Category: Humanity


Diversity is, basically, variety. In recent times, the word diversity has taken on the specific connotation of “variety of people within a group”—the differences among the people being racial, cultural, gender-based, etc. Diversity was God’s idea. Even a cursory study of science reveals an amazing variety of plant and animal life. People, God’s final creation, are diverse, too. He did not create us as clones or robots. He created two different genders (Mark 10:6). The creation of male and female is diversity at its most basic—the sexes are very different, yet complementary.

Another act of God that created diversity occurred at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9). Humankind was clustered together, and God wanted them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). To expedite their obedience, He confused their languages, making it impossible for them to work together. From there, humanity spread out across the earth, and people with the same language remained together. Over time, cultures, races, and regional dialects emerged and resulted in the diversity we now know.

Diversity is part of being human. God delights in the plethora of differences His human creatures possess. The book of Revelation describes the final gathering of God’s people from “every nation, tribe, and tongue” (Revelation 7:9). The angels and elders around God’s throne adore Jesus with the words “with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). So God enjoys the diversity within the human race. We are each created in His image for His pleasure and glory (Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:16). He designed us the way we are and delights in His handiwork (Psalm 139:13–16).

However, in our modern culture, the focus on diversity can become its own god. Diversity itself is revered rather than the One who created that diversity. An emphasis on diversity tends to highlight our differences. God is more concerned with unity (Ephesians 4:3). Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God is saying that our differences are not what should define the children of God. Those who belong to the Lord Jesus should first define themselves as God’s children. We must be willing to set diversity aside in favor of unity in spirit. Jesus’ passionate prayer in John 17 shows that His desire for His disciples was that “they may be one as you and I are one” (verse 22).

So, what does it mean to be “one”? When we are born again (John 3:3), we are created anew in Christ Jesus. Our fleshly differences become secondary to our new nature in Christ. We are unified around the centrality of God’s Word. We have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Regardless of racial, cultural, or gender differences, God’s children hold to His Word as their final authority on all matters, including cultural and social issues. Some try to use “diversity” as an excuse to justify immorality or homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9). While we all have different sin strongholds, we cannot allow unrepentant sin to continue under the guise of diversity. The diversity God created is good; sin can indeed be diverse, but God has nothing to do with it.

Human differences such as race, temperament, and culture are to be celebrated, tolerated, and incorporated in our goal of being “one” in Christ (John 17:20–23). However, when diversity is made into an idol, we become self-centered and divisive. When every difference is treated as sacred, selfishness rules and oneness is sacrificed in favor of individual preference. When we exalt our preferences over unity, we become demanding and proud, rather than selfless and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 2:4). John 17:23 encapsulates the desire of Jesus for all His children. In this last, long, recorded prayer before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” While we can and should appreciate the value of the various nuances of being human, our goal must always be to become more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

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Without a doubt the human soul is immortal. This is clearly seen in many Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments: Psalm 22:26; 23:6; 49:7-9; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:46; and 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Daniel 12:2 says, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” Similarly, Jesus Himself said that the wicked “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). With the same Greek word used to refer to both “punishment” and “life,” it is clear that both the wicked and the righteous have an eternal/immortal soul.

The unmistakable teaching of the Bible is that all people, whether they are saved or lost, will exist eternally, in either heaven or hell. True life or spiritual life does not cease when our fleshly bodies pass away in death. Our souls will live forever, either in the presence of God in heaven if we are saved, or in punishment in hell if we reject God’s gift of salvation. In fact, the promise of the Bible is that not only will our souls live forever, but also that our bodies will be resurrected. This hope of a bodily resurrection is at the very heart of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

While all souls are immortal, it is important to remember that we are not eternal in the same way that God is. God is the only truly eternal being in that He alone is without a beginning or end. God has always existed and will always continue to exist. All other sentient creatures, whether they are human or angelic, are finite in that they had a beginning. While our souls will live forever once we come into being, the Bible does not support the concept that our souls have always existed. Our souls are immortal, as that is how God created them, but they did have a beginning; there was a time they did not exist.

There are two biblically plausible views on how the human soul is created. Traducianism is the theory that a soul is generated by the physical parents along with the physical body. Support for Traducianism is as follows: (A) In Genesis 2:7, God breathed the breath of life into Adam, causing Adam to become a “living soul.” Scripture nowhere records God performing this action again. (B) Adam had a son in his own likeness (Genesis 5:3). Adam’s descendants seem to be “living souls” without God breathing into them. (C) Genesis 2:2-3 seems to indicate that God ceased His creative work. (D) Adam’s sin affects all men—both physically and spiritually—this makes sense if the body and soul both come from the parents. The weakness of Traducianism is that it is unclear how an immaterial soul can be generated through an entirely physical process. Traducianism can only be true if the body and soul are inextricably connected.

