What You'll Discover in this Episode:

The Flesh VS The Spirit

The Flesh
One of the reasons the flesh is hard to understand for many, is that it is so ingrained into our thinking before we are saved, so that we are blind to it until God reveals it to us.

The emotions and self-will of the person are involved in the flesh and hearts before Christ, so that it is hard to then become aware of it.

It is easier to see the rebellious or the flesh that causes you to sin or do wrong.
But it is harder to recognize the flesh that strives apart from God to take care of things for you or others.  
There are a lot of works that might look good from the outside, that are done in the flesh as well.

Biblical Teaching of What the Flesh is. Let’s look at an unfolding of scripture, laying out for us what the flesh is.

  • In the Flesh Nothing Good Dwells - Romans 7:18
  • The Carnal Mind (Flesh) Is Against God/At Enmity With God - Romans 8:7
  • The mind of the flesh is death - Romans 8:6
  • The Flesh is Contrary to the Spirit - Galatians 5:17
  • The Flesh Cannot Be Subject To the Law of God, The flesh can’t be used to serve God.

The Flesh Shows Off

As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. The flesh tries to impress and is wrapped up in self-sufficiency. Religion makes people look good to others. It is full of pride for man to try to impress God or think he can work his way to heaven.

Here are a list of verses about the fleshly motivations:

  1. The Flesh Has Desires - Galatians 5:16
  2. The Workings of the Flesh - Galatians 5:19-20
  3. There is a will of the Flesh - John 1:13
  4. There is a Mind of the Flesh - Romans 8:6
  5. The Warring of the Flesh - Romans 7:23
  6. The Confidence of the Flesh - Philippians 3:3-4
  7. The Glorying of the Flesh - 1 Corinthians 1:29-30

This list of characteristics of the flesh, this thinking and willingness of the flesh needs to be turned from when we are saved. If Christ is not the One at work through the person, then religion can be done from the resources of the flesh. The flesh is self-serving. Even if the person is trying to help others.

Now That We See the Characteristics of the Flesh, let’s look at those who live after the flesh.

Walking According to the Flesh - The only answer for the flesh is death. There is no position and no deliverance for the flesh.

Galatians 5:24. The cross is God’s answer to the flesh. That is why we are crucified with Christ. Why we have died with Christ when we are saved. When we are born again the old man dies and we are a new creation in Christ, able to walk in the spirit. But we can still sin and we can still walk in the flesh.

Romans 8:13. Putting to Death the Deeds of the Body. 

When we are saved we are freed from the old man. The old man is crucified. But we have lived all our unsaved years with the thinking and motivations of the flesh, selfishness, self-will, and self-serving. Those selfish ways of thinking and motivations are hard to break, and they come from the inside. Our minds still contain the fleshy and sinful thinking of self and the world. God begins to do a work of transforming, or renewing the mind. The problem with the flesh is that the old ways of thinking are still present in our minds.

Denying the Flesh/Also Called This Death to Self, or Denying Self

Denying self is also denying the flesh. Taking up the cross to the flesh or to self daily. And the answer is in following Jesus- walking in the Spirit. Resist the powerful demands of the flesh. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
Trusting in self is the flesh. Sometimes God allows us to have trials so that we will learn not to trust in ourselves, but in Him, who raises the dead.

The Opportunity to Walk in the Spirit:

The answer to the flesh is to walk in the Spirit. God gives provision to the Christian to have victory over the flesh by walking in the Spirit. Yielding ourselves to God, His will, His desires over our own.

The Christian Cannot Please God in the Flesh:

Romans 7 is the struggle of the Christian who lives according to the flesh, and eventually cries out for victory- which is found in Jesus Christ- (relationship with Him).  He sees something within himself warring against the Spirit. The Christian who is living according to the flesh is going to struggle.

God is Patient With Us and Reveals the Flesh a Little at a Time:

God is very patient with the new believer, to grow them on the milk of the Word, and at the right pace.
God doesn’t show us too much of the flesh all at once. But as we mature, we are to go on to meat.
The meat of the Word is learning to walk with Christ in deeper ways, learning to Walk in the Spirit and mature. Some actions sourcing from the flesh are obvious- sins that Christians know they should not be doing- are usually the first to be dealt with in the Christian life. The believer often recognizes works of the flesh that are clearly wrong or bad.

There are a lot of outworkings of the flesh that come from the heart and are more difficult to recognize.
These types of flesh come from drawing upon the resources of self. As Christians, we are to draw upon the resources of Christ.

We don’t want self-sufficiency. Only Christ is sufficient.  Apart from Him, we can do nothing. This is a wake up call to a church living in a culture that teaches self-sufficiency, self-esteem, self-assertiveness, believing in yourself, you can do anything you want to do and put your mind to, look out for number one, etc. Christians in our culture are born again with this mindset, which is at enmity with God.


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  • Thank you for this podcast today. I think for myself, it is easy to forget that I am still a sinner waring against the Spirit in my flesh. I fought for a long time with God over the course of last year, as He taught me again and again what it meant to be humble. Quite frankly, I think I always need to be reminded what it means to be humble. Luke 9:23 ought to be my daily statement to pray over, so I can mentally prepare myself to put to death my flesh, so that I can live by the Spirit in all I do.
    Romans 8:6 “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Who wouldn’t want life and peace? John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. . .” Jesus gives us His peace which is unique and Spiritual, and that is the life and peace that gives me rest.
    Philippians 3:3,9 “. . . who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. . . and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own. . . but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” These verses are what stood out to me; again, being taught to be humble. My righteousness is not earned or of my own in any way, but my only true righteousness that I have is from my faith in Jesus Christ, He has the righteousness which He covers me with. Being able to recognize the flesh’s desires and wills is important for me, so that I can deter them and nail them to the cross where Jesus takes them away.

    • Quite true, Kayla, being able to recognize the flesh’s desires and wills is important. This podcast exposed areas also in my own life where I would not have known that I was operating in the flesh. But thank God, now I am able to recognize such areas, and by His grace nail them to the cross.

    • Your comment is powerful. And a great reminder of the daily relinquishing of self to Spirit done in humility! I love the verses that stood out to you. And I agree the discussion on desires of flesh does help me recognize flesh and my desires that need to be nailed to the cross!

  • Absolutely LOVE this study on the Flesh vs. the Spirit. When I first came to ministry in 1983, I did everything in the flesh. I even remember praying at times and then thinking, “Well, if God doesn’t do it–I’ll just have to do it myself.” That that was blasphemy didn’t even occur to me. The 80s were the beginning of politicization of Christianity and we were taught that the culture was declining because Christians weren’t involved in changing legislation. You know what? We believed it and invested thousands of hours and every Senate Bill we opposed eventually passed anyway. So we tried harder believing God called us to be the wall against evil. Things got even worse.
    I see today the same teachings repackaged as Progressive Christianity. Social justice, racial injustice, homelessness and every unfair disadvantage any people group suffers are met by Christians with assistance, protests, walks, instagram posts and political effort. It’s easy, because I’m old, to predict things will only get worse. BUT we hold the only answer which is the glory of Gospel of Jesus Christ which changes man from fleshly creatures to spiritual creatures! The tares (evil ones) must grow to full maturity right along-side the wheat (the redeemed) so as evil matures so too the Body of Christ. Exciting times!

    • Thank you Carolyn! You left me wondering about what you shared and its relevance in today’s events, crisis, injustice social or otherwise, and abounding lawlessness. I hope I don’t go off topic when I think out loud – the Spirit will prompt us when to take a stand and do something or when we should just sit still and pray about it. So many concerning issues have arisen around us lately that will test whether we’re acting in the flesh or guided by the Spirit. When our actions come from the Spirit, though it costs self, it brings about peace and relief to others and ironically, ourselves.

    • I loved your comparison between what you experienced in the 80s to Progressive Christianity today. These causes are not wrong in and of themselves, but when the Gospel is neglected as the ultimate solution, nothing of true value is being produced. I love what Jesus says in Luke 4:18 (quoting from Isaiah), that “The Spirit of the LORD has appointed Me to preach the GOSPEL to the poor…” He did not come to remedy the political or economic situations, but to preach the gospel in order to remedy men’s souls. Our ambition must be the same.

      • So agree Liel! You express it better than me. Believers are truly the only vessels on earth containing that which is true life. This being so, Satan longs to distract us with “good” to keep us from sharing, “In Him was life and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)
        Jesus didn’t come to make us good, He came to make us alive. Goodness is easy to do in the flesh and I spent four long years in the 80s doing that which didn’t bring life and actually may have clouded the Gospel with materialism. I often would get angry with Christians who I saw an inactive. God forgive me.

