Is Our Flesh Sinful? Is the Human Body A Sin? The Heresy of Gnosticism & Manicheanism Refuted by Jesse Morrell

 IS OUR FLESH SINFUL? IS THE HUMAN BODY A SIN?

The Heresy of Gnosticism and Manicheanism Refuted by Jesse Morrell

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This is an excerpt from: DOES MAN INHERIT A SINFUL NATURE? A Scriptural Discourse on the Human Constitution By Jesse Morrell

211 pages

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FIRST EXCERPT:

OUR FLESH IS NOT SINFUL

    As stated earlier, there are those who object to the position that a sinful nature is not inherited by all mankind and say, “If we do not inherit a sinful nature, there certainly would be some who have chosen not to be sinners.” But say, does this sinful nature force us to sin or does it incline us toward sin? If the former, how can sinners be blameworthy for being sinners and the choice of sin be punishable? If the latter, the objection can equally fall on itself. For if our nature does not force us to sin but rather inclines us to sin then there might have been some who have chosen not to sin despite the inclination of their nature.

    Furthermore, a nature that inclines toward sin is not sin itself and should not for that reason be properly called a “sinful nature,” as that confuses temptation with sin. The position maintained by this book is that, like Adam and Eve, we have a nature that is susceptible to temptation. The devil uses our nature as the means of our temptation, by suggesting to our minds to gratify our natural desires in unnatural and unlawful ways. However, if the position of a universal “inclination toward sin” is sufficient to answer for the universality of sin, then the position of our natural susceptibility to temptation would be equally sufficient to answer for the universality of sin. If the universality of sin can be accounted for by men freely obeying a “natural inclination toward sin,” then the same fact of the universality of sin can be accounted for by men freely obeying a “natural susceptibility of temptation to sin.”

    The Apostle Paul said, “And my temptation which was in my flesh” (Gal. 4:14). Here Paul speaks of his flesh being an occasion for temptation. We cannot say that our flesh or body is “sinful” or that we have a “sinful nature” just because our flesh or nature is susceptible to temptation and capable of becoming perverted and corrupted. Temptation is not sin. It is not sinful to be tempted or else Jesus Christ was sinful. Jesus was “tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Therefore, temptation is not sin. If Jesus was “tempted like as we are” and we are tempted by the devil through the desires of our nature, then Jesus too was tempted by the devil through the desires of his nature. And if Jesus was “yet without sin,” despite his temptations through the desires of his nature, then the desires of our nature are not in and of themselves sin. Temptation is the suggestion of the devil to gratify a natural desire in an unnatural and unlawful way, and neither the temptation nor the natural desire itself is sin. The sin consists in the consent of the will to the temptation or the choice of the will to obey the suggestion of the devil.

    The idea of our flesh being sinful overlooks the most basic or fundamental definition of sin. The Scriptures are explicit that sin is transgression of God’s law (1 Jn. 3:4). God’s law tells us what type of choices we should and shouldn’t make (Exo. 20:3-17). The moral law never states what type of body or nature we should or shouldn’t have or be born with.  Therefore, our choices can be sinful but our body or a nature cannot be. And as the law says nothing regarding what type of desires our body should or shouldn’t be born with, the desires of our body that we are born with cannot be sin because their existence is not in violation of any of God’s commands.

    Our flesh is nothing more than dirt from the earth that God created (Gen. 2:7, Gen. 3:19). Clearly then, our flesh cannot be sinful. You cannot have sinful dirt. Dirt does not have any moral qualities in and of itself. Dirt is physical, not moral. Dirt does not violate any commandment at all. There is no commandment that says, “Thou shalt not be made out of dirt.” Such a command would not even be a proper command, because a command is supposed to be a requirement as to what type of choice you should and shouldn’t make. What you are made out of is not a choice that you are free to make. Therefore, you cannot be properly commanded to be made out of a certain substance, and consequently, your substance cannot be sinful because it is not a violation of any moral obligation.

    Our moral character cannot consist in our composition or in our body because we do not choose what type of body we have (Matt. 5:36; 6:27). Even if there was such a commandment that forbad being composed of a certain type of substance, our violation of that command would not be our fault but God’s fault, since we did not create ourselves but it was God who made the dirt and then made us out of the dirt (Gen. 4:1; Ex. 4:11; Deut. 32:18; Isa. 27:11; 43:1; 43:7; 44:2; 44:24; 49:5; 64:8; Jer. 1:5; Ps. 26:10; 95:6; 127:3; 139:13-14, 16; Ecc. 7:29; 31:15; 35:10; Mal. 2:10; Lk. 11:40; Jn. 1:3; Rom. 9:20; Eph. 3:9; 4:6; Col. 1:16). So if our flesh is sinful, this sinfulness is not our fault but God’s fault because God is the one who creates us with flesh. The Bible says, “Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about… thou hast made me as the clay… Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews” (Job 10:8-11).

    God is the creator of our composition and constitution, and since God is holy and doesn’t want us to be sinful, He certainly would not create us out of some type of sinful substance. Otherwise Job would be blaming God for his sinful condition by saying to Him, “Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together sinfully. Thou hast made me of sin. Thou hast clothed me with sinful substance and fenced me with an evil constitution.” Job would be saying that men are sinful, not for choosing to break God’s law, but for being created by God Himself!

    To even apply the word “sinful” to an involuntary substance of our composition, or to our overall constitution itself, is to assign a moral quality to an involuntary state, which is an intrinsic contradiction. Moral qualities can only be predicated upon voluntary states of being or else such qualities cannot truly be considered moral. Moral qualities are not inherent in matter itself, so it is impossible to be created out of a sinful substance.

    Some modern translations of the Bible, like the New International Version (NIV), will translate the word “flesh” and other such words into the phrase “sinful nature,” thus applying moral qualities to our composition and constitution, which are involuntary on our part because they are not caused by our own will. But to translate the word “flesh” into “sinful nature” is a completely arbitrary translation, since the actual Greek word for sin and the Greek word for nature is not used in the original text at all in these passages. And out of all the possible meanings of the Greek word “sarx” which is used, the phrase “sinful nature” is not one of them.

    The Greek word for” sinful” is “hamartōlos” and the Greek word for “nature” is “phusis.” If there is such a thing as a “sinful nature” you would expect to find “hamartōlos phusis” in the Greek Scriptures. But these two Greek words are not found anyone in the entire Bible next to each other or side by side in order to make the term “sinful nature.” In fact, these two words cannot even be found in the same sentence anywhere in the Bible.

    The single word “sarx” which means “flesh” is what is mistakenly and inconsistently translated as “sinful nature” by the NIV, but this is really an interpretation and not a translation. The term “sinful nature” is not a term found anywhere in the Greek New Testament at all and therefore we ought not to find it in our English translations. The Bible versions which translate words into “sinful nature” are practicing “eisegesis” not “exegesis”, which means that they are trying to fit their theology into the Bible, rather than deriving their theology from the Bible.

