A person wrote that the original Christadelphians believe that Jesus “was made sin,” that he was made in the “very same flesh as his brethren termed as “sin” and therefore destroyed sin in his own flesh…” This is not really a belief only held by the “original Christadelphians,” but a belief that is held in just about all mainstream supposed Christianity that can be traced back to the beliefs of Augustine.
I believe the hidden thought here that it is conveying without actually saying it is the term “sinful nature” as used in just about all denominations who believe that all are “born in sin” and believe that “sin is in the flesh” (or in some cases, “in the blood”). This can be easily found out if we ask the right questions,
- What is sin?
- And what does it mean by “sin in the flesh?”
First, never does any part of scripture define sin as a substance or living virus that can be transferred or transmitted from one person to the next whether in or out of the womb. The scriptures define sin as a transgression, “for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 Jn. 3:4).
Sin is not a substance, it is disobedience to God. It is a moral issue, not a flesh problem.
Secondly, “sin in the flesh” does not mean the “flesh is sinful,” “sinful by nature,” or “sinful nature.” Nowhere does scripture define our flesh as sin.
We can’t have “Jesus was made sin,” because he had the “same flesh as his brethren,” and then turn around and say, “Of course this does not render Jesus a sinner because he was able to resist temptation.” The issue is not about temptation, but rather the nature of man and Christ. Either Jesus had sin or he did not if we want to say the flesh itself is sin. How does one “resist” sin if flesh itself is sin? That’s like saying, I can resist a cold even though I have a cold. If you have sin, you have not resisted it because you can’t get rid of it. It is part of your nature, your makeup. So I must ask, How do you resist your flesh if your flesh is sin? How does that work? How does flesh, supposedly sin itself, try to make you sin? How does something (flesh) that is nothing more than an inanimate conglomerate of biological tissue, that has no moral quality, make you sin?
Many believe that our bodies are made of sin and cause us to sin. However, remember that sin is a violation of God’s law (1 Jn. 3:4), not what type of body or nature we should or not have.
The Greek word “sarx” is translated as flesh, never as “sinful nature.” In scriptures, it is overwhelmingly described as the flesh of humans and animal life. In the New Testament alone, the word is used approximately 150 times. The fact is that God is the author of our flesh (Exodus 4:11, Isaiah 44:2, Jer. 1:5), who made man from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7, Gen. 3:19). The word “flesh” is also at times synonymous with men (Gen. 6:12). It is true that our flesh can be the occasion or the source of temptation (James 1:14), but sinning is a choice because of our own selfish desires and we are told not to sin (John 5:14, John 8:11, Rom. 6:12; Rom. 6:19 Eph. 4:26 etc.). Our flesh is an instrument that we can use for sin or for righteousness (Rom. 6:13, Rom. 6:19).
If the flesh is sinful, then we would have to conclude Jesus had sinful flesh since Jesus had flesh (Luke 24:39, John 1:14, 2 Jn. 1:7). It is the same type of flesh as ours. (Heb. 2:14; Heb. 2:17). In Romans 8:3 it says Jesus was made in the likeness of “sinful flesh” (i.e., flesh that had sinned). It does not mean in the likeness of “sinful nature” as falsely taught.
And since our flesh is nothing more than an inanimate conglomerate of biological tissue that has no moral quality, it cannot make us do anything, good or evil. However, when we use our body (flesh) to indulge in sinful behavior, then the flesh is full of sin and the bible calls it “sinful flesh” (again, not “sinful nature”). The flesh is not sinful by nature, it becomes sinful because, as moral agents, we have made choices to sin.
There are also times when the word flesh is used in the figurative sense. For instance, Paul says:
For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. (Romans 7:18).
And in Romans 7:23 he talks about:
…sin which is in my members.
He is not speaking literally about the physical body made up of sin. Remember, sin is not a substance, it is not a virus with personality. Paul is discussing the matter of a sinful condition, because of the choices made to sin. We never read Paul condemning the physical nature of man. In fact, Paul states that it is sinful to walk according to the flesh (2 Cor. 10:2), which one involves himself in sinful behavior, but it is not sinful to walk in the flesh (2 Cor. 10:3.).
Also, note the following how walking according to the flesh has to do with deeds of the body:
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Rom. 8:13
And in Galatians 5 Paul talks about the “works of the flesh,” and he goes on to name them (5:19-21):
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
When Paul speaks about those who walk according to the flesh, he is not speaking as though the flesh in itself is doing these things independent of the person. He is referring to the fact that those who live according to the flesh are those who are slaves to their own lusts and ruled by their own selfish passions and desires, which manifest itself in the deeds of the body.
The modern definition of “flesh,” according to mainstream Christianity, has nothing to do with anyone fighting some mysterious “other self” that coexists, striving for supremacy. This is pure philosophy. We are the ones who can control our body. What manifests in the body is what comes out from the heart (Matt. 12:35). We must choose not to sin. We need to purify our hearts and clean up our lives. As James says:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.