      • Great reminder about the power of the gospel Liel! Like you said, these causes are not wrong, but it’s sad to see how our society is elevating this sort of “social gospel” above all else and at the expense of souls. Jesus said the apart from Him we can do nothing. We can look around and see all the moral good that in fact CAN be accomplished apart from Him, but then we go deeper and realize that all this “good” counts for nothing if it neglects the gospel as the ultimate remedy.

    • I love your positive conclusion Carolyn! Because it is so true that the discerning between flesh vs. spirit is difficult. It is difficult to see and even in our own lives.It can be tricky to know when we have stopped relying on Holy Spirit and have gone back to autpilot of self. But God!! He is the one who starts the work and finishes the work! Our job is to trust and abide. Yet not be discouraged when everything looks as if evil is winning!

    • I love your comment, “BUT we hold the only answer which is the glory of Gospel of Jesus Christ which changes man from fleshly creatures to spiritual creatures! ” That is so true. As I stand from afar looking at all the current events you spoke of, I feel the same way. The answer is in the Gospel and the solution starts with self. People want to change the world, then get mad because the world won’t change to fit their standards, but in the same way not allow God to change them to His standards. It makes no sense to me, but none of this new to God. He is still in control and I have peace in the midst of kaos because of that.

      • So tru Erika, You can ask a crowd if they want change? everyone will raise there hands. But, if you ask them who wants to change as an individual nobody will raise their hands. I can get really stir up on that kind of attitude, But God will have the last say on the matter. I believe deep inside the majority of people believe in God they are just trying to suppress it. Because to believe the evolution theory that nothing creates everything it crazy. When, I start to think that people are pass redemption and the whole world is going to hell. Is the strong, Compelling, life changing evidence of God. So then I walk with confidence in my savior and say they all believe in God they just haven’t been confronted yet.

    • Carolyn I really appreciate your comparison from what you experienced in the 80’s to today. It is a powerful thing to stop and consider how things have been in the past I remember the my old history teacher would often say, “if you do not remember history, you’re doomed to repeat it.”

      It is an interesting time to be doing ministry with so much polarization and for me personally I have really struggled dancing between these two worlds. Feeling like the difficulty of being in the middle of the two extremes and wanting to constantly be pointing to Jesus above it all.

    • Yes love it, I think the main thing for us as Christians to do is to keep our focus on Jesus, and lead others who follow us to Him. Beyond politics, and progressive Christianity.

    • Thank you for sharing this Carolyn, I think your perspective and insight having lived through these issues is both encouraging and eye opening. The flesh wants to do everything it can to solve a problem, and it is easy to give the Lord the backseat and say “I can do it” instead of letting the Lord do His work. It doesn’t mean that we don’t fight for the things we believe, but to allow the Lord to lead us instead of our flesh and our need to be right or recognized is more important. I also love the reference you made to the tares and the wheat. Sometimes I question why the Lord hasn’t come yet, or hasn’t fixed the problem, but letting the Lord work in His timing is what we should rely on. Ultimately God’s timing is best and what He tells us to do is better then what we feel like we should do based off our emotions and flesh. Thank you for sharing

    • Carolyn, I like hearing from people who have experience things first hand, I’m a bit Intimidate by everyone here, because I do not have a ministry or have completely have read my Bible. It’s Embarrassing to say it. However, since joining a bible based church my passion has change. It seems that the 80’s and now have been mislead into having sinless protests. I believe Entertainers and news out let’s have a big influence on the youth. I wonder what influence the Christian to get into politic in the 80’s? Maybe In this generation the parents are not investing a lot of time on their kids. Just before coming to CCU I was going to a community college. I was shock at their attitudes towards God. I was furious really. But what surprised me was that a lot of those student came from strong Christian parents. One openly said he went to church all his life and doesn’t believe in God he was just there to participate in the special events that the church was having.

    • Carolyn,
      This really struck me because I just experianced a church that was very political. I have found that just going back to Paul and realizing how he really just want us to focus on Christ and stop thinking that we can do anything.
      Yes the flesh will allow us to do good and think we are making changes. But if there is no real fruit from the spirit, it will not have a lasting effect. There will be no real change, it will look like it is right, but you will see things will drift back to the old without the constant washing of the word and that realationship. Trusting in our Shephard, who will carry and refrsh us daily!

      • God bless you Carrie! You’re so right to see Paul’s, “to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.” All that man needs is in Christ.

    • It’s interesting how you brought up how politics have influenced the church. I guess because I am younger, this has always been sort of the norm throughout my life. We need to put down labels that we may be affiliated with and realize that if we are all believers in Christ, then that’s all that should really matter! We are the body of Christ!

    • Your post gave me full on Jesusbumps! This is so true, we have an Activist mentality now, called Progressive Christianity. And we are trying to do many good things to change the world for the downtrodden and yet it is in our own strength and ability and striving. More and more we are leaving the Holy Spirit and His direction out of the decision making process, in our individual lives and collectively as the body of Christ.

      • I love Jesusbumps! You made me smile Christi. Before covid I taught a Ministry Lab for women at our church with the tag-line, “Ministry is not what you do for God but what God does through you.” You know what? No one had ever heard that before!

    • I love that you said, ” …so as evil matures so too the Body of Christ.” Such a great heavenly perspective to look at the things happening around us. The Lord was faithful with the remnant He always left in times of peril, and yet that remnant did amazing things for the Kingdom of Christ. May we see the evil and dark days as an opportunity for us as Christians to be even more ignited and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be steadfast in the things of God. Let us not grow weary or lose sight of what the reward.

  • Very interesting discussion concerning the battle between “the flesh” versus “the Spirit”. Romans 7 describes Paul’s struggle with trying to live out the Christian life in the power of the flesh. Paul’s spiritual autobiography is strikingly familiar to ours as Christians living today. “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:18). Just as in Paul’s flesh or Adamic nature, he doesn’t find in himself that which is required to do good, we experience this same dilemma. The antidote for this spiritual malady can only be found in an abiding relationship with the Lord. As Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As Professor Christianson mentioned in the podcast, people can do and accomplish all sorts of things without Christ, but none of these works will have any eternal worth in God’s Kingdom. In brief, man’s economy and God’s economy operate differently. Abiding in Christ involves denying our flesh daily by yielding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

    • Thanks, Sumit for your post. Truly, the Bible says it very well, that the flesh is in enmity with God, and so cannot produce any works pleasing to God, no matter how ‘good’ it may appear in the eyes of men. There lies the danger for us as ministers when we look up to men to commend or approve of us, whereas, our very works are offensive to God.

    • That’s a great point to remind us, Sumit, on Pastor Jeff’s message that “we can do and accomplish things without Christ, but will have no eternal worth in God’s kingdom.” Our flesh will always desire getting credit and having a sense of accomplishment – achieving things through our own efforts, typical flesh. When all this time in Christ, we don’t have to ‘work it’, the yoke is easy. A constant struggle exists between doing things our way or God’s way. In a conflict for example, how do I deliver a cold, hard truth to the other party – in a loving, godly way or in a rubbing, abrasive self way. There’s always a choice to make , God’s or mine.

    • Sumit, I appreciate both your comment and the reply from Songo. The lack of ability to live out the Christ-life in my own power and the ever-increasing awareness of the extent of the wretchedness of my sin are two things that are more and more on my mind; always followed with the magnitude of God’s grace, which can only then lead to worship and praise to God for the lovingkindness and compassion, mercy and grace He has given each of us.

    • I like your comment Sumit. Sometimes after reading Paul’s writings it is hard to imagine that he had a struggle with the flesh. One could think that Paul must have had it all together. Paul tells us clearly of his fight to subdue his own flesh. Knowing that he struggled against the same flesh that you and I have gives us confidence that we can also be victorious, especially knowing that we have the same Holy Spirit of God to come along side of us to bring us to victory.

    • I really liked the way you brought in Romans 7 into this and it is a great reminder that we are called to rest in Jesus and allow the Spirit to do its work. I like that you related Paul’s autobiography to us today, it is easy to think that if I knew more, had more time, had more money, etc that I would be further along in my discipleship to Jesus.

      When in reality it just takes time, and we need to rest in Him and allow the Spirit to do its work daily. The work is frustratingly slow but in that He is incredibly loving and gentle knowing our frame.

      • And for me the interesting and learning is to observe and try to understand how the tragic fall of Ravi Zacharias happen, and of course also of Bob Coy. The answer lies absolutely in failing for these men to have truly become intimate with Jesus and to learn the desperate need to ‘die to self’. The failure to learn this lesson led to a fall from grace that is unlike any in the last century of the church especially with Ravi. It does take time like you said Michael and this, I believe is the annointed guidance by Paul to “die daily”. The lesson of the above is more than enough example and reminder to fall at the Lord’s feet, every day for He is our Life.

