Monday 9 November 2009

What Is Flesh? - Part Two. Brett Burrowes.John Crowder

Brett Burrowes complete transcript/ or alternatively the original spoken mp3 can be obtained here:

He begins:

I'm going to talk today about sin, the flesh and Satan in the Bible. I have been writing, or have written a dissertation on Paul and the law and sin in Romans 7 & 8, it's titled Christ the Living Law, Paul's Transformation of the Law From Letter to Spirit of Christ in Romans 7-8. And I had two sets of purposes in writing the dissertation, one was more academic and the other was more theological or doctrinal.
It really all started back oh about 20 years ago when I went through a Church split over some teachings at this fellowship in NY. And the teachings involved about Satan and Christ, whether sin was a result of a sinful human nature that we have or was it Satan expressing his own nature through us and did we live our lives with the help of the Spirit of Christ of course or was it Christ himself and no longer I living the Christian life? And as Galatians 2:20 says. And it was very disturbing to me that these Christians that I thought cared about me turned on us and walked to the other side of the street and treated us with what I saw was hate rather than Christian love and kindness. And at one point I stood up, probably in ignorance, but I stood up and said to the Church just shortly before I left what Galatians 2:20 meant to me and how Norman Grubb had thrown light on that verse to me and on Romans 7. But I was shaken by what happened and I didn't really, I knew it at one level but not at a level where I felt secure in what I believed. And so I decided to go to seminary to find out for myself what the Bible said, what it meant in the original languages and not that I was just going to take all my seminary professors word for it, but, I wanted, I had to know for myself what the truth was and if the truth was that what Norman was telling me was wrong then I was going to accept it because it was what the Bible said that I knew the bible was the word of God and that was the starting point and the foundation of everything else. And I believe that to be my foundation to this day and the foundation of our fellowship.


ACWelchAll through history God has called towards His believers by means of revelation surrounding Biblical Truth, which is after all only a mirror of True Heavenly Realities to do with the Living Version of the Tabernacle as briefly and I mean briefly outlined in the book of Hebrews.

Now for the Anabaptists it was the discovery of the "living" dynamic to be experienced in total immersion baptism by believers, in an age still almost universally saddled with the belief that you tapped babies on the forehead with some sprinkled water.

In the last century, pioneers of the healing movement like Alexander Dowie were regularly fined by the Chicago municipality for practicing medicine!(It's actually called praying for the sick and it is in your Bibles- though probably not the Episcopalian ones....only joking)) And Dowie kept paying. Added to this, the government did not honour or acknowledge their own health savings as literally thousands were either instantly or rapidly healed of their ailments.

By my reckoning, the Church of Jesus Christ in Chicago are owed millions of pounds in compensation and interest by the central authorities!!!! And we are coming into the time of the restoration of all things!


Later on the Pentecostals and Apostolic Churches were universally rejected for preaching and experiencing both the baptism of the Spirit, and the reinstatement of ministries long abandoned by the Church at large:apostles and prophets.

Well then, we come to the last 30 years or so where the matter has been surrounding Galations 2:20. Do you believe it? Or don't you? And the taking on board of living revelation is always perceived by outsiders as extreme. But from the point of view of those who have heard the word of the Lord, it is just a simple matter of obedience.

As it was for Noah when he built his boat. There had never been a need for a boat. There had never been any rain. And when it began raining, IT BEGAN RAINING. You definitely needed to be in that boat!

If you are reading this for the first time, wondering about Christian believers. Can I just say, you need to be hanging around them. Because Christians get advance warnings about things. So instead of mocking them and crossing to the other side of the street, can I suggest you shut up your bad mouthing, you quietly tag along, and listen to what they are going on about. They could just be building the next boat. Rant over - Brett continues:


.............Now the protestant reformation though it was successful in reestablishing that God's salvation is by God's grace alone and received by faith alone, didn't deal with the problem of the continued sinning of believers. It only dealt with the means by which we're saved and go to heaven. In fact, Luther and Calvin the reformers emphasized we continue to sin constantly which drives us to trust Christ more and not our own works for our salvation. The reformers would have been hostile to the belief that Christ can live out His sin-free life through us. They would not have welcomed that and would have seen it as sort of maybe a sneaky way that salvation by works could sneak back in but in fact we believe that salvation is by God's grace alone and we can do nothing to earn our salvation. And so that's not in doubt, we're starting from that as our basis.

