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What You'll Discover in this Episode:
The Flesh VS The Spirit
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:
- The Flesh Has Desires - Galatians 5:16
- The Workings of the Flesh - Galatians 5:19-20
- There is a will of the Flesh - John 1:13
- There is a Mind of the Flesh - Romans 8:6
- The Warring of the Flesh - Romans 7:23
- The Confidence of the Flesh - Philippians 3:3-4
- 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.