Creationism is the view that God creates a new soul when a human being is conceived. Creationism was held by many early church fathers and also has scriptural support. First, Scripture differentiates the origin of the soul from the origin of the body (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 42:5; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 12:9). Second, if God creates each individual soul at the moment it is needed, the separation of soul and body is held firm. The weakness of Creationism is that it has God continually creating new human souls, while Genesis 2:2-3 indicates that God ceased creating. Also, since the entire human existence—body, soul, and spirit—are infected by sin and God creates a new soul for every human being, how is that soul then infected with sin?

A third view, but one that lacks biblical support, is the concept that God created all human souls at the same time, and “attaches” a soul to a human being at the moment of conception. This view holds that there is sort of a “warehouse of souls” in heaven where God stores souls that await a human body to be attached to. Again, this view has no biblical support, and is usually held by those of a “new age” or reincarnation mindset.

Whether the Traducianist view or the Creationist view is correct, both agree that the soul does not exist prior to conception. This seems to be the clear teaching of the Bible. Whether God creates a new human soul at the moment of conception, or whether God designed the human reproductive process to also reproduce a soul, God is ultimately responsible for the creation of each and every human soul.

To be spiritually blind is not to see Christ, and not to see Christ is not to see God (Colossians 1:15-16; 2 Corinthians 4:6). Spiritual blindness is a grievous condition experienced by those who do not believe in God, Jesus Christ, and His Word (Romans 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:12). Those who reject Christ are the lost (John 6:68-69). Being spiritually blind, they are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Revelation 3:17). They choose not to accept the teachings of Christ and His authority in their lives (Matthew 28:18). They are blind to the manifestations of God as revealed throughout His Word and Jesus Christ (John 1:1; Acts 28:26-27). They are described as those who “do not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Peter spoke of such people as “scoffers [who] will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” (2 Peter 3:3; Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:18). Those who reject Christ and His Word are spiritually blind and cannot understand the truth of the Scriptures. The truth sounds foolish to them (Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 37:23). The Bible describes those denying God as fools (Psalm 14:1; Matthew 7:26). Because of their blindness and rejection of God and His Word, they are in a perilous, unsaved condition (John 12:48; Hebrews 2:2-4).

The spiritually blind are simply unable to understand His Word (Matthew 13:13; Deuteronomy 29:4). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17). Paul echoed this when he told the believers in Rome,  “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:8-9). Those outside of Christ are not of God because their lives are steeped in the things of the world with all its passions, their eyes blind to the Spirit of God. The Apostle John said, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” but  that person’s love “is from the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

The cause of spiritual blindness is made quite clear in the Scriptures:  “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Paul refers to Satan as the “god of this world.” Extraordinarily evil (John 8:44), Satan destroys the flesh (1 Corinthians 5:5), masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and is the cause of all temptations (Luke 4:2; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Corinthians 7:5). He revels in scheming against and trapping the unbelievers (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:26). Satan’s goal is to devour the weak who fall prey to temptation, fear, loneliness, worry, depression, and persecution (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Without God and left to ourselves, we easily succumb to the devil’s schemes. We can become so mired in the affairs of this world and its moral darkness that, in the end, God turns us over to spiritual blindness and eternal condemnation (John 12:40; Romans 1:24-32).

As believers, we have the Spirit of God reigning in our lives to ward off the debilitating effects of Satan’s power and the world’s influence (1 John 4:13). John tells us, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15). Satan wars within and without us. His weapons are deceitful and crafty schemes to make us doubt and stumble (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 4:14). Yet God has provided us with powerful weapons ward off his flaming arrows (Ephesians 6:10-18). As believers we can overcome the evil one and remain in the Light and never become spiritually blind. For, in truth, Jesus has given us His wonderful promise: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

The seared conscience is referred to in 1 Timothy 4:2 where Paul talks about those whose consciences—their moral consciousness—have been literally “cauterized” or rendered insensitive in the same way the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain. For human beings, having one’s conscience seared is a result of continual, unrepentant sinning. Eventually, sin dulls the sense of moral right or wrong, and the unrepentant sinner becomes numb to the warnings of the conscience that God has placed within each of us to guide us (Romans 2:15).

