Flesh

Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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It has been generally recognized that the Christian is in unceasing conflict with three major foes, namely, the world, the flesh, and the devil. The combats with the world and the devil are waged from without, but the strife opposing the flesh operates from within. A more extended contemplation of the doctrine of flesh is presented in Volume VI. It may be restated, however, that the Greek word oap^ with its various forms appears in the New Testament under two general meanings. It, like its synonym ow^a, may refer to no more than the physical body. Christ accordingly declared, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and this birth He held in distinction from that which is wrought of the Spirit (John 3:6; cf. 6:51; 1 Cor. 15:39; Eph. 5:31). The second and more vital meaning of this term carries with it an ethical import. When thus used, the word may embrace all—spirit, soul, and body—or that which is the entire being of unregenerate man. It includes thereby the fallen Adamic nature. The Apostle has written of the sin nature which is found in the flesh (Rom. 8:3). The Scriptures are exceedingly clear in teaching that the flesh with its sin nature is still a living, vital part of every believer and that he will continue in possession of the flesh and its fallen nature until the body is redeemed at the coming of Christ or until he leaves this earthly frame behind in death. Notions are entertained that the sin nature which is in the flesh can be eradicated now by some supposed divine achievement. But the truth obviously remains that the world, the flesh, and the devil are never removed; they are overcome by the superior power of the Holy Spirit in response to an attitude of faith. Thus it may be seen that even were the sin nature eradicated the believer's three major conflicts abide, and it is not only revelation but reason that the divine method of overcoming them must be that which alone succeeds when dealing with the sin nature—which nature happens to be only an integral part of the flesh anyway: hence this nature is always to be governed by the power of God rather than eradicated.

The essential evil character of the flesh is seen from the direct assertions of the New Testament that it is "enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7-8), that it is "contrary" to the Spirit (Gal. 5:17); of it the Apostle testified: "In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18). God faithfully declares that this mighty opposing factor is present in every believer, nor does He withhold the revelation that it may be held in subjection by the power of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the believer to this end. This evil nature which is termed "sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3) and "sin that dwelleth in me" (cf. Rom. 7:17, 20-21, 23) has already been brought into judgment by Christ in His death. The judgment is set forth in Romans 6:1-10, which context has no bearing upon the great fact of salvation from the penalty of sin or upon that of the believer's justification before God (cf. Col. 2:11-12). In this connection the Apostle declares: "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24). The statement thus presented is not only true but becomes fundamental to any right understanding of this great theme. The judgment of the flesh with its lusts was achieved perfectly by Christ in His death unto the sin nature. This judgment is referred to in Romans 8:3, where the Apostle says that Christ "condemned [or, judged] sin in the flesh." Paul does not imply that the flesh and its lusts were rendered inactive or destroyed, as the A.N. translation in Romans 6:6 suggests. A judgment rather is gained against the flesh and its lusts by Christ and so the "old man's" power may by the Spirit be disannulled for such time as victory is claimed by means of the Spirit. The objective is that sin (the nature) should not be served. This particular judgment makes it righteously possible for the indwelling Spirit to hold the sin nature in check. Were it not for this judgment of the cross, the Spirit could not thus deal with the nature, and it is equally evident that He could not dwell where an unjudged sin nature reigns. Deliverance from the flesh and its lusts, then, is by the Spirit on the ground of Christ's death. This deliverance is assured on the fulfillment of three conditions hinging on as many verbs: (1) "reckon," which means to count on the plan and provisions of God to be sufficient therefor (Rom. 6:11), (2) "let not," which command points to a conflict and implies that the power of the flesh will be disannulled if this foe is fought in the way and with the resources that God has provided (Rom. 6:12), and (3) "yield," which word directs the human will how to walk in the path of God's holy ways (Rom. 6:13). Were the theory of eradication of the sin nature found to be true, all this Scripture with its extended analysis of the life under the enabling power of the Spirit would be rendered both aimless and useless.

The word oapKiKoq (or aapKivoq) used eleven times in the New Testament is a reference to that which may be characterized by the flesh, usually with an uncomplimentary signification. The Apostle declares himself to be oapKiKoq (Rom. 7:14). Here the evil character of the flesh residing within is seen, as also in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, in which context this word has been used four times. Things may be fleshly (1Cor. 9:11), wisdom (2 Cor. 1:12) and Christian weapons (2 Cor. 10:4) and commandments (Heb. 7:16) and lusts too (1 Pet. 2:11).

The spelling oapKivoq, strictly speaking, indicates that of which a thing is made. In 2 Corinthians 3:3 reference is made accordingly to the "fleshy tables of the heart."

Psuche and psuchikos are held in distinction from sarkikos. The former refers to the natural unregenerate person as such or to that which is soulish in character. The present body, in contrast to the future "spiritual body," is a natural or psuchikos entity (1 Cor. 15:44, 46). Its limitations, both natural and spiritual, are indicated thereby (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14; James 3:15; Jude 1:19).

Pneuma and pneumatikos complete the triad of word roots related to spirituality in the New Testament. Under these special terms the Spirit-filled life is in view. Reference is made hereby to a life dominated and directed by the Holy Spirit.

In the Apostle's threefold division of humanity with respect to their attitude toward the Word of God— "the natural man," "he that is spiritual," and "carnal"—the unregenerate persons are natural as being spiritually unchanged (1 Cor. 2:14), the saved ones who are walking in the Spirit are by so much spiritual (1 Cor. 2:15), while believers who are influenced by the flesh and its lusts are accounted carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-4).

Two different "walks," then, are possible to the believer: one "after the flesh" and one "after the Spirit." The saved person is never considered to be longer within the sphere of the flesh, though he may be fleshly in conduct (Rom. 8:9).

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