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Teaching a Mystical Theology – The German Theology [Theologia Deutsch] (14th Century, published in 1516 and 1518)

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Chapter 16

What the old person and the new person are.

Furthermore, it is important to note what is said about a person who is old and about a new person. The old is Adam: disobedience, selfhood, selfishness and the like – but the new person is Christ and obedience. When people talk about dying, perishing and so on, they mean that the old person has to be annihilated, and when that happens in a true, divine light, then the new person is born again.

People also say that a person should die in himself, that is, the person’s selfishness and selfhood must die. St Paul says about this: “Put aside the old person with his activities and put on a new person who is created and formed according to God” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Whoever lives in his selfhood and according to the old person is really and actually a child of Adam. In so far as he lives fully and fundamentally in this way, he is also a child and brother of the devil. But whoever lives in obedience and in the new person is a brother of Christ and a child of God.

Whenever the old person dies and the new one is born, a second birth takes place. Christ said about this: “Unless you are born a second time, you will not come into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). St Paul says too: “As all people die in Adam, so they will all become alive again in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:22). That is to say, all who follow Adam in disobedience are dead and will never become alive except in Christ. This is because as long as a person is Adam or a child of his, he is without God. Christ says: “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). Whoever is against God is dead before God. It therefore follows that all Adam’s children are dead before God. But whoever is with Christ in obedience is with God and alive.

It is also stated that sin is the creature’s turning away from the Creator. This again is one and the same, for whoever lives in disobedience is in sin, and the sin will never be atoned for or made good except by a return to obedience. As long as the person lives in disobedience, the sin will never be made good, whatever he does. Disobedience, in fact, is itself sin. If the person returns to true obedience, everything is made good, atoned for and forgiven, but not otherwise. Clearly, if the devil himself were able to attain true obedience, he would become an angel and all his sins and wickedness would be made good, atoned for and fully forgiven. And if an angel could attain disobedience, he would straight away become a devil, even if he did nothing further.

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