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The Sinless Human

Discussion in 'Salvation (Soteriology)' started by WordSword, Jun 16, 2021.

  1. WordSword

    WordSword Well-Known Member

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    The Lord Jesus was fully human physically but not spiritually, that is, He had the nature of our body but not the nature of our soul (the soul being the reasoning entity of our spirit). The nature of a human soul is sinful, but the nature of Christ’s soul was sinless! Thus only Christians have two natures in their soul (old and new man)! This “new man” or new nature in those reborn is something “created in righteousness and true holiness,” and “after the image of Him that created him (it)” (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10). Man was created in God’s “likeness,” but the Son of God was incarnated after the “likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3 – “He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have” -NLT).

    The word “likeness” here is in the sense of similarity, in appearance only, but not as identically the same. One (Jesus) taking on a body has the appearance of having the sinful nature, but it is common knowledge of course that the Lord Jesus did not partake of the sinful nature (“old man”) of a human. He partook of the nature of a human body (if its “infirmities” - Heb 4:15 - can be considered a nature) but not the nature of a human soul, which is sinful. After all, does not all spirit beings have their own soul, as Jesus has His own Soul.

    There may be some who may think that human sin coexisted in Christ with His deity, but this is incorrect! During the crucifixion at His death, the guilt of all believers sin was “laid on Him” (Isa 53:6), but never in Him, i.e. He was made out to be sin, not actually be sin but imputatively; “to be the offering for our sin” (2Co 5:21 NLT). Not to stray too far from the subject matter, there are some (e.g. J MacArthur, R C Sproul, etc.) who believe that Christ was peccable and was capable of sinning, but this conflicts with the fact that “God cannot be tempted with evil” (Jam 1:13). Also, to sin you must have a sin nature!

    The best I can say is that He did not need to partake of the nature of man’s soul to “be touched with the feeling of our infirmities”; nor could He, because the sin sacrifice required being “spotless.” Jesus was “tempted of the devil,” but He was not enticed within Himself to do evil, as a man would, He being without a sin nature.

    Here (Rom 8:3) the word “flesh” is in relation to the nature of man’s spirit, which is sinful, and not in the sense of the physical body because a thing or object cannot be considered sinful, it being without spirit and soul. Things can be used sinfully but never become sinful! Therefore, the proper interpretation here for “flesh” is in reference to the nature of man’s spirit and not the body of man’s spirit. ‘Sarx’; Strong’s definition IV: “the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.”
     
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  2. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    This seems problematic, or at the very least as I read it it comes across as problematic.

    Speaking of the old and new man as two "natures" brings an awful lot of potential confusion. Because when we speak of "nature", theologically, we typically are speaking of human nature, or God's nature.

    In the language of Chalcedon "nature" is effectively synonymous with "being"; hence at the Council of Chalcedon we read of Christ being of comprehended in "two natures" (dio physeis), corresponding to Christ's eternal Divine Being which He has consubstantially with the Father and the Holy Spirit as God the Eternal Son, as well as His human being, as true and fully man conceived and born of the Virgin Mary Theotokos.

    As such when I read the above, the implication is that Christ is somehow, in His humanity, other than us.

    While it is true that Christ is without sin, He is truly "like us in all ways but without sin" (Chalcedon again). That is why we confess Him to be fully human "of a reasonable soul and body", that is to say, He is fully human--soul and body. And against the later heresy of Monothelitism which said that Christ only had one will, Divine; we also confess the two wills of Christ, both the Divine will and the human will.

    What is consistently emphasized throughout the many Christological controversies of history is that Jesus really is human, in every single way that we are. The only difference is the matter of sin. But this is not due to "nature". The difference between ourselves and Jesus is that we are sinful and unrighteous, but our Lord is perfect, sinless, and righteous. Where Adam failed, Christ has taken up the mantle of humanity upon Himself, and has healed Adam in Himself as the second Adam. And by the grace of God we, through faith, receive and partake of Christ and all which He has accomplished. Thus we have been regenerated, born again, made new creations in Christ Jesus, this is the new man--that which is alive by grace through faith, energized by the Holy Spirit, and which is given promise of the future resurrection of the body and the life of the Age to Come in the renewal of all things.