At the point of salvation, we are cleansed from the sin inherited from Adam and all personal sins. But as we continue in our Christian walk, we are still prone to sin. When we do, God has provided us with a bar of soap to restore us to the point of salvation. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When we allow ourselves to practice mental attitude sins, we are quenching the Holy Spirit. We are commanded not to quench the Holy Spirit who indwells us (1Thessalonians 5:19). When we continue in our mental attitude sins without confessing and begin to practice these sins in our bodies (James 1:15), we grieve the Holy Spirit, which we are not to do (Ephesians 4:30). Once again, we have the choice to confess and repent or to continue in sin and backsliding. When we continue in sin, our souls begin to become morally callous. We finally come to a point where our conscience is seared and is unable to help us determine right from wrong. It is as if a hot iron was applied to our conscience and it is destroyed. Even worse, we don’t care how sinful we are. This is what is meant in 1Timothy 4:2, where Paul is referring to false teachers: “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” You can easily see this with pure evil. A serial killer, for example, has had his conscience seared, and it no longer operates and guides him in what is right and what is wrong.

Christians who keep sinning despite divine discipline can actually sin themselves right out of this life and into God’s presence. God does this in order to keep such a one from doing any more damage to himself and to his witness for His Holy Name. “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death” (1 John 5:16-17). These sins do not cause us to lose our salvation, but they definitely affect our relationship with God and others. We are wise if we never deteriorate to the point of having our consciences seared.

Galatians 5:19–21 speaks of the works of the flesh, saying they are “evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.”

Paul then warns “that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The works of the flesh are the things human beings naturally tend toward that are contrary to God’s design for us (Romans 1:28–29). Those who pursue lifestyles characterized by immorality, anger, divisiveness, drunkenness, etc., are giving evidence that they are not saved (see Matthew 7:20).

When the Bible speaks of the “flesh,” it is often referring to our natural sin tendencies. We are all born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12). Our natural predilection is to please ourselves any way we see fit. We can be trained to behave in more socially acceptable ways and even find enjoyment in being kind to others. However, without the power of God, we remain self-centered. We do what we do, even good things, because we receive some selfish payoff. Anything not done from faith or love for God—any deed not empowered by the Holy Spirit—is a “work of the flesh” (Romans 8:8; 14:23).

At salvation, the Holy Spirit moves into the repentant heart, making it possible for us to make choices that are of the Spirit, rather than the flesh (Galatians 5:16; Ezekiel 36:27; Romans 8:4; Colossians 3:5–8). We are to consider ourselves “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) and our old sin nature dead (Romans 6:2, 11), but the flesh does not die easily. A battle still rages within even the most dedicated follower of Christ. The apostle Paul wrote eloquently of this battle in Romans 7. Verses 21–23 say, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”

Works of the flesh are not always as obvious as the ones listed above. They can even be found within Christian ministry, as people try to gain popularity or self-worth under the guise of serving Christ. Diotrephes was rebuked for this in 3 John 1:9. Trying to please God from selfish motivation leads to unhealthy competition, slander, bitterness, and eventual burnout (Galatians 1:10).

The works of the flesh are in total contrast with the fruit of the Spirit, detailed in Galatians 5:22–23. What pleases the Lord in our lives is not a “work” but a “fruit” that the Spirit alone can produce. We can avoid works of the flesh by staying continually submitted to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to direct every aspect of our lives (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:25).

John Knox (c. 1510–1572) was a Scottish clergyman, a leader of the Protestant Reformation, and a man who is considered to be the founder of the Presbyterian denomination in Scotland. Knox has been admired by contemporary theologians as someone who personified a zeal for God and a commitment to the truth of Scripture and holy living. Yet, as he grew close to death, this saint of God admitted his own personal battle with the sin nature he inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12). Knox said, “I know how hard the battle is between the flesh and the spirit under the heavy cross of affliction, when no worldly defense but present death doth appear. I know the grudging and murmuring complaints of the flesh…”

Knox’s statement sounds remarkably like that of the apostle Paul who openly acknowledged a personal struggle with his sin nature: “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:14-24).