      • Michael,
        I appreciate your comment, it hit home with me in my own walk. I am up against a battle in my mind right now. I want to change my life and serve God.
        It seems the more I pull close to God the bigger the obsticals. I have a good job, I make okay money. I could stay where I am an keep doing the same. But there is a frustrasion in this worldly job. I know that he is pushing me, but it isn’t going easy. I want to try to fix this, but I have to trust and give him everything.
        No to the work of the flesh, Deny your self take up your cross! Means so much to me. I know that stepping out of Gods way, rest in him and trust in him. He has a better answer then we could ever think of.
        When you walk in the Spirit, those in Christ have a different vision.This is a daily battle, because we have the old way of thinking, and have to die to self daily.

        • YES! AMEN to a daily battle & need for re-commitment to Christ. I share your same inner angst in regards to having a frustration with my worldly job. I have an excellent job and make good money with good benefits. However there is still the feeling of unfulfillment and that I need to be doing something more. I struggle to stay in God’s perfect timing. I have faith that if I can rest in the position where God has placed me, show up everyday and give my absolute BEST (for Him) and bring an attitude of service with everything that I do, then the plan God has for my life is better than anything I can imagine.

        • Carrie,
          It sounds like God is trying to work in your life. It sounds like he is trying to get you to change the way you make your living. But what I hear is “I”. Pastor Jeff said that “I” is self and God wants it to be “we”. God wants to do the work through you to his glory. You are right though, it may not be easy but God can and will work wonders in and through your life if you will let go and trust in him. That is hard at times but very worth it. May God bless you in your decision and use you in a very blessed way.

    • I agree Sumit. We experience the same dilemma today. Our flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit (Galatians 5:7). I love how the Word of God gives us warnings and teach us how humans naturally believe and feels. But it doesn’t live us without hope. We know now that if we yield to God the Spirit wins over the flesh. That’s refreshing and hopeful.

    • Hi Sumit! Good to be in class with you again! I liked how you reiterated the point Pastor Jeff made about not being able to do anything apart from Christ. It was great that he pointed out that we can do nothing of eternal value without his help. I also think about the verse in Act 17:28 where is says that in Him, we live and move and have our being. Also in Colossians 1:17 it says that, “in Him all things hold together.” I think about how even the things we do in our “own strength” is still strength coming from Him. If it wasn’t for his breath inside our lungs each day and Him keeping us alive, we could not even stand.

    • Thank you for sharing. Love how Paul is an perfect example on how to live a life in the spirit and not the flesh. Blessings!

    • Great observations, Sumit! It is sadly our fleshes tendency to tell God, “I understand the system; I don’t need You anymore.” Israel did it with the sacrificial system. Many in the church do it with their systematic theology, or liturgy…anything except a fully submitted walk with God. I realized that we would need to judge if our disciple is in the Spirit or still in the flesh. I had not thought about how important it would be for us to discern whether we were in the flesh or the Spirit to be effective in counseling.

    • I have been teaching on this subject for a couple of weeks now, having to do with our flesh not really exhibiting anything righteous. We sometimes consider when we go through the motions of doing the right things, but if it’s without by the leading of the Holy Spirit, it is still truly void of Godly righteousness.

      Our men’s group is having some difficulty with this because we want to consider all of our existence to have been influenced by God’s power, especially for those who have been Christians for years where we might think we finally get what it means to be “righteous” yet the way I see our flesh-side, is it will never be fully tamed to do right. We might learn to suppress it, allowing more of God and less of us, but to ever consider any part of God’s righteousness will actually change our flesh into something good, to me seems impossible.

      What is left then is the influence, the work of God’s Spirit within us, this should be an increasing ministry we see taking place, as God needs to become greater in us and we become weaker. Your thoughts? What about the Bible speaking about human conscience? Can this be influenced by God? Can our conscience be changed for good? Appreciate the further communication on this topic.

      • Sam,
        The Bible tells us that we are made in his image. If we are made in his image then it goes to mean that God created in us a conscience. The feeling we get when we do the wrong thing is what God instilled within us to tell us that we are not doing what is right. The more that we do wrong and do not use our conscience to change what we are doing, the less our conscience is heard or felt.
        Now, when we let God in our lives our conscience is renewed by the Spirit of God and the more we listen to it and move to let God change us, I believe that God changes our conscience to the good on a daily basis as long as we do not suppress what God is doing in our lives.
        We are all born with an innate since of what is right and wrong. That is given by God.
        In 2 Corinthians 5, it states, “14. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15. and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” And if we live for Him, he will live in us, conscience and all.
        So, yes God moves our conscience to the good as we let Him move in.

    • Yes! How many of us just run ahead of God and do good things in His name? As much as I want and try to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit I am sure I have done good things by my own directive. And Yet if He didn’t direct it it is as nothing, it will be counted as stubble! Pastor Jeff teaching this this week is a sure reminder that it can be easy once we know God to just go and do things in His name, because it is a good thing, surely He will approve. But the scriptures do not say this and so I personally must temper my zealousness and ask God and wait for the Spirit to command if this is truly what He wants me to do before I just go and do it.

    • That passage out of John 15 is so powerful. You are right that our only antidote is that we abide in Christ. He alone is the reason why we can conquered our flesh. It does take a lot of weight off our shoulders knowing that Jesus alone is able to save us. But even with that we will be having this battle until we are with the Lord in person. Without Christ we will always long for something more and be in a place of discontent when we are abiding in Him

  • Very revealing podcast on the Flesh versus the Spirit. The example Jeff shared on the use of logos software, and not relying on the Holy Spirit resonated very well with me. This is something as ministers of the gospel we can easily be tempted to do without knowing that one is operating in the flesh. The truth is that it is possible to so completely rely on human wisdom in the service of God since we have got the experience, intellect, personality, and so on, and yet appear very spiritual. When in reality, we have been operating in the flesh.
    I appreciate the explanation given, on Jesus’ statement in John 15:5, ” …for without Me you can do nothing.” We can actually do a whole lot of things in our human strength and will, but they do not glorify God and do not have eternal values in themselves. This is a very profound lesson for me, in view of the fact that our works will be judged.

    • Songo, that concerns me to think as Christians that we can be leaning on our tools and not leaning enough on our Savior. I don’t ever want to be in a place where I am leaving Him out of my spiritual endeavors. God, help us to keep You at the center of all that we do!

  • I am so excited about this topic! I studied Romans 8 just this morning and have been meditating on the carnal mind vs the spiritual all day! I’m very grateful for this podcast; the Holy Spirit is using it to refine this concept and sink it even more deeply into my soul. I appreciate the way that the flesh is defined in part as self-sufficiency. As mentioned, there are many workings of the flesh that are evident (back-biting, lust, covetousness..) but there are many other ways we can walk in the flesh (even while doing ministry!!) that are not as quickly discernible. There must be an utter dependence on the Lord as we take each step, yielding our thoughts and emotions to Him. There is no provision to be left–God’s answer to the flesh is the cross. I can find myself sometimes trying to put my flesh to death using my own strength, which remains fruitless, but if by the SPIRIT I put to death the deeds of the body, I will live(Rms. 8:13). This death sentence within myself teaches me to trust in the One who raises the dead, who has delivered me from so great a death, and in Whom I trust will deliver me still until He comes again.

    • How profound and biblically insightful Liel! You’ve certainly put the topic Flesh vs. Spirit in its truest perspective. Thank you so much!

    • Hello Liel,
      I can appreciate your view of attempting to fix our flesh problem, using our flesh to do it. As Pastor Jeff mentioned we have lived so long with our flesh we may not even know when it has become a problem or in dealing with how to come against it to be in better submission. I do believe if we have been Christians for a while and if we have been prayerfully working on our life in Jesus, we can look back and see changes for the better. I think it is a good thing to do from time, not to revel in the past, as if we kind of miss the good ‘ol days, but to now be moving forward with a good understanding that God is truly at work in us. God is patient with us this is true, but He expects we should move in the right direction – His direction.

    • Yes, trying to put the flesh to death by the flesh is futile. Living in the Spirit requires constant prayer and reliance on God instead of self. I find myself trying to kill the flesh through my own power instead of walking in the Spirit. Thankfully God has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us.

    • Well said, Liel! “There are many other ways we can walk in the flesh (even while doing ministry!!) that are not as quickly discernible”. And it is very true, some of the ways are so subtle to go unnoticed. Only as we submit daily to the scrutiny of the Spirit and the mirror of the word that, one can steadily get sanctified.

    • Yes! “There is no provision to be left-God’s answer to the flesh is the cross.” So true. And He is the only one who can raise the dead! The death, burial and resurrection of Christ is the answer. And we find the depth of treasures right there.

    • I can relate to what you are saying Liel. There have been times when I have been really disgusted with myself, my nature and feel so much frustration that I castigate myself and try to deal with my own flesh. It never works. It’s only in complete submission to Christ and humbling myself before God as I read Scripture and he nurtures me in that place that I begin to be renewed.