    The fact that their translation is arbitrary is shown by the fact that they translate “sarx” or “flesh” into “sinful nature” all throughout their Bible version, but when the very same word in the Greek is used to describe Jesus Christ, they do not translate it as “sinful nature.” This is their happy inconsistency. If they were consistent in their interpretation, the Bible would state, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the sinful nature [flesh] is not of God…” (1 Jn. 4:3). And also, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the sinful nature [flesh]” (2 Jn. 1:7). “God was manifest in the sinful nature [flesh]” (1 Tim. 3:16). These verses are perfect reasons why the word flesh does not mean sinful nature and should never be translated as such.[1]

    Flesh is not sinful in and of itself, but it can be used sinfully. It is sinful to selfishly live after the flesh (Rom. 8:13), or to be living to gratify our flesh (Rom. 8:7). But it is not sinful to simply have a flesh. The moral law of God does not forbid that we have flesh, but it does forbid selfishness. That is why it is sinful to live after the flesh, but not sinful to simply have flesh.

    We know with absolute certainty that it is not sinful to have a flesh because Jesus Christ was sinless (2 Cor. 5:21) and yet He had a flesh (Lk. 24:39, Jn. 1:14, Rom. 1:3; 9:5; Heb. 2:14; 5:7; 1 Tim. 3:16, 1 Pet. 3:18; 4:1 1 Jn. 4:3, 2 Jn. 1:7). Jesus said, “…for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Lk. 24:39). “And the Word was made flesh” (Jn. 1:14). “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same… Therefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren” (Heb. 2:14, 17). “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). “In the body of his flesh” (Col. 1:22). “Forasmuch than as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh” (1 Pet. 4:1). “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:3). “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 Jn. 1:7). Notice that these verses not only say that Jesus Christ had a flesh, but that He “took part of the same” and “in all things” Christ was “made like unto his brethren.”[2] Since Jesus Christ was sinless, and yet He had the same type of human flesh that we have, we can logically conclude from this that our human flesh is not intrinsically evil or inherently sinful and our flesh is not a sinful nature.

    Some have supposed that the virgin birth was necessary in order for Jesus to avoid the inheritance of a “sinful nature.” However, the Scriptures nowhere state that Jesus was born of a virgin to avoid the inheritance of some type of sinful substance. Rather, the Bible says that He was born of a virgin as a sign unto the people and because His Father was God. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behond, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35).

    Though Jesus was born of a virgin and His Father was God, Jesus did not have a different type of flesh from the rest of us. He had the same type of flesh that we have. Jesus was not made physically perfect until the third day when He was raised with a glorified body (Lk. 13:32; Heb. 5:9). If Jesus was born with a glorified flesh, or if He did not take upon Himself a physically depraved flesh like we have, which was subjected to death, He could not have tasted death for every man; and therefore, could not have made atonement at all. It was necessary for Christ to be made with the same type of physically depraved body that we have, so that He could be capable of physical death.

    The Bible says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowed with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man… For as much than as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same: that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil…. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren…” (Heb. 2:9, 14, 16-17).

    Consider the syllogisms which can be drawn from this text:

Major premise: Jesus was made in all things like us.

Minor premise: Jesus was not made sinful.

Conclusion: Therefore, we are not made sinful.

Major premise: Jesus was made a partaker of flesh and blood.

Minor premise: Jesus was entirely sinless.

Conclusion: Therefore, flesh and blood are not sinful.

Major premise: Jesus had the same type of flesh that we have.

Minor premise: Jesus was not sinful in anyway.

Conclusion: Therefore, our flesh is not sinful.

    If Jesus was made “in all things” like we are made, we can conclude that he “took part of” the same type of physical substance that we took part of. In this way Jesus was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), which doesn’t mean that physical flesh is sinful, but means that Jesus was “made in the likeness of men” (Php. 2:7) and “in fashion as a man” (Php. 2:8). The word “flesh” is sometimes used synonymous with men (Gen. 6:12; Matt. 16:17; Gal. 1:16), so to say Jesus was made in the likeness of sinful flesh is the same as saying that Jesus was made in the likeness or similitude of sinful men.

    Jesus was made in the likeness or form of men, in that he had the same human nature and flesh that we all have, but unlike all other men, he never chose to sin. The Bible tells us that Jesus was morally perfect (2 Cor. 5:21), even before He had a glorified, resurrected, or perfect body. He was morally perfect even while he had a physically imperfect body which was subjected to death (Lk. 13:32; Heb. 2:14). That is because sin is not a substance or state of the body, but is a choice of the will.

    We are told that Elijah was a “righteous man” even while he “was a man subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:16-17). This shows that moral character does not consist in the passions and appetites of your body or constitution, but in the state of your will. When the Bible speaks of a “vile body” being changed into a “glorious body” (Php. 3:21), this does not mean that our body goes from a sinful state to a sinless state. Rather, the Bible speaks of the “corruptible” being changed to become “incorruptible”, which is when the “mortal” puts on “immortality” (1 Cor. 15:52-53). Our body which is physically corrupt, dishonorable, weak, and natural, will be raised incorruptible, honorable, powerful, and supernatural (1 Cor. 15:42-44). We know that these terms like corruptible does not refer to a sinful state, but a mortal or temporal state, because of how Paul uses the same word in the same epistle to describe earthly crowns (1 Cor. 9:25). Paul said “our outward man perish” (2 Cor. 4:16). Our time in this “tabernacle” is temporary (2 Cor. 5:1, 4; 2 Pet. 1:13).[3] Our body is “vile” in that it is corruptible or subjected to disease, decay, and death. The word “vile” means of “low estate”[4] and is translated as “low” and “humiliation” in other verses (Lk. 1:48; Jas. 1:10; Acts 8:33). Our bodies are not therefore “vile” in the sense of being sinful themselves.

    The command to “put away evil” (Deut. 13:5; 17:7, 12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21; 22:22, 24; 24:7; Jdg. 20:13; Ecc. 11:10; Isa. 1:16), implies that evil is a choice of our will and not a substance of our nature. The command to “cease to do evil” (Isa. 1:16), and to “sin no more” (Jn. 8:11), implies that all sin is volitional. It implies that sin is not some involuntary substance dwelling inside of you which you cannot get rid of. And therefore, you don’t need a new body or a new substance in order to be free from sin. The idea that you cannot live free from sin until you get a glorified body presupposes a Gnostic moral philosophy.

    Scripturally, you can have a pure and perfect heart or be morally perfect in this life even while you have a fallen and corrupted body or are physically imperfect. This is evident since the Bible described certain men as being perfect in heart in this life, even while existing in their corrupted, depraved, or fallen flesh (1 Kin. 6:61; 11:4; 15:3; 15:14; 20:3; 1 Chron. 12:38; 28:9; 29:9; 29:19; 15:17; 16:9; 19:9; 25:2; Job 1:1, 8; Ps. 102:1; Isa. 38:3). “And the Lord said unto Satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? (Job 1:8). “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight” (Isa. 38:3). Notice that these are examples of holy men that existed after Adam and before Christ.

