Crucifixion… produced death not suddenly, but gradually… True Christians… do not succeed in completely destroying it (that is, the flesh) while here below; but they have fixed it to the cross and they are determined to keep it there till it expires. —Jay Brown
True Christianity is pretty crazy stuff. Its ways are so backwards from the things we have learned in the world that the whole thing seems to be paradoxical – so much so, that we might overlook the essential principles that can free us from the normal way things work in the world. That's absolutely true when it comes to issues of death and life, because Scripture says that life only comes through death.
That key passage is echoed by numerous others. They all talk about who we are in our spirit, about that transformation that Christ brought about by His co-crucifixion with us, and His raising again to new life so we can be born again spiritually. But what about the flesh?
Because the best marriages are two people walking in the Spirit, loving one another; and the flesh tries to get in the way of that. How do we overcome the flesh?
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. —Galatians 5:24
What in the world does it mean to “crucify the flesh”? Well, this is not the same crucifixion that Paul describes in Galatians and Romans 6. Crucifying the flesh is different, and most believers don’t even know what that means, let alone actually following through with it.
One commentator puts it this way, “The basic demand of Christian discipleship is that we take up our cross daily and follow Christ.” Paul stretched this metaphor further by saying that we must not only take up our cross and walk with it, but actually see that the execution takes place. As long as we are here on earth, we’re never going to be done with the flesh. It’s always going to be part of our life, but letting it control us is always optional. As soon as we become aware that we are “in the flesh,” we can choose to respond “in the Spirit”:
- Recognize our flesh and see it for what it is.
- See its effects, and hate them.
- Accept that God’s Spirit in us is greater than the flesh.
- Declare that the flesh has no more power over us.
- Turn toward the love and will of God to take its place.
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