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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Is The Flesh Sinful? Is The Body A Sin?

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 Is The Flesh Sinful? Is The Body A Sin?

Some people believe that sin is a substance, not a choice. They believe that sin is a quality of matter, not a state of the will. I once asked a Calvinist “Is this body a sin?” They said, “Yes, our bodies are made of sin”. I asked, “So you can put sin under a microscope and look at it?” He said, “sure”.

Here are some points to consider in relation to the question "Is our flesh sinful" or "Is the body a sin?"

1. God is the author of our flesh (Exodus 4:11, Isaiah 44:2, Jer. 1:5).

2. Sinfulness is violation 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), not what type of body or nature we should or shouldn’t have.

3. Our flesh is just dirt (Gen. 2:7, Gen. 3:19).

4. Our flesh is the occasion of our sin, or the source of temptation (James 1:14), but sin itself is a choice (John 5:14, John 8:11, Rom. 6:12; Rom. 6:19 Eph. 4:26).

5. The body needs to be kept under subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27).

6. It is sinful to live after the flesh (Rom. 8:13), or to be living to gratify our flesh (Rom. 8:7).

7. But it is not sinful to have a flesh, because Jesus Christ had a flesh (Luke 24:39, John 1:14, 1 Tim. 3:16, 1 Jn. 4:3, 2 Jn. 1:7).

8. Jesus had the same type of flesh that we have (Heb. 2:14; Heb. 2:17).

9. Jesus made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3) which means Jesus was made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7). The word “flesh” is sometimes used synonymous with men (Gen. 6:12, Matt. 16:17).

10. Jesus was morally perfect (2 Cor. 5:21) before He had a glorified or resurrected body.

11. The Gnostic’s taught that the flesh was sinful in and of itself (1 Jn. 4:3, 2 Jn. 1:7).

12. Our flesh is an instrument or tool which we could use for sin or for righteousness (Rom. 6:13, Rom. 6:19).

13. Our flesh can be sanctified (Rom. 12:1, 1 Thes. 4:4, 1 Thes. 5:23, 1 Tim. 2:8).



"If a man were created evil, he would not deserve punishment, since he was not evil of himself, being unable to do anything else than what he was made for.” Justin Martyr (First Apology Chap. 43)

“Those who do not do it [good] will receive the just judgment of God, because they had not work good when they had it in their power to do so. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for they were created that way. Nor would the former be reprehensible, for that is how they were made. However, all men are of the same nature. They are all able to hold fast and to go what is good. On the other hand, they have the power to cast good from them and not to do it.” Irenaeus (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

“If man is in fault for his [supposed] sinful nature, why not condemn man for having blue or black eyes? 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.” Charles Finney (Sermons on Gospel Themes, p. 78-79, published by Truth in Heart)

“To represent the constitution as sinful, is to present God, who is the author of the constitution, as the author of sin.” Charles Finney (Finney’s Systematic Theology, Bethany House, p. 261).

“… it is impious to say that sin is inherent in nature, because in this way the author of nature is being judged at fault.” Unknown (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, p. 168, published by The Boydell Press).

“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.” Winkie Pratney (Youth Aflame, Bethany House, pg. 78).

“The next dogma deserving attention is the position, that mankind derived from our first progenitor a corrupt nature, which renders obedience to the commands of God impossible, and disobedience necessary, and that for the mere existence of this nature, men ‘deserve God’s wrath and curse, not only in this world, but in that which is to come.’ If the above dogma is true, it is demonstrably evident, that this corrupt nature comes into existence without 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.” Asa Mahan (Doctrine of the Will, published by Truth in Heart, p. 115).

“Sin is never natural. It is horribly un-natural. Sin is never ‘human’. It is horribly in-human. Sin creates remorse, guilt, and shame; every time a man feels these three witnesses in his soul, they tell him sin is not natural. Even the simple lie-detector can tell us this. The whole body reacts adversely when a man sins… God never planned sin for man. It is the most un-natural thing in the moral Universe… Do not dare say sin is ‘natural’! God hates sin with perfect hatred; He loves humanity.” Winkie Pratney (Youth Aflame, Bethany House, pg. 78).


“Now temptation is not sin. Temptation is the proposition presented to the mind that you can satisfy a good appetite in a forbidden way. Temptation leads to sin…. Sin is the decision of the will…. sin is the decision to gratify a good appetite in a bad way." Paris Reidhead (Finding the Reality of God, pg 141-142)

“Don’t mistake temptation for sin. Temptation is a suggestion to gratify a desire in an illegal way or amount. Temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted.” Winkie Pratney (Youth Aflame, Bethany House, pg. 83).