    Clearly, you can be morally perfect, or completely obedient to God in heart, even while you’re physically depraved. Your heart can be right with God, in obeying all the moral knowledge that you have, even while your body does not sustain perfect health. Though your flesh is corrupt, your moral character does not have to be. Your will can obey all the moral knowledge of your mind, thus creating a perfect moral character, even while your body or flesh is fallen and depraved, or even while you are physically imperfect.

    Someone might ask, “If God gives us our flesh, how can you say that our flesh is corrupted?” Our flesh, while not sinful, is corrupted. It is depraved because it is being deprived of the fruit of the tree of life, which contained an ingredient that would sustain the perfect health of the body. The body was designed and constituted so that its life and health depended upon the consumption of food, and without the fruit of the tree of life we cannot have the perfect health of our bodies or sustain its life forever. And since God removed that fruit from us (Gen. 3:22-23), it is God who corrupted or depraved our flesh as a consequence of Adam’s sin and He had good and benevolent reasons for doing so, as He wanted to put a restraint upon the sin of man. But this deprivation of the body is physical depravity, not moral depravity.[5]

    The distinction between the moral and the physical must be kept in our minds. We must differentiate between moral depravity (Rom. 3:23), and physical depravity (1 Cor. 15:22-23). And we must distinguish between moral perfection (1 Kin. 8:61; Php. 3:15), and physical perfection (Lk. 13:32; 1 Cor. 15:42; Php. 3:11-12).

    For example, Paul said, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:52). Paul was not saying that our moral character would be changed, but that our body would be changed. He said, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that it is written, death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:53-54). Paul was not talking about being made morally perfect, but physically perfect. He was not saying that we become morally incorruptible, as if we lose our free will in Heaven, but that we become physically incorruptible, since we lose our fallen body in the resurrection. The bodies that we have which are subjected to death will be taken away, so that death is swallowed up and gone. It is mortality that is taken away, not moral choice.

    Another example of the distinction between physical and moral perfection is when Paul said, “…not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” (Php. 3:12). When Paul said he had not yet attained perfection, he was talking about being free from physical corruption and attaining physical perfection. This is obvious since he said in the verse right before, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Php. 3:11). The context of verse eleven gives clarity to the meaning of verse twelve. Paul was saying that he had not yet attained physical perfection because he had not yet attained a glorified body, as that occurs in the resurrection.

    Paul was not saying that he was sinful and had not yet been made free from sin, as Calvinists teach, since Paul already said that Christians have been made “free from sin” (Rom. 6:18, 22), and that he had a “conscience void of offense” (Acts 24:16; see also Acts 23:1; 2 Tim. 1:3). Paul was certainly not saying that moral perfection is unattainable in this life, as many misunderstand him to be saying, since only two verses down he said, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded” (Php. 3:15).

    Clearly, Paul was writing about two different types of perfection. One type of perfection Paul said he had attained and one type of perfection which he said he had not yet attained. Paul was making a clear distinction between physical perfection and moral perfection and stated that the former is only attainable in the next life while the latter is attainable in this life. Moral perfection is attainable in this life while we are still in our flesh, since our flesh is not sinful in and of itself, and our flesh does not necessitate our choices, but we are free to live after it or to deny it (Matt. 16:24; Rom. 8:13; 1 Cor. 9:27).

    Jesus Christ made a distinction between moral perfection and physical perfection when He said, “and the third day I shall be perfected” (Lk. 13:32). Jesus Christ was morally perfect or sinless His entire life because he “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21), but He was not born or created physically perfect. He had the same depraved flesh that we have. Jesus lived a sinless life without a glorified flesh, while he inhabited a corrupted flesh! He was born with a physically depraved body that was subjected to suffering and death and it was not until He was resurrected on the third day that He received a glorified body; and therefore, became physically perfect.

    The physical and the moral must always be properly distinguished or differentiated between, because what is physical relates to the flesh, but what is moral relates to the will. The former relates to the quality of our substance, while the latter relates to the quality of our heart or motive. Moral states cannot be inherited but what is physical is hereditary. As Jesus taught, “that which is born of flesh is flesh” (Jn. 3:6). Diseases and death is physical and has to do with our flesh, but sin is moral and has to do with our will. That is why diseases and death can be transmitted and propagated through semen or sperm, but sin cannot be transmitted or propagated through natural reproduction.

    Julian of Eclanum said, “…death passed to us by Adam, not sins.”[6] And he said, “…all sin descends not from nature, but from the will.”[7] Alfred T. Overstreet said, “…sin is not a substance. It has absolutely no material or physical properties. Sin is an act, and so it is impossible for it to be passed on physically… A child has no moral character at birth…”[8]

    Moral character cannot be inherited or transmitted for the same reason that moral character cannot be borrowed or lent out. You cannot inherit the moral character of another person anymore than you can lend your moral character to somebody else. Moral character is not transferable. Moral character is not a “thing” that has any material existence. Moral character is not physical. It cannot get wet or be hung out to dry. Moral character is immaterial. It is moral, not physical. A person is either sinful or holy based upon their personal choice and individual intention of their heart, not based upon the quality of their composition or the state of their constitution. Therefore, moral character cannot be bought and sold or be transmitted, transferred, or inherited from one person to another.

    While we do inherit physical depravity, or a body of flesh that is subjected to death (Gen. 3:22; 1 Cor. 15:22), we do not inherit moral depravity (Eze. 18:19-22). Moral depravity is our own fault. Moral depravity is a state of sinfulness and sin is a personal choice of the will. Moral character is not hereditary through our nature but is originated through our will. Righteous parents do not give birth to righteous children and sinful parents do not give birth to sinful children. A righteous moral character, or a sinful moral character, requires personal choice. A man is the author of his own character. Moral character cannot be “transmitted through natural generation” or inherited by posterity.

    Babies are not born righteous, as the Bible says “he that doeth righteousness is righteous” (1 Jn.3:7). Since babies have not yet done anything righteous, they consequently are not righteous. There is no passive righteousness, or righteousness of being apart from active choice. The same moral principle applies to sin (Rom. 9:11). Babies are born neither righteous nor sinful, but are born morally innocent which is the only way they possibly can be born. There can be no moral character apart from free choice, so to be born or created with a moral character is a natural impossibility. Therefore, infants are not born righteous or sinful but are born morally innocent.

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SECOND EXCERPT:

    Without moral knowledge and moral choices there can be no moral character. It is inconceivable that moral character should exist before there is moral knowledge or moral choice. That is why children remain morally innocent until the age of accountability when they know right from wrong (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16), and they choose to do wrong (Jas. 4:17). The age of accountability is also known as the age of reason. It is when their mind is developed, or specifically when their conscience is developed, so that they know right from wrong. When each person reaches this age, or state, differs from person to person. But those who don’t know right from wrong cannot be sinful (Jn. 9:41). Infants do not yet know right from wrong (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16). And therefore, infants cannot be sinful according to the Bible.

