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

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1. Gnosticism teaches that sin is a substance of the flesh, instead of a free will choice as all of the Early Church taught. Sin is violation of God's law and God's law only tells us what type of choices to make, not what type of body or nature to have.

2. Men are sinners, not because of the type of body that they inherit at birth (Gnosticism) but because of their own free will choices. A sinner's problem is not his body, though it is fallen, but his problem is his own heart, because it is wicked. The will of a sinner is at odds with the law of God. Men absolutely must be born again, not because they passively and involuntarily inherited some sinful substance, but because they have actively and deliberately chosen to break God's law.

3. That is why at regeneration we do not get a new body, we get a new heart. Jesus taught that sin comes out of the heart (Mark 7:21-23). Therefore if you are going to live a holy life, you need to get a new heart, not a new body.

4. Ephesians 2:3 in context is talking about those who choose to live for their flesh. The natural man is someone who doesn't live for God, but lives for the gratification of their flesh. When it says that they are, by nature children of wrath, it means that they are children of wrath because they choose to live for the gratification of their flesh (selfishness). They are under the wrath of God because they are living a natural life, a life seeking after the gratification of lust.

5. True conversion is when a person's heart changes. When their selfish heart is removed and a loving heart takes it's place, a heart that loves God supremely and loves his neighbor equally. Even though a Christian still has a fallen or physically depraved body, which is subjected to disease and death, if he has a loving heart he is morally perfect because love is the fulfillment of the law.

6. If men are sinners because they passively and involuntarily inherit some sinful substance, they are victims and not criminals. As victims, they would DESERVE God's pity. But if men are sinners because of the choices they make, choices which violate God's law, then they are criminals who DESERVE punishment.

7. If men are sinners because they inherit a sinful body, then sinfulness is not their fault. If sinfulness is not their fault, they do not deserve punishment and therefore do not need Jesus Christ. The logical conclusion of having a "sinful body" is that you really don't need Jesus Christ. But if sin is their own free will choice, then sin is their own fault. If sin is their own fault, they deserve punishment. And if they deserve punishment, they need Jesus Christ. Therefore only if sin is their own free will choice do they need Jesus Christ.

8. If we inherit a sinful flesh, or a sinful body, then sin is not our fault but is God's fault. It would be God's fault because God is the one who actively and personally forms us in the womb. Therefore if we inherit a sinful flesh, or a sinful body, then God is the author of sin.

 2009/10/27 15:06

Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927



truefaithsav wrote:
4. Ephesians 2:3 in context is talking about those who choose to live for their flesh. The natural man is someone who doesn't live for God, but lives for the gratification of their flesh. When it says that they are, by nature children of wrath, it means that they are children of wrath because they choose to live for the gratification of their flesh (selfishness). They are under the wrath of God because they are living a natural life, a life seeking after the gratification of lust.

You're not grappling with the language of the text. Consider Paul's use of the same Greek word for "nature" as it occurs in Galatians:

"We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,"

In the same way that Jews are Jews "by nature" (it is part of their being from their birth), mankind is inclined towards wrath "by nature".

Taylor Otwell

 2009/10/27 15:46Profile


In the verse you quoted in Galatians, Paul was saying that they were Jews by custom or manner of life, and not sinners like the Gentiles. Nature meant custom or manner of life. Otherwise, if it meant birth, Paul was saying that Gentiles are born sinners but Jews are not!

"We who are Jews by nature (by custom or manner of life), and not sinners of the Gentiles (who are sinners by their custom or manner of life),"

It does not mean:

"We who are Jews by nature (by birth), and not sinners of the Gentiles (who are sinners by birth)," Paul was not saying that Gentiles were born sinners but Jews were not.

It doesn't make any sense, in your theology, for Paul to be saying, "We are born Jews, we are not born sinners like the Gentiles".

Ephesians 2:3 is using the word nature to describe a person's self chosen way of life, their manner of living. And Galatians 2:15 used the word nature to describe a person's way of life or their manner of living.

To be a "natural man", which Ephesians 2:3 is referring to, is the same as the carnal man. To be carnally minded is to mind the things of the flesh (Rom. 8:5). In the Greek this means to be fleshly purposed. A natural man, or a carnal man, is someone who lives for the gratification of their flesh. So to say that men are by nature under the wrath of God is to say that men are under God's wrath because they are living for their flesh.