    It is not that Christ has a different nature than us. It's that Christ has healed our nature in Himself. Jesus is the New Man, the Second Adam; and as new creation, born anew, and thus we have received in Christ His new humanity--that is the righteousness of God that is through faith, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This very righteousness which we have received, imputed to us by God's grace, in which we have been rendered justified before God and granted all the hope of God's promises to creation: "Behold, I make all things new!" (Revelation 21:5)

    Because our Lord was truly human, truly like us in all ways--A human body, a human soul, a human mind, a human intellect, a human will, etc--then to speak of Him coming in the likeness of sinful flesh means that He is truly human, but without sin. Or, again, "Like us in all ways but without sin." Christ was truly human, sharing the fullness of our human nature--even our own mortality and weaknesses. But even sharing fully in our humanity--even our weakened, battered, mortal humanity--He did not sin.

    And that is really important, because we do not have a Great High Priest who is unacquainted with our afflictions, for we read, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

    I'm not going to engage in speculation on the matter of whether Christ was "capable of sinning"; though would caution against any dogmatic position that injures good, orthodox Christology. It is abundantly true that, as you say, "God cannot be tempted with evil", and yet, as already noted, He was "in every respect tempted as we are". And that's because our Lord is not only God, but also man.

    The Hypostatic Union presents to us a Mystery of Faith that provides all manner of unreasonable paradoxes. For example, God who cannot die, died. How can God who cannot die, die? And the answer is that He died as a man, God died a human death as a human being, while remaining fully God. Thus He who cannot die, died. He who cannot be tempted, was tempted. He who cannot suffer, suffered. He who knew no sin became sin, in order that we who are unrighteous might be called the righteousness of God.

    Biblically there is no such thing as a "sin nature". This simply isn't how the Bible, or how the Church Fathers, the Creeds, or the Protestant Reformers--really anyone in Church History--spoke. We do not have a "sin nature", we have a human nature that has been injured by sin. The nature we possess is humanity--but sin is present in our humanity like a virulent infectious disease. Christ had the same humanity we had, but without sin. Thus Christ had the exact same nature as we ourselves, but without sin.

    St. Paul's use of sarx/flesh to speak of man's brokenness and fallenness is, sure enough, used to speak of our sinfulenss. But Paul links this with our present mortal, perishable bodies. There is no body-spirit dualism in Paul's theology, Paul conceives of the human person as a fully integrated creature. Read through Romans chapters 7 and 8 together. When the Apostle cries out in Romans 7, "Who can save me from this body of death" he is actually being quite literal there. We are, in a sense, very literally decaying corpses. From the moment we came into this world we were already on our way to the grave. This is also why the Apostle speaks of sin being present in his "bodily members". Now what the Apostle does not mean here is some kind of "the body is icky" as the Platonists and especially the later Gnostics believed. Rather Paul understands that being human is a full package affair: We aren't spirits floating inside of bodies, we are human beings. And as human beings bearing the fruit of a broken and fallen world, dwelling within the good creation of God which has been placed into the captivity of death we are fully perishable creatures.

    This present age is heading for destruction, and if left to our own devices that is where we are heading too. But God's purpose for creation is redemption and healing--salvation. And thus we have been and are being saved--with the promise of the hope of that life in the Age to Come, when all of creation is renewed.

    And thus sin and death, the sickness of our souls and minds on account of sin, and the perishability and mortality of our bodies all come together. Thus "the flesh". The appetites or desires, our concupiscence, are twisted by sin toward rottenness and through which we continue to collude with death and our own destruction. As such the flesh isn't purely metaphor, nor is it anti-physical.

    That is why Christ became man, that is the why of the Incarnation: To save us. Saving us does not mean whisking us away to heaven after death; it means our being reconciled to God, being human in God's way of being human, in true friendship with Him as we have and share life in God's good creation. And so God, who made all things good in the beginning, is going to keep His word, all that He made is good, and it will be good in the last, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes". And so our salvation is the multifaceted working of God upon us and in us, from freely justifying us to our ongoing sanctification, and the future resurrection of the body. All of us, every part of us, is intended by God to be saved. So we are called to the renewal of our minds, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, to love the Lord our God with all our strength, mind, soul, with every part of us.