    It has been said that infants are born sinful because they are born of flesh. This idea is nonsense. Men cannot choose what they are made of; and therefore, they cannot be sinful because of what they are made of. Even Augustine at one point recognized, “There can be no sin that is not voluntary, the learned and the ignorant admit this evident truth.”[9] The nature you are born with is all together involuntary; and therefore, the nature that you are born with is completely without any moral character or moral qualities whatsoever. The flesh or nature you are born with cannot be sin itself, as sin is voluntary and your nature and flesh at birth is involuntary. And you cannot be sinful or be a sinner merely because of the nature or flesh that you involuntary inherit at your creation. You cannot hold a man responsible for a nature or flesh which he hasn’t chosen to have, nor can his involuntary nature or flesh be part of his moral character at all. Moral character must always be self-caused or self-chosen if it is going to truly have any moral quality. A man must be the cause of that for which He is held responsible for.

    While sin or moral character is voluntary and caused by our own will, it is also true that infants, though innocent, do suffer physical death as a natural consequence of Adam’s sin (1 Cor. 15:21-22). Infants die, not as criminals being punished for Adam’s sin, but as his offspring who are victims of his sin and suffer consequences for it. The death of infants does not prove, as Calvinists suppose, that infants have sinned and are guilty. Animals also die and they have not sinned. The reason that our bodies are subjected to death, even the bodies of innocent infants, is because we do not have access to the tree of life which was in the Garden of Eden.

    God put certain consequences upon mankind as a result of Adam’s sin to put a limitation and check to the spreading and occurrence of sin. Now man needs to work by the sweat of his brow, thus giving man less idle time to sin (Gen. 3:19), and God has intentionally deprived our flesh from the fruit that sustains perfect health, lest sin live forever (Gen. 3:22).

    Our bodies were designed to sustain their health and life through the consumption of food. However, there is a missing ingredient that we cannot find which would have sustained our bodies in perfect health and continual life. That ingredient was found in the fruit of the tree of life. Man was created mortal and needed to eat from the tree of life to sustain his life. This is why the tree was in the garden to begin with. If man was created immortal, without need of the tree of life, there was no reason for the tree of life to be in the garden in the first place. But man was told that he could eat from all the fruits in the garden, including that of the tree of life, except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). Man’s immortality in the garden depended upon his continual obedience to God. He could continue to stay in the garden and continue to eat from the tree of life if he continued to obey God.

     Adam’s removal from the tree of life has consequently affected us all. If the head of a home loses his job and the means of sustaining his family, his whole family suffers as a natural consequence. It is not that the employer was punishing his entire family, but that his family naturally suffers in consequence of what happened. Adam, as the head of our race, has brought the consequence of physical death to all of us by losing his position in the Garden of Eden where the tree of life was. It is not that God is punishing all of us for Adam’s sin, but that we naturally suffer as a consequence of what has happened.

    Irenaeus said, “By means of our first parents, we were all brought into bondage by being made subject to death.”[10]

    Chrysostom said, “On his fall, they who did not eat of the tree, are from him all become mortal.”[11]

    Gordon C. Olson said, “The ‘tree of life’ in the midst of the most pleasant garden where man was invited to dwell must be suggestive of something. I suggest that it may have been the means of keeping man’s physical body and soul in vigor and to prevent decay and death. This is suggested also in Gen. 3:24, where man is prevented from taking of the tree of life after the fall. In vs 22, the reason is stated, ‘lest he…eat and live forever.’ Not, presumably, that if he had eaten one time from it, he would have lived forever, but lest he keep on eating from it and thus keep on living forever.”[12]

    Dr. Wiggers said, “Here it is to be remarked that, with the fathers, as Erasmus has suggested, the expression to die or to die in Adam, is synonymous with being driven out of Paradise, because they who were driven out of Paradise, were no more allowed to eat of the fruit of the tree of life. At least this is the common meaning. For us to have died in Adam, is nothing else than what Methodius, in a fragment in Epiphanius (Haer. 64), thus expresses, ‘We were driven out of Paradise in the first father.”[13]

    With this understanding, we can see how the deaths of infants do not mean that they are sinful or guilty instead of innocent, since animals die and they haven’t sinned, and Jesus Christ died and he was innocent. Infants can be subjected to physical death, since their bodies are deprived of the fruit of the tree of life, even though they are morally innocent. The wages of sin is eternal death, not physical death, which is why it is contrasted with eternal life (Rom. 6:23).

    If an infant dies, he will not go to hell but to paradise. That is because an infant has no sin to go to hell for. Only hell deserving sinners go to hell, and as infants haven’t sinned yet they are not sinners, and since they are not yet sinners they are not hell deserving. King David was comforted because of his belief that he will go to paradise see his child one day (2 Sam. 12:22). Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belonged to little children (Matt. 19:14; Mk. 10:14; Lk. 18:16). Until children develop and make the conscious choice to violate God’s law by doing what they know to be wrong, they are morally innocent and do not deserve damnation. Infants are not sinners merely because they are made of flesh or because of the nature they are born with, and no child deserves hell merely because God forms them in the womb, creating and composing them of physical substance.

    Sin is a state of the will, not a state of our flesh, body, substance, constitution, composition, or nature. Charles Finney said, “The fact is, sin never can consist in having a nature, nor in what nature is, but only and alone in the bad use which we make of our nature. This is all. Our Maker will never find fault with us for what He has Himself done or made; certainly not. He will not condemn us, if we will only make a right use of our powers – of our intellect, our sensibilities, and our will. He never holds us responsible for our original nature… since there is no law against nature, nature cannot be a transgression… man’s nature is not a proper subject for legislation, precept, and penalty, inasmuch as it lies entirely without the pale of voluntary action, or of any action of man at all.”[14]

    Finney’s logic is sound. Sin is the choice to violate God’s law. God’s law tells us what type of choices to have, not what type of substance to be made of. Therefore, choices can be sinful but our substance cannot be. Since sin is a choice and not a substance, then men can only be sinful by choice and cannot be sinful by substance.

    The law doesn’t tell us what type of nature to have, but what type of choices to make. If the law was meant to reveal our wickedness (Rom. 7:7, 13), and our wickedness consists in our nature, why doesn’t the law say anything about our nature? The law only talks about our choices. If the law was meant to reveal our sin, and the law only talks about our choices, than our sin must consist exclusively in our choices. If our sin consists of our nature, but the law talks only about choices and nothing about our nature, then the law would not really reveal our wickedness. The law only reveals our wickedness if sin is our own personal choice, since God’s law only talks about choices. Clearly, the wickedness of man consists in the state of his will, not in the state of his nature, composition, substance, flesh, body, or constitution.

