Jehovah`s Witness/Bible's view of flesh
QUESTION: Hello. Thanks for telling me to ask you again the previous questions about salvation. I'll try to make a connection with this new question.
Im confused about the Bible's view concerning flesh. Is it evil? If yes, how its God's creation?
Sorry for being bored to give you the exact passages. I remember two instances.
First of all Paul saying "Flesh and Blood can not inherit God's Kingdom". What does he mean here? Flesh is evil? If God's kingdom is to be expanded from heavens to Earth, how people will exist on the kingdom if they dont have flesh?
Second Paul says that there is a law in his body that goes against his will. Theres a fight of flesh with spirit. He's talking like he's a slave of the flesh, being under pressure in order to satisfy her needs.
Remember that gnostic christians say that flesh is evil, so it cant be God's creation but of a lesser fallen god.
And now we will make a connection with the previous questions concerning salvation.
Jesus came to sacrifice His flesh. I remember somewhere in the Bible reading that "passions were crucified, the flesh of sin was crucified in the cross".
So how Jesus came back again the flesh of sin? Wasnt he resurrected in a new spiritual body that is not affected by illness and death?
I really dont understand. First we have negative statements about the flesh in Bible(so how its God's creation?), then we read that Jesus told Thomas "Touch me and see my wounds", as if Jesus was resusserted with the same flesh that was subject to death(How could perfect Jesus have wounds after the Resurrection?)
Strange things, Im confused. Can you help?
ANSWER: Hi Christaras,
Not a problem. Always glad to hear from you. You brought up two quotes from the Bible that we will use in the answer, except we will bring them in context.
I think I have a good idea what you are asking, and I hope that my answer will help you in your understanding. I am sure that you are already aware of the original sin of Adam and the fact that it means that, by nature, all of mankind is sinful from that point on. What this means in a practical sense is that mankind is separated from God, and there is absolutely nothing that mankind can do to cross that barrier on his own.
I think in your question, you may be considering the word "flesh" on a literal basis. I would consider it more metaphorical sense. With this separation between man and God, consider "flesh" to be of man, and "Spirit" to be of God. They are polar opposites. One has the propensity for sin, the other for holiness. No middle ground. Keep that in mind when you read this passage from Galatians 5:16-24.
"So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
Next to answer some of your other questions, we need to look at 1 Corinthians 15:35-54.
"35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”
36How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. 50I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
You are correct in saying that Paul states that there is a fight of flesh and Spirit as long as he lives in his corruptible body. In heaven, however, he will reside in his heavenly body described in the passage above.
So, to sum up what I hope is an answer to your question. When you read "flesh" in this context, consider it to be more metaphorical for the state of mankind (naturally sinful). We will shed our earthly body for a heavenly body. Some people believe this is done when they accept Christ. They believe at that point, they have "taken off the old and put on the new" and that the battle between the flesh and the Spirit occurs because from that point in time, they have the Spirit in them. Once they die and shed their flesh, they would then only have the Spirit with no fleshly desires at all.
I will respectfully defer the discussion of Jesus' bodily resurrection to Derrick. He is very passionate about that subject.
Please feel free to follow-up, and thanks again for writing.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello. Yes, there are many questions.
What does "defer" means? I didnt understand your sentence about Jesus' bodily resurrection, you mean you will also ask Derrick?
So, as I understand you say that flesh can have a broader meaning. I agree here, I know what you mean. But the problem is that I see a dislike in Paul's words about the flesh. Didnt God create Adam with a flesh that desired food and had sexual organs? We see that Adam was eating fruits.
If we dont agree that happened, then we are after the gnostic doctine that considers flesh as an evil creation of a lesser god. This solves the problem, but then Genesis story would be a distortion of the truth.
I really cant understand the final view of Biblical Christianity about flesh. Is food, sex, lust and all these bad? If yes, how could God created us with lust?
I see youre talking about a "spiritual" body. Could it be that you believe Adam had a spiritual body and after the Sin it became a physical one that was subject to lust? But I see that they were eating fruits even before the Sin.
Do you agree with Jws that some people are raised with a spiritual body? How does a spiritual body look like? Does it look like the physical? I was reading a christian book and there was a picture with a man that was dying and was going to heaven as a reborn christian. It looked like his physical one, except that he could fly as the angels. To be honest, I think there are no bodies in the sky as the earthly ones and angels have not a real flesh. They just take a human form to talk to humans. Man was made to live on Earth. Isnt he different than the angels?
This is another contradiction I cant understand. Is the reward of Christians up there in the skies, or here on Earth? In John's gospel, we must reborn up in the skies. Jesus says "dont make treasures here on Earth
that are destroyed by worms, but think about the imperisable treasures up there in Heaven".
But in the OT we read that man was created to live here on Earth.
Earth or sky? Kingdom here or kingdom up there?
4) Returning to sin.
There is also another problem about how sin passes from Adam to us. I read in a JW book that the punishment of death was to all of us through Adam. If Adam sinned why we are responsible for his sins? Every soul is responsible for its' own sins.
It cant be through dna as some may suggest. Dna is only for the building of the flesh. We are not robots as our cells, but have free will to make a bad or good action. Dna does not determine our character, even though an ill body may play a significant role in the behavior of a man, cause he is under pressure.
Others say we have inherited from Adam something that drives us to sin. So its not only Adam's fault, but us to blame also. Is "that thing" the corruptible flesh?
"Defer" means to pass on to someone else. Derrick has done a great deal of writing on the subject of a bodily resurrection already. DW has as well if you are seeking a balanced discussion. It might benefit you to find that back and forth discussion and examine for yourself. I really don't have anything to add to it, so I defer to the scriptural evidence already presented.
1) Simply put, there is nothing sinful with desiring food, sex, or lust as long as it is done to the glory of our Creator. They can be used in a sinful way (i.e. gluttony, fornication, or coveting), but they are not inherently sinful. Feeding oneself, lusting for and having sex with your marital partner is completely sanctioned by God.
2) No, I was not inferring a spiritual body first followed by a physical body. In the passage that I quoted above from 1 Corinthians 15, it says, "46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual." I agree with JW's in the sense that 1 Corinthians 15 accurately describes heavenly bodies once we are resurrected. Where we disagree is with who receives these heavenly bodies. Which is where our answer to #3 will differ.
3) I believe that all children of God have a reward in heaven. Man was created to live on earth, but following the judgement, we will not live on this earth. In Revelation 21:1, John says, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away". This is what Isaiah testified of in Is. 65:17 and 66:22. Peter looked forward to this time in 2 Pet. 3:13 after the destruction of the heavens and the earth in verse 10. The great part about the new heavens and earth is that God will reside with His people.
4) I think your last comment is headed in the right direction. JW's will tell you that the sacrifice of Jesus simply atones for the inherited sin of Adam and does not atone for your sins. This is why they believe that they must remain righteous through the millennium as well as a final test by Satan, and then they might be saved. I completely disagree with this assessment. 1 John 2:2 says "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins
, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" 1 Peter 2:24 says, "He himself bore our sins
in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness".
Hope that helped!