In a moment of weakness, Christians will say that their “flesh” just took over, and, well, they sinned. This is not the whole spiritual story. It is old leaven teaching that is false and contradicts what the scriptures say. The Word says, “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh….” Crucified flesh is dead flesh. Let’s look a bit deeper into “flesh” because it is not our epidermis.
Sarx is the Greek word that is translated “flesh.” Thayer’s says that sarx is “the animal nature of old man Adam. It is the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence and, therefore, prone to sin…” It is the whole lost Adamic man, body and soul, that St. Paul refers to [See Gal. 5:16-19 and Rom. 6 & 8].
After we come to Christ and give our heart to Him, vestiges of the old nature, or rather ghostly memories of the old life come into our new life. It often is through a thought or an imagination or a reaction to certain stimuli that reminds us of what we used to be. These negative thoughts are whispered into our ears by a dark angel. Instead of standing on the word that says we have a new life where “all things have become new,” the spirits of egos past come back to haunt us to see if we really believe His word. They come by our adversary, the devil.
Temperance, then, is that aspect of the divine nature where we overcome these thoughts through cleaving to the truth of His word. The self-control that it brings is a result of the presence of the Spirit in our hearts. Temperance is the addition to the faith that dispels the vestiges of our old life. The truth as to what is taking place makes us free of the confusion.
If we “walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” The Spirit and the sarx, which is represented in vestiges of our old life, are opposites. The flesh is rooted in appeasing the old self. The Spirit is rooted in selflessness.
Many people teach that after receiving Christ, these two natures are at war in the Christian. This is not true. Again, many say that this old carnal nature still lives in a Christian. But the Bible says just the opposite. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lust.” (Gal. 5: 24). Furthermore, Christ said, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit” (Matt. 12:33).
The old carnal sinful nature has been put to death in Christ. We may not feel like it at times, but in God’s eyes our old nature is dead with Christ on the cross–whether we feel it or not. There are still some habits and faults, to be sure, that must be dealt with as we add temperance to the seedling of faith now planted in our hearts. These spiritual attributes come with maturity in Christ “till Christ be formed in us.”
The Spirit of God says that our “old man is crucified with Christ.” Just like the subjects of a natural king did in the days of old, we rather have surrendered to the truth expounded to us by the apostles and prophets of God–that God has in these last days “spoken to us by his Son,” the “Prince of peace.” God’s Son, the Christ, is “the heir of all things,” and by him God made the worlds (Heb. 1:2). Christ is the “King of kings.” He is the Logos, “the Word,” the Plan and Purpose of God. If we get in line with the King and His thoughts, then we will be right with God. It is His sovereign word that has spoken: Our old life has died on the cross with Christ. Period. Whether we accept the fact or not. Lost man becomes found when he believes it.
The Modern Ego
The angst of the modern ego erupts from this molten thought: There is Someone else who is over us, in charge of us, more powerful than us, more knowledgeable, wiser. In a word, we humans must come off our high horse and surrender to the King of the universe, known in English as Jesus Christ, but whose Hebrew name more closely resembles the Hebrew name Yahshua.
If you could boil down man’s spiritual problems, you would scrape off the bottom of the pot a spoonful of humility. Humility comes when we realize that there is a Supreme being who is immortal, and we are mere human beings, frail and, oh, so mortal. He knows all things, and it is our privilege to be privy to some of His secrets and mysteries. When He says that our old sinful nature, with all its selfish, egotistical carelessness, is dead, then it is gone. We need to believe Him! He says that our old nature died with Christ. In His eyes and in His mind, we have obtained from Him a new life. He has spoken His word about the matter. It has come to pass. Since He believes that we have a new life, then our new life in Him is the truth. Believing Him transforms us into the answer to all our problems. We start there in what His word says. Our feelings and imaginations must conform with what He says about our spiritual condition. Always remember this: Our feelings and emotions will let us down.
Our spiritual walk must show that we believe Him–that He is all powerful and is everything good in this world, and we are but “a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Without Him we are doomed to wander in our lowly estate, destined to inhabit the dusty chambers where no cry escapes. This should change mankind’s direction.
But what do most humans do? We strut and preen the feathers of our pride which has deluded us into thinking that our mean and insignificant thoughts surge from an intelligent mind. We believe that we are in control, that we are the captains of our own fates…until we first peer directly into Death’s empty eyes and realize that the time of our departure is imminent. This crushes and grinds our thoughts to powder, now mixed with tears, which makes a merciful balm-of-Gilead that anoints our eyes that we may finally see another face, the royal countenance of our King.
And what will we encounter? We will see Him as the sovereign King, first in all things, but humble and merciful to us His people. When our hearts truly look at Him this way as our King, then we will have come home like the prodigal son did, and He will deal with us as family. And He will say to us, “Well done thou good and faithful servant…” Kenneth Wayne Hancock
[From Journal entry dated 12-9-12. This will be used in a chapter in my new book that I am working on now entitled The Additions to the Faith, to be published in 2023]