    Rather than sin being the involuntary state of your nature, it is instead the voluntary usage of the faculties of your nature. It is not that man’s nature is sinful, but that man can choose to use the nature God gave him sinfully. Thus, man’s sinfulness is his own fault, not the fault of his Creator. The faculties of man’s nature which God granted us can be used for either holiness or sin.

    Pelagius said, “One should note that the works, not the substance, of the flesh are condemned.”[15]

    It is very important to this discussion to understand that the Gnostic’s taught that the flesh was sinful in and of itself. That is why they denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:3, 2 Jn. 1:7). Gnostics believed that sin is the substance of the body and the Scriptures called them “antichrist.” Gnosticism attributes moral qualities to states of matter and believes that our flesh is inherently and intrinsically evil.

    It is one thing to say that our flesh can be used for sin and quite another thing altogether to say that our flesh is sin. The Bible says our flesh is an instrument or a tool which we could use for sin or use for righteousness, but not that our flesh is itself a sin. The moral quality of our members is not intrinsic but depends entirely upon how we choose to use them. Whether our flesh is an instrument used for righteousness or whether our flesh is an instrument used for wickedness is a matter of our own free choice.

    Paul said, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:13). Paul also said, “for as ye have yielded your members servants of uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Rom. 6:19).

    If your flesh was a sin, Paul was saying that you should not yield your sin as an instrument for sin, but that you should yield your sin as an instrument for righteousness! But that doesn’t make any sense! Rather, Paul was saying that sin is not the substance of our body, but we can choose to use our flesh for sin or use our flesh for the service of God.

    To be a servant of sin or to be a servant of righteousness is not a matter of nature, but a matter of choice. Our flesh is not created as a servant of sin or a servant of righteousness, but after we are created, we choose to “yield” our flesh to the service of righteousness or sin. The Bible says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Rom. 6:12). The words “let” and “obey” indicates the consent and obedience of the will.

    Commenting on these passages, Pelagius said, “…sin reigns in the body, namely, by obedience and consent… Every single member is made a weapon of wickedness to defeat righteousness, if it turns its function to bad use. At the same time it should be noted that it is through freedom of choice that a person offers his members for whatever side he wishes…. We present our members to serve sin: it is not the case, as the Manichaeans say, that it was the nature of the body to have sin mixed in.”[16]

    A. W. Tozer said, “It is important that we realize the human body is simply an instrument, because there are those who have taught that Christ could not be God in the flesh because the body is evil and God would not thus come in contact with evil. The false premise there is the belief that the human body is evil. There is no evil within inert matter. There is nothing evil in matter itself. Evil lies in the spirit. Evils of the heart, of the mind, of the soul, of the spirit – these have to do with man’s sin, and the only reason the human body does evil is because the human spirit uses it to do evil…. No, sin does not lie in the human body. There is nothing in the human body that is bad. Sin lies in the will of man and when the man wills to sin, he uses his body as a harmless, helpless instrument to do his evil purpose.”[17]

    Alfred T. Overstreet said, “Our flesh and our bodies are not sinful in themselves, but they can be the occasion to temptation, and we can give in to temptation and present our bodies as instruments to sin, but it is we ourselves, living in our bodies, who are sinful or righteous, according to the use we make of our bodies.”[18]

    To counteract the Gnostic idea that matter was intrinsically evil, or that the flesh was in and of itself sinful, Paul said that we can choose to sanctify our flesh, to set apart our bodies for the service of God, so that our body can be holy. Paul said, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thes. 4:3-4). “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:23). “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8).

    Paul commanded men to “glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20).  Paul said that whether we are absent or present in the body we are to be acceptable unto God (2 Cor. 5:9). He also said, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:16-17). “Christ shall be magnified in my body” (Php. 1:20). “Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). The Psalmist said, “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Ps. 84:2).

    It should be evident from all of these passages that the Scriptures do not support that Gnostic doctrine that the flesh is sinful or that the body is evil, but that it is an instrument which can be used either way, and in the case of the Christian, the flesh is actually holy or sanctified.

    On this point it is important to distinguish between sanctification and glorification. The difference between having a glorified flesh and having a sanctified flesh is this: a sanctified flesh has to do with how we morally use our bodies, while a glorified flesh has to do with the physical quality of our bodies themselves. We certainly cannot have a glorified body in this life, but we can have a sanctified body in this life. That means that we cannot have a physically perfect body in this world (Php. 3:11-12), but we certainly don’t have to use our body to sin or choose to gratify our flesh through sin. We can sanctify our flesh in this world. We can set apart our body from sin to the service of God. Christians still live “in the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3), but they do not live “according” to the flesh (2 Cor. 10:2), or live “after the flesh” (Rom. 8:1; 8:5). We still have a body but we are not selfishly living to gratify our flesh. Those who belong to Christ choose to walk after the spirit and no longer live to gratify the lusts of their flesh (Gal 5:16, 5:24).

    We do not need to wait until glorification in order to experience sanctification. Since we are not born sinful or with a sinful body, but men are sinful by their own free choice, we do not need to wait until we die or until we cease to have these physical bodies in order to cease to be sinful, as Gnosticism taught. We can freely choose not to be sinful in this life. We can choose to live sin free right here and now.

    This is why the Bible commands us, in this life, to cease to be evil and to be sinful no more. Two mistaken concepts theologians often hold to are, “You cannot become holy on earth,” and, “You cannot become sinful in heaven.” These ideas are in error because we know that there were angels who became sinful while in heaven, and we know that Jesus Christ, who is our example to follow, lived holy on earth.

    The angels in heaven right now could sin, they could become demons like the others, but they don’t want to. When we make it to heaven as the saints of God, we too could sin but we won’t want to. Free will is not taken away I heaven, but we will be “as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt. 22:30). We will use our free will to be obedient to God for all of eternity, while retaining the liberty to become evil if we wanted to.

    Jesus lived holy before He had a glorified body and Adam became sinful while he still had a glorified body. Those without glorified bodies are free to choose to be sanctified, and those with glorified bodies are free to choose to be sinful. Having a glorified body does not force one to be holy, nor does having a body not yet glorified force one to be sinful. Being sinful or being holy is not determined by the nature of your body, but by the determination of your free will.

GNOSTICISM IS ALIVE AND WELL TODAY

    The idea of moral character existing before moral choices exist, or of moral character deriving its existence from something other than moral choices such as our body or our nature, is a Gnostic moral philosophy. How can our moral character truly be called “moral” if it has nothing to do with our choices, and consequently nothing to do with God’s law, but rather has to do with our nature, substance, constitution, or composition? If we fail to distinguish between sin and temptation, between the physical and the moral, between nature and character, between natural attributes and moral attributes, we will fall into the error of Gnosticism.

    While I was preaching on the North Carolina State University campus, I asked a Calvinist this question, “Is the body a sin?” He said, “Yes our bodies are made of sin.” I asked, “You can put sin under a microscope and look at it?” He said, “Sure.”

    While I was preaching on the Alabama A&M campus, a man said to me, “You can’t stop sinning. Even waking up is a sin because you wake up in sinful flesh.”

