The old man and the new man

August 7, 2021 • 3 min

From Treatise on the Love of God, page 302
By St. Francis de Sales

And who sees not, I pray you, Theotimus, that it is the ecstasy of life and operation that the great Apostle principally speaks of when he says: I live now, not I, but Christ liveth in me; for he himself explains it in other terms to the Romans, saying that: Our old man is crucified with him, that we are dead to sin with him, and that we are also risen with him to walk in newness of life, that we may serve sin no longer.

Behold, Theotimus, how two men are represented in each of us, and consequently two lives; the one of the old man, which is an old life; like, they say, the eagle’s, which having grown into old age can but drag its wings along, and is unable to take flight: the other is the life of the new man, which also is a new life, like that of the eagle, which, being disburdened of its old feathers, now shaken off into the sea, takes new ones, and having grown young again, flies in the newness of its strength.

In the first life we live according to the old man, that is, according to the failings, weaknesses and infirmities contracted by the sin of our first father, Adam; and therefore we live to Adam’s sin, and our life is a mortal life, yea death itself.

In the second life we live according to the new man, that is, according to the graces, favours, ordinances and wills of our Saviour, and consequently, we live to salvation and redemption, and this new life is a lively, living and life-giving life.

But whosoever would attain the new life, must make his way by the death of the old, crucifying his flesh with the vices and concupiscences thereof, burying it under the waters of holy baptism or penance: as Naaman drowned and buried in the waters of Jordan his leprous and infected old life, to live a new, sound, and spotless life; for one might well have said of him, that he was not now the old, leprous, corrupt, infected Naaman, but a new, clean, sound, and honourable Naaman, because he was dead to leprosy and was living to health and cleanness.

Now whosoever is raised up again to this new life of our Saviour, neither lives to himself, nor for himself, but to his Saviour, in his Saviour, and for his Saviour. So you also reckon, says S. Paul, that you are dead to sin but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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