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  1. Thanks for hanging in there with me Louie. You are absolutely correct when you say, “When it comes to the term “flesh” things can get a bit tricky.” Those statements in Romans 7:17, 18 and 20, “but sin that dwelleth in me,” and “For I know that in me, that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing,” have been most challenging. After much thought, study, your comments, and reading from The Spiritual Man, I believe I have a better understanding.

    The following excerpts are from, The Spiritual Man, by Watchman Nee, entitled the Flesh and Salvation.

    “It follows clearly that “flesh” in the Bible points to all an unregenerated person is. In connection with this usage of “flesh” it must be remembered that in the very beginning man was constituted spirit, soul and body. As it is the site of man’s personality and consciousness, the soul is connected to the spiritual world through man’s spirit. The soul must decide whether it is to obey the spirit and hence be united with God and His will or is to yield to the body and all the temptations of the material world. On the occasion of man’s fall the soul resisted the spirit’s authority and became enslaved to the body and its passions. Thus man became a fleshly, not a spiritual man. Man’s spirit was denied its noble position and was reduced to that of a prisoner. Since the soul is now under the power of the flesh, the Bible deems man to be fleshly or carnal.

    The Lord Jesus has stated that any unregenerated person born but once (i.e,. born only of man) is flesh and is therefore living in the realm of the flesh. During the period we were unregenerated we indeed “lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” because “it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God” (Eph. 2:3; Rom. 9:8).

    God looks upon the flesh as utterly corrupt. So closely is it linked with lust that the Bible often refers to “the lust of the flesh” (2 Peter 2:18 Darby.) Great though His power, God nonetheless cannot transform the nature of the flesh into something pleasing to Himself. God Himself declares: “My spirit shall not always strive in man forever, for he is flesh” (Gen. 6:3 Young’s). The corruption of the flesh is such that even the Holy Spirit of God cannot by striving against the flesh render it unfleshly. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. Man unfortunately does not understand God’s Word and so he tries continually to refine and reform his flesh. Yet the Word of God stands forever. Due to its exceeding corruption, God warns His saints to hate “even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 23).

    Because God appreciates the actual condition of the flesh He declares it unchangeable. Any person who attempts to repair it by acts of self-abasement or severity to the body shall fail utterly. God recognizes the impossibility of the flesh to be changed, improved or bettered. In saving the world, therefore, He does not try to alter man’s flesh; He instead gives man a new life in order to help put it to death. The flesh must die. This is salvation.

    Christ as the sacrifice for sin suffers for everyone who is in the flesh. But what about the power of sin which fills the fleshly? He condemned sin in the flesh.” He who is sinless is made sin for us, so that He dies for sin. He is “put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18). When He dies in the flesh, He takes to the cross the sin in the flesh. This is what is meant by the phrase “condemned sin in the flesh.” To condemn is to judge or to mete out punishment. The judgment and punishment of sin is death. Thus the Lord Jesus actually put sin to death in His flesh. We therefore can see in His death that not only our sins are judged but sin itself is even judged. Henceforth sin has no power upon those who are joined to the Lord’s death and who accordingly have sin condemned in their flesh.” Watchman Nee

    Believers who have trusted that Christ died for their sins are not in the flesh (Romans 8:9). Neither are we under the law (Romans 10:4). We are free from sin (Romans 6:18). I hope I can explain what I think I see now. When Paul made the statement, Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me, he was not saying that sin dwelled in his physical fleshly body. I think this is where your statement of the flesh being neutral is correct. The corporal body is one kind of flesh. It is the other rendering of flesh Paul is in reference to. One having sin in the “flesh” will only apply to those who are not a new creature in Christ or unregenerate, and as you said in your comment, although we are not independent beings, when we attempt to operate in the “flesh” or (apart from the Holy Spirit), we by default, find ourselves being operated by another, namely Satan. And if one is operated by Satan, they are following after the flesh and that is sin in the flesh. Paul’s attempt to keep the law caused him, by default, to be operated by another and therefore sin was found in him.

