Walking in the Spirit, loving one another, is the key to great relationships—particularly that most intense of all relationships, marriage. God’s Word tells us that the Spirit, however, is in opposition to our flesh. What exactly is the flesh?
- “Flesh” is that condition where my focus is primarily on myself, self-centeredness to a great degree, as I attempt to live out of my own resources. My resources are the stuff that I can produce on my own or put stock in outside of God like heritage, education, IQ, personality, etc.
- “Flesh” is me trying to live life independently of God, so that I can cope with life.Flesh is trying to produce life on my own rather than in Christ.
I don’t know if people realize this, but flesh can actually look good on the outside. Someone can be functioning in the flesh and you might think, “Wow, what a cool person.” But listen to what Paul said when he’s describing his flesh:
…If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:4-8)
Now, you look at all those things and say, “Well those sound pretty good! Moral, passionate, religious, good heritage, aren’t those good things?” Paul takes these things, which give him incredibly high status in his culture, and calls them garbage—he calls them “dung” actually. (The literal translation is really a much stronger word than “dung,” but we’re trying to run a ministry so I’m not going to say it.) The point is that Paul takes the things he’s earned in the flesh (titles, earthly possessions, social status, etc.) and says they’re worse than worthless compared to Jesus and to living His life in the Spirit.