God ways are not simply external changes which are brought about by sociological principles and behavior modification. The Triune God works through the Word and Holy Spirit to give the gift of faith in the inner spirit. The only way in which the believer can mortify the old Adam is through faith, which gives a confidence that calms the conscience, motivates the heart and makes the person “so certain that it would die a thousand times for it.” Faith works inward contrition and confession of sins. Contrition puts to death the old Adam daily in fulfillment of holy Baptism. As the believer exercises his faith, he cries out for mercy because he realizes He is heavily burdened by his own self. God comes to His aid by attacking the old Adam with adversity, troubles, sufferings, the cross, unrest, dying and death.
The Triune God works through the Word to give the gift of faith and the Holy Spirit by means of which He daily puts to death the Old Adam in us. There are two ways in which others try to achieve a Christian life. Some groups become antinomian in their teaching, when they refuse to use the Law, but only the gospel. “There can be no true conversion or contrition where mortifying the flesh and good fruits do not follow” (Ap XII, 131). Others attempt to put the old Adam to death by means and ways which are not designated by God. These human ways all end up being human works, which can only change outward behavior, but do not put to death the sinful desires. “You don’t put the old nature to death , as these prophets do, through works, but through the hearing of the gospel” (Luther’s Works, v.40, p.148).
The definition for the Old Adam includes both a lack of righteousness (fear, love and trust in God) and the addition of concupiscence(the evil desires and inclinations toward carnal things). The Old Adam does not cease to exist when a person is baptized. Although the punishment (guilt) is removed in baptism, the concupiscence remains and fights against the new man. “Putting to death the old Adam” means for the Christian to deny and refuse temptations to sin, to confess sin, to consider yourself unresponsive to sin’s temptations. According to Romans 6, in your baptism you were united with Jesus who defeated the devil, the world and our sinful nature. In your baptism you were set free from the old Adam’s influence. The Holy Spirit now gives us new desires not to live in sin, not to let sin reign, not to present your members to serve sin’s lust, and not to let sin have dominion over you. “Faith is the daily death of the old Adam” (LW, v.44 p.77). Only in death is the old Adam completely destroyed.