Deathisdefeated

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"Jesus Had a Fallen Nature, Just Like the Bible"

This entry from Pete Enns' blog discusses Jesus' assumption of a "fallen nature" (which he effectually equates with his "human nature") in the incarnation. It occurred to me as I was trying to understand his point that the term "fallen" needs to be defined and clarified. This was enunciated further when I noticed this comment from Pete Enns himself in the discussion which follows the post:

"I wonder if Jesus experienced the effects of sin without himself being sinful. After all, he got tired, died, etc., etc."

Now I was starting to get my answer as to what Enns means by "fallen." Of course from my own theological perspective, the characteristics Enns mentions here have absolutely nothing to do with the "effects of sin." However they do have to do with being "human?" Yes? Which is why I might suggest that to be "human" and to be "fallen" are two entirely different things. Whereas with regard to the incarnation, Enns equates these two terms. Is that the way others are seeing it?

But also, Enns cites Romans Romans 8:3-4, where Paul says that God sent Jesus “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Again, our understanding of the fall, and what took place at that event, needs to be defined here. Is "flesh" sinful? Or does "flesh" experience the "effects of sin?" According to Enns' comment above, he believes it does (and he is defining "flesh" biologically). But to what is Paul referring by "the likeness of sinful flesh?" Certainly Paul's context in Romans is all about the law, and the death it brought through the knowledge of sin as the death from which all of creation is redeemed in Christ.

How would we explain the distinction between the "likeness of sinful flesh" and being a sinner (which Jesus, as fully human, was not)? Thoughts?

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Tami,

I have considered this question for many years. Let me just put my two cents...

Where is ¨fallen¨ used in scripture? Well, as you stated, Paul called us¨sinful flesh¨. So does that mean there is such a thing as NON sinful flesh? Actually, I think there is. Answering this question will drive most of  the other questions. For example, it is often assumed that Adam was the original, and only, man on earth. So, if you think that, you must believe that the ¨fall¨ then happened to ALL men too! But this is assuming more than scripture reveals. When Paul said that sin passed on to all men, was he speaking about all men ON EARTH, or was he talking about sin passing on only to those in covenant with God and their progeny? After all, Paul also said that where there is no law, there is no sin. So how can sin pass on to all flesh if SOME flesh has no sin, that is, those not under law? The answer is that when Paul made that statement about ¨sinful flesh¨ he was not referring to the sinful flesh of ALL men, as though there is some kind of inherited sin we got from Adam. He was talking about the covenanted ones.

What then is meant by ¨all have sinned and come short of the glory of God¨? It means that if you define sin as falling short of God´s glory, then yes indeed, ALL have sinned. But if you define sin as something that was a violation of a direct command of God, such as in when Adam and Eve disobeyed God´s command not to eat of the fruit, then you have a situation in which a ¨fall¨ is experienced.

So, to say that being ¨fallen¨ is the sate of all mankind, is, in my opinion, not telling the whole story. I believe that Adam was the first COVENANT man, and as such, his descendants only were the ones on whom this condition of being fallen devolved. But Jesus, being in the form of a fallen man, namely a direct descendant of Adam through Abraham, Judah, etc., became the remover of the law and the old covenant. In doing so, he became the atonement for those who sin WITHOUT law (the gentiles who were not under the law but were yet sinners as defined as those who come short of the glory of God, therefore sinners, and He also paid the price for those sinners who were sinners defined under the covenant.

So, in short, being fallen is the case for those only under the covenant, but being a sinner is one who is a sinner just by being human and coming short of God´s glory. In both cases, sin is produced. But in the case of covenant people, the added state of being ¨fallen¨ and coming up short is what is being referenced.

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the thought-provoking post. A few responses to what you wrote:

Where is ¨fallen¨ used in scripture? Well, as you stated, Paul called us ¨sinful flesh¨. So does that mean there is such a thing as NON sinful flesh? Actually, I think there is.

Well, I would maintain that biologically speaking, flesh is not sinful at all. When Paul speaks of the “flesh” it is often in the context of the “works of the flesh” which I believe refers to self-effort to achieve justification before God. So when “flesh” refers to self-righteous works, it is of course always sinful.


Answering this question will drive most of the other questions. For example, it is often assumed that Adam was the original, and only, man on earth. So, if you think that, you must believe that the ¨fall¨ then happened to ALL men too! But this is assuming more than scripture reveals. When Paul said that sin passed on to all men, was he speaking about all men ON EARTH, or was he talking about sin passing on only to those in covenant with God and their progeny?


I think another important question is, what did Adam fall from? Sinlessness or righteousness? I don’t think so. Was Adam created (originally?) sinless or inherently righteous? I don’t think so. 1 Corinthians 15 refutes this idea, for starters, and yet it seems to be what most Christians believe. So what did he fall from? What he lost was the conscience of innocence, which was replaced by a conscience of guilt. As you kind of allude to here:


After all, Paul also said that where there is no law, there is no sin.


