Is the body the element of sin in a person? Is it the cause of all sins? Is it accountable for sins so as it might be called the body of sin? Does it sin alone and the spirit has no hand in the matter because what the spirit desires is opposed to the fles
If the flesh had been evil in itself, God would have not created it.
We observe that after creating man, flesh and spirit, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Gen 1:31). So, God did not create the flesh as an element of sin. Adam and Eve lived in the body in Paradise without sinning; they lived in simplicity, chastity and innocence before sin entered into the world.
We cannot say that the body began with sin!
It is true that the fruit was forbidden and they ate from it, but before eating there was the lust for divinity, the lust for knowledge and doubting God’s words (which are all sins of the spirit). The enticement of the serpent was clear, “You will not die.” Thus began doubting God’s words. There was also the enticement of divinity, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil ” (Gen 3:5). Would it be that the spirit coveted after divinity and knowledge and it let the body fall with it and eat from the fruit? Perhaps, or at least we can say:
The first man’s fall was a fall of the flesh and spirit together.
Both joined together in one action, i.e. breaking God’s commandment.
However, most people speak only about the sin of the body which took the fruit and ate it, forgetting the inner factors that led to this which are sins of the spirit. The spirit can sin the same as the body and we should not say that the body sins alone.
Moreover, the first sin known in the world is a sin of the spirit.
We mean the sin of the devil; for he is a spirit without flesh being an angel and the angels are spirits (Ps 104:4). The devil fell in the sin of pride when he said, “‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of GOD… I will be like the Most High..’” (Is 14:13,14).
The first sin is pride and it is a sin of the spirit.
In the case of the devil, it was followed by obstinacy, resistance and stumbling others.
He made other angels fall, then he made man stumble. These were all sins of the spirit without the body.
The devil fell also in the sin of envy as we say in the Holy Divine Mass, “The death which entered into the world by the envy of the devil, You have abolished”.
The devil – though a spirit – fell also in the sin of lying as he lied to Eve and the Lord said about him, “He is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44).
The spirit then can sin alone without the body.
Not all the sins of the spirit lie in its submission to the flesh. Nay, there are sins in which the spirit falls alone. The body might fall with the spirit, taking part in these sins. But with respect to the devil, all the aforementioned sins were sins of the spirit alone.
We should not say that the flesh is the cause of all sins.
There are many sins in which the spirit falls and we even say that the flesh alone without the spirit cannot sin. Like a dead body which takes life from the spirit, the spirit takes part in the sins of the body by submitting to it. Take for example the sin of killing. Do you think that the flesh alone attacks, beats and kills, or rather the sins of the spirit such as hatred and violence urge it to do so? Cain fell with the spirit before murdering his brother with his hand.
Being aware of the sins of the spirit and the soul, we pray in the Holy Mass, saying, “Purify our souls, our bodies and our spirits”.
And we say that we partake of the Holy Communion “A purification for our souls, our bodies and our spirits”.
And because the spirit like the body may be defiled and become unclean we say in the third hour prayer:
“Purify us from the defilement of the flesh and the spirit”.
Since the spirit sins with the body, it will therefore be punished with the body in eternity so as the body is not punished alone.
If the spirit were strong, it would not fall in its own sins nor submit to the body in its sins. The most awful description given in the Holy Bible to the spirits of the fallen angels is the term “unclean spirits” or “evil spirits” as in (Matt 10:1). How much rather this description can be given to the spirits of the evil human beings.
The problem with the body is that it is made of material and so it is fought by being attracted to it.
It is fought with material and fleshly things and has more occasions which make it fall; for many are the fields in which it is fought. However, it is not necessarily subject to the material; it can be elevated over it.
For all these and the alike we honour the relics of the saints.
Their bodies struggled for God’s sake, suffered for Him, lived in chastity, conquered the enemy and took part in every worship. They are honoured not only by us, but also by God Himself who allowed that a dead man comes to life on touching the bones of Elisha the Prophet (2 Kin 13:21).
The Lord so honoured the body that He made it a temple of the Holy Spirit.
The apostle therefore said, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 6:19).
Can we say then that this temple of the Holy Spirit is the body of sin? God forbid. The apostle says further, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ.” (1 Cor 6:15).
The bodies then are holy and the words of the apostle are well said,
“..your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit … which you have from God … therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:20).
We can thus glorify God with our bodies as well as with our spirits, “always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor 4:10).
Our bodies which we took from the Lord in baptism is not the body of sin; for the apostle says, “For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:27).
God will honour the body when He will raise it in glory.
The body will rise imperishable, a spiritual shining body with a glorified nature like the body of His glory.
The greatest honour for the human body is that Christ took on Himself a human body.
If the body had been evil in itself or an element for sin, Christ would not have taken for Himself a body of our same nature blessing our nature in it.
The body may sin and may also live in purity.
The same applies to the spirit. We cannot forget also that when the body – though being material – overcomes material attraction and behaves in a spiritual way. God will not forget this loving fatigue and will consider it a great thing.
Let us then glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits which are from God.