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Table of Contents


Chapter  1

Part I
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18


Part I: Embodiment and The Incarnation

Chapter 10

A House in Ruins

I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.
For we that are in this house do groan, being burdened:
not that we would be unclothed.
                              Romans 7:18; 2 Corinthians 5:4

      C. S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Problem of Pain: (89)

     [The Fall of Man] was not, I conceive, comparable to mere deterioration as it may now occur in a human individual; it was a loss of status as a species. What man lost by the Fall was his original specific nature. . .
     This condition was transmitted by heredity to all later generations, for it was not simply what biologists call an acquired variation; it was the emergence of a new kind of man — a new species, never made by God, had sinned itself into existence. The change which man had undergone was not parallel to the development of a new organ or a new habit; it was a radical alteration of his constitution, a disturbance of the relation between his component parts, and an internal perversion of one of them.
     Our present condition, then, is explained by the fact that we are members of a spoiled species.

     Since we are as much a body with a spirit as we are a spirit with a body, it is clear that a "spoiled" body makes a spoiled person. Our nature in its entirety, body and spirit,

89. Lewis, C. S., The Problem of Pain, New York, Macmillan, 1962, p.83, 85.

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has been fatally injured. We are, in fact, no longer MAN at all, no longer MAN as God intended.
     When the Lord God called out in the Garden of Eden, "Adam, where are you?" it was, I suggest, not the man hiding in the bushes that He was looking for. He knew where that individual was. What had been lost from the web of life which He had just finished creating was the master species, the appointed agent of management for that web of life. Mankind was, in short, the first of a whole catalogue of species which would subsequently be "endangered". The extinction of species, so common to history since, began with the Fall of the species, Man.
The Lord God had just finished creating Man as the one species that bore his own image. It was that kind of "man" that had now disappeared, converted by sin into a creature quite unlike the original — without innocence, without immortality, without the sure instincts of all other creatures, and above all, having lost the image he had been endowed with. 
     Adam's children were born in his image, no longer in God's image. Genesis 5:3 makes this only too clear by stating the two positions very deliberately and in juxtaposition. God had created man in His own image (verse 1): fallen Adam now procreated men in his own image (verse 3).
     By the introduction of a deadly poison into his system after eating the forbidden fruit, he had entailed to all his naturally born descendants a fatally flawed constitution, both physically considered and spiritually. And the process has been at work generation after generation, steadily deteriorating man's vitality from a life span of nearly a thousand years to 120, and for the vast majority of his descendants considerably less than that — by David's time a mere three-score and ten (Psalm 90:10).
     The world was not to see another truly Adamic body as God had created it, for four thousand years: not until it re-appeared in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in a form so superb, so magnificent, so beautiful, that it proved

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a perfect vehicle for the expression of God Himself.
     Now and then we see a 'splendid specimen' of manhood or womanhood, a splendour which survives for a few years. But hiddenly it is already dying. All the time a secret rot is eating away at it. When finally, with the departure of the spirit, death blows out the candle a process of decay that has been proceeding throughout life suddenly gallops away, and disintegration takes place with appalling speed — unless the undertaker quickly intervenes to slow it up.
     This decay is not something that has just begun. Living, we are dying — from the moment of birth. The transformation of an immortal creature into a mortal one has affected every cell, every organ, every fibre of the body, and leads inevitably to the transformation of what has had beauty in its day into what now tends only towards ugliness or senility.
     It is only the extraordinary refinement of this machinery, with its ability to heal wounds and to correct its DNA transcription errors, that preserves it as well as it does.