    While I was open air preaching at the University of Texas in Austin, I said, “Go and sin no more.” To this a Calvinist responded, “Just the fact that we are composed of flesh makes us sinners…”

    While I was open air preaching to students at Tyler Junior College in Texas, I said, “Sin is a voluntary choice to violate God’s law.” A Calvinist in the crowd responded by saying, “Your body is sin. You are a sinner because you have a body. And so long as you are in your body, you are a sinner!”

    Just recently a Calvinist sent me a personal message that said, “Your body is sinful and will be until death.” These types of statements from Calvinists are Gnostic at their very essence.

    After traveling the length and breadth of this nation and talking to thousands of people, I have concluded that Gnosticism is alive and well today. I have been shocked at how many Gnostic Calvinists I have encountered. The very idea that your body is sinful, and that because of this you cannot be morally perfect until you get a glorified body, is nothing short of pure Gnosticism. Yet many today claim that you cannot be free from sin until you die!

    The truth is that your body does not make you unholy; and therefore, you don’t need a new body in order to be made holy. Your body is not sinful, so you don’t need a new body to be free from sin. The command to “be ye therefore perfect” (Matt. 5:48) certainly takes for granted that moral perfection is a choice of the will and not an involuntary state of the body which we have absolutely no control over. A command implies that the object which is being commanded can be acquired by the choice of the will and that the thing which is being forbidden can be avoided by the choice of the will. Therefore, moral perfection is a choice of the will, not a state or substance of your body.

    Since your body is not sinful, and since your body doesn’t make you sin, you don’t need a new body to be free from sin. Adam sinned with a perfect or glorified body, and Jesus Christ was sinless while he was in a depraved or fallen body. He was sinless while having a body that was not yet glorified but was subjected to death. Therefore, a depraved body does not necessarily make you sinful. Neither does a glorified body necessarily make you holy. Being sinful or being holy does not depend upon the physical state or quality of your body, but upon the moral state or quality of your will.

    Since Gnosticism fails to distinguish between the physical and the moral, they consequently fail to properly distinguish between physical depravity and moral depravity and between physical perfection and moral perfection. Gnostic moral philosophy says that sin is a substance of matter and is not limited to free will choices. To view sin as a state of the body, or a state of human nature, rather than a state of the will, is to have a Gnostic view of sin and human nature. The whole idea that man has a sinful nature, or that man’s nature is sinful in and of itself, or that man is sinful through hereditary inheritance rather than through voluntary choice, is nothing more than the remains of Gnostic and Manichaean philosophy surviving through Augustinian, Lutheran, and Calvinistic theology.

    John Calvin said, “Augustine laboured to show, that we are not corrupted by acquired wickedness, but bringing an innate corruption from the very womb…”[19]

    In other words, wickedness was not the fault of the individual, since they did not cause it by their own free will, but was the fault of their constitution or design, acquiring it during the formation of their composition while in the womb.

    Dean Harvey said, “The concept of inherited sin is a philosophical construct applied to theology. It is not found in the Bible.”[20]

    In regards to the doctrine of constitutional sinfulness, Charles Finney said, “This doctrine is a stumbling-block both to the church and the world, infinitely dishonorable to God, and an abomination alike to God and the human intellect, and should be banished from every pulpit, and from every formula of doctrine, and from the world. It is a relic of heathen philosophy, and was foisted in among the doctrines of Christianity by Augustine, as everyone may know who will take the trouble to examine for himself.”[21]

    Harry Conn said, “Augustine, after studying the philosophy of Manes, the Persian philosopher, brought into the church from Manichaeism the doctrine of original sin.”[22]

    Augustine’s theological term, “the transmission of sin,” itself presupposes the Gnostic view that sin is some sort of substance that can be hereditary rather than a personal choice originated by the will. In a Gnostic world-view, sin is blamed on man’s nature rather than on man’s free will but in the Christian world-view this is not true. These Gnostic notions were completely foreign to the Early Church and even refuted by them. It was not until Augustine converted from the Manichaean Gnostic sect that he brought these views with him into the church. Many all throughout church history have refuted these erroneous Gnostic views of human flesh or human nature, as we shall now see.

GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF SIN

    Man is both a physical and a spiritual being. Our constitution is both physical and spiritual. It is not true however, as the Gnostics supposed, that the physical is evil but the spiritual is good, since God is the Creator of both physical and spiritual reality. In fact, God forms us both physically and spiritually in the womb. He is the maker of our spiritual and physical constitution. The Bible says, “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all” (Ecc. 11:5).

    Our physical and spiritual state at birth is the direct result of the working of God, who is the author of man’s nature or constitution. Unless we are willing to believe that God is the author of sin, we cannot accept the theory or view that sin is the result of our physical or spiritual nature. To blame your sinfulness upon your free will or to confess being a sinner by choice is to humbly and fully take responsibility for your sin. But to blame your sinfulness on your birth or on your nature is to blame your Creator who formed you in the womb.

    Charles Finney said, “To represent the constitution as sinful, is to present God, who is the author of the constitution, as the author of sin.”[23]

    A writer in the Early Church, either Pelagius or one of his followers, said, “…it is impious to say that sin is inherent in nature, because in this way the author of nature is being judged at fault.”[24] And he said, “…all sin is to be attributed to the free choice of the will, not to the defects of nature…”[25]

    Winkie Pratney said, “To equate humanity with sinfulness is to make God the Author of His own worst enemy; to make God responsible for the thing that has brought Him unhappiness.”[26]

    Julian of Eclanum said, “…the good God is the maker of those that are born, by whom all things were made, and that the children of men are His work.”[27] He also said, “God is the Maker of all those that are born, and that the sons of men are God’s work; and that all sin descends not from nature, but from the will.”[28]

    Alfred T. Overstreet said, “To talk of men being born with a sinful nature is to ascribe sin to God because God is the Author of our nature.”[29]

    Asa Mahan said, “If the above dogma is true, it is demonstrably evident, that this corrupt nature comes into existence without the knowledge, choice, or agency of the creature, who for its existence is pronounced deserving of, and ‘bound over to the wrath of God.’ Equally evident is it that this corrupt nature exists as the result of the direct agency of God. He proclaims himself the maker of ‘every soul of man.’ As its Maker, He must have imparted to that soul the constitution or nature which it actually possesses. It does not help the matter at all, to say, that this nature is derived from our progenitor: for the laws of generation, by which this corrupt nature is derived from that progenitor, are sustained and continued by God himself… If, then, the above dogma is true, man in the first place, is held as deserving of eternal punishment for that which exists wholly independent of his knowledge, choice or agency, in any sense, direct or indirect, He is also held responsible for the result, not of his own agency, but for that which results from the agency of God.” [30]

    God is not the author of sin. He does not want us to be sinners. Our Creator certainly would not create us with a sinful nature. To say that He does would be to blaspheme His character and confuse the Lord’s will with that of the devils.

