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  1. The Existence of the Flesh

    The Existence of the Flesh

    Let us note carefully that though the flesh may be so put to death that it becomes “ineffective” (the real meaning of “destroy” in Rom. 6.6), it endures nonetheless. It is a great error to consider the flesh eradicated from us and to conclude that the nature of sin is completely annihilated. Such false teaching leads people astray. Regenerated life does not alter the flesh; co-crucifixion does not extinguish the flesh; the indwelling Holy Spirit does not render it impossible to walk by the flesh. The flesh with its fleshly nature abides perpetually in the believer. Whenever opportunity is provided for its operation, it at once will spring into action.

    We have previously seen how closely associated are the human body and the flesh. Until such time as we are freed physically from this body we shall not be able to be so delivered from the flesh that no more possibility of its activity exists. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh. There is absolutely no eradication of it until this body corrupted from Adam is transformed. Our body is not yet redeemed (Rom. 8.23); it waits for redemption at the return of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 15.22, 23, 42-44, 51-56; 1 Thess. 4.14-18; Phil. 3.20-21). As long as we are in the body, therefore, we must be alert daily lest the flesh break forth with its wicked deeds.

    Our life on earth can at best be likened to that of Paul, who remarked that “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10.3 ASV). Since he still possesses a body he walks in the flesh. Yet because the nature of the flesh is so corrupt he does not war according to the flesh. He walks in the flesh, yes; but he does not walk by the flesh (Rom. 8.4). Until a believer is set free from the physical body he is not entirely free from the flesh. Physically speaking he must live in the flesh (Gal. 2.20); spiritually speaking he need not and must not war according to the flesh. Now if by obvious inference from 2 Cor. 10.3, Paul, being in the body, remains susceptible to warring according to the flesh (though from v.4 we see he does not war that way), who then dares to say that he no longer has any potentially active flesh. The finished work of the cross and its continual application by the Holy Spirit are consequently inseparable.

    We must pay unusual attention to this point for it brings in grave consequences. Should a believer come to assume that he is sanctified ...