“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature”
See 2 Peter 1:4
Your body was God’s idea. It is perfect in every way. Although you might not think it’s perfect, God still does. Your flesh is His most amazing creation. Your body is His masterpiece of all created things. God designed the entire universe for the purpose of your flesh to have the ability to live out its life in time. Your flesh, your body, is a marvel unlike anything else in His vast system of stars, planets, and galaxies.
A recent study was done on the monetary value of the human body, the physical flesh which houses our spirit. The appraisal was calculated based on selling individual components such as our bone marrow, lungs, kidneys, heart, and each separate part of us which God has made.
Our estimated worth is approximately 45 million dollars.
We are a phenomenon unlike anything else! Not only that, but the intricacies of our body’s systems all working together is miraculous! The symphony of our circulatory, skeletal, digestive, nervous, musculatory, reproductive–and more–all in sync as you read this sentence cannot be recreated by any man! Man has tried, but failed!
Nor did random happenstance cause this harmonious shell of life to appear out of nothing, or evolve from nothing. God did this. God made you–your flesh, your body.
Look at your hand. Go ahead. Stop reading for a few seconds and hold your hand up in front of your face…move your fingers around…twist your wrist and forearm…it’s perfect. The Creator’s imagination is on full display in front of and through your eyes. He thought that up.
If the Master Designer had a body–and He did in Christ–you are exactly what He would want to look like. Human. What an absolute honor it is to be one of His ideas! (See John 1:14, Colossians 1:19).
Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica informing them that not only is their spirit and soul blameless, but so is their body (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Unfortunately, many Christians believe they’re at war with their body, saying such things as, “I just gotta fight my flesh each day! My flesh is cursed! I need to crucify my flesh! My flesh is the problem!”
The good news is, this is incorrect according to Scripture. Our flesh, our body, is not the problem at all. It is but a tool for our spirit to use. It’s an instrument for our soul to be able to express itself at any given time. It’s a wondrous thing!
Instead, the flesh is the problem. Not flesh–not the body–but the flesh. When we put that t.h.e. in front of the word flesh, it becomes something altogether different than the human body. This is critical to comprehend as a saint, and that is what you are, Christian.
The Bible has two different contextual purposes for these words. One for flesh and the other for the flesh.
Sin, hamartia, is not a verb. Sinning is the verb-tense of hamartia. Sin through our flesh is the flesh, but our flesh–our body–is not sinful. As a child of God, it can sin–our body–therefore expressing sin, but it still is not sinful. Remember, Paul told the Thessalonians that our spirit, soul, and body is blameless.
The power of sin is a parasite and needs a host. Our physical body is just that. Sin is in our body but not part of our body. Like a splinter, it’s a foreign object. Even our brain can be influenced by the power of sin, causing sinful thoughts which are contrary to God. In turn, causing you to not walk according to your true holiness as a saint (see Galatians 5:17).
The flesh is not simply heavy drinking, fornicating, getting tattoos and cursing, as the legalists want to claim. There is good-looking religious flesh too. The Pharisees were the perfect example. The most well-behaved people on earth were chewed out by Jesus left and right because He knew their sinful thoughts. Those thoughts were the flesh (see Matthew 9:3-4, 12:24-25, Philippians 3:4-6, Galatians 3:3).
Once more for emphasis because this personally took me a while to grasp: the flesh is not our flesh. It’s sin–hamartia–quickening through our body.
The flesh can even express itself in our brain as sin which can’t be seen. But just because it can’t be seen that doesn’t mean it’s not the flesh. Coveting, lust, fantasy, superiority, silent criticism, unforgiveness, same sex attraction, philanthropy done in pride, Law observance, and other inward flesh which is not expressed outwardly for others to be able to see and point out is still the flesh. For example, Paul struggled with jealousy, yet his contemporaries thought he was blameless. They could not see the flesh Paul was dealing with. I’ll stay on track here, but the Law of Moses excites the flesh rather than douses it, and the Ten Commandments are in the Law. That should tell us something (see Romans 5:20, 6:14, 7:7-8, Philippians 3:6, 2 Corinthians 3:6-18, Deuteronomy 4:2, Galatians 3:12).