      There is no substitution for God’s housekeeping. He does it perfectly.

    • I agree, this was an awesome podcast!! I am even more challenged now to make a serious commitment to better discern between the flesh vs spirit in my own life. To reap real and lasting eternal benefits. Its easier to do ministry in our own flesh thinking we are walking under the spirit.

    • Thank you Liel for sharing the impact you had between meditating on Romans 8 and the concepts in the podcast. It is a reminder that meditating on the Word of God brings us closer to Him. I agree with your observation that self sufficiency is part of our flesh. It is hard to discerned it even when we are serving others. We do our best but the flesh still wants us to think about us first. We can’t do it on our own. We need Him. I give thanks to the Lord that He is there to help us and with great mercy He shapes us into the people He wants us to be.

    • If may Liel, take a little rabbit trail from your excellent and clear comment about dependence on the Lord, I have learned so much additionally when reading Andrew Murray in “The Blood of the Cross” as he addresses of course ‘dying to self’ but the wonderful insight that specifically helped me as i had to address my attitude at home was the wonderful, annointed understanding of the ‘disposition of Jesus’. This was a miracle for me to couple this thought with dying self because Murray speaks to the ENTIRE life of Jesus, who He was, revolved around his character and that was his entire disposition was to carry out the will of the Father at every moment. wow

  • The Flesh vs. Spirit topic is always a timely discussion that never gets old. All Christians, old and new, need to go back and learn anew to distinguish whether we’re behaving in the flesh or through the spirit, God’s Spirit. We all know we’ll always be in this war that never ends, a battle we face everyday where the necessary casualty has to be self. It’s most peculiar to think that the only time we find joy in death and defeat is that of our own self so that Christ in us will live and have the victory. Pastor Jeff pointed out quite well how our flesh’s inherent tendency comes out automatically,
    taking God’s place to do our will ourselves, our way. At least it’s how I’ve understood Pastor’s message.
    When we find ourselves inquiring of Him and inclining our ear to Him on even the most trivial matter, we know we’ve reached that point of trust that makes us willingly forego and deny ourselves.

    • Angelica, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I love that you pointed out “the only time we find joy in death and defeat is that of our own selves….” It is one of many paradoxes of this pilgrimage. I am reminded of Colossians 3:3-4, where Paul says “…you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who IS our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” This death makes room for the greatest life; these small agonies for the greatest glory.

  • This was a very good study on the flesh vrs the spirit! One portion of Scripture that I thought would go well with this is Romans 7:15-20 nkjv “15For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
    Many times in life we find ourselves doing what we don’t want to do instead of doing what God has planned for us.

    • That is a very good example of the flesh warring against the Spirit for sure. I would love to see the message of grace spread far and wide. If God loved us while we were His enemies, shouldn’t we love others in the same way; but we can only do this through His power that works in us. In a way, it is comforting to be reminded that the apostles were human too. this then leads us to realize that we can be used by God in great ways. Do you think that Paul knew his letter to the Romans would be read by us today? You never know how far out, God will make the ripples of your faithful service flow.

      • Thanks Doreen. What a remarkable question about Paul. Your insight reminds me of the verse, John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
        Natural fruit is usually a very perishable item. Fruit that will last is supernatural fruit! Also, “lay up treasures in heaven,” exhorts us to shift our focus from treasures on earth which decay or get stolen. So thankful that Paul chose that which wouldn’t perish though written on parchments!

        • One thing I look forward to in heaven is seeing how much farther the testimony of others reached than they thought it would. Once in a while, we hear a story about someone having ministered to another person who then became a well know evangelist or minister, but I wonder about those whose names are never known or spoken of. It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 12:14-26; specifically, verses 21-24, where it speaks of the weaker members being necessary.

  • What I meant by my post is that the other verses around verse 18 go well with this. We often want to do God’s will in our lives but we find ourselves doing the opposite because of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NIV “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

    • Amen,
      Just this morning I was asking myself What do I need to do today?
      instead of What do you need me to do today Lord?
      Thank you so much for the reminder. Galatians 5:16 is an inspiration to die to self

  • The importance of recognizing the extent of corruption in our flesh is humbling, to say the least. One verse that has been on my mind a lot lately is Rom 8:7 which was mentioned in the podcast. The flesh is not even able to submit itself to God’s law. So, we need God in order to do any good and right thing. I’m glad God gave us so many sections of scripture that distinguish the differences between the flesh and Spirit as listed in Galatians 5. It allows us to search our own hearts and ask God to remove any wickedness from us. We are humbled when we can see our own sins in the light of God’s perfect holiness.

    • Amen, thank you for sharing.
      It is through faith and obedience towards God that we can find victory in conquering the flesh, it is an earthly battle and once in heaven, we won’t have to deal with this issue as Jesus will give us our eternal body. Hitting the differences every time between the flesh and spirit can be challenging thank you for your transparency

      • I long for the day we get to be with Jesus and no longer have to deal with the flesh and the curse of this world. The deeper I go into my relationship with Jesus the more I see my own sin and the corruption of this world. My heart breaks for the lost and unbelieving, and I wish we could persuade them that Jesus is the way.

    • You are right Donneen. Interesting to think about how none of us has flesh that is any better than anyone elses. In the flesh, we are all capable of heinous sin. Some are better than others in relying on the Spirit and crucifying their flesh. But we are all dealing with the same flesh.

      • Your comment reminds me of the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. I know the story is centered on the son who outright rebelled, but too often we forget about the self-righteous brother who was probably angry and jealous of his brother and the love his dad gave to him when he returned. I find that as Christians we often can fall into the category with the brother and his type of sin. Someone once told me that some people are just better at hiding flesh, making it look clean on the outside.

  • Romans 7 may be one of the most important New Testament chapters to consider because it properly deals with the flesh and the Spirit within each believer. Without a good recognition of the evidence of our flesh, we might consider so much of what the flesh does, confusing it to actually be the work of the Spirit.

    Equally so should we, when the Holy Spirit enters our life are we to pursue the ministry of the Spirit God which is hoping we accept what He wants to accomplish in us. It is so that the equipping taking place by God through the Spirit’s work, is there to offer righteous ways over carnal ways.

    As Pastor Jeff explained, our flesh is at war with God and if we more so consider that God Himself is against this part of our being and existence, that should really help us to place greater emphasis on the ways of His Spirit. The amazing thing is we have God’s Spirit living on the inside of us as believers and while God is patient with us, He expects us to move toward His ways performed by the power of the Spirit but allowed to grow within us by God’s grace and power – this is key to our spiritual success!!.

    What we think we can accomplish on our own must be understood as flesh so let us prayerfully and obediently seek God for a good understanding of Romans 7.

    • Sam, some times I wonder. Is my Flesh really that bad? Is it really that worthless? Is there not some little thing that I could accomplish for God on my on? Paul calls those thoughts foolish in Gal. 3:3. Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Yeap, I guess those thoughts are pretty foolish.

    • I really liked what you emphasized about our flesh waring against God, and that God is against that part of us. That puts into perspective a great picture of total humility and surrender to Christ, as I don’t want to be rejected by Him in any way. Knowing that I am covered by Christ’s righteousness, it is important that I also abide in Him and He in me; how else will I bear fruit if I don’t allow God to cut off the dead parts of me? God is patient, and that’s a blessing in of itself. The more I think about how easily and readily the flesh is there to take control, the more I want to fully surrender to be Christ’s servant.
      Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

  • Flesh vs Spirit strikes a loud chord with me. I know that I am still in the process of ‘cleaning house’ I am so thankful that God is faithful and patient with us. Sometimes I find myself trying to put the death the flesh on my own. I see that flaw. I’m going to get rid of that flaw… until the next day when it rears its ugly head again. We cannot do it in our own power. Great impetus here: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Ro. 8:13).

    • I completely understand your comment. I find myself recognizing fleshly attitudes, characteristics or habits and also want to “rectify them” in my flesh creating an exhausting and draining cycle. When I do this, I picture God standing over me, hands crossed looking at me lovingly and saying, “let me know when you are done and want my help.” Probably picture this because I’ve done this myself to my own kids, specifically when they were toddlers and wanted to assert their independence lol.

    • I can totally relate to your “process of cleaning house”. There is an ever-lurking temptation to try to clean ourselves up through sheer human will and determination, however, this reliance on self will inevitably lead to failure. It is critical to remember that it is God who works in us and sanctifies us, not us.

