In Christianity we often hear that the flesh is good and the soul is evil. The reasoning goes the flesh is good because God called all his creations good in Genesis, and the soul is evil because of Adam’s sin giving us a sinful nature. This is actually backwards to what the bible teaches however, which is that the flesh is evil and the soul good. Humans were never meant to live in a physical body, nor was Adam originally created in one until after his fall. We will look at how Genesis is allegorical and was describing the creation of paradise, not the current physical word of dead matter. When Adam sinned, the entire paradise collapsed into this physical space-time universe we are trapped in now. God only created the physical world later on as a response to Adam no longer being able to live in the spiritual one.
The doctrine of Original Sin was originally invented by the famous theologian Augustine for the purpose of justifying the Roman Catholic practice of infant baptism that had become widespread. This is the ridiculous belief that God would damn young infants to hell if they died before the church baptizes them. Passages in Romans are used to justify the original sin teaching:
Romans 5:12-14 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression)”
Romans 5:19 “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous”
The idea is that all humans are born with a “sinful nature” and carry guilt from Adam’s original sin in the garden of Eden. Another common verse used is in Psalm 51.
Psalms 51:5 “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me”
Believers in original sin often say it is passed down through the father only; this is what Augustine taught. Yet this Psalm they rely on for their argument mentions David’s MOTHER as having conceived him in sin. Thus if sin is passed down to descendants, Jesus would have inherited it from his mother Mary, thus giving Christ a sinful nature and making him unsuitable as a sacrifice for the world on the cross. So what is the solution? Firstly, this verse is describing King David only and not all humans in general. Also, it is referring to his FLESH being created in the womb, not his “soul” being sinful. It is our flesh that gives us the tendency to sin and as we sin our soul is corrupted. We are not born originally with a sinful or corrupted soul. Early Christian writings the Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, and Epistle of Barnabas all mention children are born without sin.
So then what is Paul talking about in Romans when he mentions sin entered the world through Adam? The Greek word for “world” is “kosmos” where we get “cosmic.” Paul did not say sin entered humans through Adam, but it entered the WORLD (universe). The human soul is not born with any “sinful nature.” Paul makes it clear that the FLESH is the only thing that causes us to want to sin. The condemnation through Adam is that we now have to live in a flesh-body while we are on this earth.
Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
Romans 7:14 “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal [fleshly], sold under sin.”
v18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells;”
v22-23 “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
The human soul only carries any defilement AFTER we make choices according to the desire of our flesh. It is our BODY that leads us to sin. Paul is quite clear here that the inward man delights in the law of God. Our soul does NOT have a sinful nature. Throughout Paul’s writings he constantly mentions a struggle between the flesh and the spirit, not between a sinful nature and the spirit. The conflict of flesh and spirit is one of the main themes that recurs over and over in the book of Romans.
Paul’s grand finale is where we are placed in a glorified body instead of our fleshly one.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
The NIV translation has been very zealous in promoting the opinion that we are born with a “sinful nature,” translating the word “flesh” as “sinful nature” for no absolutely no reason. Nowhere in the original Greek is there any mention of a supposed ‘sinful nature’ belonging to humans. That is the translators own human opinion (which they are entitled to but should not be forcing on the rest of us. Recently the NIV committee has admitted to their grievous wrongdoing and now publish their new bibles with the correct word “flesh” rather than “sinful nature”).
Adam and Eve Revisited
Genesis was never meant to be taken so literally. In Genesis 1 “light” and day/night are created on the FIRST DAY while the “Sun” is only created on the FOURTH DAY. The author is not an idiot and knew full well that light and the day/night division come from the sun. Our westernized materialistic mindset wants to force all of these spiritual texts as if they are describing material things. This is where you end up with flat-earth and young-earth creationists. The culture of the east was much more into symbols and allegory that we are today. Genesis does not make any sense if it is taken as the creation of the physical world rather than of spiritual paradise.
The Jewish traditions and targums mention Adam’s body as being one of light:
"He was of extreme beauty and sunlike brightness" (B. B. 58a). "His skin was a bright garment, shining like his nails; when he sinned this brightness vanished, and he appeared naked"(Targ. Yer. Gen. iii. 7; Gen. R. xi.; Adam and Eve, xxxvii.)
