I want to be a man with no flesh!
In the New Testament, the word “flesh” is used in 13 different ways. The best of these uses are neutral, as in the covering of our bodies, but the other uses are all negative. In fact, Vine’s Concise Dictionary refers to flesh as the “seat of sin in man” in 2 Peter and 1 John.
Often I find myself getting caught up in the battle caused by the flesh of others. Their sinful actions cause me to think things, say things, and do things that are always wrong (sin). Then I get wrapped up in the internal struggle of “why did I think, say, or do what I did?” The answer is always “flesh!”
Scripture is very clear that the atoning death of Christ crucified all flesh (Rom 6:6) once and for all. But it is also clear that it is our responsibility to crucify our own flesh (Gal 5:24). But what does this mean?
In Philippians chapter 1, Paul is telling the readers about the physical abuse he is experiencing, and that he will possibly die. Then in verse 27, Paul tells them…
…Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ….
This context refers to whether Paul lives or dies. But, I believe it is safe to apply “whatever happens” to each and every moment of our lives. When we are in traffic, when we are at work, when we are at home, wherever we find ourselves, and whatever happens to us, we are to respond in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
This means there is no room for our selfish, prideful, hateful, or jealous responses to the actions of others, because those are all reactions of our flesh (Gal 5: 19-21). Regardless of what others do, we are to respond to them the way Christ would as He enables us by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (We can’t even respond as Christ would in our flesh!) That is what it means to crucify our flesh. To act like our desires are dead (because they are) and to act in a way that is commensurate with the gospel of Christ.
In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul goes on to tell the readers that Christ, being the very nature of God…made Himself nothing…to the glory of God. So, this tells us that even Jesus put away His own desires and acted in a way that brought glory to the Father. Even further, Jesus clearly said that it was the Father living in Him who was living and working through Him (J0hn 14:10). This is crucifying your flesh.
Dear friends, when those around you do or say something that irritates you, annoys you, offends you, or just makes you mad; remember that your flesh has already been crucified and you are free from the snares of your past habits of response.
This doesn’t mean you simply forget it, ignore it and it will go away, or minimize your struggles with the situation or issues. It means you respond in a way that will glorify the Father.
Honestly, I think this is one of the most challenging lessons to learn from the scriptures. But it is also one of the most important.
I don’t desire to be a man without flesh so that you can see my bones and internal organs; I want to be a man without flesh so that you can see the Father!