    Christ who has overcome death, having risen from the dead as the firstfruits of the resurrection, will come again as Judge of the living and the dead. And at His coming the dead shall be raised, and God will make all things new, and He will be all in all.

    So again, it's not that we have two natures; a sin nature and a new nature. Rather we have one nature, human; but that humanity is broken. Jesus became man to fix our humanity, to give us His restored humanity, and to fully and finally set all things to rights (and thus have we been justified and reconciled to God by grace alone through faith on Christ's account alone).

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  3. WordSword

    WordSword Well-Known Member

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    When Scripture writes that "God saw that it was good" it designs the intention that He foreknew He would use all for good that He created, like the Tree of good and evil, Satan and man, hell and the lake of fire. He knew all would be use for the good of His plan and pleasure. It's also a common mistake in the belief that Adam and Eve did not possess the old man (sin nature) until they partook of the Tree, but this merely manifested that they did have the sin nature prior to the temptation. They expressed possesing "all that is in the world" (1Jo 2:16) in Gen 3:6 prior to partaking of the Tree: "saw that the tree was good for food" (which God said it was in 1:12 but with man it is "lust of the flesh" or great hunger for food or anything we desire in excess relating only to this life), "was pleasant to the eyes" (same thing concerning great desire for all that is appealing to see), "the pride of life" (which Gill comments that "which above all was the most engaging, and was the most prevailing motive to influence her to eat of it, an eager desire of more wisdom and knowledge; though there was nothing she could see in the tree, and the fruit of it, which promised this; only she perceived in her mind, by the discourse she had with the serpent, and by what he had told her, and she believed, that this would be the consequence of eating this fruit, which was very desirable, and she concluded within herself that so it would be."


    A human consists of a spirit, body, soul and nature. The only "likeness" that was of Christ's incarnation or humanity was His body and its "infirmities" which He endured from it. His spirit being has always existed, but His body, like ours was incarnated; and His soul and nature could ever only be Divine. Concerning that Christ "was in all points tempted like as we are" (Heb 4:15), I like how Gill's comment addresses this in Heb 2:18:

    "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted",.... "By Satan, at his entrance on his public ministry, and a little before his death; which was done, not by stirring up sin in him, for he had none, nor by putting any into him, which could not be done, nor could Satan get any advantage over him; he solicited him one thing and another, but in vain; though these temptations were very troublesome, and disagreeable, and abhorrent to the pure and holy nature of Christ, and so must be reckoned among his sufferings, or things by which he suffered: and as afflictions are sometimes called temptations, in this sense also Christ suffered, being tempted, with outward poverty and meanness, with slight and neglect from his own relations, and with a general contempt and reproach among men: he was often tempted by the Jews with ensnaring questions; he was deserted by his followers, by his own disciples, yea, by his God and Father; all which were great trials to him, and must be accounted as sufferings: and he also endured great pains of body, and anguish of mind, and at last death itself."

    "A body hast Thou prepared Me," so that God could "condemn sin in the flesh (sin in the nature, i.e. not the body which has no sin within itself); for He did not desire "burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin" (Heb 10:6).
     
  4. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    From the statement of faith made at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD.

    "We, then, following the holy fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, Theotokos, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy fathers has handed down to us."

    Our Lord Jesus is both God and man, fully God by His eternal generation from the Father as God the Son and Word; and fully human by His incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

    Fully human. Entirely human. Jesus is human in all ways like ourselves, except sin.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  5. WordSword

    WordSword Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your input, and I agree, Jesus is now fully Human, and never had the human nature of sin.
     
  6. fhansen

    fhansen Oldbie

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    And sin, ultimately, isn’t human either-unless God didn’t create everything good, but also created evil, creating man to sin. Man’s purpose entails union with God, in the same sense that Jesus in His human nature was always united to God. And sin is excluded to the extent that this union is complete, probably fully possible only in the next life when we meet Him “face to face”.

