Defining the meaning of words is of the utmost importance when you are attempting to understand their true meaning. Think about the meaning of these words when they were used just a few years ago.
Far Out – in the 70s it meant something was awesome.
Gnarly – in the 80s it was a surfer term that came to mean something was cool.
Da Bomb – in the 90s it meant something was really amazing.
GitRDone – in the 2000s it meant to get something accomplished.
It’s the same in Scripture. Words often have very specific meaning and it does matter. Though I read lots of different versions of the Bible, my favorites for understanding specific words are the New American Standard Bible (NASB) or the English Standard Version (ESV).
That brings us to the word “flesh”. This is not the old nature, the sinful nature or our identity in Adam. It’s something very different. The rawest meaning is simply meat. In the Scriptures it is used to mean a few other things. One definition is simply our physical body. For example, In John 3:6, Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (NASB)
The main meaning for the word “flesh” used in the New Covenant is what we are interested in today. Let’s first see what the Bible says. Then we will make it very practical.
- The flesh has desires that are the opposite of those of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (NASB)
- The flesh expresses itself in specific ways. Galatians 5:19-21a Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. (NASB)
Here is the practical part. This is what we help people discover in their personal lives when they come to us for counseling.
- Fleshly living is acting the opposite of living like who you are in Christ.
- Fleshly living is strategies of living dependent on you instead of Jesus in you.
- Flesh is unique for everyone since it is often programmed from relationships and events which you experienced growing up.
Here is a visual for you. If you drive a car through the mud, even after the car is long gone, the tracks can be imprinted in the mud long afterwards. The old nature like that car is long gone. It was crucified with Christ according to Romans 6:6 and Galatians 2:20. However, there are leftover “tracks”, meaning fleshly sins (independent living) you may still struggle with after you are saved, that you were controlled by before you were saved. You can also develop new fleshly sins after you are saved.
When we provide discipleship counseling, we ask the Holy Spirit through us to show a person that they have beliefs, feelings and behaviors that they are using to try to make life work apart from Christ. They come to see this as their unique flesh patterns. We diagram it for them so that they see why life is not working for them. Then, we show them as a result of the Cross, that’s no longer representative of who they are in Christ, in fact, it’s the opposite. Next, we take ample time helping them with the day by day journey of learning relying on Jesus in them to “cope with life.” Then, the Holy Spirit begins to replace the former fleshly patterns of coping with the fruit of the Spirit, providing new ways of living.
Do you know the specific patterns of your unique flesh which are defeating you over and over? If not, let us help. Click on a button below to learn more about personal counseling or attend our life-transforming Grace Life Conference.
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