      • So very true Sumit. Every time I try to do it in my own power – big fail!! So thankful that He is faithful to complete the work He started in me 🙂

  • Thank you for this episode,
    My take away was discerning between self-sufficiency and Christsufficiency, it is a possible task to discern whether we are making and acting in the flesh for our own desires and goals or to glorify God and I say possible but not easy as it comes easier to become selfish in our pursuit of living instead of dying to self and live to serve.
    Paul the apostle struggled and if we should measure faith he is on the top, the only way to find it possible to be Christ-like is to dwell in Him in every way and aspect, without Him we will only build things that rot and die and not everlasting and eternal, we will never move someone to seek salvation by our flesh desire purpose living life.
    It takes a discipline of intentional faith and divine assistant.

    • Great take away Pablo. What you wrote reminded of me of Paul and what he said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”

      God’s grace is sufficient!

  • Many years ago I took a job at a para church ministry, thinking how great it will be to work around Christians, that have great families, good kids, good marriages, where everybody cooperates and gets along, etc. The boss quickly instructed me to not to be shocked, but that the flesh is the flesh weather in the secular world or in the secular world. After a short time of working there I understood what he meant. Since that time I have worked around secular organizations that seen to run more smoothly than the Christian organization. If we as believers operate in the power of our flesh there will be little difference between us and the children of the world. If we are to have a spiritual impact on those around us, we must crucify the flesh along with its passions and desires. Then and only then will we be able to not only live in the Spirit as well as walk in the Spirit.(Gal.5:24,25) This will change everything about our relationships, and allow us to carry out the good works that God has planned for us to do. (Eph.2:10)

    • Hi Harry. Spot on. We are to be held to a higher standard – GOD’S standard! There HAS to be a difference that the world can see when they look at us. And we want that difference to be Jesus.

    • I really appreciate your post and your insight Harry. I also currently work at a church, and the one thing I can definitely say is we are not perfect! I think many people go into ministry (not just work but volunteer) thinking everything is going to be perfect, people will be perfect, environment will be perfect because they are all christian and think the same way. However, everyone is dealing with the battle between the spirit and flesh, that includes ministry leaders, pastors, volunteers, and the average church attender. It is sad to me to see so many people leave out of an offense happened, and instead of working things out they just claim, “they are supposed to be Christians”. But being Christian does not make you perfect. Yes we do strive for perfection, however no one is perfect.

      I have been put on a pedestal for having a job at a church, as if my life is perfect because I work at a church with other Christians. However having been in ministry for a while, I know the challenges this bring. While one always strives to live in the Spirit instead of the flesh, people fail. I hear it said, “I don’t want to do this because I don’t want to turn someone away from the Lord” which is noble to think and strive for, but I have found in ministry that no matter how hard I try to rely on the Sprit, my flesh still causes me to mess up. I have since had to give these things to the Lord, trusting Him to not only lead me, but teach me in my weakness and failures.

      All this to say, those who work in churches, are still people. They need the same grace and mercy from the Lord as those who do in a secular environment. So pray for them and ask for God’s spirit to be upon.

    • This was very good counsel from your boss, Harry. Though it’s hard to live out that disappointment. I’ve been in the ministry for 23 years and have been much more hurt by people in the church than by non-churched people . However, that may be because I expect them to be held to a higher standard, to be walking by the Spirit. When they don’t, it hurts. Then, there is the question of what do you do with that hurt? Hopefully, not holding onto bitterness! But, letting the Lord minister and work those things out, as only He is capable of doing.

  • The Apostle Paul said it right, it is a war between flesh and Spirit. I have to make a continuous evaluation of myself on whether I am walking in flesh or in Spirit. I find that the easiest way to identify this for me is recognizing what I am speaking, responding, or thinking about others. When I find myself complaining, being critical or attempting to “fix” someone, the Spirit convicts me and helps me recognize that I am be fleshly. In myself, after living a life time priding myself in independence and self sufficiency, death to self is a true day by day, minute by minute, challenge. It feels like such a slow process in me, and I am constantly failing. But I thank God for the redeeming power of Jesus because I constantly have to be asking for forgiveness and help with transformation. Thank you Pastor for this podcast, very informative and challenging for me.

    • Erika, you make a great point! Dying to self is not a one-time event, it’s a daily decision. Remember, we’re all going to fail sometimes, but it is in our failures that we learn to depend entirely on Jesus’ power and not our own. The Holy Spirit will convict us in those areas of our lives that need to change, but Satan will try to pin us under condemnation. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

    • What I love about your comment is the clues the Holy Spirit shows you when you have left Spirit walking and entered fleshly walking! ‘Complaining, being critical or attempting to “fix” someone.’ Holy Spirit is so gentle and kind. But it takes humility to see when self-sufficiency and independence has taken back the wheel! Thank you for your transparent and helpful comment!

    • Hi Ericka, thank you for being open and vulnerable with us. Living in the spirit and not the flesh is that thorn in our side the Paul speaks about. It is as you say, something to be lifted up in prayer on a daily basis. Blessings!

    • Love it, i was also very challenged by it Erika, but reminded of why it is all worth it and why dying to flesh is worth it. Sometimes i war in my mind whether it would really matter if i denied myself all the time for Christ, especially if nobody sees, or if it doesn’t seem to benefit me not too. But to be reminded that God sees, and denying myself now will help me reap true benefits eternally makes it all worth it.

    • I completely relate to that independent life style. For a long time, I thought it was just me taking care of me, and that caused a lot of sin-nature choices. It is easy to follow in that pattern of taking the road alone, but thank Jesus He won’t let me walk it alone any more. It is a challenge to discern what is flesh and what is Spirit, and it is truly a minute to minute process, but we serve a God who holds all time in His hands, so we can continue to turn to Him and find His grace. Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his ways and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.”

    • Hi Ericka! Amen on the idea of continual evaluation. This is so crucial to us as Christians, especially if we’re in ministry and can so easily just begin to rest on our laurels. I loved what you said about discerning flesh vs Spirit: “When I find myself complaining, being critical or attempting to “fix” someone, the Spirit convicts me and helps me recognize that I am be fleshly.” I so easily fall into being critical/attempting to fix people, and I can often do this in ministry. The Spirit is the antidote to this self righteous thinking.

    • I appreciate your honesty Ericka, it is so true that in attempting to fix others, we often see our own lack! It is a constant, continual process of sanctification. When I feel weary of seeing my own sin, I look back at where I was when the Lord pulled me up out of the miry pit, and thank Him for the work that He is doing, that continual, patient work that draws us closer to Him and reflects Him in our lives. More of Him and less of me.

  • I personally got a lot out of this podcast, I’ve been walking with the Lord for 15 years and pastoring for 12 of those. Whenever we come to the topic of the flesh and the Spirit I believe it is a great moment of reflection and opportunity to see how we need to be growing.

    For my personally I struggle with being angry and having pity on myself which I know both of these responses are not responses of the Spirit, mainly because they are fully about me and my comfort. As I continue in my journey with Jesus and trying to constantly be growing I have been taking a lot of time recently to meditate on the Sermon on the Mount and just asking daily to be that kind of man of God.

    Some of the practices that have helped me personally whether it is anger, ungratefulness, or feeling sorry for myself is sitting for 10 minutes in quiet. Saying a short prayer inviting myself to be fully present with God as He is always present and allowing Him to speak to me while I just listen, or just slowing down and resting in the moment feeling the breeze of the cool air in Boise or listening to the birds chirp in the air or snow hitting the ground.

    This is something I encourage people in our church a lot to be present, because we may have knowledge but if we are emotionally stunted we cannot become healthy or mature in our discipleship to Jesus.

    • Michael, thank you for sharing your practice of sitting for 10 minutes in quiet and allowing God to speak to you through nature. This is really lacking in my life right now as I feel that I’m on the go as soon as my feet hit the ground. I am going to incorporate this into my mornings. There are beautiful sunrises here. What a wonderful way to get ready for the day so that my spirit is quickened by the Holy Spirit to respond appropriately. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NKJV.

    • Hello Michael, I could relate while reading your post.
      I can agree with you about the difficulties of the flesh as well and taking moments to reflect on our growth in Jesus. Each morning I must pray before I get out of bed; otherwise, my flesh will take over and I walk in the flesh the entire day. Surrendering to the Lord gives Him the opportunity to live and work through us, rather than doing life on our own terms where we find ourselves in tears and repenting for what could have been avoided by our first surrender each day.

      I struggle with personal legalism: the first bit of religion that I learned was a legalistic Baptist view, and this view caused me to condemn myself daily walking in the chains of sin and salvation simultaneously, while I didn’t live in the victory of salvation. I woke up each day knowing that I was going to hell no matter what I did. Then again, I only had about a year of this as a young child since it was the church bus picking me up while the rest of my family refused to go to church. I went to church under the belief that I was going to physically meet Jesus; then I was told that he was crucified (killed on the cross), without explaining what this meant. I left believing and feeling the horror of what comes from the sin of murder, while watching everyone laugh at my (age, 6-year-old) emotional breakdown over this murder, and took with me only that which I could remember about the 10 commandments. I tried to live religiously according to these commands, and fell short, daily; therefore I condemned myself and because I couldn’t live up to them, I was condemned.

