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Part  2  --  The  Flesh  of  Christ

     In our last Sermon we examined the issue on the nature of Christ and clearly understood, through the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, that Christ took upon Himself our fallen, sinful nature.  We will now examine the issue of Christ's flesh.  This issue is similar to what we studied regarding the nature of Christ, but it has more ramifications.
     The main point at stake with this issue is whether Christ lived His human life on this earth in sinless or in sinful flesh.  Many will admit that Christ took man's fallen nature upon Himself, but believe that He did not also take and live in the sinful flesh of man.  They believe that He was somehow protected from accepting this sinful flesh at birth and lived only in sinless flesh, which we, as human beings since the fall of Adam, know nothing about.
     While others believe that Christ did indeed take upon Himself and live in the sinful flesh of fallen humanity.  Again, we cannot trust to our own ideas, or to the ideas of any other person, in this important area.  So what does God's word state?
     "Therefore (David) being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne." Acts 2:30.

     So Christ was born from the seed of David according to the flesh.  And what kind of flesh did David possess in which he would pass on to all of his offspring?  David did not have sinless flesh to pass on to his children, but only sinful flesh.  Thus what kind of flesh was Jesus born with and chose to live in?  It was not sinless flesh, but sinful flesh.
     It is important to understand that Jesus did not commit sin in order to obtain the sinful flesh of humanity, but He voluntarily took upon Himself the fallen nature the sinful flesh at birth.  Another way in which you could state this same fact is that since Jesus did not commit sin in order to obtain our sinful flesh, He took upon Himself the same likeness of sinful flesh which all the offspring since Adam's fall, including that which Abraham, David, and Mary possessed.  So Christ took the likeness of sinful flesh upon Himself, but it was still the very same sinful flesh that you and I possess and know about.
     "...God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh..." Romans 8:3.

     Thus Christ was fully God and fully man at the same time, yet He voluntarily chose not to live in the unfallen nature of His Godhood, or even to use His God powers, while He was living on this earth.
     But why did Christ do so?  Christ chose to bridge the gulf that sin had made between humanity and God by taking our fallen, sinful nature upon Him and living in sinful flesh.  Thus Christ is the connecting Link between God and humanity.  Jesus did not just pretend when He took upon Himself sinful flesh, he did in reality take it upon Himself and live in it.
     So Jesus, the spotless lamb of God was willing to be treated as you and I should have been treated.  He was willing to unite Himself and eternal interests with fallen, sinful humanity--to become human.  Brothers and sisters, understand that Jesus was willing to become one of His own creation.  What love is this!  What immense love does this show to you and me?
     Tongue can never proclaim this love in it's fullness; pen can never describe it in it's entirety.  Christ's love amazed the angels; it amazed all the unfallen universe; and it should amaze all the human race that Christ would consent to go step by step all the way down to reach us where we were that He might bring us up and connect us with the Father.  God became man.  Christ chose to become one of His own creations!
     Now lets look at an example.  What if you had the power to create worms?  And you saw that these worms were heading straight for a cliff.  And if they fell over it they would be destroyed.  Would you, out of love for the worms that you created, consent to be made a worm yourself in order to speak their language, feel what they feel and are going through, in order to reach them where they were?  Would you be willing to be made one of your own creation in order to save just some of them from certain destruction?
     Brethren, Christ was willing to be made a worm in order to save us--see Psalms 22:6.  He was willing to go however far it was necessary to save you and me from sin and destruction.  What an infinite love--a love that can never be sounded to it's depths!  And that love is freely given for you and me.
     Now some believe that even though Christ took our fallen nature upon Himself, and even though He chose to live in sinful flesh, they adamantly teach that Christ did not feel or have to repress the inward sinful tendencies and desires of sinful flesh like we experience.  Thus they strongly proclaim that any temptations which Christ experienced were always from without, like Adam before the fall, and were never experienced from within, like all humanity since the fall of Adam experience when we are tempted.
     In other words, the various churches teach that since Jesus was born different and did not have to struggle with the inner urgings towards sin, then Jesus did not really receive a fallen nature or sinful flesh from Mary.  This doctrine leads directly into the Catholic doctrine that Mary was also born sinless, or the teaching of the immaculate conception of Mary.
     But what does God state is the truth in this issue?  Did Christ condemn sin outside His flesh, or did He condemn sin in His flesh?
     "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:" Romans 8:3.

