I just listened [online] to a fab bible study session from Bishop Joseph Garlington from Covenant Church of Pittsburg.
The main study was about baptism and how we are saved through water (you need to listen to the whole thing to get the gist of the message), but this post is regarding Bishop Josephs comments regarding how the New Testament translates the Greek word Sarx. The NIV translates this word as Sinful nature… however this is apparently a bad interpretation. (side note: the new version of the NIV 2011 now translates the Greek word Sarx as Flesh)
The reference referred to was:
Col 2:11 (NIV) In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,
The same verse in the Amplified bible reads:
Col 2:11 (AMP) In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts).
Here is how the Louw Nida explains the term Sarx:
SARX – the flesh of both animals and human beings—‘flesh.’ ‘come … and eat the flesh of kings … and the flesh of horses’ Re 19:17–18. Some languages, however, make an important distinction between the flesh of a living person and the flesh of someone who has been killed or who has died. It would be this latter sense which should be reflected in Re 19:18. In Ro 2:28 the reference to ‘circumcision in the flesh’ would, however, require the first sense, namely, the flesh of a living person.
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (101). New York: United Bible societies.
Now, I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t too sure of the difference here.. and I can’t pretend to have it figured out even now, however, Bishop Joseph’s wife, Pastor Barbara, saved the day by asking the Bishop to give some explanation regarding the sinful nature, to which the Bishop accommodated.
This is kind of what the Bishop said (I can’t remember word for word of course.. listen to the study)
Think of the old man as Adam and the new man as Christ. Well, when I heard that I was immediately onboard and things started to fall into place. Heres how I understood things:
Old man = Adam
New man = Christ
Before a person is born again they are in Adam (The old man). Now, we read in 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive – so, in Adam, all die… so to not die, we have to get out of Adam and into Christ where we are made alive.
When we are born again, we are baptised into Jesus death – Romans 6:3 Do you not know, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
So when we accepted Jesus as our Lord (believe, repent and be baptised) we get out of Adam (the old man) and are baptised into Christ (The new man). The old man is circumcised from us. If we are in Christ we are a new creation. The old has gone and everything has been made new! 2 Corinthians 5:17
So, if we are IN Christ, we can no longer be IN Adam. The old man died and we live in the new…we have been made new!
The question then is provoked; if we are new and the flesh has died, why do we still sin? Well the answer given is I guess because we are creatures of habit. However, it is a requirement for us not to live fulfilling the desires of the flesh. Instead, we are told to walk in the Spirit. Stop living as though we are still in Adam, and live in accordance to where you really are, which is IN Christ.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
I kind of got an image when thinking about all of this. Can you imagine if your flesh was dead in the grave and you kept going back to that grave to put on the dead flesh? Horrible image, but kind of brought it home as to what it means that our flesh is dead, but we still try to live in that dead flesh even though that flesh has been cut away from us when we were spiritually circumcised in baptism. WOW and YUK. No one wants to return to a grave with dead flesh in it… so lets recognise this and walk in the newness of life we have in Christ.