Well not exactly. He said “sin is not imputed where there is no law.” In other words, there is no judgment of guilt, and therefore guilt is not experienced in the conscience. However, sin was already in the world before the law was given. Romans 5:12 (which you referenced) needs to be read together with verse 13:


Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin [ie, the knowledge of sin—according to verse 13 sin was there already] came into the world [I agree with you, the covenant world] through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned [even those without the law had sinned, they just didn’t experience guilt in their conscience, which is the “death” that came through Adam’s sin, i.e., his transgression of the law]— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law.


So how can sin pass on to all flesh if SOME flesh has no sin, that is, those not under law? The answer is that when Paul made that statement about ¨sinful flesh¨ he was not referring to the sinful flesh of ALL men, as though there is some kind of inherited sin we got from Adam. He was talking about the covenanted ones.


Hmm. I am totally with you that the context is covenantal. But as we established from Romans 5, no one has ever been without sin. But I agree that there is no “inherited sin” from Adam.


What then is meant by ¨all have sinned and come short of the glory of God¨? It means that if you define sin as falling short of God´s glory, then yes indeed, ALL have sinned. But if you define sin as something that was a violation of a direct command of God, such as in when Adam and Eve disobeyed God´s command not to eat of the fruit, then you have a situation in which a ¨fall¨ is experienced.

Well, first of all, the “all” of Romans 3:23 includes believers in the Gospel only (check the context). But I think we are in agreement here, that the “fall” that is experienced is the fall from God’s grace, resulting in a “fellowship death” (Jerel Kratt’s term) such as what occurred when Adam attempted to justify himself by his own works (which is what I think eating from the tree of knowledge represents—I don’t think the story is about God commanding them not to eat a piece of fruit).


So, to say that being ¨fallen¨ is the sate of all mankind, is, in my opinion, not telling the whole story. I believe that Adam was the first COVENANT man, and as such, his descendants only were the ones on whom this condition of being fallen devolved.

I think I can agree with that. But I would like to see more explained in terms of “how.” I think it has to do with Paul saying he was “alive once without the law, but then the law came, sin [which was already there] revived and he died [i.e., experienced guilt, and understood himself to be hopelessly separated from God’s presence].” I think he was not so much telling his own story there, but Adam’s, and really, the story of Adam’s entire "race"—or rather, his covenantal progeny. Does that make sense?

But Jesus, being in the form of a fallen man, namely a direct descendant of Adam through Abraham, Judah, etc., became the remover of the law and the old covenant. In doing so, he became the atonement for those who sin WITHOUT law (the gentiles who were not under the law but were yet sinners as defined as those who come short of the glory of God, therefore sinners, and He also paid the price for those sinners who were sinners defined under the covenant.

I can basically agree there. But I think significance of being a “decedent” was not so much about being a biological descendent but rather it was that because of that biological relationship he was born under the law, or first covenant.

Thanks, Doug! Slowly but surely sorting through some of this....

Hello Tami,

  I'd say likeness of sinful flesh = He was born under the law.

  Do we live in a fallen world or the world God intended? I have to say the world God intended.

   I think people need to see the world as fallen,because of pain,suffering etc..

   Blessings

Freddy, very succinct, and I think, right on the money. Thanks!

I think it is an inclination. Something our spirit struggles against and in weakness gives in to the flesh. It is not a presupposed nature of sin but rather a weakness towards sin.

Tami,

May I add my consideration? James 4:4(Jacob to the 12 tribes through-seeded) is speaking to betrothed people who have sought intimacy with other gods and so are called adulteresses; fallen from the grace of old covenant betrothal. KJV renders this "ye adulterers and adulteresses because they did not see the 12 tribes as a single betrothed bride. So my question that relates to your post is this; is the divided devotion due to the fact that the spirit of man tends toward envy and he wants what others seem to have and therefore goes after other gods. James 5:5

If Jacob 5:5 refers to the Holy Spirit jealously protecting His bride it would be the only time this Greek word is applied to God. The usual word for jealously is not this one. I know he is addressing the old covenant people in transition to the new but the spirit could be the spirit of "mankind" in general and not the Holy Spirit. All the nations envied and needed their "human" spirits mastered by the Holy Spirits creation of the new soul. Regenesis of the soul took place at pentecost and the breath was sent from Christ because the first husbandman was unsuccessful at ensouling his wife. Even the last Adam did not or could not ensoul others under law but rescued them from it.

The book of Jacob is about divided devotion between the first covenanted world and the new." Don't be double souled". Elsewhere, "Lose your soul to save it".And Jesus laid down his old covenant soul to cover. So they were also called to put to death the old man and make the transition. So I assume you put "humans" in quotations to refer to mankind in general and not Adam's progeny or now more properly christians as the true humans. So, not only was Jesus human, Jesus was the only one fully human because he mastered the spirit of man.

Also my S.S. teacher refers to "fellowship death" and I think I see the dilemma and the struggle to give it a title because the new creation takes time and the tree of knowledge of good and evil doesn't ultimately exist in the new garden.

Tami,

Sorry, I said that wrong. The re-genesis of the soul was when the Holy Spirit raised Christ to be firstborn of creation and pentecost is when his breath began to ensoul his bride. He breathed on his apostles and said receive the Holy Spirit and then told them to wait at pentecost to receive breath from heaven.

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