......... my strategy is to show that evangelical interpretations of sin and the flesh and Paul, are based upon a later interpretation of Paul by St. Augustine in the early 5th century AD and are not original to the apostle Paul himself. And also, that when Paul is interpreted in his Jewish and Greek context of the first century AD, the idea that sin is a spirit is a more natural way to understand what Paul was saying.

............Now probably the most important view of sin, that I disagree with, is that of Augustine who viewed sin as a corruption of human nature or of the flesh. Corruption is when something has deteriorated from it's original state of wholeness. Rust would be a corruption of iron or steel so immorality would be a corruption of the human body and of human nature. So in Augustine's view human nature, which is originally pristine and perfect before the fall, was corroded or corrupted by Adam's original sin. Specifically, the corruption of human nature was the introduction of excessive or inordinate desire into human nature. A physical desires, especially the desire to pursue pleasure and avoid pain, became much more extreme and out of whack, so to speak. Now in Augustine's view we're self-operating but we can only choose what we desire and if our desires are out of control we find ourselves unable to stop sinning because we can't change our desires to make them the right desires. So for Augustine it is the flesh that is the problem. The flesh is corrupted by sin and sin doesn't literally indwell the flesh like a spirit indwells a body, rather sin indwells the flesh the way that you see rust corroding iron and gradually causing it to deteriorate and fall apart.
I should back up a minute and explain, well, who is St. Augustine and why is he so important? Augustine is important because all of Western Christian theology- Catholic and Protestant-as opposed to Christianity in Eastern Europe, Russia, Greece and the middle east, all of Western Christian theology is based on Augustine. Most people do not realize that and probably think that, well, no my theology is all based upon the new testament. And they might give a nod to Luther or Calvin or the Reformers but little do they realize that the Reformers themselves based their theology on Augustine's interpretation of the Bible as did most Catholic writers as well, in fact probably all Catholic and Protestant writers. This makes him, gives him almost unparalleled importance in the history of Christianity apart from the writers of the New Testament, because everybody in western Christianity, Catholic and Protestant, sees and reads the Scriptures with the lenses or eyeglasses of St. Augustine. We read it naturally in that way and don't realize or even know that we're doing it. So he is perhaps, there's no more important figure in the history of Christian theology than St. Augustine other than the writers of the Bible. That means that all of Christian theology since the time of Augustine, who lived around 354 to 430 AD, is basically a commentary on Augustine, virtually without exception, whether Protestant or Catholic. That doesn't mean all protestants agree with everything Augustine wrote or all Catholics agree with Augustine, but everyone is in someway either building on or reacting to Augustine.
So as I was saying, it's as if we read the Bible with colored contact lenses on and we're not even aware that we have them on, so that Augustine is causing us to read and understand Paul through that color, like we're seeing the world through blue eye glasses and everything appears blue in Paul because that's how Augustine has led us to read it. Since almost all doctrinal disputes between Christians go back to disagreements in the interpretation of Paul, if Augustine controls our interpretation of Paul, how great is that influence?
Some of the Catholic doctrines with which Protestants disagree also go back to theologians working out the implications of Augustine's doctrine of sin and sinful human nature, such as purgatory. For example, if we are not finished being made sanctified, our human nature is not sufficiently purified by our death, then what do we do? What happens? Do we just go up unfinished our process of sanctification into heaven? Well Catholics then decided we must go through purgatory to finish the process of sanctification to get into heaven. There's a certain logical sense to that. If there's a sinful human nature and it's not perfected by the time we die, then it has to be perfected after we die. Protestants have sort of lived with the contradiction. The same as with the immaculate conception of Mary, that well if Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary who had a sinful human nature why didn't he inherit a sinful human nature? And so Catholics invented the doctrine of immaculate conception to solve the problem of Jesus' sinlessness. That why he didn't inherit a sinful human nature from Mary. Protestants again sort of live with that contradiction and probably don't even realize that there is one. Of course I think that we have a much simpler solution by discarding the sinful human nature problem then the problem that created purgatory and immaculate conception completely disappear. Because there's no sinful nature to be purified or sanctified and there's not sinful nature for Jesus to inherit, therefore there's no need for these doctrines.
Now in Augustine's favor, he was the champion of the idea of salvation by God's grace alone, not by human works. Luther was merely reviving Augustine on this point. Augustine wrote extensively hundreds of pages on this point and was absolutely clear and I'm not sure exactly why the Church didn't always follow him but he was sufficiently read by at least those who could read, that people understood what his point about salvation by God's grace alone was.