Paul states in his letter to the Romans that there was something “in the members” of his body that he calls “my flesh,” which produced difficulty in his Christian life and made him a prisoner of sin. Martin Luther, in his preface to the book of Romans, commented on Paul’s use of “flesh” by saying, “Thou must not understand ‘flesh,’ therefore, as though that only were ‘flesh’ which is connected with unchastity, but St. Paul uses ‘flesh’ of the whole man, body, and soul, reason, and all his faculties included, because all that is in him longs and strives after the flesh.” Luther’s comments point out that “flesh” equates to affections and desires that run contrary to God, not only in the area of sexual activity, but in every area of life.

To get a solid understanding of the term “flesh” requires examining its usage and definition in Scripture, how it manifests in the life of both believers and unbelievers, the consequences it produces, and how it can ultimately be overcome.

A Definition of the “Flesh”
The Greek word for “flesh” in the New Testament is sarx, a term that can often in Scripture refer to the physical body. However, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature describes the word this way: “the physical body as functioning entity; in Paul’s thought esp., all parts of the body constitute a totality known as flesh, which is dominated by sin to such a degree that wherever flesh is, all forms of sin are likewise present, and no good thing can live.”

The Bible makes it clear  that humanity did not start out this way. The book of Genesis says that humankind was originally created good and perfect: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ . . . God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Because God is perfect, and because an effect always represents its cause in essence [that is, a totally good God can only create good things, or as Jesus said, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit” (Matthew 7:18)], both Adam and Eve were created good and without sin. But, when Adam and Eve sinned, their nature was corrupted, and that nature was passed along to their offspring: “When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth” (Genesis 5:3, emphasis added).

The fact of the sin nature is taught in many places in Scripture, such as David’s declaration, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). David does not mean he was the product of an adulterous affair, but that his parents passed along a sin nature to him. In theology, this is sometimes called the “Traducian” (from the Latin term meaning “from a branch”) view of human nature The Traducian view is that a person’s soul is created via his parents, with the child inheriting their fallen nature in the process.

The Bible’s view of human nature differs from that of Greek philosophy in that Scripture says the physical and spiritual nature of humankind was originally good. By contrast, philosophers such as Plato saw a dualism or dichotomy in humanity. Such thinking eventually produced a theory that the body (the physical) was bad, but a person’s spirit was good. This teaching influenced groups such as the Gnostics who believed the physical world was mistakenly created by a demi-god called the “Demiurge.” The Gnostics opposed the doctrine of Christ’s incarnation because they believed God would never take on a physical form, since the body was evil. The apostle John encountered a form of this teaching in his day and warned against it: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God” (1 John 4:1-3).

Further, the Gnostics taught that it did not matter what a person did in his body, since the spirit was all that mattered. This Platonic dualism had the same effect back in the first century as it does today—it leads either to asceticism or licentiousness, both of which the Bible condemns (Colossians 2:23; Jude 4).

So contrary to Greek thought, the Bible says that humanity’s nature, both the physical and spiritual, were good, yet both were adversely affected by sin. The end result of sin is a nature often referred to as the “flesh” in Scripture—something that opposes God and seeks sinful gratification. Pastor Mark Bubek defines the flesh this way: “The flesh is a built-in law of failure, making it impossible for 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.”

The Manifestation and Struggle with the Flesh
How does the flesh manifest itself in human beings? The Bible answers the question this way: “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, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Examples of the flesh’s outworking in the world are evident. Consider a few sad facts taken from a recent survey on the effect of pornography in America. According to the study, every second in the U.S.:

• $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
• 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
• 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines

And every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is being created in the United States. Such statistics underscore the statement made by the prophet Jeremiah who mourned that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

The Consequences of the Flesh

The Bible says that living in the flesh produces a number of unfortunate consequences. First, Scripture states that those who live according to the flesh, and who never desire change or repent from their sinful behavior, will experience separation from God both in this life and the next:

• “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the [sinful practices] of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death”(Romans 6:21)

• “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live”(Romans 8:13)

• “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life”(Galatians 6:7-8)

Further, a person also becomes a slave to his/her fleshly nature: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). This slavery always leads to a destructive lifestyle and deteriorated living. As the prophet Hosea said, “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7).

The fact of the matter is that obeying the flesh always results in breaking God’s moral law. Nevertheless, in a very real sense, a person can never break God’s moral law, although he can certainly disobey it. For example, a person can climb up on a roof, tie a cape around his neck, and leap off the roof in hopes of breaking the law of gravity. However, he will quickly learn that he cannot fly; he cannot break the law of gravity, and the only thing he breaks in the end is himself, while proving the law of gravity in the process. The same is true of moral actions: a person may disobey God’s moral law through fleshly living, but he will only prove the moral law of God true by breaking himself in some way via his own behavior.

