On the Body Not Being the Cause of Sin

St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386

Tell me not that the body is a cause of sin. For if the body is a cause of sin, why does not a dead body sin? Put a sword in the right hand of one just dead, and no murder takes place. Let beauties of every kind pass before a youth just dead, and no impure desire arises. Why? Because the body sins not of itself, but the soul through the body. The body is an instrument, and, as it were, a garment and robe of the soul: and if by this latter it be given over to fornication, it becomes defiled: but if it dwell with a holy soul, it becomes a temple of the Holy Ghost. It is not I that say this, but the Apostle Paul has said, Do you not know, that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you 1 Corinthians 6:19? Be tender, therefore, of your body as being a temple of the Holy Ghost. Pollute not your flesh in fornication: defile not this your fairest robe: and if ever you have defiled it, now cleanse it by repentance: get yourself washed, while time permits. (Catechetical Lecture 4.23)


  1. I appreciate his conclusion, but the argument is not persuasive.

  2. I thought both were persuasive. I know many who read the Scriptures with a dualist understanding and they seek the “salvation of the soul” so that they can be divested of the flesh and float off into the spirit realm. They don’t just seek to be free from the mortality and corruption of the flesh, but the flesh itself. They use those Scriptures like “flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom”, “in the flesh dwells no good thing”, “who will deliver me from this body of death?”, etc. in a manner which opposes spirit to matter. That’s why this resonates with me. I posted it to give people with that tendency some food for thought. Thanks for your comments.

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