1 Corinthians 15:50-53 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. And so why would God have created Adam originally in a flesh-and-blood body, given that it is unfit for his kingdom? We should read the Genesis story more as an allegory than a 100% literal account. We should not assume the trees were physical earthly trees or that the serpent was a physical creature, as earthly snakes of course cannot talk. What is the tree of knowledge guarded by the serpent? A literal fruit? Or more likely the path of teachings of hidden knowledge that the serpent taught to Eve and which she in turn taught Adam. What comes from trees? Paper, which is the origin of scrolls, books, and all written materials. What is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil which the serpent gave Eve? It is the LAW he taught to her and then she taught to Adam. Knowing the law resulted in their spiritual death.
Romans 7:5 “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.”
Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
“Carnal Mind” = Flesh Brain
The Bible nowhere teaches humans as being born with a “sinful nature” apart from the flesh. Murders, lust, strife are all things done in the animal kingdom as well, due to biology. The word “carnal” means “flesh” or “meat” and is the root of such English words as carnivore. “Carnal mind” is the BRAIN. The brain is made of flesh! This is the carnal mind at enmity with Christ! Let us not forget our brain is also a part of our “flesh.” The human brain has a serpentine appearance, with its windings and folds. The serpent was known as wisest of all creatures, thus the brain and intelligence. When Adam sinned, he became one with the serpent instead of with God and this is why we are ruled by our brain.
This is why “death” entered through Adam, because the physical body does not last forever. As long as we have a physical body we are prone to death. Even if there were no disease, Adam could trip and fall or be injured while working. There is no way Adam could have been immortal in a flesh-and-blood body. Same with everything else. All the animals and plants were converted to physical bodies at the same time when Adam fell (sort of like in the movie Beasty and the Beast where the servants get under the spell just like their master). The bible clearly states that there was no death in the world until AFTER the fall. Even the most perfect physical body of animals/plants with utmost healthcare would wear out and die eventually. Our physical world is based on the 2nd law of thermodynamics which states that long-term everything will move from order to chaos (in other words, will die).
When Adam and Eve were given “coats of skins” it symbolized their bodily incorporation into fleshly form.
Genesis 3:21 “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”
This had to be done because they had lost God’s Glory, which was formerly their covering. Thus God had to create a physical world for us and all the animals we were to rule over since we no longer had access to the paradise.
Gen 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
This is what Eve’s ‘curse’ with childbirth refers to. She now lives in a physical body. Childbirth and reproduction are from having a physical body. Physical reproduction was not possible with the body of light. As Christ taught, in the resurrection to a spiritual body we do not marry, but are like the angels. Also the “desire” to her husband shows the sexual lust which is now present with the physical body (“desire” here is the same Hebrew word used in Song of Solomon).
[Of note is the numerology of this verse. Genesis “3:16” is linked to John 3:16 which we have all memorized from Sunday school and which describes the removal of the Genesis curse of death: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”]
Gen 2:25 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
Gen 3:7 “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
Eve and Adam had not yet performed intercourse or ever knew of such, given that they were both previously unaware of any quality of each others nakedness up to this point. Now how likely do you think it is that a grown healthy man will not notice a naked woman near him? The bible states they were not aware of any nakedness until having been told of it after the fall. To me this shows pretty clearly that they were not living in physical bodies at the time.
Gen 3:17-19 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
So what is the “dust of the earth” Adam was created from? “Dust” refers to the remnant of previous creations. Scattered remains. We do not entirely understand, but there are some theories of pre-Adamic man as Cain was fearful he would be killed by these (Genesis 4:15) and there is also a “land of Nod” scripture speaks of. I won’t pretend to know exactly what the dust was referring to, but I can guarantee you it was not physical earthly dust. Perhaps it was referring to the element ‘Earth’ of the four elements of the soul (fire, earth, air, water), which refers to humans in general being created with the nature of wanting structure and stability (which are signified by the earth element) and being resistant to change.
Gen 1:29-30 “And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.”
So this verse shows that originally no meat was eaten, only plants when Adam was first created. Thus they were living in a spiritual world enjoying spiritual nourishment. Only when fallen in a physical body did humans and animals begin to hunt and eat each other for food. We were in survival mode after the fall, outside of God’s provision.
Gen 2:22 “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
The “rib” means Eve was created based on Adam’s INNER NATURE to compliment him. It is just a principle, not his physical rib. Here is a quote by the famous commentator Matthew Henry: “Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him.”
Gen 2:23 “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
This symbolizes that God made Adam and Eve compatible in their strengths (bone) and weaknesses (flesh), not that their bodies were made of flesh.
Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,”
We are SOJOURNERS AND PILGRIMS in this world of physical matter. With our body of flesh with its lust which wars against the soul. The New Testament uses these words constantly to describe believers in the world. The King James often uses the world “aliens” which I think gets the point across best. We are aliens to this world who are just on our short journey through here, waiting to get back to our home on the other side.