Overcoming the Flesh
The Bible provides a three-step process for overcoming the flesh and restoring oneself to a right relationship with God. The first step is a walk of honesty where a person acknowledges his sinful behavior before God. This involves agreeing with what the Bible says about everyone born of human parents: people are sinners and enter the world in a broken relationship with the God who made them:

• “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3)

• “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8, 10)

The next step is a walk in the Spirit, which involves calling out to God for salvation and receiving His Holy Spirit that empowers a person to live rightly before God and not obey the flesh’s desires. This transformation and new walk of life is described in several places in Scripture:

• “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

• “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 6:11)

• “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”(Galatians 5:16)

• “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

• “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”(Romans 13:14)

• “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit”(Ephesians 5:18)

• “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)

The last step is a walk of death, where the flesh is starved of its desires so that it eventually dies. Even though a person is born again through the Spirit of God, he must understand he still possesses the old nature with its desires that war with the new nature and the desires that come from the Spirit. From a practical standpoint, the Christian purposely avoids feeding the old, fleshly nature and instead practices new behaviors that are driven by the Spirit:

• “But flee from [sinful actions], you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11)

• “Now flee from youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22)

• “But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.“ (1 Corinthians 9:27)

• “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”(Colossians 3:5)

• “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”(Galatians 5:24)

• “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;”(Romans 6:6)

• “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”(Ephesians 4:20-24)

Conclusion
Susanna Wesley, mother to the great preachers and hymn writers John and Charles Wesley, described sin and the flesh this way: “Whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away your relish for spiritual things, in short – if anything increases the authority and the power of the flesh over the Spirit, that to you becomes sin however good it is in itself.” One of the goals of the Christian life is the victory of the Spirit over the flesh and a change of life, which manifests in righteous living before God.

Although the struggle will be very real (which the Bible makes clear), Christians have assurance from God that He will bring them eventual success over the flesh. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

The conscience is defined as that part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt when we violate it and feelings of pleasure and well-being when our actions, thoughts and words are in conformity to our value systems. The Greek word translated “conscience” in all New Testament references is suneidēsis, meaning “moral awareness” or “moral consciousness.” The conscience reacts when one’s actions, thoughts, and words conform to, or are contrary to, a standard of right and wrong.

There is no Hebrew term in the Old Testament equivalent to suneidēsis in the New Testament. The lack of a Hebrew word for “conscience” may be due to the Jewish worldview, which was communal rather than individual. The Hebrew considered himself as a member of a covenant community which related corporately to God and His laws, rather than as an individual. In other words, the Hebrew was confident in his own position before God if the Hebrew nation as a whole was in good fellowship with Him.

The New Testament concept of conscience is more individual in nature and involves three major truths. First, conscience is a God-given capacity for human beings to exercise self-evaluation. Paul refers several times to his own conscience being “good” or “clear” (Acts 23:1; 24:16; 1 Corinthians 4:4). Paul examined his own words and deeds and found them to be in accordance with his morals and value system, which were, of course, based on God’s standards. His conscience verified the integrity of his heart.

Second, the New Testament portrays the conscience as a witness to something. Paul says the Gentiles have consciences that bear witness to the presence of the law of God written on their hearts, even though they did not have the Mosaic Law (Romans 2:14-15). He also appeals to his own conscience as a witness that he speaks the truth (Romans 9:1) and that he has conducted himself in holiness and sincerity in his dealings with men (2 Corinthians 1:12). He also says that his conscience tells him his actions are apparent to both God and the witness of other men’s consciences (2 Corinthians 5:11).

Third, the conscience is a servant of the individual’s value system. An immature or weak value system produces a weak conscience, while a fully informed value system produces a strong sense of right and wrong. In the Christian life, one’s conscience can be driven by an inadequate understanding of scriptural truths and can produce feelings of guilt and shame disproportionate to the issues at hand. Maturing in the faith strengthens the conscience.

This last function of the conscience is what Paul addresses in his instructions regarding eating food sacrificed to idols. He makes the case that, since idols are not real gods, it makes no difference if food has been sacrificed to them or not. But some in the Corinthian church were weak in their understanding and believed that such gods really existed. These immature believers were horrified at the thought of eating food sacrificed to the gods, because their consciences were informed by erroneous prejudices and superstitious views. Therefore, Paul encourages those more mature in their understanding not to exercise their freedom to eat if it would cause the consciences of their weaker brothers to condemn their actions. The lesson here is that, if our consciences are clear because of mature faith and understanding, we are not to cause those with weaker consciences to stumble by exercising the freedom that comes with a stronger conscience.