      You said, “we may have knowledge but if we are emotionally stunted we cannot become healthy or mature in our discipleship to Jesus;” this is also the reverse, as emotionally we are stunted when we are not given all of the information that is pertinent to our Spiritual growth. Had I been told about what the resurrection meant, I may not have spent 24 years in the desert wandering around, but became mature sooner. I do have to say that the time that I spent in the desert, God used to grow discernment which I now use in my outreach efforts, and can understand where other people are in relation to their surrender or lack thereof. When I speak to people, I try not to leave out the very things that could keep someone in bondage, walking in the flesh, the way that I was kept in bondage.

      Today I have been saved since 1999, learned all of those beautiful things that were left out when i was a child, and try to remember to put Him first each day, and be filled with the Joy He provides. He brings to my remembrance of the freedom that I was gifted because of what Jesus did on the cross for me. Starting my courses at CCU, this being my 3rd class, has caused me to glance at who I was before Christ, and what He has done for me; I am humbled because of all the pain that I caused others which resembles the pain that I cause Jesus when I don’t acknowledge who He is in my life. At times I tend to forget that. Walking in the Spirit there is freedom.

  • Interesting that each podcast hits right in a place that I am in need of empowering and or enriching! The flesh vs. Spirit is a topic that I find coming up a lot in my discipling. There is a huge disconnect with Christians that can’t find the difference from self to Spirit. I am finding that statements like ‘death to self’, ‘nail to cross’, ‘flesh’, ‘carnal’ and more are not received well and or understood even from people that not only were brought up Christian but have attended Christian educations. I think one component I have been missing is the difficulty that there is in discerning the difference between self-striving vs. Spirit. Listening to this and reading all of the comments are helping me to have a better more productive conversation with my counselees! It has also made me excited to work more and more on my own self. John 15 is my life chapter and God has used it in every season to bring me back to the basics. Being attached to the vine for my breath and life is what this life is all about. I find the law is to tempting to believers and I think they take it as a way around relationship? Relationship with God is harder to explain because it isn’t tangible. But the law is easy because there are steps and formulas and seemingly even rewards. Nothing compares to Relationship with the LORD but I am finding many that come through my door are stuck here due to choosing self-sufficiency. Laws and rules appeal to flesh, self-sufficiency and striving. A set of rules to follow appears easier then a relationship. Relationship requires time and an emptying of self to be filled with another. To learn and live and discover the other. When flesh is ruling this sounds painful and almost too hard to grasp. Yet they find themselves empty, discouraged and in messy relationships. The flesh vs. Spirit such a good podcast!

    • Self-striving is exhausting. When I am operating out of selfish ambition or pursuing my own agenda, I burn out. But, when God has made the provision and the way, He gives me the endurance and what I need to accomplish what HE has prepared for me to do. I have found these past months that focusing on Jesus and not whatever is going on around me politically or even in among the church and church leaders, I am at peace in Him. If my focus starts to shift, I am in turmoil. God is so faithful to show us that He desires my complete attention and that I am to look to Him for the path that I am supposed to be walking on. Remaining in the Vine means that I am feeding on Jesus and the fruit that comes from that nourishment is sweet and fragrant.

      • Hi Audra, I agree with you that self – striving is exhausting. I can relate to the peace you find in Him when you focus on Jesus. I find that when I look to things going on around me or focus on anything that is not truth and give into self mode, I do not have the peace of God, but in the times that I focus on Jesus and no matter how much stuff is going on around me I can still be filled with God’s peace as long as I don’t take my eyes off of Hmm and His truths. thanks for sharing

    • As someone who grew up in the church it took me many years to understand the concept of death to self. Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” It is a difficult concept to grasp and even more difficult to put into practice. Like you said Kendal, the law is tempting because it seems clear and easy to understand and follow, but leaves us hopeless in the end. Having a relationship with the Lord takes work and doesn’t always have a clear path but provides what we so desperately need and desire.

    • Thank you for your perspective! God has been reminding me lately of the verse that says The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Sometimes I think the words should be worded ” the spirit is willing but the flesh is strong.” What I mean by that is we are trying and we want to do the right thing in this life, but our flesh seems to be stronger than our spirit. I am just encouraged that God didn’t word it this way, because he is reminded us that in our weakness He is strong!

  • When I was first saved, the lesson that I learned (and continue to learn) is about walking according to the Spirit while crucifying the flesh. A lifetime of being raised up by a family of “the flesh” equipped me to discern the flesh from the Spirit; I developed the mentality that, “if my family would approve of it, then it was of the flesh,” but if God would approve of it, then it is of the Spirit. Then I realized that my judging was of the flesh. It truly was and is a constant battle; especially if there is residual sin such as unforgiveness in the heart.

    The flesh wakes up in the morning and wants to hop out of bed and get the day started; but without prayer, the first thing that is out of order could set off the flesh into a temper tantrum, or the forcing of rules as in legalism and activism. What someone was taught and lived daily in the flesh as habit or formalism, can seep into the “new man” without realizing it; and so putting off the flesh and taking in the Spirit daily (while praying without ceasing) to continually walk according to the Spirit. This can be exhausting when we are in the flesh trying to walk in the Spirit and the flesh pokes its way in at every turn of events, daily, hour-by-hour, and even minute-by-minute.

    Paul, understood this when he said that in the flesh nothing good dwells! Rom 7:18 – For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but [how] to perform what is good I do not find. Without crucifying our flesh, our flesh is wicked, and wretched, and self-willing, and boastful, and warring! We are drowning in sin without living and walking in the Spirit.

    I recently heard this: A man asked a pastor why he would go to hell unless he asked for forgiveness, since Jesus died for our sins, knowing that we cannot help but to sin. The Pastor answered by saying: Imagine that you are in a boat and that boat was sin and all the sins of the flesh. The boat has a slow leak in it and the leak was death. Jesus holds his hand out to you to save you by bringing you onto His boat, but you refuse His hand to be saved. The boat goes down and you drown and die. Though you have been given the opportunity to receive salvation, you are now in hell because you refused to take Jesus’ hand. It was your choice to go to hell because you didn’t want to escape the sins of the flesh which was the leaking boat. Everyone’s boat is leaking, we must choose to enter Jesus’ boat.

    This story reminded me of this week’s chapter in our “How People Change” book. We are prone to all of the “ism’s” that the flesh can offer, and they look appealing, and seem to create order, until they don’t, then the agitation occurs which is the Spirit warning us. Legalism, Formalism, Mysticism, Activism, Biblicism, Psychology-ism, Social-ism; I believe I have experienced all of these before coming to Christ and surrendering my will, and even after salvation until I realized that I was trying to be Spiritual in a fleshly “going forth.” I am sure that I called them something other than these “ism’s.” Without knowledge of where our flesh is leading us, we circulate in and through sin in the warring of the flesh.

    • I cannot count the number of times I have chosen to start my day by being on my phone or just getting ready instead of prayer. There is a noticeable difference in the way I handle situations when I choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. That is a new metaphor to me, it describes the answer to the question about our need for forgiveness well. We must make the choice every moment of every day to live by the Spirit or our flesh.

  • Your last comment which is really a warning about the church today being built in the flesh rather than the Spirit really struck me. We can do so many things that we think are spiritual but rather, they are in the flesh. Perhaps that is because we do not examine our hearts and our motives as Scripture calls us to do. 2 Corinthians 13:5

    I take this to heart and desire the Holy Spirit reveal to me through Scripture and in my times of prayer and waiting on God to direct me in His Way so that I am not striving for something in my flesh. Perhaps, when God allows us to go through times of trial, that which is of our flesh is burned up so that what remains is really what God has been doing in our lives. I truly want the fruit in my life to be authentic and not contrived.

    May the Lord do his work rather than me try to do what I think is his work.

    • Hello Audra! I loved what you said “Perhaps that is because we do not examine our hearts and our motives as Scripture calls us to do”.

      That is a great reminder to do a heart check where is this coming from. Is it from our selfish desire or from God?. As David says in Psalms 26:2, “Examine me, LORD, and prove me. Try my heart and my mind.” This is so important to have the Lord examine our hearts and mind.

  • Coming from a Catholic upbringing, you are taught that it’s your good works or deeds that will keep you from going to Hell and being able to earn brownies points by how good of a person you are in life and hopefully be able to get into Heaven. When I accepted Christ as my Savior I was so shocked when I learned I had nothing to do with my salvation, only Jesus Christ is the way to salvation. But I will be very honest I still struggle with my “self-sufficiency” in my walk. My religious flesh is always at battle with the Holy Spirit. This podcast was a great reminder and teaching on how I need to walk in the spirit and not in my flesh. To always want to honor and glorify my God and not glorify the world or the flesh.