     Now, is there any evidence that the corruption of the body does truly 'insult' the soul or spirit in any very vital way? Indeed there is. And the fact was made remarkably manifest when men and women by the hundreds of thousands were subjected to the desecration of their bodies in the Nazi concentration camps of World War II.
Many studies of these camps and their effect upon people have been undertaken in recent years. One of these, by Terrence Des Pres, is titled The Survivor. It is a study of what factors enabled some few to survive while the vast majority were simply overwhelmed and died in the camps.
     One of the remarkable things that Pres observed after interviewing or corresponding with a great number of these survivors, was the importance of care of the body, of cleanliness, even if it was pitifully little they could do — usually amounting to nothing more than a token washing by dipping a finger in their cold ersatz coffee and touching the cheeks

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or the forehead.
     One survivor whom he interviewed observed, "I began to look around me and saw the beginning of the end for any woman who might have had the opportunity to wash and had not done so."
(90) These people lived in filth of unimaginable dimensions — excrement, vomit, running wounds, no form of uncleanness was lacking in that environment. In some camps they stood ankle-deep in it all day. Even the birds soon ceased to fly over the camps because of the stench. And yet, the tiniest, wee-est token of attention to the cleanliness of the body was often enough to keep the spirit alive. When that token was abandoned, the individual was already as good as dead.
Another survivor said, "Many inmates ceased to wash. This was the first step to the grave. It was almost an iron law. Those who failed to 'wash' every day soon died . . . an infallible symptom."
     Des Pres is a most perceptive writer, He comments on this: "If spiritual resilience declines, so does physical endurance. If the body sickens, the spirit begins to lose its grip. There is a strange circularity about existence in extremity. Survivors preserve their dignity in order 'not to begin to die': they care for the body as a matter of 'moral survival'."
(92) One could scarcely ask for a more striking illustration of the interaction and interdependence of body on spirit and spirit on body.
     Pres speaks of the defilement of the body reaching such proportions as to produce what he aptly terms "spiritual concussion."
(93) Some were forced to eat excrement and if they refused, had their heads held under until they complied. When they were allowed to lift their heads, they literally went insane. One survivor spoke of immersion in human excrement as "the nadir of his passage through extremity. No worse assault on a man's moral being seems possible." (94)
     Women who have in our day and world been raped — sometimes by more than one attacker — have had such a

90. Pres, Terrence D., The Survivor, Oxford University Press, 1976, p.63.
91. Ibid., p.64.
92. Ibid., p.65.
93. Ibid., p.66.
94. Ibid., p.71.

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devastating sense of defilement as to attempt suicide. Those who are acquainted with the story of Lawrence of Arabia may recall that he, too, felt like committing suicide after being defiled by a despicable minor Egyptian official.
     I think Pres is quite right to stress the fact that a feeling of defilement underlies the concept of guilt and that washing of the body underlies the concept of spiritual purification. The association between moral cleansing of guilt and physical purification from defilement, seems to be reflected by the many occasions upon which ritual washing is prescribed in the Bible for those engaged in the service of the Lord. See, for instance, Exodus 30:17—21; Leviticus 8:6, and in the New Testament Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6: 11; Hebrews 10:22. And as having an obvious bearing, see also Ezekiel 36:25; Zechariah 13:1, and John 13:10.
      It may be argued that cleansing of the body without cleansing the spirit is ineffective, except for social reasons. The observation is clearly correct. But by the same token, it may well be that cleansing the spirit without cleansing the body would seem to be equally ineffective. The highly spiritual individual who doesn't care for the cleanliness of his person can only be half-highly spiritual!
     But the normal reaction to this kind of antithetical statement would probably be, "Well, the body doesn't matter nearly so much as the soul, does it?" Hebrews 10:22 bears on this matter: "Let us draw near with a true heart in the full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience (i.e., our spirits washed in the blood of the Lamb) and our bodies washed with pure water." This twofold cleanliness of both spirit and body seems to be required for a fully mature faith, for a whole not a half faith.
     It is an odd situation, this ambivalence we have about the value of the body. Here we have a tumbled-down house for the spirit, which the spirit is nevertheless deeply attached to — so deeply that it faces separation with grave concern. And this grave concern is just as likely to be shared throughout