    Fallen man doesn’t possess a “sin nature”; he simply lacks the communion with God that he was created for. This lack constitutes an anomaly in creation, a state of injustice itself. Man inevitably falls into chaos and disorder when separated from his Creator.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
  7. GallagherM

    GallagherM Well-Known Member

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    Thank God Jesus paid for sin…
     
  8. fhansen

    fhansen Oldbie

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    Yes, sarx is just human nature, including the natural appetites possessed by the body. The problem with fallen man isn't that he now has a new nature, but that he's deprived of union with God, that relationship having been shattered in Eden with Adam's act of disobedience which effectively denied God's authority, His godhood, over him. The essence of "original sin" is spiritual separation from God-the disordered, unjust state that we're all born into now, where the "knowledge of God" is lost to man.

    We're all here to learn, with the help of revelation and grace in this relatively godless exile, just how much we need God, just how wrong Adam was. Only with God, man's wholeness, his holiness, his moral integrity are realized-the flesh now controlled by and in harmony with the Spirit. That is to begin here on earth, as we turn to Him in faith and He becomes our God again. We'll still struggle against sin-and with growing in and perfecting the faith, hope, and especially the love that excludes sin by their nature. But without Him we're totally lost, and unable to 'put to death the deeds of the flesh'. (Rom 8:12-13)

    "Apart from Me you can do nothing."
    John 15:5

    “I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
    I will be their God,
    and they will be my people."
    Jer 31:33
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
  9. WordSword

    WordSword Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your reply and comments! The body is the vessel of the spirit of man, and though the body itself is sinless (it being only and object or thing), it's the nature of the spirit that is evil ("the old man"), as you've indicated ("fallen"). But as we know, man with the new nature ("new man") which is a creation "after the image of Christ" (Col 3:10) is eternally redeemed from the old man.

    Thankfully we are no longer part of the "state" of sin, for the reborn are no longer "in the flesh" (old man - Ro 8:9), though it is still in those reborn; and I believe its continued presence teaches us a continued dependence on God, not for the now settled guiltless state from the sin nature, but for deliverance from its continued attempts of getting us to desire it ("dominion").

    Many are still misunderstanding the permanency of salvation that comes from "God working in you to desire and do His good pleasure" (Phl 2:13). This is how those reborn are always "kept from falling" (2Th 3:3; Jde 1:24); that is, keeps us from willfully desiring the old man, which will never be the will of one reborn.

    God's blessings to your Family!
     
  10. fhansen

    fhansen Oldbie

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    Thank you. This is quite close to what I believe. I think it's important or helpful for myself, anyway, to keep in mind that fallen man isn't bad, or changed, so much as broken, wounded, disadvantaged, even, directly due to his distance from God. Nothing was added to him as if he gained a new nature but rather taken away; something crucial is missing, and that "something" is God, as his God.

    When man turns to God in faith and enters fellowship with Him, man, as you say, will still struggle with attractions to things that are sinful and in any case that tend to disrupt or interfere or sway us away from our relationship with Him. The nearer we are to Him and the more we stay there, however, the more solid that relationship becomes, and the more we're transformed into His own image, and away from the image that the world seeks to conform us to.
     
  11. WordSword

    WordSword Well-Known Member

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    Amen, as you "draw near to God, He will draw near to you" (Jas 4:8). This is said of the saved of course, for unbelievers are not in Him:

    John Gill: "The saints draw nigh to God when they present their bodies in his sanctuary; when they tread in his courts, and attend his ordinances; where they always find it good for them to draw nigh unto him; and blessed is the man that approaches to him in faith and fear: they draw nigh to him when they come to the throne of his grace, for grace and mercy to help them; when they draw near to him in prayer with true hearts, and lift them up with their hands to God; when in the exercise of faith and hope they enter within the vail, and come up even to his seat; and lay hold on him as their covenant God and Father; and he draws nigh to them by granting them his gracious presence, by communicating his love to them, by applying the blessings of his grace, by helping them in times of need and distress, and by protecting them from their enemies."
    James 4 Bible Commentary - John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible
     
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