Paul goes to great lengths explaining the flesh in Romans 7 and 8, and in Galatians 5. Read all three chapters with the following information in mind: the flesh is not you, Christian. Not once was he referring to believers being “at battle” with our physical bodies. In fact, he said we are to care for our bodies, not fight them:
“After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:29)
To make matters worse–even more confusing–in the early 1980’s a version of the Bible was released called the NIV which stands for New International Version. This is an amazingly clear, easy to read Bible, but it had a huge flaw in the text. In order to make it more readable the words the flesh were changed to sinful nature. Yet the flesh does not mean sinful or nature. It means the flesh.
This Bible became a bestseller but such was catastrophic for the Christian world in regard to understanding our identity. Why? Because we do not have a sinful nature! We have God’s own nature! (See 2 Peter 1:4). We have flesh–our body–and then there’s the flesh. They are not even remotely the same thing but people were reading them not only as one but also as our “natural sinful bend” as children of God! What a disaster! The flesh being changed to sinful nature–mind you, in the infallible Bible–caused many to believe we are naturally sinful! Wrong, so wrong!
For Christians, God has taken out our naturally sinful heart and replaced it with a good heart, a heart like His. We’ve been recreated in Christ as holy children of God with new hearts–new spirits. Holy children of God cannot have a sinful nature, that’s impossible. We’ve been reborn of God, of His own supernatural loin! (See Ezekiel 36:26, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 3:1,9, Colossians 1:22, John 1:12, 3:6-7).
After much advice the publisher changed sinful nature back to the flesh, but the damage was done. Lots of unlearning must now take place because countless Christians think they have a “naturally sinful side”–when they don’t–all because of this minor text change.
Can you see how we can’t fall at the feet of a book and must allow the Spirit to be our true guide while reading the Bible? Plus, the Bible is only 1,600 years old, the Holy Spirit is eternal. He has no beginning or end. Further, how do you think mankind knew God before the world had a Bible? The same as today! By His very Spirit!
Don’t get me wrong, before salvation, yes, we did have a sinful nature. But not after. Now we are partakers in the divine nature of God Almighty–not later, but right now. Peter explains:
“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature” (See 2 Peter 1:4)
The original Greek word for the flesh is sarx. Remember, the flesh–sarx–doesn’t mean sinful nature, or sinful, or nature, or physical flesh. Sarx’s definition in our language is the flesh–that’s it. We simply do not have an English translation of sarx to unpack it perfectly. Therefore we must put our confidence in the Spirit within us to translate the flesh in unspoken ways as we read Scripture.
He does this for us all the time. That knowing? That’s Him (see Hebrews 8:10-11, John 14:26).
On the other hand, Satan was ecstatic to see the flesh being changed to sinful nature because now there were millions of Christians walking around believing something was naturally sinful about themselves:
“What better a reason to sin? After all, I have a sinful nature. One more won’t hurt.”
To top off this lie, Romans 7 gets used out of context, when Paul said, “I’m doing the very thing I don’t want to do!” However–Paul was not describing his “sinful nature” as a Christian nor giving himself an excuse to sin. He was detailing how the power of sin (hamartia) came to life through his thoughts–birthing the flesh–as he “tried” to obey the Mosaic Law during his past life as a devout Pharisee. “Thou shalt not covet!” was causing the flesh to covet. Just start at the beginning of chapter 7 and read all the way through. He’s explaining his past battle as a non-believer struggling to follow commandments which condemned him–but keep going–then you’ll see his conclusion in Romans 8:
THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION FOR CHRISTIANS!