“God created us to exist in a constant state of desire and appetite… The infant cannot think of terms of duty, responsibility, or moral choice…. The self-centeredness of infants has all the appearances of a vice. But they are acting on natural, God-given impulses to survive and seek their own pleasure…. They do not have the intellectual and moral capacity to say “No” to appetites and impulses. They cannot yet be held responsible. They begin life in innocent self-centeredness…. But the growing child or adult who doesn’t rise above self-indulging desires has fallen from God’s intention and design. The root of all sin is founded in runaway indulgence of God-given desires… Drives which are not in themselves evil, nonetheless, form the seedbed on which sin will assuredly grow… When does this innocent, natural selfishness of a child become sin? In other words, when is a child to blame? Keep in mind that a child will not come under condemnation until his moral faculties are fully operative… When a child goes against his conscience, however limited and incomplete his understanding may be, he is then guilty. The degree to which his understanding has developed is the degree to which his actions can be called sin…. As the body of flesh was the medium of Eve’s sin and of Christ’s temptation, so it is the implement of your child’s development into selfishness – which, at maturity, will constitute sinfulness.” Michael & Debi Pearl (To Train Up A Child, No Greater Joy, pg. 15-20)

“The bodily appetites and tendencies of body and mind, when strongly excited, become the occasions of sin. So it was with Adam. No one will say that Adam had a sinful nature. But he had, by his constitution, an appetite for food and a desire for knowledge. These were not sinful but were as God made them. They were necessary to fit him to live in this world as a subject of God’s moral government. But being strongly excited led to indulgence, and thus became the occasions of his sinning against God. These tendencies were innocent in themselves, but he yielded to them in a sinful manner, and that was his sin.” Charles Finney (You Can Be Holy, published by Whitaker House, p. 215).

"We have a nature that is capable of being perverted from legitimate to illegitimate, from the natural to the unnatural, from the pure to the polluted." Sin is to "pervert... natural, legitimate, human desires." F. Lagard Smith (Troubling Questions for Calvinists, page 134-135).

"Evil is making a bad use of a good thing." Augustine (Confessions and Enchiridion, trans. and ed. by Albert C. Outler, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, N. D, page 326-338, section 36).

“If these feelings are not suffered to influence the will… if such feelings are not cherished, and are not suffered to shake the integrity of the will; they are not sin. That is, the will does not consent to them, but the contrary. They are only temptations. If they are allowed to control the will, to break forth in words and actions, then there is sin; but the sin does not consist in the, but in the consent of the will, to gratify them.” Charles Finney (Systematic Theology pg. 191).

 2009/10/27 2:45

Joined: 2007/4/25
Posts: 1495
Scotland, UK

 Re: Is The Flesh Sinful? Is The Body A Sin?

In order to understand the issues that arise from Charles Finney’s teachings, it is helpful to outline the basic ideas of Pelagius. The following are the key teachings of Pelagianism:

An insistence of the adequacy of created human nature, essentially unimpaired by Adam’s fall, to fulfill the will of God; the denial of original sin as either guilt or corruption transmitted from Adam to all mankind; the highest moral and spiritual expectations of the baptized Christian who must be capable of a life of perfect holiness, because God commands him thereto; and an understanding of the gifts of grace that excludes, or at best drastically minimizes, that enabling power without whose inner working we can do nothing acceptable to God.

Finney on Original Sin

An important issue in the Pelagian controversy that resurfaces in Finney is the manner in which Adam’s sin influences the Adamic race. Finney’s Calvinistic background, that apparently had little influence on his theology, held that Adam sinned on behalf of the human race, that original sin included a "sin nature,” and that all are "by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3) Finney rejected that notion and taught that depravity is moral and not physical. He meant by this that the will, though strongly influenced by "sensibilities” and temptations, commits itself to selfish gratification. Since there is no physical depravity and "moral depravity can only be predicated of violations of moral law,” sinfulness is an act of each individual’s will and not a "sin nature” that can be predicated of the whole Adamic race. Thus Adamic guilt and corruption of nature, the historical doctrine of original sin, is denied by Finney as it was by Pelagius.

Studying Finney’s Systematic Theology shows that this is not a caricature of his position. For example:

Moral depravity, as I use the term, does not consist in, nor imply a sinful nature, in the sense that the substance of the human soul is sinful in itself. It is not a constitutional sinfulness. It is not an involuntary sinfulness. Moral depravity, as I use the term, consists in selfishness; in a state of voluntary committal of the will to self-gratification.

The reason this is significant in relationship to Finney’s millennial teaching, is that it implies that if enough influence is exerted on the minds and hearts of humans, they could be persuaded to commit to a different principle. This principle, according to Finney, was to be "disinterested benevolence.”

The Holy Spirit is necessary to convince the mind of the need to repent of selfishness and turn to the principle of divine love, but the human will is innately capable of choosing to obey God’s moral law. This would make a millennial kingdom without a bodily resurrection of the saints and the return of Christ seem feasible.

If the sin nature is non-existent and the human will capable of being persuaded, what stands in the way of reforming society? Finney’s answer was merely the lack of Christians getting on board his process of "new measures” revivalism.