.........To summarize, Augustine's view of sinful human nature has four sources. He was reacting against his former Manichean views of an evil deity while at the same time adopting their idea that humans have two natures in conflict with each other. Two, he was reacting against Pelagius's perfectionism and salvation by works. The third source of his view of sinful human nature is that his status as a man educated in Greek philosophy led him to view human beings as being operated by one of two spirits as being superstitious and unlearned or uneducated and fourth, and perhaps most importantly, fundamental changes were occurring in the Western Church as a result of Constantine's making Christianity a legal religion in 312 and Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman empire in 380AD. And at this time many thousands of educated and upper class people found it politically wise or expedient to become Christians. If Christianity was the official religion then it was necessary to become Christian in order to succeed in public life, whether that meant political office or just economically, or in business. Christian theology changed to fit this situation. Perhaps not consciously but nevertheless it did so and since Augustine came from this very class of people I think at some level his theology changed or he changed Christian theology in order to fit his situation.

........So lets go back to the meaning of the word flesh.
In Greek the word is Sarx. Some modern Evangelical translations, the New International Version, or the New Living Translation, use sinful nature or old nature, and this is an example of Augustine's theology being read into the text because there's nothing about the word Sarx that means sinful nature or old nature.

....Now, flesh then normally has the sense of human bodily nature, unless of course it refers to animal flesh. It refers to the human body and soul and it's abilities or lack of them. It includes bodily appetites, desires, emotions and feelings. But we must be careful not to just read Augustine's theology of a corrupted human nature or corrupted body into the word of God. Flesh refers to human bodily nature as indwelt by the spirit of sin which has invaded or taken up residence there. So the big difference between Augustine and myself is whether sin is a deterioration of human bodily nature or whether it is an invasion of human bodily nature by an outside spirit distinct from the human self which has come in and taken over. There's nothing in the word flesh or Sarx that demands either interpretation, it just means human bodily nature and as a result of sin, whatever it is, and we'll get to that in a moment, the flesh stands in opposition to God.

...............And so it seems that the writers of Scripture and Paul himself, held to the idea that disease was caused by evil spirits. Augustine on the other hand, who comes from more of the educated classes, is fond of describing sin as some kind of wound to the body. And so he gravitates naturally to the idea of sin, the first idea of sin as a deterioration, or a corruption of the body. And a corruption is sort of the like, kind of a natural deterioration like rust is a corruption of iron but in this case it's a moral deterioration rather than a physical deterioration. In this view Satan wounded human nature and the body at the Fall, he didn't actually enter in to it and indwell it. Paul however, his view fits more the idea of being invaded by some kind of evil spirit. As I've said before, Paul expresses a view of disease in 2 Corinthians 12:7 where he says the thorn in his flesh was an emissary of Satan. Somehow an emissary of Satan has entered his body or a messenger of Satan causing disease. In Romans 5:12 Paul says sin entered into or invaded the world. In Romans 7:17 & 20 Paul distinguishes sin from himself, it is no longer I who sin and not I who do the sin. He distinguishes sin from the flesh in Romans 8:3. They're not identical. Sin takes up residence and indwells human flesh just the way a demonic spirit would in Romans 7:17 & 20 and just like an enemy invader would, sin takes us captive and makes us do it's will in Romans 7:23. Sin produces evil desires but it's not identical with those evil desires in Romans 7 & 8. And in Romans 8:15 sin is described as a spirit of slavery. So Paul outright identifies sin as a spirit in Romans 8:15. Some translations try to reduce that to a mere attitude or mindset but since the Holy Spirit the Spirit of adoption is a real Spirit which comes to dwell in us no one would say that the Holy Spirit is part of our human selves, or some human attitude, so the same is true of the spirit of slavery, it is a spirit which comes from the outside and invades us. And of course Ephesians 2:2 is the most clear of all in which Paul describes how we all once walked under the authority of the prince of the power of the air, the spirit which now operates in the children of disobedience. And the operation of this spirit is associated with the desires of the flesh, the Satan operated body which produces the distorted desires and appetites of the flesh. And finally Paul can describe the body as the body of sin, Romans 6:6, because it is the body that sin indwells or inhabits. ...........