    • Michelle, I can identify with you as I also come from a Catholic background. I remember feelings of never being good enough because I really could never do enough “good deeds” after I went to confession. I wasn’t even really sure what I could do as a second grader after the first time I went to confession. It really is a relief to know that Jesus did everything for me so I don’t have to strive but rest in Him. However, as you said, it can still be a real struggle to remember “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6.

    • Thank you Michelle for sharing this! It is such a humbling thing to know that there is no way we can earn our salvation. It can be so easy to glorify our flesh. That’s why its a battle. I believe that a lot of people struggle with their “self-sufficiency” in their walk (myself included). It is very is to say to yourself that “Hey, I’m a good person and I do good things so I don’t deserve hell”. It is pretty amazing that when we get to heaven that we will be worshiping God for who He is and what He has done and not boost about anything that we have done.

  • Such a powerful portion of scripture. We must always remember the war that we are in. Flesh vs Spirit. I love these two things that Jeff says, “There is a willingness of the flesh that needs to be renounced.” and also, “The cross is the answer to the flesh”. The flesh is the ego which feels an emptiness but dislikes the idea of satisfying it by faith, that is by depending on the mercy of God in Christ. Instead, the flesh prefers to use the legalistic or licentious resources in its own power to fill its emptiness. As Romans 8:7 says, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law.” The basic mark of the flesh is that it is unsubmissive. It does not want to submit to God’s absolute authority or rely on God’s absolute mercy. This podcast was such an encouragement because when we walk in the Spirit we will have victory over temptation and put to death the flesh.

  • It caught my attention when I read that “the flesh tries to impress and is wrapped in self sufficiency” It seems that the flesh is so natural in us that we can hardly recognized the Spirit of God. Even when we are servers of God in church, we must be aware that the flesh will try to convince us that we are producing the change in people’s hearts . When in fact, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • The grace of God continues to astound me. When I was struggling in my flesh He was incredibly patient and gave His Spirit to guide me. I can honestly say that I would still be stuck in that place if it were not for the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8 was a verse that was constantly on my mind; ” For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Sometimes I wonder why I had to struggle with things like anxiety and depression, but like Pastor Jeff said you tend to notice people struggling with the same things you struggled with.

  • Great talk on the battle we all face between the flesh and the Spirit! The flesh cannot be renewed. We must choose to walk in the Spirit. That is the only way to overcome the flesh. We must crucify it and not feed the flesh and its desires. Interesting the points made that the flesh has desires, a will and a mind. It wars against the Lord and wants the glory to be received for itself. The flesh is always trying to draw us back to the old life. The independent self-life. The life where we do everything on our own and don’t trust in God. Many of the heart issues we have battling in the flesh are unseen to those around us. We can look like we are righteous, but God convicts us in our hearts when there is a problem with our motivation. He is faithful to show us things in His timing. May we be sensitive to His Spirit and repent for the things He shows us. As we see His work in our lives, we can better help the ones the Lord puts in our paths.

    • Hi Angels,
      I agree…it is a battle between the flesh and the Spirit. We truly must choose to walk each day in the Spirit; this is something I have to do first thing in the morning before getting out of bed. I start out with, “good morning Jesus, thank you for another day; help me to walk according to your word and not my flesh.” I try to listen and not respond until I say a quick prayer, “what do you think Lord? How should I handle this? What would you have me to do or say?” My flesh always wants to voice an opinion, so when I feel my flesh wanting to take over, I talk to the Lord and share it with my husband. He is so much better at it than me.
      Yes! May we be always be sensitive to His Spirit and repent for the things He shows us that is not of Him. I ask the Lord to give me His eyes and His heart and allow me to see what He sees and feel what He feels and respond in a manner that He would respond.

    • Hi Angela, thanks for sharing, I agree that we must choose to walk in the Spirit. the more we choose to walk in the Spirit, the more we will die to the flesh by not giving into our fleshly desires we are allowing the Spirit to overcome our flesh. God is faithful and shows us in His timing the motives of our hearts and our choices and if we are doing things to please our flesh or doing things according to His Spirit. Our flesh is always tempting us to go back to our self centered ways, and getting us to try and give into fleshly desires that take us away from the Lord and trusting in Him.

  • I can honestly say that I struggled in this area for a while as a relatively new believer. I remember being “passed over” for a position as a deacon in our congregation in Virginia. The leadership chose a friend of mine instead. I believed that I wanted to serve in the congregation because of my faith, but I quickly became jealous and very unfriendly towards my friend. I could not control how I felt, and it took a long time for me to see that my flesh was running the show, and I was not submitted to the Spirit of God. The path I was following was so hurtful and ungodly that I am saddened to remember it. I know that God used that experience to teach me to be attentive to picking up my cross daily, as my flesh, even though it’s much weaker, will still be happy to take charge the minute I take my eyes off the prize.

  • This was such a great podcast that reminded me to choose daily to walk in the spirit and not the flesh. I especially loved the description on the workings of the flesh. The flesh has desires, workings, a will, a mind, self confidence, and seeks glory. Those are more difficult to identify than the list in Galatians 5.. fornication, uncleanness, adultery, etc. and more difficult to discern. But with practice, like Peter says, we can begin to distinguish between good and bad. Its great to have our eyes opened to the type of advice being given to the world today about self esteem and self sufficiency, so that we know not to take part in it and grow in our awareness of how different it is to Gods ways. Thankful for the provision God has made and the work he has begun to renew our minds through his word. Love the stern and clear command to crucify the flesh, because there is no room for that in our lives. It allows us to live in his spirit and not our own resources. And the reminder to first seek to discern between the flesh and spirit in our own lives to better see it with those we counsel.

    • Thanks for your comments, Leslie. I have had to deal with a lot of self-centeredness in trying to find leadership to work in our congregation. It seems that many folks who have studied the Scriptures and believe that their Biblical understanding is excellent have a real problem with submitting to God. It is very hard to find someone to put up the chairs or set up the sound but very easy to find teachers and vision casters. Inflated self-worth and a disdain for work that is really needed but doesn’t bring glory are the hallmarks of so many people today.

  • I think this is such a vital topic, and so timely for the time in which we are living right now. There are distorted Truths (false doctrine) being preached, taught and shown of those proclaiming to be moving in the Spirit but truly walking in the flesh. There are “progressive movements” happening within the church that are so focused on self and the “-ism’s” mentioned in the book “How People Change”, that are revealing this slow progression and integration of the culture impacting the church, rather than the church impacting the culture. I think we give the “enemy” too much credit for the consequence of sin and the displaying of sin in our lives. I believe the flesh is doing a greater work at stumbling and distracting believer’s than anything else. For the flesh is born with a sinful nature because of the Fall of the first Adam, but praise God for the saving work of Jesus Christ. (Gal 5:24) The problem is our flesh is always with us – we can’t escape it, dismiss it or even redeem it, like Pastor Jeff said, “we must crucify it”. And as long as we are on this side of heaven, it must be a continual crucifying of the flesh, because death to self is the only way to be a living sacrifice for Him. We are not called to be morally good, but rather we are called to be holy as HE is holy. We are a sanctified people, meaning set apart, so we should walk as such. Asking the Lord to search my heart and to give me a discerning wisdom to see the manner in which I am walking. The Spirit in us can not deny itself or contradict itself hence there is a waging war. For we can grieve and quench the spirit by walking in the listed ways that Pastor Jeff described is the character of our flesh. Therefore as mentioned above the flesh is going to struggle, and if I am going to struggle, I rather struggle because I am gaining ground for the kingdom of God rather than losing it.

  • There were a few things that really spoke to me in this podcast, The Flesh versus the Spirit. The Lord allows trials in our lives so that we will stop trusting in self and depend on Him. It just seems to creep into our ministry to start working from the flesh and our own abilities apart from God. While we seem to start off on the right foot, it becomes easy to drift into a routine of ministry and worship until we are going through the motions, worshiping with our lips and not our heart. Then God has to let us go through trials, tribulations and death of a vision to get our focus back on Him and that apart from Him we can do nothing. Which brings me to the next fleshly work of self glory versus letting our works glorify God. It took me a long time to realize that this is what happened to Moses in Numbers 20:1-13 when he struck the rock to get water for the complaining Israelites. I thought God was too hard on Moses, who was a humble servant of God. I thought God didn’t let Moses into the promise land just because he struck the rock instead of speaking to it. It was really about Moses not giving God the glory. Numbers 20:12 NLT states, “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” There are serious consequences for not giving the glory to God where it belongs and reveling in our own abilities. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom.7:24. The only answer is Jesus Christ and to crucify the flesh with Him on the cross. We must first deal with these things in ourselves before we can minister to others.

