Is The Flesh Truly The Flesh?

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Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who 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. ESV

This verse is the most vivid description of what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus. His proclamation is truly the essence of Christian affirmation… I have been crucified with Christ and now I am alive. From that moment his life was  lived in the flesh by his faith in the the Son of God. He was in a partnership with the Creator of the universe; a partnership not only of power but of suffering … creating suffering if you will.

As Jesus’ bride, we have entered into a relationship that involves suffering as we do our part to complete what remains of His suffering for the sake of His bride. That is a fact that is often misunderstood or lost by the church. We are tempted to take Paul’s crucifixion with Jesus as symbolic only, or to equate it with baptism, which seems to make being crucified with Him automatic; something conferred by the church.

We must never forget that for Paul, and for us, being crucified with Jesus means sharing the way of life that He led to the cross, living by His purposes and driven by His motives. This is our pilgrimage through this world… This life I now lead in the flesh. 

But to truly understand what Paul is saying, we have to realize that he does not set flesh against the spirit as we tend to do. He does not see the flesh as identical with the body or as the substance of the body. He sees the flesh as he sees the Spirit, a domain of power and influence in which we live our life. In other words, for Paul to live in the flesh was to live as a member of human society in a physical body,, driven by the power of the flesh or the power of the spirit.

For Paul, sin is linked closely to flesh because flesh is the domain of power … where sin operates. Therefore, our predicament is not that we are in the flesh, but that we are setting our minds on flesh rather than the spirit as a domain of our power. Another way of looking at it is to be in the flesh is not to be in sin … to live according to the flesh is to be in sin. Living by faith in the Son of God is to live in Spirit, not having our values shaped by the nature of the flesh. It is to live where our power comes from … the Holy Spirit.

Being  in the flesh is the direct opposite of being in the Spirit…

Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. ESV

Fleshly living is to have our mind set on our weak and limited flesh as our source of power, rather than on the Spirit. The domain of spirit is where we are to live and operate as we complete our pilgrimage through this life in a body as a member of human society, yearning for the day when we will no longer inhabit this body but spend eternity in our new glorified body … a body that is no longer the dominion of sin but of righteousness.

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