Another reference to conscience in the New Testament is to a conscience that is “seared” or rendered insensitive as though it had been cauterized with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Such a conscience is hardened and calloused, no longer feeling anything. A person with a seared conscience no longer listen to its promptings, and he can sin with abandon, delude himself into thinking all is well with his soul, and treat others insensitively and without compassion.

As Christians, we are to keep our consciences clear by obeying God and keeping our relationship with Him in good standing. We do this by the application of His Word, renewing and softening our hearts continually. We consider those whose consciences are weak, treating them with Christian love and compassion.

Death is separation. A physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death, which is of greater significance, is the separation of the soul from God. In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that in the day he eats of the forbidden fruit he will “surely die.” Adam does fall, but his physical death does not occur immediately; God must have had another type of death in mind—spiritual death. This separation from God is exactly what we see in Genesis 3:8. When Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord, they “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God.” The fellowship had been broken. They were spiritually dead.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He paid the price for us by dying on our behalf. Even though He is God, He still had to suffer the agony of a temporary separation from the Father due to the sin of the world He was carrying on the cross. After three hours of supernatural darkness, He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:33-34). This spiritual separation from the Father was the result of the Son’s taking our sins upon Himself. That’s the impact of sin. Sin is the exact opposite of God, and God had to turn away from His own Son at that point in time.

A man without Christ is spiritually dead. Paul describes it as “being alienated from the life of God” in Ephesians 4:18. (To be separated from life is the same as being dead.) The natural man, like Adam hiding in the garden, is isolated from God. When we are born again, the spiritual death is reversed. Before salvation, we are dead (spiritually), but Jesus gives us life. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1 NKJV). “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2:13).

To illustrate, think of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus in John 11. The physically dead Lazarus could do nothing for himself. He was unresponsive to all stimuli, oblivious to all life around him, beyond all help or hope—except for the help of Christ who is “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). At Christ’s call, Lazarus was filled with life, and he responded accordingly. In the same way, we were spiritually dead, unable to save ourselves, powerless to perceive the life of God—until Jesus called us to Himself. He “quickened” us; “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5).

The book of Revelation speaks of a “second death,” which is a final (and eternal) separation from God. Only those who have never experienced new life in Christ will partake of the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).

The human spirit is the incorporeal part of man. The Bible says that the human spirit is the very breath of Almighty God and was breathed into man at the beginning of God’s creation: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). It is the human spirit that gives us a consciousness of self and other remarkable, though limited, “God-like” qualities. The human spirit includes our intellect, emotions, fears, passions, and creativity. It is this spirit that provides us the unique ability to comprehend and understand (Job 32:8, 18).

The words spirit and breath are translations of the Hebrew word neshamah and the Greek word pneuma. The words mean “strong wind, blast or inspiration.” Neshamah is the source of life that vitalizes humanity (Job 33:4). It is the intangible, unseen human spirit that governs man’s mental and emotional existence. The apostle Paul said, “Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Upon death the “spirit returns back to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7; see also Job 34:14-15; Psalm 104:29-30).

Every human being has a spirit, and it is distinct from the “spirit,” or life, of animals. God made man differently from the animals in that He created us “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). Therefore, man is able to think, feel, love, design, create, and enjoy music, humor, and art. And it is because of the human spirit that we have a “free will” that no other creature on earth has.

The human spirit was damaged in the fall. When Adam sinned, his ability to fellowship with God was broken; he did not die physically that day, but he died spiritually. Ever since, the human spirit has borne the effects of the fall. Before salvation, a person is characterized as spiritually “dead” (Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13). A relationship with Christ revitalizes our spirits and renews us day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Interestingly, just as the human spirit was divinely breathed into the first man, so the Holy Spirit was breathed into the first disciples in John 20:22: “And with that [Jesus] breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22; see also Acts 2:38). Adam was made alive by the breath of God, and we, as “new creations” in Christ, are made spiritually alive by the “Breath of God,” the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:3; Romans 6:4). Upon our acceptance of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God joins with our own spirit in ways we cannot comprehend. The apostle John said, “This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13).

When we allow the Spirit of God to lead our lives, the “Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). As children of God, we are no longer led by our own spirit but by God’s Spirit, who leads us to eternal life.