  • I enjoy getting a glimpse of recent study subjects. it keeps me focus on what will really change me to be more like Christ. In romans12:2 (the renewing of your mind) is where I found my cure for my mind of death. God had made me new in 2012 but I still let the thought of death dictate my future decision. God was telling me it was time to let them go, and focus on what He is doing in my life. This was my process of sanctification as I began these classes with CCU. In the flesh, nothing good dwells Romans7:18. I found it funny how jeff says we justify our ways of keeping the thought of the flesh. It was funny but it really confronted me in how silly my thinking really was. But since walking according to the spirit has really made me closer to my calling.

  • Walking in the flesh VS walking in the spirit. I love Jesus and that he gives us his peace to walk in the spirit. He made it possible for us to have life on Earth as it is in Heaven. I think that is the hardest part for anyone, to die to self and learn to trust and follow our shepherd. To learn that he will carry us, he will lead us, he will prepare for us. All things through him, but are flesh always feels we need to do more. How can we do more then the one who did it all. Thank you, great lesson and conversation.

  • In today’s world of self found knowledge and enlightenment I believe that this topic of Flesh Vs. Spirit is key. We can go on instagram, travel the web for advice and ways to overcome our insecurities, and inadequacies, however when we do that we go to a world that is consumed with self and not with the Lord. These pieces of advice may sound good, and even feel good, however it doesn’t bring full restoration or healing from our issues. However God does. I like how Jeff talks about how the Spirit works.. While our flesh wants to deal with every issue and find a solution for our problems, or push it aside as if it doesn’t exist, the Lord just wants us to walk with Him. As we walk with the Lord, and His Spirit, He mends our heart. He reveals things to us in His gracious and beautiful timing and that is what truly brings about change. It may not happen immediately, but as you walk the Lord does His work piece by piece. Learning to rely on the Spirit is hard, especially when our flesh wants to deal with an issue in the here and now, but God is looking to do more then just fix an issue, but to walk with you and show you that You need Him.

  • Such a great word about counselling in the flesh. It is so deceptively subtle in the day to day. We all want to please the Lord, but it can so quickly be transformed from “I want to please the Lord because I love Him and am so thankful for all that He has done in my life” to “I have to look like I’m pleasing the Lord – even if my life is a mess because of x,y and z”
    The flesh is so terribly confident, or either falsely humble. Either case it brings the focus back to self. As leaders, having a transparent walk is difficult, but oh so necessary, showing sanctification, modelling it as we teach it. It does create conflicts though, I was glad that you brought that up, because some don’t want to hear it, or to see it modelled. Walking with people on the path of life, death to sin. Fortunately God is so patient, with us, and with those He has put in our path.

  • What struck me most from listening to this podcast is the idea that I can do good, Christian things and yet still be in my flesh, drawing from my own resources. This is something I’ve encountered time and time again in my walk, but in the past it’s been easier for me to look at this in relation to things like cleaning the church or doing some sort of simple Christian service and yet doing it in a grumbling way because I was in the flesh. Yes I’m convicted, but it doesn’t really affect others. But it’s even more sobering to think of counseling someone who has come to me for godly wisdom, and yet offering them counsel and advice and wisdom in the sufficiency of myself and in my flesh. I want to have confidence in my counseling abilities, and yet I want that confidence to be in Christ and not in my self. Apart from Him I can do nothing (nothing of eternal value).

  • So said that so many Christian leaders and pastors do not teach this concept, although importantly evangelism is important but this is my thought as to why so many new Christians don’t prosper because the hard part of dying to self is not taught. I am so happy that I made the choice to come to CCU, i had enrolled in my alma mater Biola and was so put off by the first class that I just sensed this was not for me so I withdrew and fortunately calvary got its accreditation so I was able to get a refund and get started with the blessed legacy of Pastor Chuck. Honestly my relationship has grown so much with the Lord since my wife and i have started listening to him in the am. Anyway, this truth about the flesh has been the key for me about really starting to grow up and to start learning what spiritual intimacy is with the Lord. As David Wilkerson said ‘tears are a sign for the Christian of the Holy Spirit at work’. I think with such fondness of tear stained diary pages when i was struggling to leave the world behind. Oh how glorious to see the future in Jesus as opposed to the terror of the alternative, how true and lifegiving the Word is.

  • Great podcast about walking in the flesh verses walking in the Spirit. Dying to self is something that is not very easy because in these days we live in a self sufficient world, where everyone tries to do things in their own strength, and they get bombarded from the schemes of the devil, and giving into feelings and emotions and doing things according to our fleshly desires, that is easier then being obedient and trusting and walking by faith, It is something we can not do on our own it takes the work of the Spirit to show us and guide us and by walking in faith and trusting in God. I know for me I have to search my heart every day, some days I try to be self sufficient and the Spirit convicts me and shows me what my struggles are and I have to seek forgiveness and give everything to God. When I find myself in self mode there is no peace and usually have chaos. Nothing good comes out of walking in the flesh.

  • I thought Pastor Jeff’s podcast was very informative especially with all the scripture references. What comes to my mind the most was that toward the end of the podcast Pastor Jeff talked about not being able to do anything in flesh or anything that matters for God in the flesh. Brings to mind the many churches that are going against what the Word of God says just to make people happy or to not alienate them. The Bible says that sin is sin and when we sugar coat the Word of God just to appease a certain group of people, I believe that is trying to do the work of God in the flesh. According to Pastor Jeff’s teaching which is according to the Word of God, this is working in the flesh and the Spirit of God is not being heard.
    I apologize for venting, just upsets me terribly. The flesh is in no way worthy of anything that God has for me or for you in his work.
    God shows me all the time the ways in which I need to let God change the way I look at things and people. Its hard to let him work but I know that it is for the best, not only for me but for what needs to be done for my Savior.

  • For without Me you can do nothing. To really know if we are doing things in the name of the Lord in our own strength or by His Spirit. I endeavor to hear good and faithful one, and yet sometimes I wonder will he say, Depart from me I never knew you. There are many who are doing things in the name of God that He never commanded them to do. Religion abounds but it is not bound to the call of Christ. It is my desire to serve in the Spirit and I know that every day I have to die to myself, I have to pick up my Cross and get my directions from the Lord. I can do plenty of good things on my own, in my own strength but today listening to this it hit me hard that all those things do not matter, will not be counted so to speak because they were not things God assigned for me to do. Only those things the Spirit speaks into my heart that I do will bring glory to God and have an eternal reward. It is a struggle because the more you know about God the more you think, I know Him, I know what he wants and so you do those things, and yet do I ask God if those were the things He wanted me to do at all. As Paul says, O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? Discerning between the flesh and the Spirit can be hard at times, yet the more time we spend in the Spirit, the more we understand the Spirit and can hear His still small voice. This is the “work” we must do, listen to the voice of God, be still and know God, and it can be the hardest , most challenging work of all. It requires an intimacy beyond any physical example we have that we may not even know how close we need to be to hear and to see. The Holy Spirit lives in you and me, and so we can do this, He has equipped us and as we lay down our flesh and desire to follow Him, He works from the inside out once we get our flesh out of the way.

  • When was in a school of discipleship at the age of 23, one of the topics was to identify when we are in the flesh or the spirit. I was introduced to the importance. It was important to important to recognize because the flesh will always lead to death and Spirit will lead to fruitiness and live. In my life when I speak with thinking or praying in the Spirit, I know what comes out is filtered and will be in the flesh. I have to set time to pray in Spirit to speak things in the spirit. As Proverbs 18:21 says
    “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

  • This is such a great study to start with which to start this class. Two things ‘grabbed’ me
    1) It is so easy to get caught up in our ‘own’ abilities and take off running with the ball ignoring the plays called by the quarterback. We might say that we don’t do this fleshly sin or participate in that fleshly sin, but if we are not walking in the Spirit and relying on HIM and HIS power we are still in the flesh. When we try to “DO’ in our flesh the things to bring glory to God and build His kingdom, (or maybe it is just to bring glory to ourselves), we are going to have a struggle, and will end up with feelings of emptiness and defeat. Those fleshly motivations can really trip up a Christian. We look for people to build us up, saying what a great job we did, but we have to ‘nail that flesh to the cross.’
    2) I also like what Jeff said about the house having stuff in the drawers and closets and hidey holes of a house after living in it for a while (I don’t remember the exact wording). That is exactly what so many Christians face. They ARE a new creature, but still have the mess from the old life just waiting be cleaned out by the amazing ‘process’ of sanctification!

  • I appreciate the rich discussion on the flesh. As I write elsewhere, in many ways the flesh is that element in the Believer’s heart that remembers life as an unbeliever & desires to go back to the familiar life without Christ. The philosophy of the world & the work of the Devil are formidable but they would not be effective if our flesh did not allow them “in” to work in us contrary to the will of God battling the the Spirit. As Paul says we must put to death the deeds of the flesh in pursuit of the pleasure of God.

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