Today's World in Bible Light
Harold J. Broke
6820 Auto Club Rd.
Minneapolis, MN 55438
If God created our flesh, what makes it evil and what makes it good?
The first mention of the word "flesh" after the fall:
God looked upon the earth ... for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. (Gen. 6:12) (Heb. basar)
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)
All flesh shall see salvation of God.(Luke 3:6)
Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifested in the flesh...(1 Tim 3:16)
We who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Cor 4:11)
1. THE CREATOR MADE US BOTH SPIRIT AND FLESH
Let's imagine that the Lord is talking to Gabriel before He created man on earth (...things which angels desire to look into. (1 Pet 1:12))
God said, "Gabriel, I am soon going to create a new kind of person. He will be different than you... you are a spirit without flesh. Soon I will create animals of flesh without a spirit. But the persons I plan to create on earth will be both spirit and flesh. They will be called man and woman."
"Why will you do this, Oh Lord?"
"Gabriel, I am God, the Almighty Spirit. You are one of my created spirits, but there exists a material realm in disarray and chaos. Whatever I have made or will make, spirit or matter, is not an evil creation, but a good one. My plan is to manifest My Spirit in bodies of flesh. I want to bring the two together, made in My image and ruling the earth." "I will form man of the dust of the ground and breathe into his nostrils the breath (the spirit of) life and he will become a living soul." "I am the Lord of all I create. My will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
"How will I, as an angel, relate to this new being, oh Lord God?"
"If man and his descendants sin, like Lucifer did, and despise My word, go their own way and seek their own honor, I will still seek man's soul. I will send My Word to become flesh. He will give Himself to redeem all who come to Him. You will serve Me, Gabriel, by announcing His coming, at the appointed time."
"I will await your command, O Holy God, O Holy Word, O Holy Spirit!!!"
2. HOW DID THE FIRST MAN AND WOMAN DISOBEY GOD?
They were given a command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Gcn. 2:17) The very fact that God gave them a command indicated that they had a moral nature together with the natural desires of their flesh. Adam and Eve yielded to Satan's three fold temptation. This is pointed out in 1st John 2:15, "For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. The world is passing away and the lust thereof, but he who does the will of God abides forever." They yielded to Satan's proposals and temptations. They got into sin by disobeying the following holy principle:
When you face a temptation through the desires of the flesh always remember God's Word and act according to what He has said...
3. DOES THE BIBLE SHOW HOW SIN GETS HOLD OF OUR FLESH?
Yes, James 1:14-17 tells us how temptation and sin get into our lives: a) Each of us is tempted. b) We are drawn away by our own desires. c) We arc enticed, that is, seduced and joined to selfishness.. d) The desire is conceived. By our choice.. sin is like a growing fetus inside our heart. e) Sin is manifested. It affects us inwardly and outwardly. f) It grows up, sin gets bigger. g) It brings forth death. Sin separates and is offensive to God. We cannot save ourselves!
John Sarx is a very active man. One day he gets sick, dizzy, and goes to bed with a fever. The Doctor examines him and says he has a virus infection that affects his whole body. In time he gets well again, free from the virus!!
Let's think of John Sarx as a picture of the flesh. Let the virus stand for the sin that contaminates his flesh. We have no problem seeing that the virus is not John Sarx and that John Sarx is not the virus. So also the flesh is not the sin and the sin is not the flesh. The flesh is not a sinful nature. Sin can however inhabit (oikeo) the flesh. But, Jesus, by His redemption, can cleanse the flesh from all its defilement and breathe His Spirit into it. (Romans 8:1-4)
4. WHY IS "FLESH", AT TIMES, TREATED AS AN ENEMY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE SCRIPTURE?
Romans 8:7 says, "The mind of the flesh is emnity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God..." Gal. 5:17 says "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit (lusts) against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another.." When God created our flesh (or humanity), it was made to serve, not to rule. It was meant to be a servant of the Spirit, not an entity in and for itself. Isaiah 53:6 says, " All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." When we insist on going "our own way" our flesh-life takes over the throne of our personalities and becomes an enemy of Christ's rule. This is our iniquity!!! Jesus came to set our flesh free from its "own wayness".
5. ISN'T FLESH THE SAME AS "SINFUL NATURE" IN SOME PARTS OF SCRIPTURE?
The verse that is sometimes interpreted as sinful nature is Romans 7:17-18 ' "It is no longer I that do it but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells." The NIV translates "flesh" as "sinful nature". The scripture never says that the flesh, in itself, is sinful. It does however, say, as quoted above, that "sin dwells in me", that is, "dwells in my flesh." The word "dwells" is the Greek word, "oikco" that means to live in or to inhabit something. Let's illustrate:
6. CAN THE FLESH BE CLEANSED?
The redeeming blood of Christ can cleanse anything that He has created ... spirit, heart, mind, and flesh! There is a difference between saying that the flesh, (see Gal. 5:17), is the sinful nature and saying the flesh is totally contaminated by sin. You can't wash away someone's nature, but you can effectively wash away someone's defilement, for example:
Let's say you own a dog and it needs to get washed. Your Dad says to you, "Son, I don't like that dog, please wash away its doggishness". You say, "Dad, I can't wash away it's very nature, but I can surely clean up my dog." So it is with the flesh. It has been defiled by sin, but it is not a sinful nature. The flesh (our humanity) can be cleaned up. So says the Scriptures. "Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." Therefore having this promise, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1)
7. ISN'T THE "OLD MAN" THE SAME AS FLESH?
No, it's meaning is not the same. The "old man" is the term Paul uses when sin dwells (oikco) and rules in our flesh. When we see and believe and know the truth of Romans 6:6 "Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be in bondage to sin." in Christ's cross and resurrection we are set free. When He so delivers us by His grace we continue to have flesh, our humanity. The Lord intends that the Spirit rules, mortifies and operates in and through our flesh. The call or Romans 8:1-4 is to live and walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh ... thus we claim this passage, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and death.
8. CAN JESUS LIVE THROUGH OUR FLESH?
Yes, this is God's plan. This is what the Father sent His Son to do. He desires to do it in our flesh.
Concerning Christ: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." John 1:14
"As the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself .. Shared the same., that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb. 2:14-15) "By this you know the Spirit of God; Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God." (1 John 4:2)
Concerning us: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor .. to remain in the flesh is more needful for you."
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal 2:20)