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Someone asked about sin nature and the answer they were given was that the word Sarx was translated as sin nature? In Greek Sarx just means flesh. So if Jesus came in the Sarx and was sinless how is that possible. Especially to my brothers who are Calvinist, how could Jesus be born in the Sarx if the flesh is inherently evil to God?

  • I'm not saying it is. Someone asked a question about sin nature and the where it is spoken of in the bible. The bible never uses the phrase sin nature but many of the answers that were given said that the word Sarx is what is translated as sin nature. That didn't make sense to me, because Jesus had a Sarx, if Sarx equals sin nature how could he be sinless in a reformed theology or according to Calvanist, because all men in their view are born with sin and they equate sin nature to the Sarx. So I was asking – Restlee Sep 10 at 23:35
  • Basically is sin nature a real thing? – Restlee Sep 10 at 23:37
  • God sent his Son in 'the likeness of sarkos hamartias'. Romans 8:3. Sin is only present in the flesh of the sons of Adam. Flesh, as such, is not sinful. Why do you say it is ? – Nigel J Sep 11 at 5:49
  • "the flesh is inherently evil to God". Is there a biblical source for this belief? – Ray Butterworth Sep 16 at 1:42
  • There is a certain similarity between leavened bread and the tower of Babylon; they are both inflated, and as such, they both symbolize the flesh. – Constantthin Sep 21 at 2:41
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It's a problem of translating sarx into English. This article discusses precisely what you are inquiring, arguing why sarx doesn’t ever mean “sinful nature”.

Another excellent resource is this book excerpt on "Sin in the theology of Paul" by Tom Holland, author of Romans: The Divine Marriage. It contains a wonderful analysis of the meaning of sarx in the OT, Hellenism, the Gospels, and the letters of Paul to signify various concepts depending on context: covenant relationship, human frailty, mankind, physical body, etc.

Some paragraphs from the book excerpt:

...

To summarize the OT's teaching on "flesh", we can note that the term is morally neutral, speaking of man's creaturely existence and frailty. There is no lexicographical evidence to suggest that the term carried any negative moral connotation.

...

The translators of most English versions try to help their readers understand the term "flesh" by rendering it in ways they think appropriate. This seems reasonable, but, unfortunately, the translations often contradict the contexts in which the term is found. To translate flesh as "sinful nature" (as in the Romans passage under consideration) does not normally convey what Paul was writing but, instead, misrepresents him on a vitally important issue.

...

I highly recommend reading the whole 19 pages.

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    +1. Yes, 'sin nature' nowhere appears in scripture. Human nature, of itself, is not sinful. But sin entered into the world, and death by sin, Romans 5:12. – Nigel J Sep 11 at 5:52
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The Church rejected Gnostocism and Manichaeism as heresies. Proponents taught dualistic philosophies that asserted all material is evil, and only the spiritual can be good. The idea that human nature is necessarily evil is related to these heresies. One solution to the problem of human sin is the idea of original sin (accepted by many, but not all Christian denominations). Adam and Eve were originally sinless, thus their sarx was not evil. They sinned and acquired a new nature, and passed it down to their descendants, whether genetically, spiritually, or through example. Whichever means of transmission is the correct one, it argues that imperfections in our nature are communicable.

The Gospel teaches the good news that God's righteousness is similarly communicable:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (Romans 3:21-22)

If it were not possible for God to give us His righteousness, we would be in big trouble, because we are incapable of producing it on our own. When Jesus was born, by divine miracle, the communication of sin from Mary to Jesus was interrupted. Roman Catholics believe that Mary was born immaculately, hence had no sin nature to communicate, but that just pushes the problem back a generation. It was a miracle of special creation that God was able to do two things: create a person related by blood to humankind, and make him sinless.

It has been posited that sin passes to children only through the father, which might make explain how that is possible, but I know of no scriptural backing for that belief.