Colin Murray

 2009/10/27 6:19Profile

Joined: 2009/6/14
Posts: 703
California, USA

 Re: Is The Flesh Sinful? Is The Body A Sin?

More false teaching from his holiness, truefaithsav, who is a disciple of Finney, not of Christ. He hopes to draw others with him down the slippery slope. Beware.

Leo & Grace

 2009/10/27 10:29Profile

 Re: Is The Flesh Sinful? Is The Body A Sin?

Is The Flesh Sinful? Is The Body A Sin?

The body is made in the image of God, and in itself it is not 'a sin'.

But, flesh (that of which the body is made), which was originally at peace with God (the Eternal Spirit) and at peace with the human spirit through which it receives a quality of life other than that supported by physical food, is now struggling with 'the sin' Rom 5 and 6, Young's Literal Translation), which entered the world through Adam, through whom death passed to all men.

Unless that [the] 'sin' - the sinful nature - is reckoned by us to be dead through the death of Christ on the cross, we will continue to find the flesh more sinful than we can control by willpower or good intentions, and even then, it can be brought into discipline only as we accept the help of the Holy Spirit, (Rom 8:13, 12, 11), to put to death ( or starve, strangle, or stamp out) the evidences of that sin in our thought life and behaviour.

This is why 1 John 1:7 is so precious, imho... that we don't have to keep looking at 'the sin' and its possible out-working, and trying to control it; we are advised by the apostle John, and by the apostle Paul (2 Cor 3:18) to look steadily at Christ, and HE will change us, miraculously, and, will keep us in fellowship with Himself through the continuous cleansing of our souls by His blood.

 2009/10/27 11:52


This smacks of gnosticism.

Wolves come in among the sheep here from time to time. Sometimes subtle, sometimes very obvious...


 2009/10/27 12:10

Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927


No serious, learned believer asserts that simply to have human flesh is a sin. The Bible teaches that it is our will that is in bondage to sinful desires unless we are given a new heart by God (Ezekiel 36). Your position requires no new heart given by God. Actually, God states that it is He who will [b]cause[/b] us to walk in His statutes. Could you give us an account of why a new heart is needed, and why God causes us to walk in His ways?

Also, I still would like to see a serious exegetical discussion on Paul's phrase in Ephesians 2:3...

among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (NKJV)

among whom also we all did walk once in the desires of our flesh, doing the wishes of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath -- as also the others, (YLT)

among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:-- (ASV)

I see this passage as stating that we are inclined to sin, we are children of wrath by nature, and must be changed by God to be otherwise.

Taylor Otwell

 2009/10/27 12:17Profile

Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC


Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that [b]our old man[/b] is crucified with him, that [b]the body of sin[/b] might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from [b]the body of this death?[/b]

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation [b]the old man, which is corrupt[/b] according to the deceitful lusts;

Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off [b]the old man [u]with[/u] his deeds;[/b]

Jimmy H

 2009/10/27 12:17Profile

Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC



Your position requires no new heart given by God

This is the crux of Jesse's moral government theology. No new heart required, because man is not seen as having a wicked and corrupt nature to begin with. His doctrine destroys the notion of the necessity of the new birth.

Jimmy H

 2009/10/27 12:21Profile

Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC



Also, I still would like to see a serious exegetical discussion on Paul's phrase in Ephesians 2:3...

You'll never get serious exegetical discussion for Jesse. He doesn't exegete passages of Scripture, he simply cherry picks and proof texts. All of these years he's been reading his Bible, and he probably couldn't even tell you the basics of what Ephesians is about.

Jimmy H

 2009/10/27 12:24Profile

Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791



Alive-to-God wrote:

But, flesh (that of which the body is made), which was originally at peace with God (the Eternal Spirit) and at peace with the human spirit through which it receives a quality of life other than that supported by physical food, is now struggling with 'the sin' Rom 5 and 6, Young's Literal Translation), which entered the world through Adam, through whom death passed to all men.

The flesh was created week from the beginning, in the Garden. It was never meant to be used as strength for resisting sin. It is one of the very reasons that Adam fell; lust of the flesh...

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Corinth 15:50)
Do you imply that Flesh and blood could have inherited the kingdom of God?

Unless that [the] 'sin' - the sinful nature - is reckoned by us to be dead through the death of Christ on the cross, we will continue to find the flesh more sinful than we can control by willpower or good intentions...

The term "sinnful fleah" ” means “flesh which is able to sin”, not that flesh is sinful in & of its self, that is a Gnostic belief.

The flesh is a tool, if you will. What matters is how we choose to use our flesh & what we choose to put or affections (desires) on.
The flesh will give pleasure because of the senses. The flesh is amoral; it takes pleasure in what ever & however, good or bad, morally or immorally for it has no mind to discern. This is unchangeable, it will remain the same even after we are saved; the flesh needs to be done away with. That will happen in the resurrection.

The flesh is not our so called "sin nature".

 2009/10/27 12:25Profile

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