    Calvinists will typically object and say, “God did not give me my sinful nature. I inherited it from Adam!” But the Bible does not teach that Adam, Satan, or anyone else forms our nature in the womb. It is God who forms our nature in the womb. “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps. 100:3).Clearly, Adam is not the God of nature. Adam does not form us in the womb. Remember, as we’ve already seen, the scriptures are explicit and say that God is the author of our nature. He is the creator of our constitution. We are the work of His hands since He forms us in the womb. Just as the Bible says that God formed Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:7-8; 1 Tim. 2:13), the Bible uses the same word and language to say that God forms us in the womb (Gen. 4:1; 6:7 Ex. 4:11; Deut. 32:18; Isa. 27:11; 43:1; 43:7; 44:2; 44:24; 49:5; 64:8; Jer. 1:5; Ps. 26:10; 82:6; 95:6; 100:3; 119:73; 127:3; 139:13-14, 16; Prov. 20:12; 26:10; Ecc. 7:29; Job 10:8-11; 31:15; 35:10; Mal. 2:10; Acts 17:29; Rom. 9:20; Eph. 3:9; 4:6; Col. 1:16; Jn. 1:3).

     The Bible says, “And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?” (Exo. 4:11). “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29). “Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about… thou hast made me as the clay… Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews” (Job 10:8-9, 11). “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them” (Prov. 20:12). “The great God formed all things” (Prov. 26:10). “Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things” (Isa. 44:24). “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (Jn. 1:3). “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things” (Rom. 11:36). “God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:9). “For by him were all things created… all things were created by him… all things were created by him, and for him:… by him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17). The “all things” that have been made by Christ include all the human natures which are made and created in the womb.

    Who then is it that “formed thee from the womb” according to the Bible? It is “the Lord, thy redeemer” who “maketh all things.” But remember, Augustine held to a Gnostic moral philosophy and taught, according to Calvin, that wickedness was not “acquired” by personal choices, but was an “innate corruption from the very womb…”[31]

    Is it true that sin is not our fault? Is sin really a birth defect? To blame sin upon our formation in the womb is to blame the Lord for our sin, since He formed us in the womb. To blame sin upon a corrupted constitution is to blame our Creator for sin. To blame sin upon a faulty design is to blame sin upon our Designer.

    Martin Luther, who was a student of Augustine’s writings, believed that God is the author of our nature and that we are born with a sinful nature. Therefore he said that God “ceases not to form and multiply that nature, which… is defiled by sin…”[32] In other words, Luther was saying that God multiplies man’s sinful nature by forming us all with a sinful nature!

This would be Luther’s position put into a logical syllogism:

Major premise: Our nature is sinful.

Minor premise: God is the author of our nature.

Conclusion: Therefore, God forms us with a sinful nature.

    The reason that he came to the wrong conclusion was because he started with the wrong premise. We should reason like this:

Major premise: God is the author of our nature.

Minor premise: God is not the author of sin.

Conclusion: Therefore, God does not create us with a sinful nature.

    Origen said, “not a single one is formed wicked by the Creator of all things…”[33]

    Eusebius said, “The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God is has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature!”[34]

    Methodius said that “the Divine Being is not by nature implicated in evils. Therefore our birth is not the cause of these things…”[35] He went on to say that men are “possessing free will, and not by nature evil…”[36] He also said, “there is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become such. So I say, says he, that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God. For this was the meaning of the gift of free will… and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience…”[37]

    And Methodius also said, “God did not make evil, nor is He at all in any way the author of evil; but whatever failed to keep the law, which He in all justice ordained, after being made by Him with the faculty of free-will, for the purpose of guarding and keeping it, is called evil. Now it is the gravest fault to disobey God, by overstepping the bounds of that righteousness which is consistent with free-will…”[38]

    Scripturally sound doctrine says that we are not formed or fashioned in the womb wicked by God but we become wicked by choice after we are born. God certainly would not create us in the womb with a sinful nature since God hates sin and does not even tempt anyone to sin (Jas. 1:13). If God doesn’t even tempt us to sin, He certainly wouldn’t give us a nature that is sin or a nature which necessitates us to sin! James goes on to tell us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (Jas. 1:17), but if God gives us a sinful nature, that is not a good gift! We could say, “The worst of all gifts is from above!”

    How could we say “I will…ascribe righteousness to my Maker” (Job 36:3), if He makes us with a sinful nature? We couldn’t “ascribe righteousness to my Maker” if we are involuntarily and unavoidably made sinful by no fault of our own, but were made sinful because of the formation of our God given nature.

     We know that God does not form us in the womb with a sinful nature since the Bible says that we are wonderfully made. King David said, “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are they works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Ps. 139:14). We could not be wonderfully made if we were sinfully made. God’s works could not be marvelous if God created sinfulness.

     Paul said, “For every creature of God is good” (1 Tim. 4:4). Clearly, God does not make men sinners but men make themselves transgressors. This is why the Bible says, “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made men upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Ecc. 7:29). If sinners were honest with themselves, they would say what the Bible says, “I make myself a transgressor” (Gal. 2:18). Sin is not the fault of our constitution, but it is our own fault, because it is caused by our deliberate misuse of our constitution.

     To say that we are born sinners is to say that God, who forms us in the womb, creates us as sinners. If God creates us as sinners, God forces us to be sinful. And if God forces us to be sinful, we cannot be responsible or accountable for being sinful. We cannot be responsible for the condition of our birth or be justly punished for being what God created us as.

     If God created us sinners, we would not be the real sinners but God would be the real sinner. This is because our sinfulness would not be caused by ourselves but by Him. If God creates us sinners, sin is really His fault and consequently, He is not righteous or good. The reason that God is righteous is because He never causes the existence of sin, and the reason that He is good is because He cares for the well-being of everyone. Therefore, since God is good and righteous, we can conclude that He does not form anyone in the womb as a sinner or make anyone necessarily sinful.


[1] The entire notion of the flesh being sinful is nothing more than the ancient heresy of the Gnostics, which was brought into the church from Augustine when he joined the church out of that Gnostic sect Manicheanism. The Gnostics taught that the God of the Old Testament was an evil being who created the material world out of sinful substance. They denied that Jesus came in the flesh but only appeared to have a body, because they viewed the flesh and all matter as itself sinful. Augustine modified this view and said that the desires of the flesh became sinful by the original sin of Adam and Christ avoided the inheritance of a sinful flesh because he was born of a virgin. Augustinianism is, therefore, semi-Gnosticism or modified Manicheanism. Augustine took heretical principles and tried to make them compatible with orthodox Christianity.

[2] Augustinians have taught that God created Adam with a good flesh but through original sin, that flesh became sinful. We inherit that sinful flesh from Adam, but Christ did not inherit the sinful flesh that we inherit. Instead, God created Christ with the same type of original flesh that Adam first had. However, these verses clearly say that Christ not only had a flesh, but that He was made in all things liken unto us.