    1. Wow! That was amazing Arnita! Another scripture in 1 John came to me as I read this. 1 John 3:8 says, “the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” I think what this is saying is not that we, as a believer who might sin, is of the devil, but that the devil is in fact the real sinner and when we attempt to operate in the flesh (apart from God’s Spirit) we become a participant with him in his sinning. Therefore once again we are never independent. I don’t know about you but this type of teaching was definitely foreign to the way I use to see things. Watchman Nee, Norman Grubb, Sylvia Pearce, Brian Coatney, etc. have definitely opened my understanding over the past several years.

      thanks so much for your input on these topics,

  2. Hi Louie,
    I went to your website and watched your video on “Sin Personified.” I would like to offer another perspective of Romans 7 regarding sin in Paul’s members. Even after becoming a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), man’s flesh does not change. Man’s change is in his spirit (Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God). Now, man operates by a new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and has been made free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). In Romans Chapter 7, I believe Paul was saved but there was a law of sin working in his members. He made it clear, For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:18). Paul made a distinction between the new Paul in Christ and the law of sin working in his members (flesh). Romans 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin the dwelleth in me. Paul is dead to sin, and he is a new creature with a new nature in Christ. So Paul is not describing two natures. He is describing two laws. A law is a force or influence impelling to action, Romans 7:21, 7:23 (Vine Expository Dictionary). The old man has been crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6). When we know who we are in Christ and know we have been crucified with him, the body of sin will be made ineffective or put out of a job because we have a new life impelling us to action in Christ. Our bodies have not been redeemed yet (Romans 8:23). So the law of sin will work in our members contrary to the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). Sin used in Romans 7 is the Greek words (harmartano-Strong Concordance 264) and (harmartia-Strong Concordance 266). Both meanings are basically the same. They mean to miss the mark, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong, to violate God’s law. I believe Paul, in Romans 7, was a new creature in Christ. However, I think he was letting his listeners know that there remains a law of sin within our members but that we should not allow our members to be instruments of unrighteousness unto sin (Romans 6:13). So we need not worry, because as a new creature in Christ we operate by a new law and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has overcome the law of sin in our members.

    1. Thanks Arnita. I think Mr. Sin, as I have come to see it, has access to us on a soul/body level but not in our spirit. In our spirit we have been joined and sealed to the Holy Spirit therefore we are safe. Our minds and bodies on the other hand are still vulnerable to the enemy. This is why the Bible instructs us to “walk after the Spirit and we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.” We are told “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” On the surface this seems like we are to have our “old” mind refurbished but on a deeper level I think it’s telling us to start operating from the mind of Christ, which we have received in the new birth. So when it says in v. 21 “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good” it is clear that doing anything in the flesh is evil, even if we are trying to be “good.” My whole point in this is I don’t think “flesh” in itself is good or evil but rather neutral. It all comes down to who we are presenting ourselves to don’t you think?

      1. I agree with your statements and I understand that nothing we do in the flesh is acceptable to God. Romans 8 makes that very clear. However, can you elaborate in a “Louie File” the the following?

        1. Will you address Paul’s statement regarding the sin that dwelleth in me? My understanding is that in Romans 7 Paul is saved but he felt that keeping the law was still something he needed to do, until he learned better of course.
        2. Also address why you believe the flesh is neutral.
        3. Can you include the scriptures below which seem to refute your statement that the flesh is neutral.
        4. Will you title this Louie File, DOES SIN DWELL IN OUR MEMBERS/FLESH, so I can find it.

        Romans 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
        Romans 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
        Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
        Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lust thereof.
        Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornications, uncleanness, lasciviousness. And so on: Galatians 5:20-21.
        Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affections, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

        I really enjoy the Louie File. I am also grateful that you are available to address my questions. Thanks.

      2. Arnita, thank you so much. It means a lot to me that you would be so engaged in this with me. The bulk of the scriptures you are citing here are found in Romans 7. When it comes to the term “flesh” I think things can get a bit tricky. For me I tend to define “flesh” to mean “our humanity operating (or attempting to operate) apart from the Spirit of God. I for one don’t believe we are independent beings therefore when we attempt to operate in the “flesh” or (apart from the Holy Spirit) we, by default, find ourselves being operated by another, namely Satan. In other words the flesh will always fall back under the dominion of Satan when we move out of the realm of the Holy Spirit.

        As far as the flesh being neutral, Jesus Himself came in the “flesh” and we know He never sinned, so the term flesh can’t automatically mean sinful, right? Paul said, it was “sin that dwelleth in him, that is in his flesh.” So it wasn’t his flesh, in itself that was his problem it was in fact the sin “in” his flesh. The good news is in Romans 8 we read, “God sent Jesus here in the “likeness” of sinful flesh and He condemned “sin” in the flesh…he didn’t condemn “the flesh” itself. So you see Jesus was made sin on the cross in order to set us free from it and make us the righteousness of God in Him.

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