Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Crucifying The Flesh
That’s an important question, so my answer reflects it. First, no one needs to be a highly trained, Christian ninja to do it; this is relative child’s play. So I’ll try to help you understand the whole deal, which will make it easier—as it should.
From Adam and Eve’s exit from the Garden of Eden, man’s existence has been flesh, not spirit. We could never live—not from God’s perspective—by or in the flesh. So God sent Jesus to bring to an end our fleshly existence. By living a perfect life, dying for us on the cross and rising again, Jesus set us free from a system (Law) and an existence (flesh) in which we could only fail. (See Romans 8:1-4.)
When we receive Jesus, we are born spirit and receive His nature, and are no longer of or in the flesh—we’re of and in the Spirit. So while the flesh still hangs around(!), it is no longer us. We, then, set our hope and focus upon the Spirit, who, in union with us—the new and real us—produces the life of Christ. And that’s pretty great!
We, the Spirit born, new creation sons and daughters of God, can no longer sin. The apostle Paul wrote that when he did what he didn’t want to do, it was “…no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom 7:17-18). Flesh is the problem; WE are no longer the problem. If we believe we are still the problem, we’ll make war on our presumed selves and compound the problem. Flesh was always the problem, but it is no longer our problem. We don’t live there! It isn’t us! We now live by and in the Spirit. We will never be in the flesh again. (See Romans 8:9-14)
It is my belief then that living by the Spirit means He both produces the life of Christ in us, and He wins the battle that He is having with the flesh. (You can find all of this in Galatians 5:16-18 and 6:8.) But to sum up, “our role” in this is to believe what God thinks He has done for us through Christ (crucified us and raised us new), and to offer ourselves to God (Romans 6:13), give our focus to Him (Colossians 3:1-4), or sow to the Spirit inside of us (Galatians 6:8) so that He may produce the life of Christ in us and through us. This is how I live! And this is how we now crucify the flesh—we consider it done through Christ, and offer ourselves to the Spirit, who lives inside of us. And He has a blast!
I don’t pretend that this is always easy. I sometimes grow weary or distracted or disappointed and, when the flesh offers some hope of control or of satisfaction, I sometimes offer myself to it—and on come the acts or behaviors of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). But they’re not MY acts; they are ITS acts through me (Galatians 5:19). Fortunately, the Spirit always captures my attention, turning my thoughts toward Him, and not only is the mind set on the Spirit life and peace (Romans 8:6), but the production of the Spirit begins all over again—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). And then I get all happy-good, and, sanity restored, gladly offer myself to the Spirit. You know what that means: in my experience, the flesh is crucified.
This is a lengthy answer, but your question is important. I hope this helps.