[3] Strong’s defines “skēnos” which is translated as “tabernacle” as a “temporary residence.”

[4] Thayer’s definition of  “tapeinōsis.”

[5] The human body is truly remarkable. The design and function of the body is not comparable to anything else in creation. Its intricate design is genius. From its immune system to skeleton structure, that an intelligent mind engineered our body is evident. God created our body good (Gen. 1:31), and though He has subjected our physical frame to temporal existence, it is still very good in many ways. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works…” (Ps. 139:14).

[6] Letter To Rufus Of Thessalonica

[7] Letter To Rufus Of Thessalonica

[8] Are Men Born Sinners? Evangel Books Publishing Company, p.17

[9] De vera relig., xiv, 27

[10] A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 271, Published by Hendrickson Publishers

[11] The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man by Herman Witsius, 1803 Edition, p. 152

[12] The Foreknowledge of God, published by Biblical Truth Resources, pg 25

[13] Historical Presentation of Augustinianism and Pelagianism, pg 399-400

[14] Sermons on Gospel Themes, p. 78-79, Published by Truth in Heart

[15] Pelagius’s commentary on Romans 8:13

[16] Pelagius’ Commentary on Romans 6:12-13, 19.

[17] Who Put Jesus on the Cross, Published by Christian Publications Inc, p. 110-111

[18] Are Men Born Sinners, The Myth of Original Sin, Evangel Books Publishing Company, Long Beach California, p. 70

[19] Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume One, Published by Calvin Translation Society, 1845 Edition, p. 288

[20] The Doctrine of Original Sin by Dean Harvey; Published by Evangelical Education Ministries

[21] Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, Published by BRCCD, p. 340

[22] Sin & Holiness by Gordon C. Olson, Forward by Harry Conn, Published by Men for Missions

[23] Finney’s Systematic Theology, Bethany House, p. 261

[24] The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, p. 168, Published by The Boydell Press

[25] The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 168-169, Published by The Boydell Press

[26] Youth Aflame, Published by Bethany House, p. 78

[27] Letter To Rufus Of Thessalonica

[28] Letter To Rufus Of Thessalonica

[29] Are Men Born Sinners, The Myth of Original Sin, Evangel Books Publishing Company, Long Beach California, p. 103

[30] Doctrine of the Will, Published by Truth in Heart, p. 115

[31] Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume One, Published by Calvin Translation Society, 1845 Edition, p. 288

[32] The Bondage of the Will, Sovereign Grace Publishers, p. 97

[33] The Quarterly Christian Spectator, Volume Seven, Published by S. Cooke, 1825 Edition, p. 270

[34] The Christian Examiner, Volume One, Published by James Miller, 1824 Edition, p. 66

[35] The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRC CD, p. 696

[36] The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRC CD, p 698

[37] The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRC CD, p. 747

[38] The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRC CD, p. 750

 photo SinfulNatureFrontCover_zps56fe1924.jpg

This is an excerpt from: DOES MAN INHERIT A SINFUL NATURE? A Scriptural Discourse on the Human Constitution By Jesse Morrell

211 pages

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2 Responses to Is Our Flesh Sinful? Is the Human Body A Sin? The Heresy of Gnosticism & Manicheanism Refuted by Jesse Morrell

  1. This is a very important section from this article:

    It is very important to this discussion to understand that the Gnostic’s taught that the flesh was sinful in and of itself. That is why they denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:3, 2 Jn. 1:7). Gnostics believed that sin is the substance of the body and the Scriptures called them “antichrist.” Gnosticism attributes moral qualities to states of matter and believes that our flesh is inherently and intrinsically evil.

    It is one thing to say that our flesh can be used for sin and quite another thing altogether to say that our flesh is sin. The Bible says our flesh is an instrument or a tool which we could use for sin or use for righteousness, but not that our flesh is itself a sin. The moral quality of our members is not intrinsic but depends entirely upon how we choose to use them. Whether our flesh is an instrument used for righteousness or whether our flesh is an instrument used for wickedness is a matter of our own free choice.

    Paul said, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:13). Paul also said, “for as ye have yielded your members servants of uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Rom. 6:19).

    If your flesh was a sin, Paul was saying that you should not yield your sin as an instrument for sin, but that you should yield your sin as an instrument for righteousness! But that doesn’t make any sense! Rather, Paul was saying that sin is not the substance of our body, but we can choose to use our flesh for sin or use our flesh for the service of God.

    To be a servant of sin or to be a servant of righteousness is not a matter of nature, but a matter of choice. Our flesh is not created as a servant of sin or a servant of righteousness, but after we are created, we choose to “yield” our flesh to the service of righteousness or sin. The Bible says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Rom. 6:12). The words “let” and “obey” indicates the consent and obedience of the will.

    Commenting on these passages, Pelagius said, “…sin reigns in the body, namely, by obedience and consent… Every single member is made a weapon of wickedness to defeat righteousness, if it turns its function to bad use. At the same time it should be noted that it is through freedom of choice that a person offers his members for whatever side he wishes…. We present our members to serve sin: it is not the case, as the Manichaeans say, that it was the nature of the body to have sin mixed in.”[16]

    A. W. Tozer said, “It is important that we realize the human body is simply an instrument, because there are those who have taught that Christ could not be God in the flesh because the body is evil and God would not thus come in contact with evil. The false premise there is the belief that the human body is evil. There is no evil within inert matter. There is nothing evil in matter itself. Evil lies in the spirit. Evils of the heart, of the mind, of the soul, of the spirit – these have to do with man’s sin, and the only reason the human body does evil is because the human spirit uses it to do evil…. No, sin does not lie in the human body. There is nothing in the human body that is bad. Sin lies in the will of man and when the man wills to sin, he uses his body as a harmless, helpless instrument to do his evil purpose.”[17]

    Alfred T. Overstreet said, “Our flesh and our bodies are not sinful in themselves, but they can be the occasion to temptation, and we can give in to temptation and present our bodies as instruments to sin, but it is we ourselves, living in our bodies, who are sinful or righteous, according to the use we make of our bodies.”[18]

    To counteract the Gnostic idea that matter was intrinsically evil, or that the flesh was in and of itself sinful, Paul said that we can choose to sanctify our flesh, to set apart our bodies for the service of God, so that our body can be holy. Paul said, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thes. 4:3-4). “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:23). “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8).

    Paul commanded men to “glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). Paul said that whether we are absent or present in the body we are to be acceptable unto God (2 Cor. 5:9). He also said, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:16-17). “Christ shall be magnified in my body” (Php. 1:20). “Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). The Psalmist said, “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Ps. 84:2).

    It should be evident from all of these passages that the Scriptures do not support that Gnostic doctrine that the flesh is sinful or that the body is evil, but that it is an instrument which can be used either way, and in the case of the Christian, the flesh is actually holy or sanctified.

  2. You definitely need a digital distribution for this, like Scribd or Amazon for those of us who like our Kindles.

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