Last Updated on : November 23, 2014

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Did Christ Die On Behalf Of Himself?

[Did Christ have "Clean Flesh"?]



The following is an article representing the ideas of a brother in Central who maintains that The Lord Jesus Christ did not have to die for "sin in the flesh". His view, though well stated, none-the-less by anyone who understands the Truth as taught by Bro. Thomas and Bro. Roberts, is none other than the "Clean Flesh Theory". His article is placed to one side, and our notes explaining the real truth is placed to the other side. In this fashion, you can see that he tries to equate the truth almost completely with the error maintained by J.J. Andrews and Thomas Williams, whose view is misrepresented at the start of the article. Without further adieu, we will present his article along with our discussion. -- J.B. Scaramastro


Did Christ Die On Behalf of Himself? (Clean Flesh Theory) Answered By
Bro. Julio B. Scaramastro

Of course he did. It was "the joy set before him," that enabled him to endure the cross (Heb. 12:2). But when we say that he died for himself, what do we mean? We could mean one of three things. Three different explanations are possible and are sometimes given.

(1) We could mean that Christ had a violent death (such as crucifixion) legally coming to him because he inherited the legal condemnation as a result of the sentence passed upon Adam and Eve for their original transgression. This was J.J. Andrew's explanation. But this would make Christ deserve, or merit, crucifixion. However, a violent bloodshedding form of death, was not a part of the sentence passed upon Adam and Eve. They died a natural death. A violent death is not inherited. It is incurred. People do not inherit a violent death.

(2) We might mean that Christ was legally condemned (1)

This (2) point is a misrepresentation of the Truth. Let it be understood that this section properly explained is the Truth.

(1)What does he mean by "legally condemned"? Who amongst those who believe the Truth would ever choose to use such a phrase when there is a group represented by point (1) that have wrongfully retained the Christadelphian name teaching an erroneous view of the atonement that involves that phrase? Is he using this phrase to identify what he might find awkward about phrases used in Clauses 5,6,8 and 9 in the B.A.S.F.?

to die a transgressor's death (2) (2)The Scriptures say he was numbered with the transgressors (Isa. 53:12; Mark 15:28; Luke 22:37) so how was this realized without him being a transgressor? It tells you in Mark 15:27 it was because he was treated by the civil and religious authorities as such. He was crucified as a common criminal. In this manner, the curse of the Law was innocently brought upon him so that he could bear it away (Deut. 21:22-23; Gal. 3:13).
because he inherited a physical nature of mortality, with the impulses to sin in his members. (3)

(3)The "because" that he places onto the beginning of this sentence is actually misplaced. It is an incorrect application. "To die a transgressor's death" is properly explained in point (2) above

He did have to die because of the nature he had in common with us. For in order to deliver us from the law of sin and death that is found in us, he had to perfectly crucify the nature he possessed daily, even unto the death upon the stake. He had to successfully crucify the flesh on a daily basis so that he would possess a righteous character that would permit Yahweh to rightly resurrect him after his condemnation of sin in his nature that he bore publically to the stake. 

This would also make Christ deserve crucifixion. (4) (4)This statement is another figment of his imagination. No one "deserves" to die for possessing a sin nature. They have that nature due to being born. An act they had no control over. However, once they permit that nature to do its thing, then they deserve to die. But the death they are open to and deserving of, is the second death in the case of the unjust saints. For the rest of mankind there are no such distinctions. For faithful saints, they do not deserve to die. If Yahweh has declared them just based upon the operation of the principles commonly referred to as the atonement, then they do not deserve to die and will not be subject to the second death. The climax of the law of sin and death that exists in our nature is a law just like the law of gravity. You don't deserve to fall off of a tall building -- it is just the consequences of a law of nature -- known as the law of gravity. A baby dies in exiting the womb, does not mean it deserved to die. But the law of sin and death, as a physical law of our nature, did claim it none-the-less. In such a manner, we can clearly see that a death can take place without a moral judgment being placed on it. Thus the Lord Jesus Christ died without being judged morally responsible for that death. In fact, in his case, it was a release from suffering, as well as condemning sin in his sin nature. Thus Yahweh could rightly raise him from the grave without violating His principles of righteousness. In fact, His principles of righteousness would be upheld by raising him from the grave. Once this was accomplished, he could now be just or righteous while forgiving those who seek for being declared just or righteous on faith in the principles declared in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since the sentence passed upon Adam and Eve was not a violent death, it could not be transmitted to their posterity. (5) (5)This statement is true but has no place in what is being discussed. Obviously, if a violent death is not the sentence, then no one there nor their descendants, as a consequence, could be subject to it. They and consequently their descendants were and are subject to the law of sin and death that became a physical law of their being as a consequence of their sin. 
To say that Christ had crucifixion coming to him because of his sin nature, (6) (6)Another erroneous statement. No where in the Scriptures does it say that "Christ had crucifixion coming to him because of his sin nature." Furthermore, no one who teaches the Truth makes this claim. The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified because this method of death was necessary by the Law of Moses in order to be an innocent bearer of the curse of the Law of Moses and thus bear it away as we discussed in point (2) above. 
would be to equate sin nature with transgression, (7) (7)As what has proceeded this statement is false, so this is false also. No one is saying that sin nature equals transgression.
for he died a transgressor's death. (8) (8)What is meant by dying a transgressor's death is properly explained in point (2) above. No where do the Scriptures teach that the Lord Jesus Christ was a transgressor or he could never have raised and could save no one, including himself. 
This leads toward J.J. Andrew's teaching. (9) (9)This statement is quite true because his is purposely trying to twist the Truth in that direction. Because he is in error in the opposite direction, he can not separate the Truth out from the error on the other side of the Truth which is that taught by J.J. Andrew. Until he can see that he is in error where he is at, then he will not perceive that the Truth lies between him and J.J. Andrew. He has adopted a clean flesh explanation of the atonement and is struggling to prove that this is not so. Furthermore, he must admit, if he is truthful, that he has no evidence that the pioneer brethren maintained these things in their writings. Of course, he will claim they believe like him as he will try to maintain in the next section. 
Where no sins are committed, and righteousness is completely followed, how could one deserve, or be under the sentence of, a transgressor's death?(10) (10)Again, this question consists of truth and error. Why error? Because he is charging those who teach the Truth with something they are not saying. No one teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ "deserved" anything he was subjected to. In fact, we teach just the opposite. We teach that all he was subjected to was due to the manifestation of sin-in-the-flesh politically and religiously by the predetermined will of the Father (unknown to them). In this manner, sin was condemned and the devil destroyed. (Sin-in-the-flesh equals the devil.) All the ugliness in the events surrounding his betrayal, trial, and crucifixion was a manifestation of the devil or sin-in-the-flesh at work. At the same time the Lord Jesus Christ was busy condemning both the devil and the works of the devil as he put it to death publically upon the stake. In this manner, he was our representative and showed us what we were suppose to agonize to try to do. As long as we are striving to follow his example in the appointed manner, then we can be forgiven where we do not succeed. This brief explanation is radically different than what he is claiming we believe and teach. 