...............So as you can see, even our modern translations are influenced greatly by Augustine's theology. Now I'm not saying that the NIV or the New Living Translations are overall terrible translations or that you should never use any part of them, I'm just saying that when it comes to the apostle Paul and specifically passages about sin, the flesh, and the Spirit of Christ operating us, that's when they read Augustine's theology into the text. There's other parts of Scripture where thy are perfectly fine in the way they interpret and translate the Bible. But I think it is important that we be aware that translation can influence our theology and we're not even aware or the theology can influence translation and we're not necessarily aware that it's doing that and then influence the way that we understand what's happening when we're being tempted and why we find that life may not work the way that the Bible says it is supposed to work.
So in summary, the flesh is just bodily human nature which has been taken over or invaded by a spirit, the spirit of error, the spirit of Satan, the spirit of sin or the spirit of slavery in various parts of Scripture. Sin itself is not something that has gone wrong with human nature, it is not some psychological principle, it is not a corruption of human nature. Sin is an invading spirit, what Paul calls the prince of the power of the air the spirit which is now at work in the children of disobedience. So sin is the spirit of Satan operating in us, operating in our flesh, while we were unbelievers, but fortunately for us Christ came and died to expel that spirit from us, from operating us, in his death on the cross and when we believe in that, believe in Christ's redemption of us and participate in his death to sin and his resurrection, then the old spirit goes out and we are joined to the new spirit, the Spirit of Christ, by whom we are now to be operated through our faith in Him as Paul says in Galatians 2:20, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live I live by faith or rather by the faithfulness of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. And so our faith in His faithfulness are what enables Christ to live his life through us just as sin or the spirit of Satan once lived his quality of life through us. Brett Burrows message ends.
There are huge chunks missed out for brevity. I firmly recommend that those who want to get a handle on some of the historical distortions spend time studying the whole message.


Gnosticism extract from Miracle workers,Reformers and the New Mystics by John Crowder

Gnosticism, or gnostic docetism, claims that all physical matter is evil, and all spirit is good. It denies that Jesus came in the flesh, professing that He was only a spiritual being. Since the flesh is made of matter, it is therefore" evil." But we know that unless Jesus became a man like us, He could not have died for us. He had to become like us in every way, yet be without sin, in order to bear our sin and bridge the gap between God and humanity.This is foundational. The apostle John—who preaches against gnosticism more than anyone else in Scripture—makes it clear that "the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us" (John 1: 14). The incarnation of Christ is the very crux of the gospel—God became one of us, in order to save us.
Gnostics also believed that man is saved by attaining a special, secret knowledge. This is important to remember, to see how it'stied to the religious spirit. It takes the focus off the cross, and puts it on our own works. Gnosticism comes from the word gnosis "to know." By a process of learning and attaining a hidden understand­ing, gnostics think they can save themselves.This puts the focus on our own attainment and "head knowledge" rather than on Jesus.
How is this relevant to us today? Gnosticism is not just a strong­hold behind secular intellectualism. Gnosticism is the main dish served at most seminaries and Bible schools today. It is the Captain Crunch of most Sunday morning services (by knowing more about God, or even memorizing the Bible, you are saved—versus knowing God relationally or experientially). It is heart belief—not a head trip—that is counted as saving faith.
... if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you con­fess and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).
The idolatry of godly knowledge can even cause us to worship the Bible, rather than the God of the book. Knowing about God is not the same as knowing God. I can know lots of facts about a per­son, but until I meet him, I do not really know him. An overempha­sis on "head knowledge" versus "heart knowledge" is gnostic. This spirit will also cause us to try and figure out all our spiritual prob­lems, without ever actually taking them to the cross. It is a form of godliness that denies the power (2 Tim. 3:5). It produces hearers of the Word, but not doers of the Word.
We recognize this critter most obviously as that unnatural, over-pious, uptight religious monkey That's because it goes against what is normal and natural and human, and calls the contorted result "holy." It tries to make you ascend to God, rather than believe Jesus already came to you. It manipulates the exterior, to appear-spiritu­al." Religion exalts a mode of self-denial, while never dealing a death blow to the root heart issues of pride and fear.

Our embrace of the cross is not just an embrace of death. It is the embrace of hope in a greater resurrection. We have no guaran­tee that sacrifice will be fun. But the chief end of Christians is not just to make sacrifices. Our objective is to enjoy God, come what may. Religion worships self death. We worship the Lord......