Why? Because we’ve died to the commandments in the Law so that we can live for Him! The Law hasn’t died but we’ve died to it! As a result, Jesus has changed our nature! Our nature is good! We might not always act good, but when we don’t act good, it’s just that–an act. God has recreated us as holy people who sometimes sin but we are not sinful in any way. That is, in our identity. Our spiritual genetic makeup is just like Jesus Christ’s (see 1 John 4:17).
God cannot live in sinful places, so He gave us a new sinless identity, so He could join our spirits forever. The first time this happened was in the upper room at Pentecost, recorded in the book of Acts. Before the apostles’ literal possession of the Holy Spirit of Jesus, God had been with people and on people but not in people–inside their very body and spirit permanently. But because of the Cross, all of humanity now has the opportunity to become one with God in spirit and body by grace through faith! (See Acts 2:1-4, Romans 6:6-10, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:17,19, Ephesians 2:8-9).
This could not happen if we had a sinful nature. Like oil and water God and sin don’t mix. So He had to make us brand new, not a better version of ourselves but a reborn version; a whole new creation who’s completely spotless from the power of sin (see John 3:6-7, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 2:9-10).
This is why the flesh is not part of a Christian. Flesh is–our body–but not the flesh. Unfortunately, due to this mistake by the publishers of the NIV, the word flesh has become a dirty word. Not just the flesh but also flesh. Commingling the two in Scripture became a normal thing, so now we must begin to separate them based on context. Only then will we be able to understand there’s nothing wrong with our bodies.
One last example to prove that our bodies are good. In Philippians 3, Paul said he had no confidence in the flesh but he isn’t referring to his physical body. He’s talking about his legalistic lineage of living by the Law, also known as religious flesh. Obviously Paul had confidence in his body. His body took him many places to preach the gospel. Friend, do you see it? He puts no confidence in his old, sinful, self-righteous way of living, apart from Christ.
Even for myself, for so long I believed that I was at battle with my flesh. Because of poor teaching and my NIV Bible, I thought I had to fight my body each day. This was not right. Instead, my mind was being renewed each day to my holiness; a holiness which came as a result of my one-time faith in the Cross (see Hebrews 10:10,14, Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Truth be told, not only are we not at battle with our flesh, but even the flesh we’re not supposed to fight. The Holy Spirit in us is at battle with the flesh but we are not. We are told to rest. At no point in Scripture are we instructed to fight the flesh–that’s an unwinnable war. Hamartia is here to stay until God burns this place up. The Bible says the flesh and the Spirit are at battle with one another, not the flesh and us (see Revelation 21:4, 22:3, 2 Peter 3:10, Galatians 5:13-26).
We can give in to the flesh and walk according to the flesh, which are old ways of coping and contrary to our divine nature. And if we do, if we sow to the flesh, we will reap to the flesh. The flesh will be birthed in our life. Just the opposite, if we walk out our true nature, therefore sowing to the Spirit, we will reap everything the Spirit has planned for us! (See Galatians 5:22-23, 6:7-8).
So today, my friends, know this: In my NIV Bible I’ve put a straight line through all the passages which read sinful nature and wrote the flesh above it because this is the truth. Sarx means the flesh. It doesn’t mean sinful and it doesn’t mean nature. It also doesn’t mean physical flesh or human body. It means the flesh. Even more, Christians don’t have a sinful nature because we have God’s nature. The flesh is not us! Our natural actions and attitudes will always result in the Spirit of Jesus Christ living through us!
A prayer for you: Dad, thank you for showing me the difference in my body and the flesh. What an amazing relief. I know at any point I can walk according to the flesh, but that’s just dumb because I’m faking who I am. I’m holy. I’m like just you. Teach me more, Father. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who believe they have two natures or they are fighting their body, give them peace in their minds. Through your Holy Spirit, help them to understand the power of sin is the enemy and not their flesh. Show them who you’ve recreated them to be in Christ and empower them to walk it out. Let them know it’s okay to be themselves if they’ve placed their faith in Jesus. Give them confidence. I ask these things in Christ’s name. Amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Get your copy here!