(11)(3) Or we might mean as Robert Roberts taught that "Christ came under the beneficial operation of his own death." For the joy set before him, he endured the cross (Heb. 12:2). It was the crowning act of perfect obedience. God required him to lay down his life for us as a prerequisite to his own salvation. God made his dying for us, the basis of his own salvation. What benefits did Christ gain by dying for us so that we might be saved? He was resurrected, immortalized, highly exalted. There was no way that Christ could redeem himself apart from saving us, because he was brought into the world for this purpose. It was his dying for us, that necessitated the kind of death he had to die. "He gave Himself for our sins." (Gal. 1:4; 1 John 3:16).

He, himself, was not liable (legally subject) to a violent transgressor's death, because he never transgressed. Unlike the high priests under the Mosaic system of Law, he DID NOT NEED to make an offering, FIRST for HIS OWN SINS and then for the peoples', because he had no sins for which to make an offering of atonement (Heb. 7:27). But the priests under the law had sins. These had to be atoned for, or, reconciliation made for them. See Lev. 9:7,8,15; Lev. 16:6,11,15. The offering of the high priests for his sins, had to precede the offering for the people's sin. Vs. 15. The offering for the peoples' sin was not offered simultaneously with the offering of the high priest. Hence, two separate offerings were necessary. But in the case of Christ, with no sins of his own, only one sacrifice was necessary (Heb. 10:10, 12, 14). Christ offered himself ONCE for all.

Atonement is reconciliation for that which is mistakenly, or wrongfully done, or neglected. See Lev. 16:17, 18, 20, 16. Atonement, or reconciliation is literally covering of sin.

There are, of course, those who will argue or contend that sin nature itself, even apart from transgression, must be atoned for, and reconciliation made for possessing it. Therefore they contend that Christ, who possessed sin nature, had to atone, or make reconciliation for it by being crucified. They will go to Heb. 7:27 to prove it. The verse reads "who needeth NOT daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, FIRST FOR HIS OWN SINS, and then for the peoples': for THIS he did once, when he offered up himself."

But note that the author of the verse tells us what Christ did NOT need to do (offer FIRST for his own sins). But some cite the verse to prove that Christ NEEDED to offer FIRST for his OWN SINS. This would of course necessitate two separate offerings: such was not done.

For what sins of his own would Christ need to make atonement, or reconciliation? Some would say "HIS SIN NATURE." But notice that the word "SINS" is used in the plural. When used this way it always means transgressions. One does not possess plural sin natures. To say that Christ had SINS of his OWN for which to make an offering of atonement is to declare him to be a sinner.

Note that it says "He offered up himself", not, he offered for his own sins. It says "THIS HE DID ONCE (for the people's) when he offered up himself."

Is the possession of sin nature, or sins flesh, a sin in itself? If so it would prove Christ a sinner and equate sin nature with transgression. It was Thomas Williams' contention that sin nature had to be atoned for. But listen to Robert Roberts, commenting on this, he declared on page 174 of his book The Law of Moses, "possessing sinful flesh was no sin to him, who kept it under perfect control and did always those things that pleased the Father." How different is this from J.J. Andrew, Thomas Williams. If possessing sinful flesh was no sin for him, then why make him atone for it with a sin offering for himself?

"CHRIST THE FIRSTFRUITS; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming." Lev. 23:9-14 No sin offering required. A burnt offering (complete dedication), yes. The INTERNATIONAL VERSION translates Heb. 7:27, "Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself."

Why treat it as a sin in itself, if it was no sin to Christ. Why then make him atone for it? My, how this verse has been misused, and misinterpreted, and contradicted! 

(11)Rather than writing an answer to section (3) which is nothing more than cleverly written clean-flesh doctrine, we strongly recommend reading The Purifying Of The Heavenly by Bro. G.V. Growcott, where this false doctrine is properly dealt with. Another book entitled, Sin and Sacrifice by Bro. William Smallwood, would be worthwhile reading in addition to the above.