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    FLESH

    John Mason Brown was a drama critic and speaker well known for his witty and informative lectures on theatrical topics. One of his first important appearances as a lecturer was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Brown was pleased, but also rather nervous, and his nerves were not helped when he noticed by the light of the slide projector that someone was copying his every gesture. After a time he broke off his lecture and announced with great dignity that if anyone was not enjoying the talk, he was free to leave. Nobody did, and the mimicking continued. It was another 10 minutes before Brown realized that the mimic was his own shadow!

    Was Brown's shadow real? Of course. Does a shadow have the power to control a person's actions? Of course not. It can only mimic us. But in Brown's case, his shadow did take control momentarily. Why? Because he allowed himself to be so distracted -- "addicted," if you will - by it that he completely forgot what he was supposed to be about. That's a pretty good description of the sin nature we carry within us as redeemed people. It can cause havoc, even though it has been made powerless by our identification with Christ.

    Today in the Word, May 17, 1992.


    Commentary

    What is meant by "the flesh"? Dr. W.G. Scroggie detected ten shades of meaning used in the Bible. In nine of the ten, there is no ethical or theological content. But the tenth, which is the one Paul mainly employs, does have such significance. The flesh may be defined as "man's fallen anture as under the power of sin." It is the evil principle in man's nature, the traitor within who is in league with the attackers without. The flesh provides the tinder on which the devil's temptations can kindle.

    J.O. Sanders, Enjoying Intimacy with God, Moody.


    "Paul's meaning is not that the flesh, with its affections and lusts, is no longer present at all with those that have become Christians, but that a walk in the flesh should not any longer exist in the case of Christians. A walk in the Spirit might be rightly expected of believers. This is only possible for those who have crucified the flesh. The word is not slain, but crucified. It is a task of the Christian to be accomplished only by continual effort (Colossians 3:5).

    "In 'crucified', however, the simple slaying is not the main idea, but the condemning, giving sentence, surrendering to infamous death. This has necessarily taken place in becoming Christ's. Fellowship with Christ involves a crucifixion of the flesh for the very reason that it is fellowship with Christ's death on the cross.

    "Christ indeed has only suffered what people have deserved on account of their sinful flesh. Whoever appropriates to himself Christ's death upon the cross regards the flesh to himself no longer. For him, in Christ's death, the flesh has been crucified."

    Daily Walk, May 7, 1992.


    What is carnality? According to the Greek dictionary, it means to have the nature and characteristics of the flesh (or more simply, it means "fleshly"). What, then , is the flesh? Sometimes it refers to the whole material part of man (1 Corinthians 15:39; Hebrews 5:7), and based on this meaning, carnal sometimes relates to material things like money (Romans 15:27) or to the opposite of our weapons of spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4). But the word flesh also has a metaphorical sense when it refers to our disposition to sin and to oppose or omit God in our lives. The flesh is characterized by works that include lusts and passions (Galatians 5:19-24; I John 2:16); it can enslave (Romans 7:25); and in it is nothing good (Romans 7:18). Based on this meaning of the word flesh, to be carnal means to be characterized by things that belong to the unsaved life (Ephesians 2:3). 

    Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation, Victor Books, 1989, pp. 59-60.


    The flesh is a built-in law of failure, making it impossible for the natural man to please or serve God. It is a compulsive inner force inherited from man's fall, which expresses itself in general and specific rebellion against God and His righteousness. The flesh can never be reformed or improved. The only hope for escape from the law of the flesh is its total execution and replacement by a new life in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Mark Bubeck, The Adversary, Moody Press, p. 28.


    Prayer

    Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and put an end at Thy good pleasure to this my miserable life; for justice and truth are not to be found among the sons of men...Be merciful unto me, O Lord...Now after many battles, I find nothing in me but vanity and corruption. For in quietness I am negligent, in trouble impatient, tending to desperation;...pride and ambition assault me on the one part, covetousness and malice trouble me on the other; briefly, Oh Lord, the affections of the flesh do almost suppress the operation of Thy Spirit...In none of the aforesaid I do delight; but I am troubled, and that sore against the desire of my inward man which sobs for my corruption, and would repose in Thy mercy alone; to which I claim, and that in the promise that Thou hast made to all penitent sinners of whose number I profess myself to be one. "Answer to a Letter of James Lurie, a Scottish Jesuit," in John Knox--A Great Intercessor, by Bessie G. Olson, Hall of Fame Series, Des Moines: Walfred, 1956, pp. 45-46, 

    Quoted in The Adversary, Mark Bubeck, Moody Press, p. 33.