Regardless of which method of sin transmission is correct, it is God who created us and designed the means, physical and spiritual, by which character, whether spiritual virtue or vice, is transmitted from parents to children. Since he designed the process, he also was capable of designing for Himself a means of incarnating a savior in a sinless body.

  • Thank for the comments. I'm still not sure where I stand. When I read John 9 I definitely feel like Jesus is saying sin is not just transmitted by birth. As many Jews just seemed to assume – Restlee Oct 9 at 12:54
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In EXODUS 12:5 we see that the passover lamb had to be "without blemish ". "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats."

In 1 CORINTHIANS 15:22 we see that :"For as in Adam all die,even so in Christ shall all be made alive".

We know that Jesus was the Lamb of God.Our lamb.

See John 1:29 "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taken away the sin of the world "

So Jesus was without sin.

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Not all flesh is evil. Adam and Eve were created with flesh, but before they fell they were innocent and pure. They were sinless but had the ability to choose to do evil; but on the other hand they could have chosen to do the right thing; there was nothing in them leaning them towards doing evil. This inner purity makes their choice to do evil so much the worse.

As for us, our nature is fallen, we have a bias to do what is evil. We don't need a Devil to make us sin; our own nature leans us that way without his help.

As for our Saviour, his human nature is the same as that of Adam and Eve, his human nature is the sinless human nature of Adam.

If you look up "Flesh" in the New Testament section of "Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words" you will see there are above a dozen different usages of the word "sarx". "Sarx", "flesh", is strictly meat when stripped of the skin (Strong's).

The two ways I think it easiest to summarize Vine's entry for "sarx", when relating to people:-

  1. "Flesh" as "the seat of sin in man"; "the weaker element in human nature"; the human nature, which Adam and Eve have passed on to all their descendants, which is weak and sinful, (except Jesus who was born by a miracle). E.g. in Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh"; and "I know that in me, that is in my flesh there dwells no good thing" (Romans 7:18); and "so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8), meaning all those who do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them and live accordingly (Romans 8:9); in such Scriptures what is being emphasised the sinfulness of the fallen, human nature;

  2. "Flesh" as the physical body of a human [or an animal]. E.g. "which was of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3); "but if I live in the flesh" (Phil 1:22) Paul is simply meaning if he remains alive in this world in his physical body; "And the Word was made flesh" (John 1:14); "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16); "and the two shall be one flesh" (Matthew 19:5). In these Scriptures only the physical flesh is being spoken of, the fallen, sinful, human nature is not what is in mind.

So the Son of God, Jesus Christ became flesh, meaning physically He took upon Himself a human body; but He did not become flesh, meaning He did not taken on a fallen, sinful, human body, but that sinless innocence which Adam and Eve were created with and had until they sinned.

  • Andrew might I ask are you a calvanist – Restlee Oct 9 at 12:52
  • @Restlee - Yes, in that I believe in the "five points of Calvinism". (Though, I am a Baptist, not a Presbyterian.) – Andrew Shanks Oct 9 at 13:19
  • @Restlee - Noting your comment on John 9, it was wrong of the disciples, and their culture, to attribute the man's blindness to any specific sin. We live in a fallen world and all its problems are ultimately because of the Fall (and because sin has been passed to all their descendants) including death and illness, and that is the only conclusion we can reach. Christians do not follow any form of the Hindu teaching of Karma. For more on this perhaps take a look at Ezekiel chapter 18. Onwards and upwards! – Andrew Shanks Oct 9 at 13:48
  • thanks for the answer. I have moved away from Calvanism. I still have many friends who believe this way but for me I just do not see it that way anymore. – Restlee Oct 10 at 16:28
  • @Restlee - There are hypercalvinists who think God doesn't want all men to be saved, and calvinists who take 1 Timothy 2:4, Luke 13:34 ("I, the Lord, would but you would not") and Ezekiel 33:11 all in their natural sense. I would be of the latter, the same as Charles Spurgeon. – Andrew Shanks Oct 10 at 16:37

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