrams on dualism have changed my life. May God reward you here and in eternity for this great work and service u have shared freely! --

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