 2009/10/27 15:49

Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927


Ver. 15. We who are Jews by nature,.... I Paul, and you Peter and Barnabas, and the rest of the Jews at Antioch. Some are Jews by grace, in a spiritual sense, as all are that are Christ's, that are true believers in him, that are born again, and have internal principles of grace formed in their souls, of whatsoever nation they be; see Ro 2:28. Others become Jews by being proselytes to the Jewish religion: such were the Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven, that were dwelling at Jerusalem, when the Spirit was poured down on the apostles on the day of Pentecost, Ac 2:5, but these here spoken of were such as were Jews by birth; they were born so, were descended of Jewish parents, and from their infancy were brought up in the Jewish religion, and under the law of Moses, and in the observance of it:

and not sinners of the Gentiles: Mleih twmwa yevr, "the wicked of the nations of the world", as the {l} Jews call them. Not but that the Jews also were sinners both by nature and practice, were involved in the guilt of sin, under the power of it, and defiled with it, as the apostle elsewhere most fully proves: nor is this said with regard to the vain opinion the Jews had of themselves, as very holy and righteous persons, who in their own apprehension needed neither repentance nor remission; and who looked upon the Gentiles as very unholy and unfit for conversation with them: but this more particularly respects that part of the character of the Heathens, that they were without the law, and were under no restraints, but lived in all manner of wickedness, without hope and God in the world, and so were notorious sinners, filled with all unrighteousness, profligate and abandoned to every evil work, and are therefore called emphatically "sinful men", Lu 24:7.

-- John Gill

You're doing serious violence to the text to twist it to read "we are under the wrath of God because we live as natural men" (which is true, just not what this particular text says). The text reads "we are by nature children of wrath". The clear reading of the text both in English and in Greek is that being a child of wrath is something tied so close to us that it is part of our very nature. Our hearts are "by nature" corrupt. We "by nature" flee from God and pursue wickedness. This can only remedied by a supernatural intervention from God Himself (Ezek. 36).

Secondly, are people given a new heart before or after they come to Christ? If before, I assume you believe regeneration occurs prior to faith. If after, why do they even need a new heart if they could see Christ as more precious than the world and desire to obey Him rather than rebel against Him?

Taylor Otwell

 2009/10/27 16:11Profile

Joined: 2008/6/19
Posts: 1262



I believe the major difference is that Logic and trufaithsav believe that people can live sin free by just looking to Jesus as an example. They actually believe that it is possible to live sin free, because sin is only a choice, because Jesus did.

They only see Jesus as an example, instead of a necessity of his life being in them, to cause them to be saved and live holy.

Blessings to all!

 2009/10/27 16:42Profile

Joined: 2006/8/10
Posts: 539


I found this book review on and thought it was enlightening as to how some people not only have heretical views but actually glory in them. From

[i] Pelagius is my hero, July 28, 2008 By Jesse Morrell "Jesse Morrell" (USA) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) I am just about finished with "Pelagius: Life & Letters". I personally did not care too much for the biography section of the book - the "life" section. But I really enjoy the actual writings of Pelagius. Pelagius is my hero. He represented Apostolic Christianity in a time when Gnosticism was taking over. I did wish that his letters were more theological. Pelagius was really a practical holiness teacher. But his theology of free will and human nature was touched upon in his letters. I really wish that his books on "Free Will" and "Nature" were not lost in history. This book was great. I also recommend "Presentation of Augustinianism and Pelagianism from Original Sources" by Dr. Wiggers, translated by Ralph Emerson. That covers the theology of Pelagianism very thoroughly. [/i]

Even if truefaithsav is not Jesse Morrell, you can read up on why Jesse is a heretic here:

 2009/10/27 16:56Profile

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



4. Ephesians 2:3 in context is talking about those who choose to live for their flesh. The natural man is someone who doesn't live for God, but lives for the gratification of their flesh. When it says that they are, by nature children of wrath, it means that they are children of wrath because they choose to live for the gratification of their flesh (selfishness). They are under the wrath of God because they are living a natural life, a life seeking after the gratification of lust.

Jesse, this sounds like how you interpret every verse in the Bible. You clearly do not know how to do even the most basic inductive study of Scripture. If you don't mind, I'll show you how to do some basic "exegesis."