     Thus Christ chose to live in sinful flesh so that He could condemn sin, not outside of His flesh, but so that He could condemn sin in His flesh.  And since Christ condemned sin in His flesh, this means that He experienced all the inward, downward pulls and desires towards sin, which are innate, or originate naturally from the fallen nature and sinful flesh which He took upon Himself.  This means that Christ was tempted from within, exactly how every human being since the fall experiences temptation.
     Adam yielded to sin, not because there was an inside urging or desire to commit sin, but he did so without any inner desire.  But when Christ came to this earth, He experienced these inward, downward pulls toward sin, but He never once gave into it.  But why did Christ have to stoop so low as to take our fallen, sinful nature upon Himself?  Why did He have to live in sinful flesh?  Why couldn't He have lived in sinless flesh and yet still save us?  Why did He have to humiliate Himself and stoop so low for our salvation?
     "...God cannot be tempted with evil..." James 1:13.

     So God, who possesses an unfallen and sinless nature, cannot be tempted with evil.  Yet the scriptures tell us many times that Christ was tempted to do evil.  So while Christ lived on this earth, He did not live in the nature of His Godhood.  He did not live in sinless flesh with an unfallen nature, because He would not have been able to be tempted with evil if He did and thus He could not know what we are experiencing.  Christ did not live on earth as a God.  He chose to live on earth as a man.  Christ came as a man and thus He was tempted like every man is tempted.  And how is that?
     "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed." James 1:14.

     The Greek word for lust used here is #1939 in Strong's Concordance, and it means "desire".  So every man, including Jesus, is tempted when they are drawn away by their own lust, or are drawn away by these naturally occurring inward desires and inclinations that originate from the fallen, sinful human nature and sinful flesh, and then they are enticed or urged to give in to these inward desires and to commit sin.  But, praise God, Christ never once gave in to these enticements.  He never once committed sin.
     Therefore enticement to sin comes after we are drawn away by these inward, sinful desires or inclinations.  Christ resisted every enticement to sin which Satan could bring to bear against Him.
     Only by taking man's fallen nature and living in sinful flesh could Christ rescue you and me from the lowest depths of our degradation.  But Christ never once committed sin so He did not have any sinful desires of His own making.  But because He voluntarily took our sinful flesh and fallen nature upon Himself He did, in consequence of this, experience all the strength of these naturally occurring inclinations and desires.  Christ continually had to deny these tendencies of the fallen nature.  Why?  Because the fallen nature of Adam always strives for the mastery.
     Hence the fallen nature which Christ took upon Himself, and the sinful flesh which He chose to live in, always strove for the mastery.  But Christ never once gave in to these downward pulls and desires to sin.  And praise God that He didn't.  But how much suffering did Christ experience when He denied these inward tendencies toward sin?  It caused Him intense, internal suffering.
     "For it became him (Father), for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings....
     "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Hebrews 2:10, 18.

     So what caused Christ internal suffering?  It was by being tempted.  Why would temptation cause Christ suffering?  Because He always resisted it and never committed sin.  Then where did these temptations originate from?  From without His person?  No, because there would be no suffering by resisting temptations outside of the flesh.  But temptations originating from within the flesh through the fallen, sinful nature would indeed cause suffering when they were resisted.
     Thus when Christ denied and resisted these inward inclinations and desires toward sin, which originated naturally through the fallen, sinful flesh and nature, it caused Him great internal suffering.  But what did this internal suffering signify?  It signified that instead of doing His own will, He chose to do the will of His Father, and thus showed that He had gained the victory over that temptation by resisting it's downward pull, and this victory made His character perfect without the slightest spot of sin.
     "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
     "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
     "Called of God an high priest..." Hebrews 5:8-10.

     Exactly how much is Christ like you and me?  Did Christ really experience these natural, inward inclinations, these passions and desires toward sin when tempted?  Did He in reality experience these?  Does our Saviour really know the inherent infirmities that we experience when faced with temptation?  Yes!
     "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities..." Hebrews 4:15.

    Was our Saviour afflicted both internally as well as externally with all the afflictions which humanity feels?  Yes!
     "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted....
     "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter..." Isaiah 53:4, 7.

     Did our Saviour really feel the strength of temptation from within like you and I experience?  Yes!
     "...(Christ) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15.