.....while Augustine surely made remarkable contributions to the Christian faith, he also brought a gnostic influence to mainstream Christianity. Augustine believed the entire world was altogether fallen, to the point that nature itself was basically sinful. His beliefs resurfaced centuries later, influencing reformer John Calvin's teachings that man is completely depraved apart from conversion.
It is one thing to say all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is entirely another thing to say everything is utterly cor­rupted. Surely we can do nothing of positive, eternal consequence apart from Christ, but there is a basic, inherent value in the natural realm that cannot be denied. There is original sin, but there is also a measure of original innocence. Eastern Orthodox theologians respect Augustine, but like many in the West, they do not believe this doctrine of "intrinsic
impairment" to be necessary. In Romans 7:18, the apostle Paul says, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature." The key term to remember here is "sinful nature"—it is the nature of our wicked hearts, not the natural realm itself, which is evil. We live a paradox as Christians. On one hand, we realize we are utterly worthless apart from Christ, and on the other hand, we carry the full worth of God Himself.His inability to separate the sinful nature from healthy natural desires probably explains why Augustine was a self-admittedly tor­tured man in the area of sexuality. Had he acknowledged the inher­ent good in proper marital relations, it is possible that a foundation would have been laid for future clergy. Augustine burned with lust, but he would not marry., contrary to the apostolic teachings. Legalistic abstinence only opens the door for temptations toward aberrant behavior.Augustine's pivotal role in early Christian theolo­gy possibly explains the Catholic church's consistent inability to find balance in areas of sexuality in ministry that remains today. While we should not paint a broad target over our Catholic broth­ers, it is scripturally clear that abstinence from marriage was never a requirement for ministers in the apostolic writings.Peter himself whom Catholics regard as the first Pope, took a wife.

We can boil down the gnostic influence on the church today into a three-fold cord that we must overcome:We are, saved by "knowing." Knowing lots of Christian infor­mation and theology has been a substitute for relationship with God.We even know our problems and are aware of the sin we struggle with, but fail to take it to the cross or actu­ally repent. Our level of knowledge far outweighs our level of obedience. Hearers, but not doers.
Leads to death or indulges the flesh. Our humanity is not evil, although we do have a sin nature that must be dealt with. We are to deny ourselves, but not become masochists. The religious spirit will try to make you kill yourself, versus submitting to the Lord and letting Him purify you. We are called to embrace His refining fire, but not go looking for persecution and death. Religion's end is suicide. The oppo­site extreme here would be to take grace as a license to sin, and think that sins of the flesh are not important since we have spiritual salvation.
The spirit realm seems out of reach. We feel "chained" in our bodies, because we have an underlying belief that we are evil and sinful.This prevents us from naturally flowing in the supernatural realm. We are unable to see God's glory in the simple things of life, and are more aware of an unclean­ness around us than we are of God's presence.
It does not take much "discernment" to point out these flaws with the body, but our main task is to build up the church and focus.

on the Lord—not criticize and focus on the enemy's work. Fortunately, as we become full to the brim with the real anointing, and turn our eyes to the living Christ, these strongholds are going to topple.
Our bent toward the natural realm should be to somehow see the glory of God in all things. Remember that we are made in God's image. Ever wondered what God looks like? You look like Him in a lot of ways. Even the natural realm reflects God. God created matter, and nature is not utterly corrupted. We should have an eye for redeeming even those things which are used for evil.When God cre­ated the earth, He saw that it was good. This is because the very earth declared His majesty. And there is a higher purpose in store for the earth that prompted God to redeem it.Although we may not always be aware of it, "the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isa. 6:3). Keep in mind that this verse was written after the fall, yet it is still truth. The Kingdom of God is always just at hand—within fingertip reach even while we are in this world—the problem is, His glory usually goes unnoticed.
Like Elisha's servant, we need our eyes opened to the spirit realm, even amid this earthly reality. Heaven is already touching earth, we are just not aware of it. We need to manifest this reality. One day, the earth will also be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (see Hab. 2:14). That is, one day we will be aware of the omnipresent God who is already in our midst. It is not that the angelic realm will step into our world, but that we will enter more into theirs through a consciousness—an awareness—of God's reality.That, after all, is faith. Believing in the unseen. There will be such an acute consciousness of God's glory that we will see His reflection everywhere we look, even amid out mundane, natural circumstances.
We often pray for God's glory to come. But we should be asking to see and know the glory that is already at hand. We are not tc pull Heaven down from some hazy, unreachable place. Heaven is already within us—we must learn to release it through simple belief.

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