By Charles Stanley
One of the most misunderstood concepts in the Christian life is the idea of "the flesh." Exactly what is it? How do we respond to it? Does it refer to just our bodies, or is there a deeper meaning?
Today's passage presents in a painfully honest way the results of living by the flesh. These include immorality, impurity, idolatry, anger, strife, dissensions, and other destructive consequences.
In contrast, a life moved and motivated by the Holy Spirit produces rich, ripe spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which of these two lifestyles sounds more rewarding?
Many people, while desiring the higher, spiritually-minded life, fall to fleshly sin time after time. They may cry, "I can't help it! My body is working against me!" But when we speak of "the flesh," we are not simply referring to the physical body. Rather, the term points to something deep inside, a carry-over from the old life of sin that was replaced by God's Spirit at the moment of salvation. Therefore, "flesh" refers to the inherent, residual desires that lead to ungodly ways.
Your flesh cannot be disciplined, changed, or improved. Instead, it must be completely replaced by your continual transformation toward Christlikeness. Ask the Lord every day to make you more and more like Jesus. As He becomes a stronger and stronger foundation of your life, your eyes will begin to move away from yourself and toward your true focus: your heavenly Father.