THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #22-24
Thesis #22 of 95 - The intellectual vessel that the soul/spirit inhabits is innately corrupt, governed by a triple concupiscence
Thesis #23 of 95 - Paul refers to the intellectual vessel that the soul/spirit inhabits whilst on Earth as "the body of THIS death", referring to its current spiritual status
Thesis #24 of 95. Paul's "law within his members" or "flesh" pertain to the governing principles adopted by the human brain as it processes the senses of the body
1Jn2:16 – All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world
Rom7:23 – For I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members
Rom7:24 – Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
1Thes4:4 – That each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor
In commenting on each thesis, I endeavour to place it and any related biblical citations in their broader context. As a result, I have already covered most issues pertaining to these three related theses in earlier posts. But to reiterate the main points:
By “procreated intellectual vessel” I am referring to what comes out of a mother’s womb minus the spiritual element that (as creationists recognize) is placed there by God and later returns to Him (Eccles12:7). Paul and Peter both refer to this fleshly component as a vessel, tent or tabernacle. Of course, a vital part of that temporary fleshly vessel is the brain, hence my reference to it being intellectual. For it tends to be forgotten that the spiritual component that all Christians acknowledge leaves the body after brain-death is itself an intellectual entity – rational and memory retaining (Lk16:25). It follows therefore that whilst in mortal flesh there are two distinct intellectual entities within man. They are not in union but oppose each other morally and spiritually. The fleshly component is “dead” in terms of its spiritual relationship with God, whilst that which God has planted is unsurprisingly alive in that respect. That is, in most cases but not all, for the devil’s children are twice dead. For in such, like Cain (Jude11-12), flesh and spirit no longer are in tension. And it is a scary prospect; the spiritual and fleshly parts of these human devils (Jn6:70) have both died to God and become united in evil, devoid of a functioning conscience, being a faculty of the spirit, whose very existence Augustine and consequently much subsequent theology rejects.
Not so the apostle Paul on either count. He knows a human being to comprise body, soul and spirit (1Thes5:23). He also knows and has articulated in Romans chapter seven that the instincts of the flesh (i.e. the bodily senses as they are process by the brain – thesis #24) are at odds with the instincts of the spirit perceived in the promptings of the conscience, being God’s law written on the heart. Paul cannot be referring to himself as a Christian within that passage (Rom7:14-24) as even Augustine rightly acknowledged, but many later commentators do not. In so doing they contradict what Paul goes on to outline in the very next chapter (8:12-16). For the Christian is not a slave to the flesh whereas man by nature is. It prevents him consistently practicing what he knows in his heart to be right and just. Not so the Christian who is enabled in Paul’s words “to possess his own vessel with sanctification and honour”. For he has become one spirit with Christ and is further empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome the deceitful enticements of this world (1Jn2:16).
The latter is what thesis #22 is referring to – the triple concupiscence which has governed the brain since the Fall, exacerbated by the influence of he who is still the prince of this world. Paul refers to our earthly vessel as the body of this death (thesis #23). The “this” (v24 – τούτου), often subtly omitted or misplaced within the translation, is important for it shows that the death to which he refers is not “a state of damnation” but what he is describing in the passage – the inability to overcome the desires of the flesh as long as the soul resides in mortal flesh (cf. 1Pet4:6). That in turn results in a breach of God’s laws that are referenced by the conscience (Rom2:15) such that even those who have a sense of right and wrong and seek to practice the former are currently innately unable to serve the living God (Heb9:14). [They are nevertheless justified by “faith” evinced by love through the merits of Christ’s faithfulness, but that is for a later thesis]. As Paul concluded, for those called to divine service and spiritual worship whilst still in mortal flesh so as to be fitted for yet more glorious service in the ages to come, there is only one solution – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Rom7:25).
Even then, the matter is not finally resolved until the body itself is redeemed and replaced with that which is equally material yet incorruptible, having a brain spiritually attuned to God and the things of God. Note carefully, that is the eventuality Paul refers to as the Christian’s point of adoption (Rom8:23) – not the day of his conversion or when the soul goes to heaven but when he finally receives a resurrection body. For man is incomplete (“asleep”) without a body – and it was the temporary version that had been the source of his problem with sin. As Peter affirmed, the lusts of the flesh war against the soul – not within it for they do not derive from it (1Pet2:11). Nevertheless, such a soul can potentially be damaged (corrupted) to the point of requiring the painful remedy (salting) Jesus spoke of in Mk9:45-50. That is one of the more troublesome passages of Scripture for many Christians. It was considered in some detail in the previous post.