Reading Ephesians 2:3 in it's immediate context. This is a very basic, very broad, and very quick interpretation of Ephesians 2:3, as placed in it's immediate context within this Pauline epistle.


Ephesians is an epistle of the apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus. After a general introduction and salutations, Paul immediately begins the task of combating some false ideas that had begun to make inroads into this church. To do this, he shows the ovearching predetermined plan of God for all of history, and how that relates to Christ and how that relates to the Church. He shows how all things are ultimately summed up in Christ, and how we as believers fall into that ultimate summation in God's redemptive plan for history-- which has as it's chief end the resurrection of the dead. Paul says that the downpayment and proof of this future plan that we can count on God bringing to pass is demonstrated by the gift of the Holy Spirit, who serves as a fortaste of the fullness that will eventually come.

Paul goes on to thank God for the church at Ephesus, and prays that their eyes might be enlightened so that they can have a personal revelation and insight into these precious truths. For if they do, it will revolutionize their lives. He then goes to assert the greatness of Christ, and shows how Christ is above every order of every created thing, things in heaven and earth.

In chapter 2 Paul continues on this theme of the greatness of Christ, and shows how Christ rescued us while we were dead in our sins and the worldly and demonic forces and influences we were subjected too. Prior to this supernatural and divine rescue by the risen and exalted Lord, who is greater than all these forces, we walked as the rest of the children of wrath, who we were part of by nature. For apart from being resecued by the supreme and exalted Lord who sits above the forces that rule over and enslave mankind (the prince and the power of the air) to their wicked nature, we would still be in that state.

"But God" made a difference in this, and shined on us His great love and mercy, rescuing us not only from these cosmic forces, but also rescuing us while we were dead and in our sin. And when He rescued us and saved us from all this, He lifted us up out of the mire and clay, and has caused us to sit with Christ in heavenly places in order to demonstrate the riches of God in us in the ages to come. He did this apart from anything we did, He did it by grace working through faith. With that, all credit belongs to Him, and we have become His divine workmanship, so we could walk in the good works God has prepared for us.


That, Jesse, is a simple and sweeping exegesis of Ephesians 1 through 2:10. That is reading Ephesians 2:3 in "context."

Jimmy H

 2009/10/27 18:29Profile

Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


The only reason that Pelagius is a heretic today is because Emperor Honorius was a target of his exhortations against the abuses of wealth and power.
Pelagius chastised the wealthy and powerful, including Emperor Honorius, for their abuses of property and privilege, exhorting them to the Christian virtues of mercy and charity.

Therefore Emperor Honorius willingly came to the assistance of the Augustinians.

In 415 Augustine sent Orosius to Jerome in Palestine with the mission of convicting Pelagius of heresy.
In June 415, a Synod was convened in Jerusalem with Orosius accusing Pelagius of heresy. Pelagius was present to defend himself and was acquitted.

A second council was called in December at Diospolis (Lydda) with two previously deposed Gallic Bishops bringing charges against Pelagius.
Again, he was present to defend himself and, again, he was acquitted.
In a dissatisfied reaction the Augustinians convened two of their own councils in 416 -- at Carthage and Milevum where they condemned both Pelagius and Celestius. Pelagius was not present to defend himself.

The Augustinians also appealed to Pope Innocent I who claimed universal authority for the Bishop of Rome by declaring that nothing done in the provinces could be regarded as finished until it had come to his knowledge. Innocent I, often referred to as "the first Pope", declared that the Pope's decisions affected "all the churches of the world" and reflects his attempt to exert control over the East as well as the West. The Augustinians successfully persuaded him to issue a conditional condemnation of Pelagius and Celestius on January 27, 417 which would be effective only if they did not return to orthodoxy. However, Innocent I died on March 12 and was replaced by Pope Zosimus I on March 18.

Zosimus was an Eastern Christian who decided to re-examine the case, calling for a Synod at the Basilica of St. Clement in Rome. Pelagius was unable to attend but sent a Confession of Faith which was intended for Innocent I (Pelagius being unawares of the previous Pope's death). Zosimus was favorably impressed with Pelagius' defense and proclaimed that Pelagius was totally orthodox and catholic and that he was a man of unconditional faith. Zosimus went on to say that Pelagius had for many years been outstanding in good works and in service to God; he was theologically sound and never left the catholic faith.