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most of life even by those who have every hope of a far more excellent house reserved in heaven.
     There is no doubt that the Bible paints a rather awful picture of the state of ruin this house is in. Paul is particularly strong on this point.
     In Romans 6:6 he refers to it as a "body of sin."
     In Romans 6:12 he speaks of it as "mortal." This might be harmless enough if mortality was natural to it. But it isn't at all natural to it. It was designed for immortality, so that its mortal-ness is precisely what it was not designed for. It is in an un-natural state, a condition of fatal disease tantamount to a kind of leprosy that in death places the body, according to Scripture, in the same "untouchable" position as the leper is in during life. Neither the leper nor the dead body can be touched by the living without suffering defilement (cf. Leviticus 13:44—46 and Numbers 19: 11—20).
    Hiddenly our living body is as inwardly diseased as a leper's body is outwardly so. And this is because it has been unnaturally mortalized and is, in fact, already as good as dead.
     Indeed, Romans 7:24 refers to the body as a "body of death." This is an expression which is Hebrew in content but Greek in construction: it would have been better rendered simply "a dead body."
     This form of transposition of words is common in Hebrew. It appears, for example, in Psalm 48:1. "the mountain of his holiness," which is better rendered "his holy mountain." So in Psalm 47:8 we should read "his holy throne" and in Job 30:12 "their destructive ways.." So also in the New Testament we have from Paul in Ephesians 6:10, "the power of his might," i.e., "his mighty power"; in Colossians 1:22, "in the body of his flesh," meaning "in his fleshly body."
    When in Romans 7:24 Paul refers to this dead body which he longs to be delivered from, he may have had in mind a situation which was not uncommon in the Roman world. One particularly awful form of punishment for a

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convicted murderer was to have the victim's body chained to him in such a way that he was forced to carry it or drag it wherever he went until in its final state of decay it literally fell to pieces. . . .  If this is true, it is no wonder that Paul, in Philippians 3:21, should speak of the body as something that is vile.
     The reader may be perfectly justified in protesting that Paul's body was overtly diseased in some way which scholars have not yet agreed upon, and that therefore his thinking was highly coloured by personal experience. But the important thing is to recognize that when man dies, he dies an unnatural death, a death which he has been dying all his life. For many this process is delayed in such a way as to conceal the fact of decay and almost to hold out a promise of immortality. But as soon as the spirit departs, the illusion is destroyed. The disintegration of the body is rapid indeed. And it is doubtful if man finds anything quite as distressing to look upon as a decomposing human body. It is a terribly disturbing sight for man — though apparently animals are almost if not totally indifferent to it.

     Only in the presence of such decay is the distance made plain between the body of fallen Adam and the body of unfallen Adam as revealed in that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such was that body that even after burial for three days it saw no corruption. And it saw no corruption because it was never subject to death in the first place.
     Our dying is always in some measure "an act of violence," the tearing apart of two elements — the spirit and the body — which were never intended to be parted. But it was essential in God's economy of things that this body should be destroyed since it has become a partner in our fallen nature and only by dissolution and resurrection in an entirely new form could it be rid of its infection. The spirit of man is newly re-created (2 Corinthians 5:17), not merely reformed: the body of man cannot be merely reformed either. We dwell in a house in ruins which, after it has fallen

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to pieces in the grave, will not simply be put together again. It will not be re-formed out of the old substance, but transformed into a house as glorious as that which is Christ's in his resurrection (Philipppians 3:21).
     Thomas Boston in 1720 put the matter very beautifully when he wrote: "There is a vileness in the body which, as to the saints, will never be removed, until it be melted down in the grave, and cast in a new form at the resurrection, to come forth a spiritual body."
     Man lives in a house in ruins, in a body which does not represent a mere miscuing of evolutionary processes but a body which was designed for, and in two individuals displayed, a potential for physical glory and immortality. Both individuals were called Adam.
     Evolution gives us no clue as to how they appeared on the scene, for the first was formed by divine creative intervention and the second miraculously conceived and virgin born.

95. Boston, Thomas, Human Nature In Its Fourfold State, London, Religious Tract Society, 1720, p.99.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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