     So Christ was in all points tempted just like you and I are tempted, yet He chose not to give in to these inner urgings to commit sin.  He chose to resist these.  But if Christ did not take our fallen, sinful nature and flesh upon Himself, then He could not really be our Substitute and thus we would be hopelessly lost.  But praise God that Christ chose to reach down to where we were found and become one of us that He might raise us up, become our Substitute and we could thus find help in every time of need.
     Praise God brothers and sisters!  Our Saviour knows by experience what we are going through when tempted.  And thus He knows from experience how to deliver us from temptation.
     Our beloved Saviour chose to live in and experience all that is common with those who have fallen nature and sinful flesh.  Christ has felt and knows by personal experience all the natural passion of humanity, all the downward inclinations of the natural heart, all the hereditary tendencies toward sin, all the infirmities, all the weaknesses, all the afflictions, all the temptations, all the strength of Satan's power which humanity experiences and knows all about.  Christ has felt it all.  There is no experience which we can go through when tempted that Christ has not already experienced and overcome.
     He is a perfect Saviour, brothers and sisters, and in uniting ourselves with Him, and with Christ united with the Father, then we have all the divine power necessary to escape from sin and destruction.  It is a solemn reality that Christ became just like those He wished to save, just like you and me, and thus Christ understands everything we suffer and go through when tempted.
     "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17.

     What type of an identification?  A partial identification?  An identification that does not know what we experience when tempted?  No.  A complete identification--one in which nothing is lacking in understanding what we experience with fallen nature and sinful flesh.  May our Father and Jesus Christ be praised forever and ever for all that they have done, for all that they have suffered through in reaching down to the lowest degradation of fallen humanity that we might be raised up and be connected with God through our Saviour.  Praise Them forever for all that They have endured for unworthy you and me.
     Christ was made just like you and me with the same fallen, sinful nature, living in the same sinful flesh.  There was not a single principle of humanity in which Christ was different from us in regards to the fallen, sinful nature and sinful flesh.  If the ladder, which represented Christ, would fail by one step to reach down to where we are, we would be hopelessly lost.
     Christ chose not to violate even the slightest principle of human nature.  And yet many cannot understand the truth that Christ became just like them in order to personally save them from sin and destruction.

     Those who continue to deny that Christ took upon Himself our fallen nature and lived in sinful flesh, those who deny that Christ felt the same desires and downward pulls and inclinations toward sin which we experience when tempted, are actually believing and teaching a doctrine which is opposed to Christ and His gospel of salvation.  They are not following God, and are guilty of robbing a perfect and complete Saviour from others.
     "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
     "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
     "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." 1 John 4:1-3.

     "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an antichrist." 2 John 7.

     Now the flesh that it is talking about here is not just the fact that Jesus was born in human flesh, even the anti-Christian Roman Catholic Church teaches that.  But this is talking about Christ having the same sinful flesh as you and me.  And yet Christ resisted all these downward pulls and inclinations and urgings toward sin thereby experiencing the keenest internal suffering so that we could be provided with a way of escape from having to give in and commit sin.
     But just how much has Christ inwardly suffered by resisting temptation and condemning sin in the flesh?  How much suffering was Christ willing to endure for our salvation?
     Christ was subjected to the fiercest assaults which Satan could cast at Him.  Christ endured inexpressible anguish so severe that there are not words to describe it.  He has endured all that it is possible for any human being to bear, and thus He has bridged the gulf that sin had made between God and us.  Christ chose to leave heaven and to come down to this evil world to become one of His fallen creation and voluntarily taking upon Himself our fallen sinful nature and sinful flesh, thereby feeling everything we feel when tempted to sin.  All this was so that we, through His strength and righteousness, might be connected back to our God.  Out of infinite love Christ eternally humbled Himself in order that He might cover and shield us, and instead bear the wrath of God for our sin!
     But after everything that we have so-far covered, there is still a question remaining.  Why did Christ voluntarily take upon Himself our fallen nature and sinful flesh?  Why did He choose to condemn sin in the flesh instead of outside His flesh?  Why did He choose to suffer internally by being tempted?  Why did Christ choose to feel all the inward inclinations and desires toward sin?  Why did He choose to experience all the strength of Satan's fierce temptations?  Why did Christ take, "our nature, and in it lived a life of perfect obedience" (Signs of the Times Jan. 25, 1899)?  Why was there not a single principle of fallen, sinful human nature in which Christ would violate?  Why did He take everything that is common to humanity in fallen nature?  We are told why in Romans 8:4:
     "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
     "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

     Christ was willing to go through everything that He did so that the righteousness of God's law might be fulfilled in you and me if we walk not after the desires of the flesh, but after the desire of the Spirit.
     But why did Christ go through everything that He did?  Why did He condescend to humiliate Himself by taking our fallen nature and living in sinful flesh?  So that we would have no fear, when we experience these same inner urgings from our fallen nature and sinful flesh, that we could not overcome these and be able to keep God's law!