Augustinians had been thoroughly defeated. They had been unable to successfully condemn Pelagius whenever he was present or when allowed to present his defense in writing. Three councils had declared him innocent of heresy. All they had to show for their efforts were Pelagius's condemnation by their own courts and their own chastisement by the Bishop of Rome. Undaunted and disobedient, they appealed to the Roman Emperor Honorius; the one who was being chastised by Pelagius for his abuses of wealth and power.

On April 30, 418 Emperor Honorius invoked the power of the state and issued an Imperial Rescript -- a civil document -- ordering action against Pelagius on the charge that public meetings and credulous adolescents affect the peace of Rome.

An ecclesiastical document written by Pope Zosimus followed. It condemned Pelagius as a heretic and banned him from Rome. The exact reasons why Zosimus reversed his position after the Imperial Rescript are unknown but it was done only after pressure from the Emperor. The text of Zosimus' condemnation is lost and the formal grounds for the condemnation are purely a matter of speculation.

Immediately upon Zosimus' death in 418 two different Bishops were consecrated Pope - Eulalius and Boniface I. Eulalius, like Zosimus, was a Greek. At the Synod of Gangra (Armenia) in 381, Eulalius was among the Bishops who passed Synodical canons in support of the equality of marriage and celibacy and condemned those who denied the legitimacy of the married priesthood.

Both positions were in opposition to the views of the Augustinians. In 419 Eulalius was replaced with the pro-Augustinian Boniface only through the intervention of the Emperor.

It is only a matter of time that when Pelagius dies and not able to defend himself that he would remain accused as a heretic.

The Church as been polluted with Augustine’s Neo-platonic (Neoplatonism) Gnosticism/Manichean theology.

You all should listen to [url=]The Hidden Things of God - Part 1 by Paris Reidhead[/url]

It explains how the church got into Neo-Platonic Gnostic/Manichean theology through Augustine.

(Information is from Rev. Thomas J. Faulkenbury)
Evans, R. F.; Four Letters of Pelagius, London, 1968
Evans, R. F.; Pelagius: Inquiries and Reappraisals, London, 1968
Ferguson, J.; Pelagius: A Historical and Theological Study, Cambridge, 1956
Nicholson, M. Forthomme; "Celtic Theology: Pelagius", An Introduction to Celtic
Christianity, edited by James P. Mackey, Edinburgh, 1995
Rees, B. R.; Pelagius: A Reluctant Heretic, Suffolk, 1988

 2009/10/27 18:51Profile

Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927



I think the pertinent point in this thread is not whether Pelagius was correctly or incorrectly labeled a heretic, but rather the meaning of Paul's teaching in Ephesians 2:3.

Taylor Otwell

 2009/10/27 19:38Profile

Joined: 2007/4/25
Posts: 1564
Scotland, UK



David wrote in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” (NASB). The NIV’s translation is even clearer. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

In Psalm 58:3 David wrote, “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.”

Then note Paul’s statement in Eph. 2:1-3, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” (NIV)

Note two important points here: First, speaking about his readers’ former life (a statement which applies to all of us before salvation) he states they were dead in their transgressions and sins and as a result they followed the ways of the world. Following the sinful ways of the world and the typical lusts patterns of men is the product of spiritual death; the issue of root to fruit. Men sin because they are sinners.

Second, he shows this sinful condition and a further consequence, being under the wrath of God, is “by nature,” a condition received by nature, i.e., inherited from our parents, just as David pointed out in Ps. 51:5.

This is further supported by Paul’s statements in Romans 5. Though this passage is dealing with the imputation of Adam’s sin as the federal head of the human race, it also shows us man is sinful because of his relation to Adam.

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—13 for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

The point is, after Adam sinned, he and his descendants could only beget sinners, so all men are under the sentence of death, the penalty of sin (see Heb. 7:9-10 for the principle of imputation).

In essence then, all men are behind the eight ball or constituted a sinners for three reasons:

Inherited Sin: They are sinners by nature; possessing an inherited sinful nature Ps. 51:5; 58:3 and see also Gen. 5:3

Imputed Sin: They are sinners by imputation Adam’s sin is imputed to man’s account Rom. 5:12 just as Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us when we believe in Christ.

Individual Sin: They are personal sinners; all men sin as individuals since they posses a sinful nature. Even in a godly environment children naturally are selfish and tend to tell lies, etc. Rom. 3:23

Colin Murray

 2009/10/27 19:49Profile

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